Is the High Cost of College Worth It?

Peter Cappelli is director of the Wharton Center for Human Resources.
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Just a few days after First Lady Michelle Obama urged a group of kids in Akron to go to college, an economist says a degree might not be worth the money.  State Impact Ohio’s Mark Urycki reports.


Professor Peter Cappelli of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania says as many as one quarter of college programs may be a net loss when the high cost of tuition is calculated.  Capelli told a Cleveland City Club audience that included university official’s and high school students that the cost of college has grown too large and the skills learned there are often irrelevant to what employers demand.

Employers,  he says, mostly want job experience plus an ability to think, solve problems, and get along with others. 

"Schools and employers got to get together and figure out what employers want  and what it is that one or the other of them have to do make this transition work.   And maybe there’s something some third party that can do in between.” 

Capelli says kids are left to out-educate their competition in the job market by getting higher level degrees. 

“An approach that might work for  one kid but if everybody does it – and that’s what’s happening – it can’t possibly work.  And it’s not solving the problem, to the extant we know what the problem is.  It’s employers saying they want work experience not more education.  How do we get that work experience?   More education ain't gonna do it.” 

Cappelli laments the loss of apprenticeship programs in the last decade, saying they could be the answer for many youngsters and employers.

His latest book is "Will College pay Off?"

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