A workforce and education expert weighs the perks and pitfalls of higher education.
Cappelli (Management/Wharton School; Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It, 2012, etc.) astutely examines the enduring relevance of a college degree despite problematic funding and postgraduate employment issues. In dense chapters full of illuminating statistical and survey data, the author reports on the affordability and effectiveness of a college degree, directing his assessment to benefit future students and their families. As he notes, astronomical tuitions figure greatly into the equation, as American college costs run about four times higher than in other countries, making the decision to attend a postsecondary school an increasingly risky one. Cappelli also examines the variation in degreed students who fail to achieve success in the postgraduate employment marketplace and those who become overwhelmed by the financial burden. The factors affecting these trends are in constant flux, writes the author, and vary from the labor market requiring functional job skills to the student dropout rate and the education-to-career paths that have evolved as rapidly as their corresponding business models and sophisticated hiring processes. Cappelli’s eye-opening report card on the current state of American education gives mounting tuitions a failing grade, though enrollment and retention numbers are promising. The author’s drilled-down conclusions suggest that students are matriculating at the same level today as they did years ago, but the expense alone has thrown many families into the depths of student loan debt or default. Whether or not investing in college is worth the risk is a major decision about which families and children need to educate themselves. “College is still accepted as necessary for advancement but also increasingly expensive,” writes the author, “and increasingly risky in terms of the likely career payoffs.”
Salient reading for students, parents, and educators on navigating toward a coveted college degree.