Is College Really Worth it?

For prospective college students, the cons of signing up for a degree (ballooning tuition costs, heaps of debt, the declining value of degrees) continue to outweigh the pros. According to preliminary data from the National Student Clearinghouse, US colleges and universities saw a 1.1% drop in undergrad students from fall 2021 to fall 2022.

Although less substantial, that decline is an extension of the pandemic trend of emptier dorms: Over two years beginning in 2020, more than 1 million fewer students chose to enroll in college—a 6.5% plunge.

Enrollment has decreased by at least 1% annually since 2012, but the pandemic supercharged disillusionment with higher ed. Colleges expected to see some of those students return with the loosening of restrictions, but it didn’t happen.

When it comes to going to college, a significant number of Americans don’t feel the juice is worth the squeeze.

  • 46% of parents hope their child pursues something other than a four-year degree after high school, according to a Gallup poll.

  • Only 56% of adults under 30 who attended college believe the benefits outweighed the costs.

  • Meanwhile, 80% of adults over 60 who attended college feel that way.

As a parent of two college students, our family never considered not going. The stagnation of any real innovation in higher education is starting to catch up with the academic elites.

I would love your take – is a four-year degree (and associated investment) worth it when a broad spectrum of industries can’t hire enough welders, plumbers, and mechanics at $100K+/year?

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