Monday, July 1, 2013

Is College Worth It? by William J. Bennett

 Subtitle is A Former United States Secretary of Education and a Liberal Arts Graduate Expose the Broken Promise of Higher Education. Publisher is Thomas Nelson.

I've heard the stories about college students who complete their degrees with thousands of dollars worth of student loan debt only to find that they can't get a job. Perhaps, you know a waitress who got a liberal arts degree and took the only job she could get because she has to make her student loan payments. Or, someone who has a job but can't buy a home because of student loan debt. Worse, there are people who started college, taking a student loan, and then had to drop out of school never to return. They have no degree but owe thousands on their student loan.

I've often wondered if college is indeed worth it if you must finance it with borrowed money. I've said that it would be better to work your way through, although it takes much longer to get the degree. A graduate who works his way through will have no debt, and he will also have work experience from the jobs he filled while going to school.

I'm so glad somebody like Bennett agrees with me! Except that he contends some people would be better off avoiding college altogether. Some people can make more money by learning trades which are much more in demand now than jobs that require a degree. Junior college and/or technical training might be more financially feasible than college. He maintains that some college degrees  might give the student a negative return on the investment. He says we must retool our thinking about college and its value, starting with the way we run our K-12 education systems. He gives statistics throughout, and he provides an extensive notes to support his points.

Bennett says the student loan program has driven up the cost of a college education. Not only that, but it's caused the colleges to develop a market-driven approach to their recruitment. Fitness centers and social life sometimes do more to attract students than academic programs. He goes into great detail on how the quality of college education has declined while the cost has gone up.

I encourage everyone who has a child in high school to read this book. Better yet, if you have a child in elementary school, read it now. Gone are the days when everyone "must" go to college. Some will be better off if they don't. Get the information you need as you and your child decide whether college is worth it.

William Bennett is well-known as Secretary of Education during the Reagan era and, more recently, as a conservative commentator. David Wilezol, co-writer, is also the associate producer for Bennett's radio show, Morning in America. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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