Today my friend Matt has posted on his blog a metaphorical comparison between the sinking Titanic and the system of higher education in America. This was practically guaranteed to get a reaction from me, and it worked. I responded to Matt with a comment, he responded to my comment, and now I’m “involved.” Ah me.
In any rate, the whole thing has gotten me researching things like the value and effectiveness of a college education. We hear about how expensive college is and how college grads are having a tough time putting their education to work. So I came across some statistics that I’d like to discuss just a bit. Here’s a table from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
(Or you can go here to see the table for yourself, live, online.)
The first thing I see is that the unemployment rate among college grads is less than half of what it is for high school grads. (3.2% for college grads compared to 6.5% for high school grads). Now if I came up with an invention that could cut the unemployment rate in half, wouldn’t that get your attention? No really. Stop and think about it. We hear every month about the high level of unemployment in the country, and if it falls from 6.7% to 6.6% we hear story after story about how the economy is improving. But what if we could present a program or an invention or something that would drive the unemployment rate from 6.5% to 3.2%? Wouldn’t that be worthy of celebration and a whole lot of hoopla? I think it would be world-shattering news! And that’s exactly what we’ve got with the higher education system in this country.
Look in the table at the differences between the top rows (high school dropouts), down to the second set of rows (high school graduates) to the next set of rows (some college) to the bottom set of rows (college graduates). Every set of rows indicates more and more education. Every set of rows indicates more and more success in the job market. Simply put – education gives you an advantage, and the more education you have, the more of an advantage you have. The biggest “bump” (percentage-wise) comes from actually completing college and getting that degree.
I’ve heard it said, and yes, it is a cliché, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” It may be a cliché, and it may be trite, but it is still true.