Is College Worth the Time and Money?

(upbeat music) – Now I’ll be the
first to admit, I was not the best
high school student, my grades were bad. But college was presented as
the only liable real option. Now I eventually ended
up going, I graduated, and I got my degree,
and I’m here now so I guess you could
say it worked out. But then there’s
people like my mom who didn’t finish college, and she ended up on
the radio for 20 years and that was her
childhood dream. Now these are two really
specific examples, but they go to show that
there are different routes and different lanes
for different people. So today that leads
us to our question, is college really
the best option? After high school you’ve gotta
make a big life decision, do you commit four
years of your life and probably
thousands of dollars to go to college and
get a bachelor’s degree? Do you go to community college or the trade school route? Or do you skip all of that and jump straight into
the world of work? This is a really
personal decision. We all know everyone
is different, and what works for one person doesn’t mean it’s gonna
work for everyone. At the same time, college is often presented as
the best option, full stop. Why? Because like it or not a college degree has
become the ticket to access to middle class life. It’s not your grandparents
economy anymore. Back in 1950 a
high school diploma could get you a solid
good paying job. You could go work on an
assembly line, save money, and even buy a house. My mom was telling me about, I don’t know if he’s
my grandpa, my uncle, some dude from back in the day and he was a butcher
straight out of high school, and was able to buy a house
and retire like it was nothing. Today, not so much. Most of the factory jobs
have gone to other countries where labor is cheaper. And the good paying
careers that exist now are more complex. So employers, a
college degree screams you can trust me, I’m skilled, I worked hard for four years, and if you hire me I’ll
work hard for you too. College is now more popular
today than ever before. In 1940, a little over
four and a half percent of the US population
age 25 or older had completed four
years of college. Since then it’s been
a steady climb upward, now that number is
just shy of 35%. That’s more than one out
of every three people. Now that’s all great, but you’re gonna have to
pay for that college degree. Do you know how much
that is these days? I mean seriously
it’s ridiculous. The average cost to
attend a private college is over $35,000 dollars a year. That makes in state
public college look like a bargain at
$10,000 dollars a year. Now yeah, there’s financial
aid and scholarships, but depending on what
your pockets are doing, that could really hurt you. College wasn’t always
this expensive, if you adjust for inflation, students in 1990
were paying one third of what we’re paying today. Maybe today’s grads are at
least making more money. Nope, new college grads in 1990 made around the same
amount of money on average and new college grads today. That’s just fantastic, isn’t it? To pay the absurdly
high cost of college, students are taking out
loans, and that means debt. The typical student
leaves college owing around $30,000 dollars, that’s just the average. For some it’s only
a few thousand, for others, it’s
over 100,000, eek. I was complaining
about a couple grand, I couldn’t imagine hundreds
of thousands of dollars, man. All right, so what
are the arguments against going to college? Well to start with, it’s a risk. That debt we talked
about is no joke, and it’s not just a
number on the screen. It takes the average
person 21 years to fully pay off that
$30,000 dollar loan. That’s not just
an inconvenience, it can limit your ability to save up money to
buy a car, buy a house, or even retire. And all the benefits you
might get from that degree only matter if you graduate. When you look at the numbers, four out of every 10 students fail to graduate
within six years. That’s thousands of
dollars down the drain, you’ll have to put
me that statistic, it took me seven years to
graduate, just so you know. It’s also common belief
that a college degree opens doors to great careers that you couldn’t
get without one, but is that actually true? Well the Federal
Reserve Bank of New York has been tracking this
very question for years, they found that 41% of recent college grads
are underemployed. That means they’re working a job that typically doesn’t
require a college degree. So for those jobs, all that time and money spent getting a degree
wasn’t necessary. And the whole college
decision process is a lot to ask from a
senior in high school. Like I said, I had no
idea what I was doing. It was really easy for me
to make a bad decision, and I’m not the only
one who thinks that. A recent poll interviewed
over 122,000 adults, and found that half of
them either regretted what they studied in college, or the college they went to. Come on people, life’s
too shorts for regrets. And remember,
saying no to college doesn’t mean you’re destined
to spend the rest of your life in a minimum wage job. You have other options. There are trade schools in
a bunch of different fields ranging from
aircraft maintenance to IT technician,
to sound engineer. There are apprenticeships
where you learn on the job while you get paid. That’s the path that a
lot of electricians take. And a lot of these
jobs pay really well. The median salary for
an elevator installer was almost $80,000 dollars. The average salary
for a new college grad with a Masters degree is
around $51,000 dollars. Honestly I’d take either of
those salaries right now. And for white collar jobs, a college degree isn’t
necessarily a must have. There’s a growing trend
where big time companies like Apple, Google, and
IBM no longer require college degrees for their jobs. Even some top executives
are questioning college, Elon Musk even though
he went to college talking about you
don’t need college. – There’s no need even to
have a college degree, at all. If somebody graduated
from a great university that may be an indication that they will be
capable of great things, but it’s not
necessarily the case. – But the people who are doing
the work that we care about are figuring out
what to do next, not following the person who
told them what to do next. And the problem
with most colleges are they are high school but
with more binge drinking. And high school is
a series of tests that prove that fit in
more than everyone else, that you have done
what you are told. – The A students work
for the B students, the C students run
the businesses, and the D students
dedicate the buildings. – What seems to matter most is out of the box
creative thinking. College is what most of
the job applicants have, so not going can
make you stand out if you have the right skills. Peter Thiel, a tech billionaire who made most of his
money by founding PayPal offers a $100,000
dollar fellowship to people under 23
to not go to college, and instead pursue work
outside the classroom. Not too shabby, I’m mad that I’m just
now hearing about it, but still, not too shabby. All right, so we’ve been beating
up on college pretty hard for the last few minutes. Yes it can be expensive, yes it takes a lot of your time, yes there are alternatives. And it’s easy to look
at mega success stories like Mark Zuckerburg
and Bill Gates, two billionaires
without a college degree and think why not me? But those guys both got
accepted to Harvard, and Bill Gates has
said, and I quote, “college is a much surer path
to success than not going.” The value of a college
degree is pretty clear. Nine out of 10 new jobs
created in the last year have gone to college grads, and those grads will earn
$900,000 dollars more over their lifetime than the
typical high school grad. And while trade school grads
might make more money to start, research shows that
a bachelor’s degree pays out more over
the long haul. On top of that, college gives you access
to career resources and internships that
all give you a leg up in establishing your career. But college isn’t just about putting you in a
position to make money, it’s also about the experience. You’re exposed to new
people and new ideas. You can make lifelong friends, and take a bunch of
different classes that might turn
you on to something you never would’ve known about. And it can be a good
transition to adulting. You’re on your own,
probably for the first time, but you also have structure
and support if you need it. And the connections
you make at college go beyond just the four
years that you’re there. Many schools have
vast alumni networks composed of thousands
of graduates. According to the US Bureau
of Labor Statistics, over 70% of all jobs are found through some form of network. A big chunk of that is people that went to the same
school that you did. As a matter of fact
I’m working with two San Francisco State
alumni right now, hi guys, how’s it hanging? – Hi Myles. – Go Gators. When Mark Zuckerburg left
Harvard to start Facebook, who did he take with him? His college roommate of course, who’s now worth 12
billion dollars. Best networking outcome ever? Maybe. All right folks, that
about covers it on our end. To recap real quick, basic
arguments against college are it can be risky because
you can go into debt and might not even graduate. A lot of people
with college degrees have jobs that don’t require it, and there are other
quicker, cheaper options that might get you to
where you wanna go. The arguments for college are that it pays out more
money over time on average than most other options. It can help transition into
living life as an adult, and it gives you access
to an alumni network which can help you
with job opportunities. But what do you all think? If you haven’t
gone to college yet do you think that you will? And if you did go to
college, or you chose not to, how do you feel
about your decision? Let us know in the
comments below. And if you like this episode, we’ve got another
one that looks at whether or not the government should offer free
college to everyone. Check it out. Until next time, I’m
Myles Bess, peace out.

9 thoughts on “Is College Worth the Time and Money?

  1. Are you thinking about NOT going to college — or did you already make that decision? Did you decide to go to college? How do you feel about your choice? Let us know in the comments below!

  2. I actually got a huge chunk of tuition taken off first years of college due to a parent being a university employee. I had experienced both the good parts about college and the bad parts about it. There were things that I thought needed to be improved with the way programs worked, but I do not regret going.

  3. I think trades are awesome. AND people should got to college for at least 2-4 years…. Because I'm positive we don't want to live in a society of dumbasses.

  4. The most important thing to me: college opened up my mind to new ideas and experiences. Take courses outside your "vocational" center. They can be the most interesting.

  5. Two points:
    1) Trades can be great and would be the best fit for a lot of people, but you also have to remember they tend to involve more physical labour which gets harder as you age;
    2) You don't have to get a degree after you graduate high school. You might decide to get your degree when you're 30, 40, 50, or 60.

  6. Journeyman in my trade gross over $300k/year. Let me know when your bachelors degree can make you that much money.

  7. I hire programmers, and although a highly relevant degree is not immaterial, I'm almost entirely interested in other things: the skills I need from the appicant, their ability to pick-up new technical skills, their people skills, their good character and honesty, their ownership of actions and customer focus. If you show me that you spent a year studying a language in antoher country, or doing volutary work; that's going to weigh heavier with me than a degree certificate. I have one of those, so I know their actual value!

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