Toby Talbot, Associated Press
The question on many people’s minds this week isn’t about what school to attend.
No. It’s actually whether attending college is worth it or not.
Settling the debate might be tough, but there’s been plenty of coverage over the last few weeks to help people see if college is in their future, from a financial standpoint.
New data has shown that college is, in fact, worth it. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that college, despite leaving a footprint of $1.2 trillion of student debt, is worth the struggle.
“Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree,” wrote David Leonhardt for The Times. “That’s up from 89 percent five years earlier, 85 percent a decade earlier and 64 percent in the early 1980s.”
In fact, the importance and value of a college degree has been on the rise since the 1980s, The Times reported. And those who graduated with a degree had considerably higher pay than those with “some college” experience, The Times reported.
Not going to college may cost you a hefty price, too. The Times reported that not attending college could cost you $500,000. “That’s right: Over the long run, college is cheaper than free. Not going to college will cost you about half a million dollars,” Leonhardt wrote.
That’s why a degree is crucial, wrote Ben Casselman for FiveThirtyEight.
“The college decision may be a ‘a no-brainer,’ as Leonhardt said, but only for those reasonably confident they can finish with a degree,” Casselman wrote.
The value of a college degree isn't the same for everyone.
The Atlantic’s Janell Ross wrote Tuesday that many black and minority students have a tough time in the job market even with a college degree.
Ross reported that 12.4 percent of black graduates between the ages of 22 and 27 remain unemployed, while the unemployment rate for all other graduates is 5.6 percent.
"We absolutely aren't trying to discourage people from going to college," said John Schmitt, a senior economist at the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research, told The Atlantic. "College degrees do have value. But what we are trying to show here is that this is not about individuals, or individual effort. There is simply overwhelming evidence that discrimination remains a major feature of the labor market."
And NPR’s Anya Kamenetz wrote Wednesday about different situations in which going to college and collecting heavy amounts of debt wouldn’t be worth it.
If you don’t graduate, for example, things won’t spell out kindly, Kamenetz wrote. Picking the wrong school or degree can also raise problems for the future, too, Kamenetz wrote.
“Now, we're not arguing that a college degree is a bad idea,” Kamenetz wrote. “It's not. Let's italicize that one: For most students, it's not. Our point is, when it comes to bold, blanket statements about the value of a college degree and whether it will pay off ... words like 'always' and 'never' aren't helpful. Or true.”
So is a college degree worth it? The consensus seems to be that it depends.