Rising tuition may be scaring some students away from college, but skipping it is still more costly in the long run, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.The wage premium for college grads is at an all time high, too. The median annual salary for high school graduates is $28,000, versus the $45,500 per year earned by those with college degrees. In other words, a college graduate earns an average of $17,500 more than a student with only a high school degree. In 1965, that gap was only $7,400.
The main reason for this change is the national shift from a manufacturing to an information economy. The New York Times:
“That is one of the great economic stories of our era, which you could define as income inequality,” said Paul Taylor, an author of the report. “The leading suspects are the digital economy and the globalization of labor markets. Both of them place a higher premium on the knowledge-based part of the work force and have the effect of drying up the opportunities for good middle-class jobs, particularly for those that don’t have an education.” […]
“For today’s young adults, the only thing more expensive than going to college is not going to college,” […]“And that sort of captures the dilemma that many find themselves in.”
This shift is a good thing for American workers as the whole, but studies like this make it clear that it will be hard on those who don’t go to a four-year college. Unfortunately, the system that delivers this vital credential is prohibitively expensive for many prospective students, and it encourages those who do get it to remove themselves from the workforce for an extended period of time.To make the information transition as smooth and painless as possible, we need to bring down tuition and offer worthwhile alternatives to the traditional four-year college experience.