May 17, 2010
A growing number of economists and educators are saying that many students would be better off attending two-year or technical colleges than earning four-year college degrees.
"It is true that we need more nanosurgeons than we did 10 to 15 years ago," said Richard K. Vedder of Ohio University, founder of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, who was quoted by The New York Times. "But the numbers are still relatively small compared to the numbers of nurses' aides we're going to need. We will need hundreds of thousands of them over the next decade."
Nurses' aides, as well as many other jobs including home health aides, registered nurses and customer service representatives, do not require bachelor's degrees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only seven of the 30 jobs projected to grow at the fastest rate over the next ten years require a four-year degree.
The Times reports that Vedder and others have pushed for more short-term vocational and career training options in place of college. They argue that some high school students are far better off concentrating on specific job skills rather than taking on enormous student debt to pay for what amounts to be unnecessary college degrees.
The Associated Press reports on the same phenomenon, noting that just 36 percent of full-time students who started college in 2001 earned a four-year degree within that time, and only 57 percent graduated within six years. In addition, two-thirds of students who graduate four-year schools owe money on student loans.
Vedder told the AP that according to his research, the number of new jobs requiring college degrees is less than the number of college graduates. Moreover, he found that surprisingly, the more states spend on higher education, the less the economy grows.
"The evidence that far too many high school students are enrolling in college is overwhelming," agrees Zac Bissonnette, who writes for AOL's DailyFinance. He notes that most of the growth in college enrollment is probably coming from "academically marginal candidates--which is a problem." He cites data indicating that half of four-year graduates were working at jobs requiring a four-year degree in the beginning of 2009, and that U.S. employers are expecting to hire 7 percent less college graduates this year than last.
"With numbers like that," he writes, "how can anyone possibly think that the problem in the labor market is that not enough people are graduating from college?"
Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff
"College for All? Experts Say Not Necessarily," Associated Press, May 16, 2010, Alan Scher Zagier
"Plan B: Skip College," The New York Times, May 14, 2010, Jacques Steinberg
"Would Your Kid Be Better Off Without College?" DailyFinance, May 16, 2010, Zac Bissonnette