Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Re: Does College Pay?


Carol — I wouldn’t deny that in some cases, “some college” can benefit people, but I highly doubt that’s the case on average. The idea here is opportunity cost: For every year you spend in college, you’re missing a year building skills, finding contacts, making money, etc., in the workforce. As you write, a degree opens doors for people, so for those who graduate, college’s benefits usually make up for the lost time, wages, and tuition.

So, I don’t think the important question is whether “‘some college’ [might] be an advantage for certain employers.” And I doubt it actually “works against” anyone; spending a year and a half in college is better than sitting at home for a year and a half.

I think the million-dollar question is this: If 100 people spend a few years paying to attend college, but don’t graduate, and 100 identical people start in the work force right away instead, which will end up ahead some decades down the road? I’m completely open to a well-controlled study on that front, but until I see good data, my money’s on the kids who go right to work.


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