The value of college education part 2

There are debates about whether it is worth to go to college since there are many unemployed graduates in every country. Newspapers in China are raising the question about the value of a college education as there are over twenty million unemployed college graduates; many have to work in low paying labor jobs that have nothing to do with their education. European TVs and radios have reported about the high numbers of Master and Ph.D. degreed people working in restaurants, coffee shops, construction sites, or even drive taxi etc. The confusing situation has created a dilemma for anyone who advises students about whether and where to go to college, and the public who may wonder if the country has too many college degreed people already?

There are several opinions on whether a college education is worth it, but basically they can be divided into two main views: The philosophy view and the economic view about the value of education. The philosophy view considers education is a “Noble and high ideal” therefore, it is important to educate all young people, regardless of whether they can get job of not. The economic view considers education as an “investment” therefore if young people and their family invest a lot of time and money into education but get nothing in return, such as cannot get job or get low paying jobs, then it is a “bad investment”.

Today college education NOT a luxury but essential as most good jobs require certain knowledge and skills ONLY taught in college. Without a college education it is very difficult to make a good living or build a good career but going to college is NOT as simple as people think. College education is NOT ONLY a “noble and high ideal” BUT ALSO an “investment”. However to calculate the value of a degree depends on several ways that lead to different results. One cannot look at ALL college degrees as equal because the earnings of a college degree are different depending on what types of degree students have. For example, the salaries of information technology graduates are higher than business and finance graduates, and of course, much higher than history, literature, sociology, arts, or interior decoration graduates. Therefore from the economic view, one must conclude that “A college education is a good investment, if and only if, students select the right field of study.

However, the goals of education are NOT solely for getting employment. Education is also the foundation for being a good person. If citizens of a country do NOT have a good education, the country cannot compete and national defense will fail as well. Education is about providing the youth with solid foundation for being a good person for their family, a good citizen for their country, a good contributor to their society and when they start working, they will base all their actions on the virtue that they learn in school and serve as models for others, as they are the future of a country. The prosperity of a country starts with good education. As long as we, the educators lay down a good foundation in education, the country will be strong and prosperous, because education build up their knowledge, their character and develop their virtue.

If you look at the value of college education, you must look at each graduate degrees as well as the university that offers the degree because NOT all degrees are equal and NOT all schools are the same. Today there are many “Bogus schools” and “For profit universities” whose main business is to make money for the owners but do NOT care on quality of education and trainings. Some of these schools are not even accredited but they are heavily advertised and will accept anyone who has money. Selecting a wrong field of study may hurt you in the future but selecting the wrong schools will be a disaster. You will lose money, having worthless degree and have to live with the notion that you were cheated. With a “Bogus degree” you will be “laughed” by employers because of the bad reputation of the school that you attended. You will feel embarrass when the name of the “Bogus degree” and the “Phantom school” is disclosed.

Therefore selecting a good school and good field of study are the most important factors that determine the VALUE of your college education and you must investigate carefully before making decision.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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