The article “Degrees of success” (Business, Aug. 23) may give some readers the impression that everyone who obtains a bachelor’s degree will get a job that pays well. There is a wide range of incomes among people who have obtained a college degree. Consumer Reports, in the issue of August 2016, points out that 45 percent of people with student loan debt said that college was not worth the cost.
Part of the problem is with the student loan business. As Consumer Reports says, “Millions of Americans who went to college seeking a better future now face crushing debt — while the industry makes a handsome profit.” The other part is misinformation. If we tell our young people that more education leads to higher earnings, we are not telling the whole truth. Higher education will increase the chances of a well-paying job, but there is no guarantee.
Noah Berger, of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, seems to think that it would be a good idea if everyone had a college degree. This is wrong. The number of jobs paying what college graduates expect depends on the needs of employers. That number will not increase because there are more graduates. And McDonald’s will not pay you more to flip hamburgers if you have a college degree.
A 2016 report on Marketwatch.com cited a study that found that about 45 percent of recent college graduates worked in a “non-college job,” defined as a position in which fewer than half of the workers in that job need a bachelor’s degree.
Berger also says that it is unfortunate that so many young people face significant financial obstacles to attending college. On this, I agree completely. In many countries in Europe higher education is free. It should be free here too.
The writer is a retired employment counselor and career counselor.