Will College Pay Off? by Peter Cappelli

“A career is a marathon, not a sprint.”

The cost of college has been a point of debate for a couple of decades. It is true that tuition at colleges have increased significantly over the past twenty or thirty years. Though some are worried, the response has been the same: college is worth the investment. The narrative is part of American culture: you finish high school, you go to college, you work hard, and you leave college with great job opportunities ahead of you.

Well, things are not as clear as they used to be. The great recession combined with increased globalization and rising costs, the idea that a college degree is a solid investment has become shaky.

Is college worth it?

The simple answer: Yes.

The not-so-simple answer: Yes, but it’s difficult to understand.

When you look at all the measurements, many which are presented in Will College Pay Off?, there is no clear cut answer. Let’s look at the job market. You can go online right now and search for the hottest majors in the United States. These lists can guide you to the most profitable careers right now. But what about in four years? Or five years (which is more common for college student)? Employers will always grumble and complain about the scarcity of a qualified work force, but even they lack the foresight to know what the future holds. If employers knew the future, then they manage their own educational programs – except for the fact that it is too expensive for them too run.

Furthermore, there is little correlation between grades and performance, so why would a company do the work to train you. In fact, many companies (especially banks and investing firms) will not hire college grads until they have worked for a rival company for a couple of years. This way the rival company does all the training. This, of course, leads to the problem of entry level workers trying to find years of experience.

Though this is a solid work, I have read better works on the issue of higher education costs. The author skillfully expands on solid arguments for and against colleges. I definitely liked the book, it just doesn’t sit on the top of my list of recommended readings.