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College Costs, Efforts, and Rewards

Since the beginning of the Great Recession, there are concerns as to if college is worth the overall investment of time and money. This is because the number of unemployed graduates is much higher (i.e. 14.9% in 2014) versus before the economic slowdown began (i.e. 7.0% in 2007). These figures are raising questions as to if there is any value in receiving a college degree. To determine this requires examining these expenses and the impacts they are having on graduates. This will be accomplished by comparing the statistics collected from college and high school graduates. Together, these elements will determine if college is worth the long term investment for locating the best career options.

College Tuition Costs

The costs of attending college are rising exponentially. This is requiring students to carry greater amounts of debt to cover tuition. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, they found that these levels are increasing at an alarming rate in the last ten years. The below table is showing these costs for public, private and for profit institutions from 2003 to 2013:

College Effort
College Tuition Costs from 2003 to 2013
YearPublicPrivatePrivate For Profit

Reference: ("Tuition Costs for Colleges and Universities")

These figures are showing that students must spend more money to receive a four year degree. As a result, they are carrying an average debt load of $35,000 when they graduate. The current situation with the job market is making the situation worse with a larger number of these individuals becoming underemployed.

According to Davis, college graduates are facing considerable challenges. This is because there are a large number of people who have dropped out of the workforce since the Great Recession. They are starting to re enter it and will obtain jobs faster based upon their greater amounts of experience. This is what many employers want, as their costs of training someone are much lower.

To cope, recent college graduates are taking positions where their education is underutilized. For instance, from 2007 to 2013 the total number of underemployed college graduates increased to 14.9%. This is higher than the 9.5% that was reported in 2007. To make matters worse, 10.0% of college graduate are sitting idle. They are not thinking about going to graduate school or obtaining a job. Instead, these individuals have stopped looking and are sitting around until they feel the economy is better. This is higher than the 8.4% that was reported in 2007.

On the surface, college degrees appear to be a waste of time and money. However, when these statistics are compared with high school graduates, they are much lower. For example, in the category of underemployment both college and high school graduates will compete for manual labour positions. College graduates have a higher probability of receiving the position. Their education and age give them an advantage in these areas. This can be seen with high school graduates reporting underemployment rates of 37.0% and 16.3% for remaining idle. These figures have changed since 2007 with them coming in at 26.8% (for underemployment) and 13.7% (for remaining idle).

These statistics are showing how a college degree will help someone over the short term. This is because it tells employers that the person has ambition, initiative and can learn new ideas. They are also older than a recent high graduate and will be seen as more reliable. These factors give them the ability to find work to cover their immediate expenses and establish a foundation in their lives.

As a result, the time and money spent on college is worth the investment in the longer term. This is because it enables someone to build the foundation that is necessary for opening up higher paying positions to them. Once this occurs, is the point they will start earning more money that will continue to increase over the course of their lifetime. In the short term, it will take time to locate these jobs as they must compete with more people and gain life experience. This means they could be underemployed for a certain amount time while looking for a career in their chosen profession.

Works Cited

College Education and Tuition Costs. Online.

Evaluation of the Worthiness of Higher Education. Online.

"Tuition Costs for Colleges and Universities." NCES.

Davis, Alyssa. "The Class of 2015." EPI.