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Ron Williams, Moorhead, Published June 22 2013

Letter: College is still good investment

It’s graduation time, and once again, The Forum has been running a series of political cartoons mocking students for spending the time and money to earn a college degree. A cartoon on June 2 showed a college grad seeking work in fast food, implying that no other jobs were available. If that were true, why would any student bother? Why would any parent encourage their son or daughter to invest another two to four years of their lives?

The answer is that post-secondary education is still the best investment for life-long opportunity. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, for 2012, the average unemployment nationwide for high school grads was 8.3 percent, while for those with a bachelor’s degree, it was 4.5 percent. They also report a median weekly income for high school grads of $652, while bachelor’s degree holders earned $1,066. Why wouldn’t parents want their children to earn 63 percent more, and have a much better chance of finding a career?

Admittedly, some graduates struggle to find work and to pay their student loans, but their struggles may reflect decisions made long before graduation. What major they chose and which college they attended affect both the cost of the education and their potential for immediate employment in their field. Did they work during the school year or summer to reduce the loans they’d have at the end? Did they seek an internship in their field? What, besides attending class, did they do to build a resume?

And for some students, a four-year degree may not be the best fit. Technical training can add a lot of value to a person’s lifetime income (did your last plumbing bill come as a shock?), but most people can’t become an electrician, a machinist or a dental hygienist with only a high school education.

So, to the editors of The Forum, unless you really wouldn’t send your kids or grandkids to college, please stop implying that college has no value for the future. You do a disservice to young people who we hope will be the future of our community.