Over the past year or so, the idea of going to college has been under attack. Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel has been encouraging people to skip college, and my buddy James Altucher has been making the media rounds touting the idea of skipping college.
This weekend, The New York Times’ David Leonhardt takes the opposite side, which is, at least in the blogosphere, actually becoming the contrarian position: going to college is worth it. He has an excellent summary of the recent research suggesting that college is still worth it: the earnings gap between the college-educated and the high school-educated is actually widening, and college grads who work at menial jobs still make more than non-college grads working at the same jobs.
It’s the best, most succinct rebuttal to the anti-college crowd that I’ve seen so far. Here’s what I’d add to it: Most of the people who end up graduating from college and are worse for the experience made significant mistakes in getting their diploma. Mainly, they over-invested in higher education and found themselves saddled with debt loads that were far higher than if they’d started at a community college and then transferred to an in-state public college. But bashing the idea of attending college based on the experiences of students who attended $50,000 per year private colleges and borrowed the whole thing is sort of like saying, “A Ferrari costs $150,000! Who needs a car?”
College shouldn’t be the centerpiece of anyone’s life plans and, to be sure, it isn’t the guarantee of a job that it once was — but neither is anything. However, for students who are qualified and want to go, it’s still an investment worth making.