WHEN La Tisha Styles graduated from Kennesaw State University in Georgia in 2006 she had ,000 of student debt.This obligation would have been easy to discharge if her Spanish degree had helped her land a well-paid job.Grading the graders For all their flaws, studies like Pay Scale’s help would-be students (and their parents) make more informed choices.
Those who borrowed for a bachelor’s degree granted in 2012 owe an average of $29,400.
The Project on Student Debt, a non-profit, says that 15% of borrowers default within three years of entering repayment. Glenn Reynolds, a law professor and author of “The Higher Education Bubble”, writes of graduates who “may wind up living in their parents’ basements until they are old enough to collect Social Security.”That is an exaggeration: students enrolling this year who service their debts will see them forgiven after 20 years. It does not help that nearly a third of those who take out such loans eventually drop out of college; they must still repay their debts. Many four-year degrees drag on longer, and so cost more.
But there is no shortage of Spanish-speakers in a nation that borders Latin America.
So Ms Styles found herself working in a clothes shop and a fast-food restaurant for no more than $11 an hour.
Students often cannot write clearly or organise their time sensibly.
Four million jobs are unfilled because jobseekers lack the skills employers need.What is not in doubt is that the cost of university per student has risen by almost five times the rate of inflation since 1983, and graduate salaries have been flat for much of the past decade.Student debt has grown so large that it stops many young people from buying houses, starting businesses or having children.(That number is unknowable.) It compares their earnings to those of people who did not go to college—many of whom did not go because they were not clever enough to get in.Thus, some of the premium that graduates earn simply reflects the fact that they are, on average, more intelligent than non-graduates.Some schools are unfairly affected by the local job market—Murray State might look better if Kentucky’s economy were thriving.Universities that set out to serve everyone will struggle to compete with selective institutions.College graduates aged 25 to 32 who are working full time earn about ,500 more annually than their peers who have only a high school diploma, according to the Pew Research Centre, a think-tank. And given how much they cost—a residential four-year degree can set you back as much as ,000 a year—many students end up worse off than if they had started working at 18.Pay Scale, a research firm, has gathered data on the graduates of more than 900 universities and colleges, asking them what they studied and how much they now earn.Chegg, a company that provides online help to students, collaborated the study.Dan Rosensweig, its boss, says that only half of graduates feel prepared for a job in their field, and only 39% of managers feel that students are ready for the workforce.