So, there was this article in the Wall Street Journal about how college graduates don’t necessarily earn more than non-college graduates. Evidently, the whole ‘college graduates earn $1 million more over their lifetime’ thing is not totally accurate.
And yours truly served as the example in the article of a college grad gone wrong, I suppose:
And just like any investment, there are risks—such as graduating into a deep economic downturn. That’s what happened to Kelly Dunleavy, who graduated in 2007 from the University of California, Berkeley, with $60,000 in loans. She now works as a reporter for a small newspaper in the Bay Area and earns $34,000 a year. Her father is currently paying her $700 monthly loan payments. “It’s harder than what I think I expected it to be,” she says.
Which is true. Those facts are accurate and I did say that. And it’s really her prerogative as a reporter to decide what role she wants to cast me in.
I do not think I was in any way tricked or misled. (Other than tuition getting hiked up $10K from freshman to senior year, but that was just plain shitty.) I don’t “regret my mistake” or any such nonsense. And no one guaranteed me I would make a ton of money if I went to Cal.
It was my choice to go to Berkeley. I could have gone to Illinois and it would have been cheaper and I would have gotten a ton of scholarship money for staying in state, but I chose to come out here. And it was my choice to earn $34K and work in an industry that people keep swearing is dying — which is also dumb, but a discussion for another day. I majored in International Economics, I could have chosen to go into consulting or banking and made a ton of money and a college degree from Berkeley would have been beneficial in doing so. I know lots of people who did that. I just didn’t really want to. I could have also chosen to join the Peace Corps and made no money. I know lots of people that did that too. I just sort of enjoy indoor plumbing. [On a side note, in studies of the average income of college graduates, do these people factor in at $0?]
There are lots of reasons to go to college and none of them are a guarantee of anything. Graduating from a good school merely offers more options in life, which is all you can really ask for.
A better study than comparing the average incomes of college graduates and non-graduates, would be to look at the top 1 or 5 or 10 percent of income earners — how many of them have college degrees? My guess would be most. Because it’s not an option that is often open to those without a degree.
[Side note, my parents are paying my student loans right now as a gift — which has to do largely with the fact that my family had almost no money when I was growing up and now they want to give me an opportunity to have that choice. So don’t even think about making any nasty comments.]