Find Your Way #6

What about college?

Tim Klein

Hey Friends,

This newsletter dives deep into the role that college will play moving forward. If you gained any insight or value from this, I would urge you to pass this on to any parent or young person who is in the midst of making post-secondary decisions. You can easily do so by clicking the button below.

Thanks for being here,

Tim

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A reader reached out and asked: Should college-considering young folk go to college at all next year?

What a great question. I work at Boston College and am seeing first-hand how Covid-19 is disrupting everything. Professors are learning to teach via zoom on the fly. Students are scrambling to manage their schoolwork and the challenges of everyday life.

No one knows quite what they are doing.

Now fast forward: If we are still social-distancing and campus are not re-opened for the fall semester, should students go to college at all? If higher education will be virtual, why pay for it when you can essentially “go” to Harvard & MIT for free?

This global pandemic is only amplifying what was already a growing skepticism of higher education. Now people are asking out loud:

Is college even worth it anymore?

More and more young people don’t think so. Only 4 in 10 young people today believe that college is very important. Compare that to 7 in 10 young people saying college is very important just six years ago. People would rather intern at google than go to Harvard.

That’s an amazingly rapid decline.

Covid-19, distance learning, and a looming recession, I fear, will make even more people question the value of higher education.

Which is a shame, because history suggests that going to college is now more important than ever.

To understand why, consider the 2008 economic downturn. When the great recession hit 8.6 million jobs were destroyed. However, these lost jobs were not distributed equally among the labor force:

4 out of 5 jobs that disappeared only required a high school diploma.

The great recession was bad, but it was far more devastating people with just a high school diploma. A college degree served as a shield against economic disruption.

Thankfully, the economy came roaring back: after the economy bottomed out, the United States created 11.6 million jobs, over 3 million more jobs than were originally lost.

But again, these new jobs were not distributed equally: of all jobs created 95% went to workers with a college degree.

We are already seeing similar ripple effects now. 3.3 million people filed for unemployment last week. Vast numbers of people, especially service workers and people in the gig economy have lost their income stream. Everyone is being hit hard right now, but those in jobs that don’t require a degree are getting hit the hardest.

We are still at the beginning of the beginning of this new world we are living in. We don’t know what will happen to the economy, and we don’t know what college will look like in a few months, let alone a few years.

I am married to a history teacher and perhaps she is rubbing off on me; I am looking to the past, to the great recession, to try and predict the future. I am betting on college.

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Thanks for reading,

Tim

P.S. Have questions of your own? Have a topic idea for this newsletter? I would love to hear from you - feel free to reply directly here.

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