“The most fundamental problem is that high school students too often see four years at college as "an experience" and not "an investment." And they get a lot of bad advice from adults who should know better.” So says Dr. Peter Morici, Professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. (Dr.Morici’s full article is posted in the “like-minded” section of my blog.)
Wow, now that is a powerfully true statement. Yes, very “Dollars and Sense”, but also very much worth discussing. Now let me be crystal clear, I am a strong supporter of education and in particular a college education. However, I find myself rejecting the concept that it is a necessity and a guarantor of strong financial success in the world.
Like most things in life the key to success is achieving balance not extremism. A balanced view of the achievement of a College degree (or more) is that it isn’t for everyone, nor should it be. An extremist view is what we have had for far too long, everyone must go to college to be a success in life, either financially or socially, but in particular financially. Numbers are quoted about how a college graduate can expect to make much more money than someone without. The problem with this logic is it is true but only to a point. That point comes when the PUSH for “everyone to go to college” to make more money than those that don’t, creates a classic supply/demand imbalance in the job markets. A massive oversupply situation, which just as in the economy then results in excess inventory and falling prices (salaries) or the equivalent thereof….working at low wage service jobs, multiple low wage part time job, and/or living off Mom and Dad.
The economics of The “College Experience” can’t keep pace with the reality of more “highly” educated graduates than there are those good paying jobs. A complete mismatch of skills for the market place.
The balance needs to come from a recognition that college is not the end all; it is not a necessity for “everyone” and that well trained High School graduates, with advanced/specific skills training in Vo-Tech schools can be extremely successfully in financial terms as well as socially. Not everyone should go to college and as a nation we really can’t afford this falsehood to continue. It is no longer true that, on average, a college degree guarantees better jobs, pay, and benefits. In fact, I believe that on average, the pay differential for college grads has dropped quite dramatically because of this oversupply situation we have today and have had for over 7 years. When you average in all those graduates who are working at MacDonalds, Hotel Clerks, etc, or not working at all; then the numbers supporting the go to college push begin collapsing.
Wake –Up America and bring a balance to the discussion on the value of a college degree versus the value of you men and women with job skills achieved through advanced technical training that produces welders, HVAC technicians, electricians, electronics experts, entrepreneurs, and this list is endless where we have created an imbalance in the workforce. Yes we need college educated adults and yes we need those talented trades men and women, etc….we need to stop the extreme push to go to college, the extremely wrong thing to saddle our talented youth with. Stop the stigma and embrace the balance.
Of course all of this gets better when our leaders do what is necessary to drive strong economic growth, create tens of millions of jobs of all types, all by working together to dramatically improve our global competitiveness as opposed to dramatically reducing it. It is time to get back to real wealth creation that comes from being a nation that is “Creating, Making, Building, things again and yes servicing all the above”!!!