Conventional wisdom says that a college degree equals a better job, higher lifetime earnings, and a happier life. But is college the only way to live the American Dream? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only seven of the thirty fastest-growing jobs in the next decade will require a bachelor’s degree; and among the top ten, only two will. Postal carriers, nurses’ aides, and store clerks could make a much better investment of the time and money spent on a bachelor’s (or associate’s) by, say, taking vocational courses in their chosen profession. And that’s the argument of a few top economists, who allege our obsession with getting more kids into college is really just shoving a one-size-fits-all solution on a problem that merits a diversity of answers. We’re certainly open to that argument—and concerned about the rhetoric that “college is for everyone.” But at a time when only about 30 percent of Americans have a college degree (of either variety), is this really our most pressing education “problem”?
“Plan B: Skip College,” by Jacques Steinberg, New York Times, May 14, 2010
“College for All? Experts Say Not Necessarily,” by Alan Scher Zagier (AP), Boston Globe, May 13, 2010
“A Lament for the Class of 2010,” by Joe Queenan, Wall Street Journal, May 15, 2010