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May 29, 2014


Students and parents are questioning the value of college (TaxCredits/FlickrCC).

After decades of rising costs, students are less willing and able to pay a premium for college education. Many families are asking whether college is worth it. And that question has been posed repeatedly in recent headlines.

From a New York Times op-ed to NPR's Education Blog, many pundits are making their voices heard.

For those who don't want to slog through every op-ed and article, WGBH’s On Campus has aggregated highlights in one place.

So… is college worth it?

David Leonhardt struggles with the question in a recent New York Times op-ed, answering with an unequivocal yes.

Yes, college is worth it, and it’s not even close. For all the struggles that many young college graduates face, a four-year degree has probably never been more valuable.

Leonhardt's opinion was based on an analysis of recently released numbers. According to the Times, the numbers show that Americans with a four-year degree made 98 percent more an hour, on average, than those without.

The decision not to attend college for fear that it’s a bad deal is among the most economically irrational decisions anybody could make in 2014.

At FiveThirtyEight Ben Casselman fought back, pointing out that any value question must also take into account the likelihood of finishing college. Earning almost double is also dependent on graduating from college, not just going to college, Casselman wrote.

For many students, the odds aren’t good. Less than 60 percent of full-time students who are enrolled in college for the first time graduate within six years. Part-time students have an even lower completion rate, as do racial minorities and older and low-income students. For some groups, the six-year graduation rate is well under 20 percent.

NPR's Education blog also jumped into the mix, arguing that college isn't always worth it, especially if you pick the wrong college.

For-profit colleges enroll just under 10 percent of all college students, but they're notorious for relatively high tuition costs and low graduation rates. Research shows that graduates of these schools have higher unemployment rates and lower opinions of their education long after graduating.

The conversation hasn't stopped there, it's been continuing on social media all week.

So, what do you think, is college worth it? Tell us about your college experience.

confronting cost, college, value, increasing access and success

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