Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Is college worth it?

Two natural experiments suggest that the answer is "yes," especially for low-income, male students:

...The economists and education researchers tracked thousands of people over the last two decades in Florida, Georgia and elsewhere who had fallen on either side of hard admissions cutoffs. Less selective colleges often set such benchmarks: Students who score 840 on the SAT, for example, or maintain a C+ average in high school are admitted. Those who don’t clear the bar are generally rejected, and many don’t attend any four-year college. 
Such stark cutoffs provide researchers with a kind of natural experiment. Students who score an 830 on the SAT are nearly identical to those who score an 840. Yet if one group goes to college and the other doesn’t, researchers can make meaningful estimates of the true effects of college. 
And the two studies have come to remarkably similar conclusions: Enrolling in a four-year college brings large benefits to marginal students. Roughly half of the students in Georgia who had cleared the bar went on to earn a bachelor’s degree within six years, compared with only 17 percent of those who missed the cutoff, according to one of the studies, by Joshua S. Goodman of Harvard and Michael Hurwitz and Jonathan Smith of the College Board. The benefits were concentrated among lower-income students, both studies found, and among men, one of them found.


  1. The article mentions how some students with a 10 point lower score on their SATs or other entrance exams, were denied admission to their school of choice. Unfortunately I can relate to this, and it's the most frustrating aspect of applying to colleges. Just goes to show how bureacratic they really can be (end rant)... Anyways, the article goes on to say how students in high school have no appreciation for school at that time. I find this to be very true. At that age there is risk of not getting good grades and then being punished by parents. I feel at this age students know and understand the risks that they take could have some sort of consequences/drawbacks. However when it comes to college there is a level of uncertinaty. Is this the right school for me? What will I actually get out of it? Will I get a job when I graduate? There's no easy way to answer those questions until you try, and gather the data for yourself. Having the determination to overcome this hurdle or obstacle is what paves the foundation for this person turning into an adult. Persepctives are built, analytical and forward thinking is starting to take place. "Doing so helps them learn how to finish other obstacle courses and gives them the confidence that they can, so long as they stay focused. Learning to navigate college fosters a quality that social scientists have taken to calling grit" (Leonhardt, D., 2015).
    College is a mixture of risk and uncertainty. You can do the math of whether or not you can afford certain schools and the possibility of getting a job afterwards (according to the school statistics they provide). But whether or not the student will graduate, obtain the necessary skills, and gain benefit from the experience is uncertain. It's difficult to qunatify human/personal factors such as these.
    Leonhardt, D. (April 24, 2015). "College for the Masses". Retrieved from:

  2. This article was very interesting to me because it reminded me of how things used to be. While in high school I wished to gain employment. I wanted to earn enough money to pay for college and build a healthy savings for my future. Today, many of the jobs that once asked for the minimum of a high school education now require some sort of a college degree.

    After going through 4 years of college, my current job is far from what I went to school for. Although my job could be done by anyone with common sense and a hard work ethic, my employer actively searched for someone with a college degree. Does one really need a degree to stock kitchens and supplies? No. Yet many employers are still seeing a college education as being a key determinate for meeting expectations. College is really not for everyone but that is ok. Bachelor degrees are not the only route for those who wish to improve their educational background. There are multiple technical schools and associate programs that meet the needs for lower skill leveled positions. Even though my bachelor program over prepared me for what I am doing today, it has helped provide me with a better future. After the economy collapsed and firms downsized, people were faced with long periods of unemployment or the opportunity to go back to school. Each year that goes by the job market is infused with highly skilled individuals.

    College is not a necessity but in a way, it is. My father in-law worked at a gas station out in the midwest. After a few years he joined Chase as a bank teller. Through hard work and multiple promotions, he eventually retired as a high ranking manager within the risk department. Gone are those days where one could move up to such a position on merit alone. More often or not, companies are recruiting college graduates to fill such positions and have the opportunity to choose the creme de la creme. Employers are able to choose someone who has a better educational fit to fill specific roles. Who would you choose for the position of bank teller, someone who worked at a gas station or someone who went to school for economics or finance? This is the job market of today. This is what high school graduates walk in to. The story of starting from the bottom and making it to the top is now a rarity. College has become the new benchmark.

    Do I believe that one can make it far in life without a college education? Absolutely! Is it a common occurrence thought? No. Universities know how valuable their services are to society. Low income individuals have increased incentives to go to college and universities have higher incentives to admit said individuals in to their institution. The government subsidization of some individuals may not always work out but for others college offers a better opportunity and improved future.

  3. Given that I am in the process of completing my MBA, it is evident that to me, college is indeed worth it. My thoughts are that while college may really nor be right for everyone, it is certainly worth the time and money you put into it because it provides a possibility for doors to be opened to you that never would otherwise. There are lots of jobs and professions out there where a person can make a good amount of money with little or no schooling, but they are few and far between. I look at myself compared to my older sisters. One did not finish her two year degree, the other completed her two year degree, and I am working on my Masters. While I have put a lot more time and money into my education in order to advance in my career, I am no more happy with my life than either of them are. Sure my hope is that I will live a much more comfortable life financially in the upcoming years as a result of all of my education, but it does not mean that because college is worth ti to me that is was worth it for them. Like anything else in life, it is in the eye of the beholder to decide what the true worth is to them.

  4. The readings state that uncertainty is something that we cannot eliminate (Froeb ET all, 2014). I think that it is safe say that college is worth it. Many companies require at least 60 credits to qualify for entry level positions; the same holds true for many police departments. Many of these jobs required as little as a GED just a few years ago, but with many organizations taking on a talent management approach to hiring that has all changed. I would agree with the authors, we cannot eliminate uncertainty but college graduates definitely have the leg up right now. I am not saying that candidates with degrees make better employees, I am just saying that they are more likely to get the job these days. There is risk associated with hiring college grads these days. Since they meet the requirements demanded by more and more organizations, they are more likely to be recruited away.
    Froeb, L.M., McCann, B.T., Ward, M.R. & Shor, M. (2014). Managerial Economics: A Problem Solving Approach. Mason, Ohio: Southwestern Cengage Learning.

  5. Colleges are screening entrants via SAT scores to ensure that they are well prepared for higher education, and will be successful at their school. Since there is a lot riding on the success rate of a school – funding as well as prestige – colleges do not want to accept those who they do not think will be successful. In the same vein, students are using the colleges to signal to potential employers. Having a college degree signals that a person is dedicated and hard working. They are willing to put forth the extra effort – and money! – to go that step further, to get that degree. So is college worth it? It depends what you want to outwardly show the world. But I would think so.

  6. The decision to attend college depends on each individual goals and opportunity costs. There are several issues or concerns that one must address when making this decision. These concerns are very daunting and can overcome individuals. Whether you will obtain a job once graduating or whether to take out student loans in order to pursue the degree are a few of the life altering decisions that I was faced with. I knew I couldn’t stay and try to find job in my hometown. I was tired of the dead end jobs.
    I was in my last year of undergraduate school when the financial crisis of 2008 occurred. I saw my future flash before my eyes because I was a finance major! It was the first time majoring in Finance. I ha so many people telling me that if I went to college, that I would only end up working at Best Buy with a ton of student loan debt. I saw this as my reality in 2008 when I was due to graduate in 2009. I had so many questions and concerns that I couldn’t sleep at night.
    I soon decided that my destiny was in my hands and although I knew I had a long hard fight ahead of me, I was determined to start a career once I received my degree. I hadn’t stayed all night in computer labs, lost sleep and missed family vacations for nothing. I didn’t know what was to come but I knew I had to keep moving forward, and I decided to go smaller instead of aiming for the big financial companies so many of my school mates were pursuing. I luckily obtained a position as a Pricing Analyst working directly under the CFO in a small family auto parts business in my hometown. Needless to say, once returning home after college, the people who told me I would only get a job at Best Buy, worked at Wal-Mart!


  7. Is college worth it? Is it? I have two bachelors and I do not have my desired dream job, nor do I earn a salary that makes me happy. Would I have been more successful if I didn’t go to college? Not sure. As I complete my MBA, have I learned things that have benefitted me? Absolutely! Will it guarantee me the job I’ve been looking for with the appropriate salary? Who knows.. Uncertain about the outcomes, the “risk” was one that I took, as the potential reward outweighs the risk. College graduates do have more opportunities, and are in a better position than those who have not competed a degree, but at the same time there’s a small percentage of those who don’t have a degree, and have been very successful.