If College is About Making More Money, You Might Want to Reconsider

Dale Stephens’ Uncollege efforts are, I think, a very positive step in the direction of creating a movement to reclaim higher education for individual enrichment, instead of viewing college as general certification that one is eligible for work. Of course, this flies in the face of conventional media reports that bellow to the masses that unemployment is more horrible for those without a college degree. Dale digs into the conventional wisdom to reveal some inconvenient truths about the costs and benefits of college degrees:

As the New York Times reported last May, while the average unemployment rate of all college graduates may seem low, the rate for recent college grads is up to three times higher, while their starting salaries have sharply declined . . .

For those under twenty-five the outlook is grim: 22% are unemployed and 22.4% are working in jobs that don't require their degree.  The environment college graduates face is frightening.  My friend Jenny wrote a piece in the Times in August called "Generation Limbo," profiling graduates from elite schools who are working as bartenders and collecting welfare checks.  

In response to the article about me in the New York Times last week, a commenter called me irresponsible for suggesting that young people skip college when the unemployment rate is higher for those without degrees.  Ten years ago, this may have been true.  

Today, I think it's irresponsible to suggest to young people that getting a university degree will secure a brighter future.  The reality is that only half of recent college graduates are working in jobs that require their degree, and they are doing so with an average of $27,000 in debt.


In my last post I quoted from Dan Rubin, an adult who was unschooled, and I noted that it was unclear from his writing if he’d graduated college. Helen, Dan’s mom, wrote back to me that Dan does not have a college degree, though he took some college courses. Nonetheless, Dan is “Creative Director for a major international company.” There are other ways to find work worth doing and make a decent living than just by graduating college.