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Given economic changes, is college worth it?

May 19, 2011 |  2:54 pm

UCLA Between CNN's Money segment Thursday about the increased need for skilled labor, Fareed Zakaria's "Flight Plan for the American Economy," which points to the return of manufacturing, and Discovery Channel's celebration of blue-collar workers, it's no wonder higher education might seem less appealing -- especially given rising tuition costs, which stand to price out a lot of students. Add to that the persuasive nature of success stories about such college dropouts as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg and, well, you get Andrew J. Rotherham's latest education column for TIME.com: Actually, College Is Very Much Worth It

Here's an excerpt:

It's also odd to talk down college -- which is the most effective social mobility strategy we have -- at the very time Americans are becoming concerned about income inequality. […]

So here's the key takeaway: Education gives you choices. Assuming you don't pile up mountains of debt that constrain your career options (and that outcome is avoidable) or go to a school where just fogging a mirror is good enough to get a diploma, there are not a lot of downsides to going to college. The stories of entrepreneurs who bootstrapped themselves are exciting but most of us are not a Gates or Zuckerberg. So before heeding the advice of the college naysayers, make sure you understand the stakes and the odds. Or, here's a good rule of thumb instead: When people who worked hard to achieve something that has benefitted them start telling you that it's really not all that important or useful — beware.

ALSO:

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Help California students by increasing UC tuition

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--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Royce Hall on the UCLA campus in Westwood. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

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