Today’s students must be confused by the contemporary messages they hear about college. There is much written about the low value that college offers today and the high cost of attending. Others, like Indiana’s Commission for Higher Education, argue that every adult should go back to school over the next decade. There is a dizzying array of messages.
Not having much of an ideological ax to grind on the matter, I offer two simple statistics to new students. Since the end of the Great Recession, employment for college graduates has risen by almost 5 million jobs. For the remaining two-thirds of the workforce, there are about 1 million fewer jobs. College has always been expensive, but recent tuition increases are almost wholly due to a declining state share of expenses. This is an observation, not a criticism. An education benefits both the individual and the community, so both should pay in proportion to that benefit.
Still, the best message this professor can offer is that it is far more costly to skip college than to graduate.
Michael J. Hicks, Ph.D., is director of the Center for Business and Economic Research and a professor of economics at Ball State University. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.