Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Bachelor's Degree Is Obsolete?

From Inside Higher Ed. Maybe not obsolete, but certainly devalued and overpriced.
I’m left to wonder what I’m missing. Perhaps the next unasked question is about this product we call college, the four-year bachelor’s degree. In defending the high cost of education, college and university presidents and business officers have taken everything into account except the fundamental cost of delivery. In MBA speak, the central cost driver of a college education is not health insurance, salaries, rising oil costs, or even costly academic journals. It is the four-year, 36-course structure that determines the cost of a college degree. This model, leading to annual tuitions and fees of $25,000 at public colleges and $50,000 at many private ones, crushes families with $100,000 to $200,000 in cost and debt.
Is it worth the investment? Some college student loan lenders are questioning that very notion.


Tony said...

Although many careers do not require you to have a bachelor degree, you are likely to earn far more money if you have one than someone who doesn’t. If you want to apply for a management position, you will likely stand a better chance if you have a bachelor’s degree. Many entry level positions in industries such as computing require you to have a relevant bachelor’s degree to apply.

Matt Johnston said...


Fair enough. One can find exceptions to any rule. However, the question that should be asked is, is the increase in earning potential sufficiently linked to the possession of a bachelor's degree that it makes the investment of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars worth it?

I would dispute the notion that you have to have a bachelor's degree for entry level positions in most industries. There are no doubt industries where having the degree is relevant, but the question is, aside from the desires of an employer--it is required.

Speaking from the position of having hired a lot of people in my time, there are times when I as an employer would have felt it more cost effective to train my employees from scratch than to have to undo previous education.

Alternatively, if our K-12 education system were producing a better educated high school senior, we might not need so many bachelor's degrees.