A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
I believe college education is still worth the exorbitant cost IF there is a clear plan and IF the student is serious about getting a degree that will lead to a money making career. Too many students (me included) have no clue what they want to do. In my day my parents were paying $2500 per semester... no so much anymore.
I recall a statement made by a man I admired. “When my friends were buying snowmobiles and boats, I was buying land and tractors.” Gaining value vs. losing value. Tractors are expensive, but you still need them.
The only option to living among the smartest people in the world, is to you wish you were. I think we spend a lot of money on stuff that isn’t as important. Higher education is too expensive. But I don't think we can say it may not be worth it.
What a wicked problem to address. I’d offer four thoughts this AM. Advanced learning is essential to our world today and the challenges we face. The cost of a four year education for most is the same as a fully decked out pickup truck that a surprising number of people seem to be able to afford, and for many who do even a modest amount of preparation and effort, including instate options, FAFSA, and early savings; less than a Corolla. We need far more people going for 1-2 yr degrees tech/health/trades/Justice than four year. The cost of higher Ed and debt has gone up, in large part because of the loss of public support for the universities and basic career and financial education in high school. Our country’s wealth was build through advancements in technology and science, which are dependent on higher Ed… why we have given in to corporate profit priorities and eating our seed corn is baffling. And the current debate without action only exacerbates the confusion and justifies reducing support for education further. We must stop this vicious cycle, that was only possible because of the virtuous cycle of benefits from education. A bit more on education ROI https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/college-majors-with-the-best-return-on-investment
For the sake of transparency, I work in higher education at a research one, state institution. I am staff member and I teach. I absolutely believe college is worth it. I support training or education after high school. The costs are high and I studied this in my doctoral program. There are so many factors. I also see the way many students spend money because it’s so easy. Starbucks, Door Dash, and eating out routinely are some di g behaviors I see daily. I also see the line for our food pantry and have students working 40 hours a week to avoid debt. In my doctoral program I needed to borrow for tuition only for two semesters. My program was at night to accommodate the full time working professional. I had to call financial aid and ask how to only borrow what I needed. I was awarded three times what was necessary. I had to ask for a form. I am an informed middle age adult. How would an 18 year old know what to do. I also paid off my debt in 18 months. We can do better educating on costs and options.
A friend said that his final words to his kids before they went to college was this: “I’ve given you thousands of my best ideas, thoughts, and advice over the past 18 years. Most of them are likely wrong. Find the ones that were right and hold onto those.” Our son is now a freshman in college, and maybe the best prompt we gave him was to be entrepreneurial at the earliest point possible. Start businesses, neighborhood ones. Take some risks. See a need and fill it. As a result, he found something that stuck, something he’s good at, and makes some money from real customers. Maybe our second best piece of advice was to see college as a new marketplace for this enterprise. Yes, learn. Create great friendships and memories. But you have an audience of 35,000 new people — a wide-open opportunity to test ideas, pilot new approaches, to build … with little to no risk. As a result, he sees college (and his loans) as a greenhouse not a casino.
Re: is college worth it?
Probably most of it will not be, but there are some promising changes to raise the new generations needed: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/feb/11/new-uk-college-dedicated-climate-crisis-black-mountains
Re: out of date debate
Noah Smith has been thoroughly discredited into his economic analyses, eg: https://timotheeparrique.com/a-response-to-noah-smith-is-degrowth-bad-economics/
I always enjoy your briefing!