According to my younger brother, who's a Sophomore in College, the current crisis has his fellow students panicking and there are discussions in practically every class about the pros and cons of dropping out.
The other day I wrote about how those of us in our twenties should stop worrying about saving for our retirement and start worrying about supporting our parents when they retire.
Apparently my brother's friends are way ahead of me on this one because for weeks they've been wondering whether they should drop out, or at least take some time off, in order to make money so they can kick some back to their families.
If the worry is money, I don't think it makes sense to let the current crisis influence your decision to stay in College or drop out. The long term financial benefits of getting a Bachelor's degree can't be disputed. From last year's census "Workers 18 and older with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $56,788 in 2006, while those with a high school diploma earned $31,071."
So on average workers with a BA earn 82% more per year than those with only a high school degree. Of course, that's just an average, and there are plenty of individual circumstances where it would make sense to skip school. And that's just a fraction of the big picture.
When it comes to chasing assets, and right now I'm talking about other people's assets, skipping or dropping out of college has social costs too, ones that eventually have economic consequences. Skipping school or dropping out doesn't just mean passing up higher wages, it also means you don't get to meet people who are going to have college degrees and thus earn more money than Joe and Jane six-pack.
Forget networking, just think about this in terms of marriage. Attending and finishing college puts you in touch with lots of people you wouldn't otherwise meet who are going to have higher than average incomes. Don't tell me that doesn't matter.
Let's be honest and take all of this one step further. People are shallow. Even though I know plenty of intelligent, capable people who never went to college and plenty of idiots who with graduate degrees, I also know that most of us are snobs and if you don't have a BA it's going to be a lot harder to get a date with, let alone marry, someone who does. If you think that's not the case, you're living in fantasy land. Yes, this kind of snobbery is repugnant, but that doesn't mean it's not real.
In a world where two income families are increasingly the norm. I really don't know any women my age who plan on not working and instead living a "traditional" 1950s style life. Plus, a lot of the baby boomer women I know who went down that road got married to total scumbags and ended up divorced and struggling desperately to make ends meet in their 40s and 50s with multiple children to take care of and without much in the way of income, who wants to follow in those sad footsteps? So, can you really afford to not just take a hit to your own future earnings power, but also to make it much harder to marry someone who can bring home a lot of bacon?
And since we've already dropped the pretense that many people, probably most, with college degrees don't look down on the non-college educated, do you really want to spend the rest of your life being disrespected? Can you handle decades of being harangued by your mother because you dropped out of or didn't attend college? It's a serious question even if it's rarely treated seriously in public.
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