Top Pro & Con Arguments


College is not a guarantee of a job or better life.

Many college graduates are employed in jobs that do not require college degrees. According to the Department of Labor, as many as 17 million college graduates work in positions that do not require a college education. 1 in 3 college graduates had a job that required a high school diploma or less in 2012. More than 16,000 parking lot attendants, 83,000 bartenders, 115,000 janitors and 15% of taxi drivers have bachelor’s degrees. College graduates with jobs that do not require college degrees earn 30-40% less per week than those who work in jobs requiring college degrees. [5] [6] [40]

Too many students earning degrees has diluted the value of a bachelor’s degree. Rita McGrath, Associate Professor at Columbia Business School, stated “Having a bachelor’s used to be more rare and candidates with the degree could therefore be more choosy and were more expensive to hire. Today, that is no longer the case.” A high unemployment rate shifts the supply and demand to the employers’ favor and has made master’s degrees the “new bachelor’s degrees.” According to James Altucher, venture capitalist and finance writer, “college graduates hire only college graduates, creating a closed system that permits schools to charge exorbitant prices and forces students to take on crippling debt.” [68] [69]

College degrees also do not guarantee learning or job preparation. Many students graduate from college with little understanding of math, reading, civics, or economics. In 2011, 35% of students enrolled in college reported they studied 5 hours or less per week and there was a 50% decline in the number of hours a student studied and prepared for classes compared to a few decades ago. 36% of students demonstrated no significant improvement on Collegiate Learning Assessments after 4 years of college. In 2013 56% of employers thought half or fewer of college graduates had the skills and knowledge to advance within their companies. 30% of college graduates felt college did not prepare them well for employment, specifically in terms of technical and quantitative reasoning skills. A Pew Research survey found that 57% of Americans felt higher education did not provide students with good value compared to the money spent. [25] [56] [57] [58] [59] [60]

The market glut and lack of job preparation, means many recent college graduates are un- or underemployed. The unemployment rate for recent college graduates (4.0%) exceeded the average for all workers, including those without a degree (3.6%) in 2019. The underemployment rate was 34% for all college graduates and 41.1% for recent grads. The underemployment (insufficient work) rate for college graduates in 2015 was 6.2% overall: 5.2% for white graduates, 8.4% for Hispanic graduates, and 9.7% for black graduates. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 44% of recent college graduates were underemployed in 2012. [42] [101] [129]

Under- or un-employement also translates into fewer workplace benefits. In 2013, 68.9% of employed new college graduates did not receive health insurance through their employers and, in 2011, 27.2% received retirement coverage (down from 41.5% in 2000). [41]

The total cost of going to college means more than tuition, fees, and books; it also includes an opportunity cost which equals at least four years of missed wages and advancements from a full-time job–about $49,000 for a 4-year degree and $20,000 for a 2-year degree. [8]

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