Among the American middle class, there is a belief that all people have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of matching Bed, Bath and Beyond coordinates for their child's college dorm room. Starting college is, as the Washington Post's Sarah Kaufman puts it, "a rite of passage, part of orderly progression toward success." Or is it? Kaufman asks whether the freshmen currently flocking toward campuses are falling prey to a "herd mentality" that is actually hurting their chances for success. After all, Americans are now more weighed down by student-loan debt than credit-card debt. If someone invested $200,000 instead of spending it on tuition at a top-flight school, in 50 years they'd have $2.8 million to help console them over their lack of a degree. Yes, on average, college grads make more than people with just a high-school education, but Kaufman's experts point out that that's an average. "If you major in accounting or engineering, you're pretty likely to get a return on your investment," one economics professor says. "If you're majoring in anthropology or social work or education. ... I've talked to some of my own students who've graduated and who are working in grocery stores or Wal-Mart. The fellow who cut my tree down had a master's degree and was an honors grad."
Credits: Slate Magazine