As a college professor, former admissions officer and researcher on what happens to youths after high school, I believe the current panic over the increasing selectivity of elite schools misses the point. So much energy goes into getting into college. Many families can’t see that getting through college is far more important, and that graduating prepared for adult life will be more valuable than the name arched over the top of the degree.
The good news is that college remains a reliable investment, but a degree doesn’t bring as much bang for your buck as it once did. While many college graduates find work, a greater number are underemployed, which means they work in jobs that do not require a college degree and they have weaker earnings.
If graduating from college is no guarantee of success, then being admitted guarantees even less. Only one out of two college freshmen graduate in six years. It’s true that elite schools have the highest graduation rates and public universities and community colleges the lowest ones. Being a college dropout, however, wherever you enrolled, is worse than never trying college at all. Universities don’t refund your money if things don’t work out, and employers don’t pay you more for trying college. <Read more.>