College in America does not work the way it used to. Only one in four college enrollees will graduate and get a good job in today’s economy. Every May approximately three million teenagers graduate from high school to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance.” Given the mediocre quality of K-12 education in the United States today the vast majority of these kids are lucky if they are prepared for a minimum wage job at McDonalds. Since
flipping burgers doesn’t sound very attractive, all of these young folks are open to suggestion. What sounds better than, “Go to college and earn $1,000,000 more than a high school graduate?” Everyone is doing it, and it is “free.” The government will loan you the money, and you don’t have to pay it back for years.
Sound like a plan? Here is the stark reality:
It is highly unlikely that your student is going to make $1,000,000 more than the average high school graduate. Financing college with student loan debt is not “free.” In fact it is dangerous.
There are many options that don’t require your student to sit in a
classroom for years that can result in her getting a great job. If your
student just graduated from high school, the challenge now is how he or she will become a financially self-sufficient adult in the next few years.
College may be the right answer, or maybe not.
About the Author
Thomas B. Walsh was first in his family to attend college. He graduated from The Ohio State University a long, long time ago—before the Beatles came to America. In “the good old days” you could work your way through school. He held a variety of low paying jobs including: clerk in the Student Union bowling alley, city playground supervisor, and campus mailman. He earned a Bachelor’s degree at a cost of $4500 and graduated with no student loan debt. Working for such Fortune 100 companies as IBM and Xerox his career in information technology spanned thirty-five years. Along the way he attained an MBA from Xavier University in Cincinnati. Fortunate to be able to retire at a relatively early age he spent his “golden years” fly fishing and hiking in the mountains of Colorado. This is the way college used to work in America.
When his daughter asked him to unravel the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) procedure, he was delighted to help. He did some research and wrote a one page paper to help the three of his six grandchildren who were soon to graduate high school. Subsequently he started researching the worrisome subject of student loans. Along the way he learned that college is no longer the surefire way to middleclass prosperity and that, today, choosing college as a road to financial success is against the odds. Things got completely out of hand and this book was born.