Debate Club

Is a College Degree Still Worth It?

Is a College Degree Still Worth It?

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:


The Arguments

#1
184 Pts
With College, Only the Motivated Need Apply

No – With College, Only the Motivated Need Apply

Craig Brandon Author of 'The Five-Year Party: How Colleges Have Given Up On Educating Your Child' and 'What You Can Do About It'

#2
116 Pts
Going to College Is a Mistake for Many

No – Going to College Is a Mistake for Many

Richard Vedder Director of Center for College Affordability and Productivity

#3
82 Pts
With College Degree, One Size Does Not Fit All

Yes – With College Degree, One Size Does Not Fit All

Peter Konwerski Senior Associate Vice President and Dean of Students at George Washington University

#4
55 Pts
Government Is Behind the Curve

No – Government Is Behind the Curve

Lindsey Burke Senior Policy Analyst in Domestic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation

#5
51 Pts
College Is a Safe Bet

Yes – College Is a Safe Bet

Julie Margetta Morgan Policy Analyst with the Postsecondary Education Program at the Center for American Progress

#6
44 Pts
You Can Lead Kids to College but You Can't Make Them Learn

No – You Can Lead Kids to College but You Can't Make Them Learn

Naomi Schaefer Riley Author of 'The Faculty Lounges ... And Other Reasons Why You Won't Get the College Education You Pay For'

#7
31 Pts
Some Career Pathways Require a Four-Year Degree, Many Don't

Yes – Some Career Pathways Require a Four-Year Degree, Many Don't

Robert B. Schwartz Francis Keppel Professor of Practice in Educational Policy and Administration at Harvard University

#8
11 Pts
College Graduates Earn Higher Pay

Yes – College Graduates Earn Higher Pay

Anthony P. Carnevale Director of Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

#9
7 Pts
K-12 Education Should Take a Lesson from Colleges

Yes – K-12 Education Should Take a Lesson from Colleges

Tom Carroll President of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future

#10
1 Pts
Economy Puts a Premium on Postsecondary Skills

Yes – Economy Puts a Premium on Postsecondary Skills

Kevin Carey Policy Director of Education Sector

#11
-18 Pts
More, Better Jobs for College Graduates

Yes – More, Better Jobs for College Graduates

Chris Farrell Economics Editor of 'Marketplace Money'

#12
-67 Pts
A Degree Is Well Worth the Time, Cost, and Effort

Yes – A Degree Is Well Worth the Time, Cost, and Effort

Cecilia Elena Rouse Katzman-Ernst Professor in the Economics of Education and Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University


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