In the United States, college is a right of passage.
In 2010, recent college graduates left school owing an average of $25,250 in student loans--the highest amount ever. Frustration with the economy and high unemployment rates is consistently shaping public opinion as college degrees, traditionally thought of as safeguards against unemployment, no longer guarantee gainful positions. According to the College Board, going to college costs between three and four times as much as it did 20 years ago. About a year ago, the nation’s cumulative student debt surpassed credit card debt for the first time, and it could grow to $1 trillion by the end of this year. While college-educated people do stand a better chance of landing a job than those who don’t go to secondary school, the time it takes to pay back the money laid out for a degree is growing, causing many to question the efficacy of attending college.
Money isn’t the only issue, though. The specter of successful college-dropouts like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs weighs on young people making the decision on whether or not to go to college. Likewise, some experts argue that attending college has become less about learning actual skills and more about simply paying to have a degree. Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, published earlier this year by the University of Chicago Press, found that 36-percent of college students “did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning” during their college educations.
Is a college degree still worth it? Here’s the Debate Club’s take:
Robert B. Schwartz Francis Keppel Professor of Practice in Educational Policy and Administration at Harvard University
Naomi Schaefer Riley Author of 'The Faculty Lounges ... And Other Reasons Why You Won't Get the College Education You Pay For'