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ERIC Number: EJ1002565
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Apr-22
Pages: 0
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
How to Assess the Real Payoff of a College Degree
Carlson, Scott
Chronicle of Higher Education, Apr 2013
Just listen to Dimitrius Graham sing. As a music major at Morgan State University, he seems keenly aware of certain realities about his life: His talent is undeniable and probably innate, and his future is promising but uncertain. He could make a career singing on Broadway or climbing the charts as a Billboard phenomenon. Because he went to college already able to sing, and because a career in singing is something of a financial crapshoot, one has to ask: Is he wasting his time and money, getting a degree in something that might not pay off? For Mr. Graham, it was all about the job, the opportunities, the doors that would open with a parchment embossed in gothic lettering. "There are so many things I could do," he says, "because I have networked so much. College is really full of opportunities." Mr. Graham is a hopeful voice at a time when the public has lost some faith in the value of a college education--perhaps irrationally. After all, numerous studies have shown that, on the whole, college graduates are far more likely to get jobs and earn more money than nongraduates. Mr. Graham, meanwhile, exudes confidence. "Because I have a good voice, it's a promising career," he says. If his vocal cords get nodules or if he otherwise does not make it in entertainment, he can use his training to become a music teacher, and then maybe become principal of a school. College has put him on the right path. He is set, regardless. He just needs to focus and handle his business, and then he can be an artist or an opera singer, or he can be a really good teacher who has a good life. Either way, it will work out. Tallying the costs of and returns on a college education in financial terms is surely slippery business: It depends on who you are, where you come from, where you think you are going, where you really are capable of going, and what might derail or propel you along the way. One's perspective is also skewed by political beliefs, race, and class. And for some, particularly among advocates of the liberal arts, framing the value of education in dollars and cents is a perilous trend that discounts other benefits, like college graduates' tendencies to be more involved in civic and intellectual life.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A