As Cost Of College Rises, Is It Worth It?

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WASHINGTON – (Newsblaze) With each and every passing week of more and more unemployment numbers being revised upward “unexpectedly” more people are questioning the holy grail principle that college is worth it for everyone.

In the left leaning Huffington Post there was this bit of advice to aspiring lawyers “Even if you started off law school with the best of non-profit save-the-world intentions, when you are staring a $1,700 per MONTH payment in the face, you WILL end up scurrying to work for a white collar sweatshop. And you will hate it, like everyone does, and you WILL want to leave, like everyone does, but you won’t be able to – like everyone else can’t – because you will have too much debt to pay off.”

And even amongst those who have a piece of paper on their wall, many are finding diminishing marginal returns in the acquisition of the tassel. London (UK) Financial Times Management Columnist Lucy Kellaway surveyed her office and found those with degrees from upper crust and Ivy League Universities were “on average neither better nor worse journalists than those with seconds [second class university degrees].”

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David Wilezol (L) and Dr. William J. Bennett (R) speaking at The Heritage Foundation about their new book, Is College Worth It?: A Former United States Secretary of Education and a Liberal Arts Graduate Expose the Broken Promise of Higher Education

Enter Conservative Commentator, William J. Bennett into the fray of the value of higher education. In a noontime Tuesday talk at Washington’s Heritage Foundation to promote a new book to take that question head on, entitled “Is College Worth it?” The former George H.W. Bush Education Secretary may indeed have the life experience to ascertain who should be pursuing academic parchment as it was his job to provide student academic advising to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates at Harvard University.

After several times of meeting the future tech Titan, and Gates thinking he could get ahead more in Seattle, Bennett surmised jokingly “The kid’s a dope, let him go” And Gates did go … and the rest is history. However, high achieving computer nerds aside, Bennett settled in to the real problem of the post secondary system.

“46% of those who enroll in 4 year colleges never finish within six years” Bennett added. Additionally, of the “40% in the bottom of their high school class, 76% don’t finish in four years” As the failure rates and tuition were rising he developed “The Bennett Hypothesis” which simply states as the availability of student aid becomes more prevalent, it will drive up prices. It was a simple thought, but it made him the target of controversy.

So what can be done?

During the course of his presentation, he cited a Virginia Nursing School whose graduates make more on average than those at The University of Virginia. Harvey Mudd College was cited as a good buy. However, the co authors of this book also suggested too if someone had the opportunity to go to Stanford it would “make a richer life.”

Nonetheless, even in the midst of college costs running at 1,120 times the rate of inflation over the last 30 years, he sees “hope.” That hope is arriving in the form of MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) Despite Bennett’s age to the newness of the technology. One such MOOC he cited was a robotics class that attracted 300,000 students and who’s best performing student was discovered in Mongolia.

“When the MOOC started 30 percent of the students dropped out” Bennent noted and then transfered to the online version where they were able to study easier. However MOOC’s are causing heartburn for the ivory towers of academia. One such place was Amhurst University in Massachusetts, where the faculty voted against the posting of one course online. The former Bush Official remarked amusingly “they had to give up wine and cheese” in their protest hunger strike.

Is Collge worth it is currently on sale at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble and has been reviewed by the Washington Post.

Randy Foreman is the NewsBlaze White House Correspondent, reporting from inside and outside The White House and around the beltway in Washington, D.C.