Does College Education Really Pay?

Is a college education worth the effort and cost? The best answer to that question is that it depends on a number of critical factors. The main factor for young people is whether the college education will lead to gainful employment after the student is finished.

By gainful employment, I do not mean odd jobs here and there or part-time work that does not include any benefits. One can get that type of employment working as a greeter at Walmart. Why go through the blood sweat and tears of acquiring a college education if there will be no pay check at the end of it? If you are retired and just want to study for the love of it, by all means spend the $12,000 per year to get a diploma to satisfy, as Maslow would say, your self-actualization needs in the twilight of your years as your body parts wear out. Even if your joints become disjointed, you can still study from a wheelchair.

College Student

Good for you if you have completed a successful life in some established profession but what if you are a youth in your twenties trying to pursue a lofty American dream of becoming some sort of professional where five hundred people line up for one job opening. Sounds very competitive? Well, you can bet your overheated credit card on that, which you will probably need to support you until something comes along that makes the rent for you. Otherwise, consider moving back in with your parents to help make ends meet. But then, out goes your freedom and in comes the curfew.

The American dream of becoming what you want is still possible but only for the elite with connections and perhaps parents who may own an existing business, law firm or medical clinic. Trying to land a job without connections is like trying to land residency in America without an immigration lawyer. It may take you up to twenty years. Most people have resigned to a ten year waiting period at least.

Now, if you are an immigrant to the U.S. of A, you had better come with a marketable college degree in great demand in the U.S. otherwise you may have to resort to hacking (taxi driving) or a blue collar job to keep yourself alive. I hear there is a huge demand for cleaning help around. But do you want to do that if you're brain surgeon from Malawi? Probably not.

So here you are, a high school graduate trying to decide whether to go to college or not. Well, the decision is actually made for you. You really have no choice. I hear Burger King is now requiring a college degree from its kitchen staff. Well, fine, you have a chef's diploma from the Culinary School of Julia Child. But is that not really a specialized college degree? You bet it is, and could land you a pretty good job in a gourmet kitchen somewhere. But how many chefs or sous chefs does the world need. With the number of gourmet restaurants closing in our present anemic economy, fewer and fewer of those kitchen jobs are cashable.

So "wherefore goeth thou Romeo" to provide for you and your Juliette for the next thirty years until you can retire and do what you please on a very modest income? Truthfully, you had better get a good command of the English language, both written and oral, before you consider anything because if you can't spell the job your are applying for, you probably are whistling Dixie if you expect to land that one. Then, make sure you know what you are good at, what you would get up at five in the morning joyfully to do all day, and make sure the working world needs the skills you will be ruining your eyesight to learn for the next four years or more.

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