Is College Still Worth It?


Real wages for college graduates fell in 2010. Tuition continued to rise. And the long-hallowed consensus -- at least among the types of people who get newspaper columns -- that higher-education was a necessary investment for everyone began to fracture. Still, new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics seem to confirm the still orthodox belief among economists that college is a good investment. There appears to be no secular change in sight for the trend that those who didn't graduate from college continue to fall further behind people who did. Even after taking into account student debt, it appears that higher education is absolutely a good investment (we can put aside, for the moment, the non-financial benefits of a liberal education, which for many people are quite substantial, and focus on the narrower question of whether attending college results in more or less cash). But as has been pointed out, these numbers can't tell the whole story. People who graduated from college tend to be more affluent and potentially more intelligent than those who don't even before they enroll in college. More work remains to be done. Still, it's worth noting again that the consensus among economists remains that going to college is a worthwhile investment for individuals and for the country as a whole.
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