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The Devaluation of a College Education

Updated on May 17, 2012

Being told that Americans live in the "Land of the Free" tends to ring hollow when we accept the fact that the US owes almost all of its foreign debt to China, which can hardly be looked at as the epitome of freedom. China stands for many of the things that Americans have always been told are bad: dictatorship, censorship, communism, horrible human rights record, anti-religion etc. Yet it is to this country that our supposed "freedom" is so highly indebted to.

Seeing that the American government has acted so irresponsibly over the past decades in hopes of economic gain for the present moment and worrying about consequences later, its not surprising that American citizens have acted very similarly concerning getting into personal debt. The banking system has turned into a Chinese style dictatorship, all smiles on the outside, but if you don't keep your end of the "bargain" then they will hunt you down and destroy you without mercy. Governmental borrowing of billions of dollars in order to build new military equipment to fight in hopeless wars is the equivalent of citizens borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars for new houses/cars/TVs etc. that will turn out to be equally as hopeless to ever pay back.

Now Americans are being bogged down by college debt after having the supposed value of a higher education at a high price being thrust down their throats from childhood, making them believe that the high cost will turn into high returns. This was true decades ago, but now colleges and universities have turned into nothing more than huge businesses doing anything they can to draw in students who are taking on crippling debt in order to start on what they believe will be the American Dream. Working hard is not enough anymore. The US is increasingly being run by monopolistic corporations who lobby the government to do basically what they want. It is enough to look at the continued corruption and arrogance of Wall Street, which has had no reason to learn any sort of lesson since 2008 and major players still make very risky investments etc.

Many people are starting to cast a critical glance at the old propaganda of a college education equating to a bright and prosperous future. The fact the even State colleges raise their tuition yearly is finally disillusioning young people. Shiny auditoriums, new stadiums, gourmet cafeteria food and so on seems great to prospective students and parents who all too often fall for these tricks made my colleges to woo new students. However, 4 or 5 years and tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt later with no prospect of getting jobs in desired fields or only being underemployed bursts the bubbles of many new graduates and parents alike. Students straight out of college are faced with huge debts and the stress of doing whatever job that comes along in order to start digging themselves out of an ever deepening hole. What is this if not a total devaluation of the value of a college diploma? A BA is the new high school diploma: almost everyone has one. As colleges vie for more students and more money, the actual quality of education has gone down. It is not in a school's interest to send students (ie. money) away due to bad grades as this will obviously cause schools to lose money. Instead, very "well meaning" counselors urge students to take longer to finish their degrees, or to perhaps to move on into graduate programs even if their undergraduate results were poor. It is no longer about developing well educated professionals. It is just about churning as much cash out of students as possible and trying to make them believe that it is a good investment.

Once students realize that their diplomas are virtually useless pieces of paper, the gourmet cafeterias, state of the art gyms, and new stadiums don't seem so cool anymore. Let's not forget that all of these students are supposed to be leading this country into a future of ever increasing competition in a global economy. Despite churning out hundreds of thousands of fresh graduates a year, many US companies have to hire workers from places like India and Russia and China who are much more qualified for many technical positions in IT and engineering, for example. University educations actually mean something in most countries. Many countries have free university education, meaning that students have to pass rigorous tests in order to be accepted, assuring that only the best of the best will actually earn a degree. That is why we see so many people from foreign countries go to the US, because their education levels are very high, but their earning potential in their own countries is much less than in the US. The US has high paying jobs for highly skilled workers, and students coming out of US colleges and universities just don't make the cut anymore. America is not faced with a brain drain, but with complete brain death. The majority of US college students are basically paying for a degree, and schools don't actually care whether you learned anything or not. Even the best students are oftentimes from foreign countries, where work ethic is much stronger. US students also get lazy due to the unchallenging atmosphere in the classroom. It is easy to coast trough college as long as the college makes money off of students.

Now we find hundreds of thousands of college graduates with supposedly higher educations either unemployed or underemployed, busing tables at restaurants or folding clothes at department stores. Sure, colleges and universities might be making a killing off of students, but in the end it is just a slow suicide as students finish their "education" only to receive a worthless piece of paper with very little prospects for the future except decades of debt slavery. It will be the United States that will suffer in the future as a whole. A country that was once the technological and educational super power in the world is slowly becoming relegated to a third rate also ran, and all of this because of the greed and selfishness of the whole educational system.


Is the value of a college degree in the US overrated?

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      Gabriel Lewis 3 years ago

      There are way too many college graduates for the menial jobs being created that require a college degree. It satisfies the highly paid professors and secures their tenured positions. The name of game today is to work for the Government at Federal, State or local level or Unions, and you have a higher paying job with no worries of being fired for incompetence. Its just a matter of time before the bubble busts with student loans. I do believe in higher education but not everyone should go to college. Education has gotten to corrupt with every ones main goal is to game the taxpayers in being stuck more taxes.

    • frantisek78 profile image

      frantisek78 5 years ago

      @MobyWho : thanks for reading, and have fun at the 60th(!) college reunion!

    • MobyWho profile image

      MobyWho 5 years ago from Burlington VT

      I'm headed to my 60th college reunion in a few weeks. I wish I had studied diesel mechanics instead of Art History - at least I'd be able to keep the boat afloat...literally and figuratively.

    • bankscottage profile image

      bankscottage 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      One of my sons has an associate degree. From his retail experience, he has worked his way up to district manager of a small shoe store chain (he is 26). When he applied for a position as a rep for a national shoe company, he was told that they gave the job to someone else because the other person had a BS degree (and they admitted the other candidate had far less experience). Maybe it really is a BS degree.

    • frantisek78 profile image

      frantisek78 5 years ago

      I agree with you UnnamedHarald. In my opinion HR departments are actually amongst the laziest departments at companies. They come up with useless formulas and stupid questions to ask candidates to see if they would be " right" for the job or not, I stead of actually taking the time to read resumes and asking questions that would actually help them find the right employees.

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 5 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      Many businesses require 4 year degrees or they won't even look at your resume. So-called savvy upper management types are now pontificating about "degree inflation"-- soon the minimum may be a masters. This is all tripe of course. Having a master's degree is a good thing, don't get me wrong, but it's ridiculous for corporations to take this attitude. Most of the time a degree is the benchmark because companies, managers and HR are too bone-idle to figure out whether the candidate can actually do the job. This spreadsheet mentality is actually corporate laziness.

    • frantisek78 profile image

      frantisek78 5 years ago

      Well said bankscottage! thanks for the comment. You're right, people want to live the high life in college and then end up scrimping once they get their degree, when it should in fact be the other way around.

    • bankscottage profile image

      bankscottage 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Getting a college degree should be considered a financial decision, not a social choice. We spend more time picking out a tv and getting a good deal than we do in deciding on a college and major. If you can't get a good paying job and a good return on your investment (your tuition payments), you should consider other options. There are a lot of jobs that need technical training, not a liberal arts degree. Also, get your education at a discount, start at a community college. Forget the football team, rec center, the food courts, the luxury dorms. Tough it out now, scrimp, economize now or do it later when you can't afford the student loan payments with the job you get with your worthless degree.

    • frantisek78 profile image

      frantisek78 5 years ago

      @ASchwartz: I agree. I didn't mean to sound as if all degrees are useless, especially not engineering or IT or some others. Its just that the majority of college grads have pretty generic degrees that come with the promise that you can do lots of things with, when in fact they are usually not specialized enough to be qualified for any particular job. Students and parents need to do a lot more research about what jobs are actually out there and not just hope for the best because they have a degree.

    • ASchwartz profile image

      ASchwartz 5 years ago from Kentucky

      I don't think all degrees are useless, but I've know a few people with degrees not worth as much as the paper they are printed on.

      I begged my niece to reconsider when she began pursuing a degree in medical assisting. Now she's over 20,000 dollars in debt and working at a factory because she can't afford to live on what a medical assistant makes.