Mixed Media - featuring College (Un)Bound

Excerpt by Jeffrey Selingo ’95

In the last issue of ICView, we discussed the value of an IC education. In his new book, College (Un)Bound, Jeffrey Selingo ’95, the editor at large of the Chronicle of Higher Education, asks a broader question:

“What is the value of a college degree?” 

Selingo draws upon years of observation to write about the challenges facing American higher education and how technology will transform it for the better.

“Only slightly more than 50 percent of American students who enter college leave with a bachelor’s degree. Among wealthy countries, only Italy ranks lower. As a result, the United States is now ranked number 12 among developed nations in higher-education attainment by its young people. As the baby boomer generation leaves the work force, the country risks having successive generations less educated than the ones that preceded them for the first time. Such trends carry significant economic risks for the United States. For every dollar earned by college graduates, those who drop out without a degree earn 67 cents. Since the turn of the century, average wages for high-school graduates—who today make up about half of the adult population— have fallen considerably to just over $19,000, below the federal poverty level for a family of four. Nothing short of winning the lottery helps ensure a young person will achieve the American dream quite like a college degree. A four-year college credential is the best ticket—and perhaps the only ticket—for kids from the poorest families to get ahead. For children from families at higher income levels (defined as $61,000 and above), a degree helps them make it to the top themselves.”

For more of Selingo's views on higher education, read his blog.