The CFACT chapter at the University of Minnesota tried to answer the question in this title last week when they invited author Aaron Clarey to campus. Clarey is the author of the book “Behind the Housing Crash”, writes the blog www.captaincapitalism.blogspot.com, is a former radio talk show host, finance professor, and ball room dance instructor. His greatest economic gift is spotting investment bubbles and adjusting accordingly. Unfortunately for many college students, Clarey believes that higher education if forming just such a bubble.
A number of recent stories suggest that having a college degree makes the difference between being employed and being unemployed.
But in every one of those stories there is a caveat — recent college graduates are not finding jobs relevant to their degrees or skills.
Our society puts a very high value on education. Most of us were encouraged to do well in high school, go to college and get a degree. In 1970, our parents could avoid the military draft by going to
college, and at that time only 10.7 percent of the population had a college degree. Thus, a college degree truly set them apart from the rest of the population.
Today, 27 percent of the U.S. population has a college degree or better. Thus, employers are no longer looking for any degree: They are looking for the right degree – and according to Clarey, the best way to spot the ‘right degree’ is to see how much math is involved. The more math, the better the degree.
In addition to the lack of opportunity for recent college graduates, there are other stark truths that put into question the value of a college degree: 1. The increasing debt load required to get a degree; and 2. Only 58 percent of students entering the University leave with a degree within five years.
In fact, 20 percent of the U.S. population has attended college, accrued debts and received no degree.
While Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg can be found in this data set, you are more likely to find people who dropped out without having developed a revolutionary and lucrative product to fall back on.
Clarey’s presentation to the full room opened a number of eyes and sparked a great deal of conversation.