College: the bad investment

A college student explains why college is often a waste of money:

Government figures show that of students who entered four-year colleges in 1997, just 54% had earned a degree six years later. A professor wrote about this issue in The Atlantic earlier this year, arguing that it’s immoral to tell all students they can go to college, then crush their dreams by failing half of them. But the problem has deeper effects than hurt feelings: the 54% graduation rate means that around 46% of all money used to finance college tuition results in no degree.

Which means that financially speaking, the spectacularly high dropout rate boils down to a spectacularly bad investment.

This isn’t quite right. Since dropouts don’t pay for their non-attendance, the true amount of college finance being wasted is probably closer to 33 percent. Still, a one-in-three chance of blowing a significant portion of a family’s net worth means that a degree is a much riskier “investment” than it’s usually portrayed. And this doesn’t even factor in the large number of college graduates who manage to get a degree without receiving anything that remotely resembles an actual education.