Inside Higher Ed features a story today on another of those regular reports out of the Georgetown Center proving that it’s still a great investment to get a college degree. The argument is the jaded one that because unemployment is higher among people who don’t have college degrees, that shows how beneficial it is to get one.
I don’t quarrel with the statistics, but it simply doesn’t follow from them that any unemployed non-college worker would be employed if only he or she had obtained a degree. Nor does it follow that just because you are employed and have a college degree, having “invested” in college was a good idea. Lots of college grads are employed, but in low-pay work. The report admits that, but suggests that such underemployment is a temporary problem. But how do we know that someone who has a college degree and is serving coffee is really underemployed? Many college grads have the same low cognitive abilities they had when they left high school, so why assume that, merely because they have a college degree, they ought to have a better, higher-paying job?