Archives for November 2014

The Rest of the Story

It is a popular press story line to question the value of a college degree. On Thursday, November 20, 2014, CNN aired a two-hour special titled, “Ivory Tower: Is College Worth the Cost?”

Stories like this one are often mixed in with the scare stories about individuals with large student debt who ended up tending bar or driving a taxi after graduation. From a story in The New Republic,Why the Media is Always Wrong about the Value of a College Degree”  by Kevin Carey, however:

  • Sally Cameron studied French and Arabic at a tony liberal arts college and knew that graduate school (Yale) would help her career chances. But when she hit the job market, her Ivy League management degree didn’t seem to matter. She paid the rent by tending bar and filled her time with volunteer work. Today, Sally Cameron is a senior manager at an international development consulting company. Her recent work includes building railroads in cyclone-devastated Madagascar.
  • In 1982, the Washington Post wrote about Mel Rodenstein, a Peace Corps alum with a master’s degree in international affairs who was slaving away in a “mindless” file clerk job, forced to cut coupons and subsist on rice and beans. By 2010, he was a senior research project supervisor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Health.
  • In 1993, a Washington Post article titled, “Grads Without Jobs” described two young women graduating from good state universities who planned to spend a year wandering North America in a station wagon because “there are no good jobs anyway.” In 2014, one of them lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, and runs her own HR consulting firm. The other got a PhD and works 20 feet away form Kevin Carey (author of the New Republic article) in a Washington, DC think tank.

When it comes to whether a college degree is “worth it,” you need to have the rest of the story.