Prompt: Read Is College Worth it.. posted in module. Write a nice concise summary of the article. You must follow the summary guidelines posted in the module. Also, you can read over pages 206-208 in the text Lets Talk grading hinges on summary guidelines This is an editorial so it is not an overly long piece. Follow the guidelines posted in the module. Punctuation and sentence structure counts in a summary as well as the format per the module instruction guide.
Is College Worth It?
Clearly, New Data Say
By David Leonhardt
May 27, 2014
Some newly minted college graduates struggle to find work. Others accept jobs for which they feel overqualified. Student debt, meanwhile, has topped $1
Its enough to create a wave of questions about whether a college education is still worth it.
A new set of income statistics answers those questions quite clearly: Yes, college is worth it, and its not even close. For all the struggles that many young
college graduates face, a fouryear degree has probably never been more valuable.
The pay gap between college graduates and everyone else reached a record high last year, according to the new data, which is based on an analysis of Labor
Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. Americans with fouryear college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in
2013 than people without a degree. Thats up from 89 percent five years earlier, 85 percent a decade earlier and 64 percent in the early 1980s.
The singer Jill Scott, who was being given an honorary doctorate, at graduation ceremonies at
Temple University in Philadelphia this month. The pay disparity between those with college degrees
and those without continues to grow. David Swanson/The Philadelphia Inquirer, via Associated Press
There is nothing inevitable about this trend. If there were more college graduates than the economy needed, the pay gap would shrink. The gaps recent growth
is especially notable because it has come after a rise in the number of college graduates, partly because many people went back to school during the Great
Recession. That the pay gap has nonetheless continued growing means that were still not producing enough of them.
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We have too few college graduates, says David Autor, an M.I.T. economist, who was not involved in the Economic Policy Institutes analysis. We also have
too few people who are prepared for college.
Its important to emphasize these shortfalls because public discussion today for which we in the news media deserve some responsibility often focuses on
the undeniable fact that a bachelors degree does not guarantee success. But of course it doesnt. Nothing guarantees success, especially after 15 years of
disappointing economic growth and rising inequality.
When experts and journalists spend so much time talking about the limitations of education, they almost certainly are discouraging some teenagers from going
to college and some adults from going back to earn degrees. (Those same experts and journalists are sending their own children to college and often obsessing
over which one.) The decision not to attend college for fear that its a bad deal is among the most economically irrational decisions anybody could make in 2014.
5/30/2018 Is College Worth It? Clearly, New Data Say The New York Times 2/2
The muchdiscussed cost of college doesnt change this fact. According to a paper by Mr. Autor published Thursday in the journal Science, the true cost of a
college degree is about negative $500,000. Thats right: Over the long run, college is cheaper than free. Not going to college will cost you about half a million
Mr. Autors paper building on work by the economists Christopher Avery and Sarah Turner arrives at that figure first by calculating the very real cost of
tuition and fees. This amount is then subtracted from the lifetime gap between the earnings of college graduates and high school graduates. After adjusting for
inflation and the time value of money, the net cost of college is negative $500,000, roughly double what it was three decades ago.
This calculation is necessarily imprecise, because it cant control for any preexisting differences between college graduates and nongraduates differences
that would exist regardless of schooling. Yet other research, comparing otherwise similar people who did and did not graduate from college, has also found that
education brings a huge return.
In a similar vein, the new Economic Policy Institute numbers show that the benefits of college dont go just to graduates of elite colleges, who typically go on to
to earn graduate degrees. The wage gap between people with only a bachelors degree and people without such a degree has also kept rising.
Tellingly, though, the wage premium for people who have attended college without earning a bachelors degree a group that includes communitycollege
graduates has not been rising. The big economic returns go to people with fouryear degrees. Those returns underscore the importance of efforts to reduce
the college dropout rate, such as those at the University of Texas, which Paul Tough described in a recent Times Magazine article.
But what about all those alarming stories you hear about indebted, jobless college graduates?
The anecdotes may be real, yet the conventional wisdom often exaggerates the problem. Among fouryear college graduates who took out loans, average debt
is about $25,000, a sum that is a tiny fraction of the economic benefits of college. (My own student debt, as it happens, was almost identical to this figure, in
inflationadjusted terms.) And the unemployment rate in April for people between 25 and 34 years old with a bachelors degree was a mere 3 percent.
I find the data from the Economic Policy Institute especially telling because the institute a leftleaning research group makes a point of arguing that
education is not the solution to all of the economys problems. That is important, too. College graduates, like almost everyone else, are suffering from the
economys weak growth and from the disproportionate share of this growth flowing to the very richest households.
The average hourly wage for college graduates has risen only 1 percent over the last decade, to about $32.60. The pay gap has grown mostly because the
average wage for everyone else has fallen 5 percent, to about $16.50. To me, the picture is people in almost every kind of job not being able to see their
wages grow, Lawrence Mishel, the institutes president, told me. Wage growth essentially stopped in 2002.
From the countrys perspective, education can be only part of the solution to our economic problems. We also need to find other means for lifting living
standards not to mention ways to provide good jobs for people without college degrees.
But from almost any individuals perspective, college is a nobrainer. Its the most reliable ticket to the middle class and beyond. Those who question the value
of college tend to be those with the luxury of knowing their own children will be able to attend it.
Not so many decades ago, high school was considered the frontier of education. Some people even argued that it was a waste to encourage Americans from
humble backgrounds to spend four years of life attending high school. Today, obviously, the notion that everyone should attend 13 years of school is
But there is nothing magical about 13 years of education. As the economy becomes more technologically complex, the amount of education that people need will
rise. At some point, 15 years or 17 years of education will make more sense as a universal goal.
That point, in fact, has already arrived.
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A version of this article appears in print on May 26, 2014, on Page A3 of the New York edition with the headline: Is College Worth It? Clearly Yes, New Data Says