Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Why Go to College?

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Why Go to College?

Article excerpt

THE SOURCE: "How Many College Graduates Does the U.S. Labor Force Really Need?" by Paul E. Barton, in Change, Jam-Feb. 2008.

FEW BUT THE FOOLHARDY WOULD dispute the value of a college education. In addition to enjoying the intrinsic benefits of four years of education beyond high school, college graduates simply make more money-a lot more.

But Patti E. Barton, a senior associate at the Educational Testing Service, asks not whether higher education is good for you or me--it is--but whether more college graduates are necessary to American prosperity. That answer is far less clear. The occupations that are expanding most, he writes, don't require a degree. The fields that do aren't adding large numbers of new jobs.

Take the government's estimates of the needs of the 10 fastest-growing occupations between 2004 and 2014. These occupations range from home health aide (No. 1) to computer engineer in applications (No. 5) and in systems software (No. 8). Only 39 percent of the jobs in the 10 occupations require a college education. That's 615,000 jobs. The total number of U. …

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