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ERIC Number: ED536148
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Dec-16
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 11
From Wall Street to Wal-Mart: Why College Graduates Are Not Getting Good Jobs
Vedder, Richard; Denhart, Christopher; Denhart, Matthew; Matgouranis, Christopher; Robe, Jonathan
Center for College Affordability and Productivity (NJ1)
There are many reasons for pursing a higher education. For most persons, a significant, maybe even the dominant reason, for going to college is that it supposedly will improve one's prospect of acquiring a good job. In a sense, a college degree has long been considered a ticket to the middle class--an adult life with a good income and relatively high job security. From the standpoint of society, efforts to expand college graduation attainment rates have been justified by President Obama and major foundations (for example, Lumina and Gates) on a need to be competitive with other nations which have a larger proportion of adults with college degrees. This study argues that the conventional wisdom that going to college is a "human capital investment" with a high payoff is increasingly wrong. Evidence shows that currently more than one-third of college graduates hold jobs that governmental employment experts say would require less than a college degree. Moreover, the push to increase enrollments has led to a majority of the "increment" of the stock of college graduates finding employment in relatively low skilled jobs, most of which are not particularly high paying (although there are exceptions). If the public objective is to use higher education as a means to form human capital and expand national productive capabilities, it appears much of the recent "investment" in colleges is misdirected. The bottom line is that there is a need to rethink higher education policies, particularly the massive one-size-fits-all federal financial assistance programs but also other public provision of higher education services. (Contains 4 figures, 2 tables, and 2 footnotes.)
Center for College Affordability and Productivity. 1055 Thomas Jefferson Street NW Suite L 26, Washington, DC 20007. Tel: 202-621-0536; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP)