With the United States facing the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, undergraduates are looking to spend big bucks on higher education to avoid being unemployed Americans.
The unemployment rate rose from 7.2 percent to 7.6 percent in January 2009.
Entering a workforce in peril and disrepair isn’t smart. Students should wait, soak up as much information as they can and enter the job market with more knowledge.
Christophe Garant, a junior mechanical engineering major, recognizes that the economy is bad but says this isn’t the only reason he is pursuing graduate school.
“My aspirations are to build a strong résumé and background,” Garant said. “I can’t stop the decline, but I can prepare myself to the point so that when I do have to face the job market, I will do so with a big advantage.”
Unfortunately, sometimes an idea is only good in theory.
Graduate school can cost a significant amount of money. For out-of-state students to attend the Beasley School of Law School, it is more than $28,000, while Pennsylvania residents pay more than $16,000.
While schools may consider their tuitions to be competitive, it doesn’t change the fact that some college students don’t have the cash to cover all costs. Taking out massive loans can discourage students’ lofty ambitions, tying them down with debt.
According to a College Board report, “Trends in College Pricing to 2008,” during the 2007-2008 academic year, undergraduate student aid accounted for $43.8 billion in federal loans, $14.4 billion in Pell Grants, $3.5 billion in federal grants other than Bell, private and employer grants at $7.5 billion and Institutional Grants at $22.8 billion. In the 2007-2008 academic year, graduate students received $23 billion in federal loans, $3.1 billion in federal grants, and $3 billion in private and employer grants.
A 2002 report from the Census Bureau, “The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings,” reported that throughout an adult’s working life, high school graduates can expect to earn $1.2 million; those with bachelor’s degrees, $2.1 million; and people with master’s degrees, $2.5 million.
People with doctoral degrees earn an average of $3.4 million during their working lives, while those with professional degrees earn $4.4 million.
Even though the debt may seem insurmountable in comparison with possible future earnings, no one person can truthfully and completely predict his or her future. The only predictable aspect of the coming years is that the economy will not repair rapidly.
Despite the expense, continued education is the smartest option.
Tom Rowan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.