- January 23, 2018
That Crushing Student Loan Debt
Pop quiz! What do Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s Bill Gates have in common? Both are multi-billionaires. Both are Harvard drop-outs.
Why does this seem as shocking as it is true?
There is a saying in the United States that “to get a good job, you need to get a good education.” This was the slogan of a pro-education campaign from years past.
On the surface, this truism makes good sense. There are statistics and reports from federal contractors like the Brookings Institute to back up the claim. They like to publish charts like this to “prove” their points, but notice that the title begins with the word “probability.” This word means likelihood – or the odds of something happening – not certainty.
A publication from Hearst Seattle Media targets high school students as future consumers of high-cost advanced education. They quote Department of Labor Statistics from five years ago, and paint a very rosy picture of every college graduate’s future – as a worker bee.
It is unquestionably true that certain, high-paying jobs – like medical doctor or lawyer – require a “good education” and plenty of it, at no small cost. But does the expense justify the potential future income?
“Each year, over 20,000 U.S. students begin medical school. They routinely pay $50,000 or more per year for the privilege, and the average medical student graduates with a debt of over $170,000,” as reported on KevinMD.com.
The mere title of this Quartz article says it all, regarding the high cost of finishing medical school:
“I went $230,000 into debt to become a doctor in America.”
Does the expense and resultant debt pay off?
Weatherby Healthcare indicates that, on average, physician incomes have risen steadily over the past seven years. From the lowest rung on the doctoring salary ladder, an Internist earns, on average, $225,000. On the top rung rank orthopedists who get paid more than double that amount, $489,000.
But there are also statistics that claim that buying – let’s use the correct verb, ok? – a diploma is no guarantee of landing a lucrative – again, let’s use the correct adjective – job. Tam Pham, writing for The Hustle, answers the question, “Is a College Degree Worth It in 2016?” and reaches a similar conclusion:
“The value of a college degree continues to be reexamined. Companies are putting more focus on hiring candidates with real-world experiences. More affordable alternatives to college are now available and the internet has allowed anyone to ‘get educated’ from the comfort of their own home.”
What is absolutely, stone cold certain is that today’s twenty-somethings are saddled with a debt load that will be the biggest in most of their lives, including, possibly, a home purchase.
“The average student in the Class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt.”
Student loan interest, in former years, has been scandalously high. To reign in this run-away industry, and to preserve at least some of our children’s retirement income, the fed now sets fixed-rate student loans for life.
But that wasn’t always the case, and there are countless horror stories from “student-debt slaves,” Eric Wetervelt’s term via National Public Radio. Want more? Check out this myDayton Daily News article to read first-hand accounts of post-graduate experiences in the real world of adult employment.
Perhaps it’s time to re-examine the underlying notion that “everyone” needs a college degree to “succeed” in life. Nothing could be further from the truth, as James Pethokoukis explores in his incisive article for AEIdeas, “Why getting a good education and a good job doesn’t necessarily mean going to a four-year college.”
A trade diploma costs a fraction of what a college degree does, and unemployment rates in these fields are low.
This City Journal article by Joel Kotkin titled, “Wanted: Blue-Collar Workers” cites a rise in American manufacturing and other industries, coupled with a shortage of skilled workers, as the reason factory and other employers are understaffed. The underlying problem, though, could be termed a “paradigm shift” in US employment:
“For decades, Americans have been told that the future lies in high-end services, such as law, and ‘creative’ professions, such as software-writing and systems design. That attitude is a relic of the post–World War II era, a time when a college education almost guaranteed you a good job. The oversupply of college-educated workers is especially striking when you contrast it with the growing shortage of skilled manufacturing workers.”
Our great nation has a dire need for skilled tradespeople: plumbers, electricians, welders, and other people who keep the physical infrastructure running, from the power lines outside to the kitchen faucet.
US News & World Report lists “25 Best Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree.” In the top three: web developer, diagnostic medical sonographer, and occupational therapy assistant.
Is the American epidemic of student impoverishment an accident – or an evil plot launched by the Illuminati (the international cabal of wealthiest elite who own us) to further enslave our society?
Fingers point to the latter:
“By one estimate, the federal student loan program could turn a profit of $1.6 billion in 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office.”
David Meyer really gets into the topic of the student loan conspiracy, but allows that “it isn’t a deliberate one.”
Deliberate or not, if you know anyone “deliberating” about whether or not to go to college – and especially if that person is leaning toward a major in some “soft” subject with little practical employment value, without a PhD (e.g., Philosophy or History) – please spread the idea that learning a useful trade might just be the course of wisdom.
If that doesn’t work, share a few of these “Real Student Debt Stories” – but not before bedtime. These tales are the stuff nightmares are made of.