Friday, May 27, 2011

A College Conspiracy?

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A growing number of people are claiming the belief that Americans with college degrees earn $1 million more in lifetime income compared to high school graduates without a college degree is just a myth as talk surrounding the rising cost of college tuition bubble up.

The documentary, “College Conspiracy,” presented by the National Inflation Association calls for students at the University to drop out because it “just isn’t worth it” despite the majority of the population, with and without a college degree, believing otherwise.

“People with a college education tend to be unemployed or a shorter amount of time than people with just a high school degree, said professor Sandra Emerson, MPA Director of Political Science at Cal Poly Pomona. “When the economy went south in 2008 there was a tendency for individuals with only high school diplomas to be the ones who were unemployed first and stayed unemployed longer. Those people went back to school because they realized their options were limited. It doesn’t mean people with a college education don’t go back to school, but you path is clearer during economic downturns.”

Regardless of how much more you would make as a college graduate, actually having a degree is far more beneficial to anyone dabbling in the job force than anyone just trying to reach, and keep that success, without it.

“Many folks without degrees have high salaries, but on average, the opportunities available to degree holders are substantially, experientially (if not quantifiably) much greater,” said Professor David Speak, Chair of Political Science Department Cal Poly Pomona in an email

According to a report done by the U.S. Census Bureau entitled “The Big Pay Off: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings, a college master’s degree is worth $1.3 million more in lifetime earnings than a high school diploma, but that extra value of having a degree is worth far more than just the extra $1.3 million.

“Whether that [$1 million] figure is 'accurate' or not seems to miss the point,” said Speak. “You might luck out and have an uncle who will hire you without a degree—or a complete stranger, for that matter.  But your own first person experience could probably corroborate the advantage that having a degree gives you in seeking employment in the first place.”

You can essential do any number of things with a college degree, but if you happened to enter the job force as a plumber you’re only limited to plumbing. In an economic downturn, having a degree opens you up to more options better marketing your own self.

“The purpose of college is to invest in students’ human capital and to advance their own innate potential,” said Emerson. “The problem is giving you a better opportunity is not guaranteeing too make a $1 million. It’s an opportunity to invest human capital in the hopes that greater investment will result in greater productivity.”

It’s a widely accepted notion that college gives future job seekers that extra boost when trying to break into the “real world.” Students not only receive the added skills necessary to think and communicate in a clear and intelligible way, but they have something that can be used to better themselves and their chances for success in life, and it’s something that nobody can ever take away from you.

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