Is college a ticket to a middle-class income?

A liberal education is an excellent thing to have, and going to college is one good way to get it.

But college is not necessarily a ticket to a middle-class income, and massive college enrollment is not a rising tide that will lift all boats.

A higher proportion of Americans than ever before are going to college, and yet economic inequality is rising.  The more people who attend college, the less of a competitive advantage a college degree will provide.

I think that everyone who is capable of doing college work should have the opportunity to go to college, but this would not, in and of itself, create jobs nor revive the sluggish U.S. economy.

These thoughts were prompted by a couple of articles I read through links on the New York York 23rd web log.

Robert Reich, who was Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration, wrote in an article reprinted in Salon, stating that in these days of crushing student loans, a college education is not necessarily of economic benefit to everyone and that there are other ways to qualify for good jobs.

Dr. Jorge L. Diaz-Herrera, president of Keuka College in upstate New York, responded in the Elmira Star-Gazette that a college degree does indeed give you an economic edge.

I think that’s a weak argument for somebody in his position.   I believe it is possible to get just as good an education at a small and lesser-known college such as Keuka College as at larger and better-known colleges and universities, but the cash value of the diploma as a credential will not be as great.


College is a ludicrous waste of money by Robert Reich for Salon.  Reich’s own headline on his blog was Back to College, the Only Gateway to the Middle Class.

College is not a ‘waste of money’ by Dr. Jorge L. Diaz-Herrera for the Elmira Star-Gazette.

Thinking Like Corporations Is Harming American Universities by Noam Chomsky.  The larger picture.

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3 Responses to “Is college a ticket to a middle-class income?”

  1. Notes To Ponder Says:

    College education used to guarantee something – now the only certainty is massive student loan debt and a diploma. My 30 year old daughter uses her Political Science degree to pay off her loan slinging beer at a pub. Most disconcerting! I can’t speak to the reality in America, but at home Canadian universities gobble up international students (who pay higher tuition) and hopes of landing a “spot” at favorable institutions dwindle for all too many locals. I see nothing wrong with Community College education –


  2. Holden Says:

    I think with more and more people going to college, it has simply become a barrier of entry just to apply for most jobs, even jobs that don’t necessarily require a degree.

    I think the smart money now is to intelligently assess the market, find a need and go after gaining those skills, regardless of what type of education that job requires- be it anything from a diesel mechanic to a medical doctor.


  3. philebersole Says:

    And there is nothing to prevent a diesel mechanic or anybody else with a minimum amount of leisure time from becoming an educated person.

    You don’t need any kind of a degree in order to read serious books, appreciate music and art, find interesting people and places or try to better understand what’s going on around you and in the world.


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