Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

July 21, 2013

ED VASICEK: On college, Twinkies and BB guns

Human nature can be quite fascinating

The best way to make a small fortune in the stock market is to start out with a large one. Economics are not what they once were, and modern economics are impacting our colleges and universities.

One of my favorite “futurists,” Thomas Frey, projects that more than half of colleges will close their doors by 2030. With the popularity and convenience of online courses, rising costs, and a host of other factors, many traditional institutions will simply vanish.

He shares some surprising statistics:

“Last year 284,000 college graduates, including 37,000 advance degree holders in the U.S. were working minimum wage jobs in 2012,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

Out of 41.7 million working college graduates of 2010 in the U.S., 48 percent worked jobs that didn’t require a bachelor’s degree, according to the Huffington Post.

In China, a recent study projected that more than half of the 94 million Chinese earning college degrees between 2010 and 2020 will be working blue-collar jobs because of an oversupply of talent, the International Business Times reported.

Despite changing times, a college education — particularly if it is in the right field — can make a major difference. Of course there is no guarantee that today’s demand cannot be tomorrow’s glut.

We are certainly still reeling from the economic meltdown that began in 2008, so we are not in the ideal position to determine what the new “normal” might be. The national unemployment rate stands at 7.6 percent for June, yet many working Americans are not in the financial position they once were.

The Kokomo Tribune recently reported annual average family income in Indiana dropped from $79,599 in 2000 to $57,148 in 2011. That’s more than a fourth. In addition, some costs have risen since 2000. Because of rising health costs, rising taxes and lowered income, many of us now experience a lower standard of living than we once did. My suspicion is that, as the economy improves (if it does), college degrees will become more valuable than they now are, yet not as valuable as they once were (unless rightly targeted).

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