Does a college education prepare you for a career?

There are now 111 universities that cost over $50,000 a year to attend and that does NOT include room and board. What is amazing is that number has DOUBLED in just three short years! Yikes! If you are like me and have multiple children approaching college age, it is a real concern. When I went to the University of Oregon in the early 1980’s I believe my out of state tuition was under $7,000 a year. Is a college degree today worth it or more specifically, does what you will learn in college really prepare you for a career?

The word education is derived from the Greek word educare,  which means to ‘draw out from within’ or to ‘lead forth’. The implication is that the purpose of education is to l ead the young out of their ignorance , draw out their potential, teach them to think and have the ability to learn. Are colleges doing that effectively? I do not want to get started discussing the “left leaning bias” of many teachers in the classroom and the goal of drawing out ignorance. I love this classic picture of John Belushi from Animal House. The movie was filmed at U of O the year before I arrived.


You have seen reports that debt from student loans has now surpassed the total debt from credit cards. How many do you know with a college or even advanced degree that have a huge loan debt only to graduate and get a job for low pay or even worse are unemployed?

A recent article, Colleges Get Career-Minded, reports that finally some universities are now reconsidering what they teach. What skills do you learn that will really help you in a future career? What are they educating for? Some schools are working closer with employers in the classroom to define the skills the students really need.

If you had $200,000+ saved for college is it a solid investment anymore? What are the alternatives? Could you spend much less and get the same result? If you had $200k saved could you buy a business and teach your child to run it with a mentor? Are kids learning how to show up on time with a great attitude, work hard for 10 hours and not complain, deliver amazing service and have the heart of a servant? Are they learning how to write and speak with precision and passion? How many are learning what it takes to be an entrepreneur and take an idea from start-up, to funding to fruition?

A new model is needed for colleges and universities to impart the skills and mindset to succeed in the future without loading a student with a debt it will take them 20+ years to pay off. Students and parents deserve a  clearer and quicker ROI.

A recent WSJ article reported a 5% vacancy rate in manufacturing jobs that means 600,000 jobs right now are unfilled because they can not find employees with the right skills: machinists, craft workers and technicians. Almost none of these high paying jobs requires a college degree.

What are you considering now for your kids and college or vocational/technical training?  I am looking at all my options and networking for potential internships. Are you considering any alternatives? What do you think colleges should focus on teaching now?


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