College Ads – Don’t Trust ‘Em

The unemployment rate for college graduates – at least the official DOE one – hit a peak of 10.4 percent in 2010 when it was just 5.7 percent in 2007.1 Student wages dropped 5.4 percent from 2000 to 2011. The average debt of a graduating public university senior was $21,105 in ’08, and it is now pegged at $28,888.

What are colleges doing about these depressing facts? Why, hiring “Chief Marketing Officers” with bloated pay checks. These CMOs find every possible way to convince people to enroll in a particular university like glamorized used-car salesmen.

Heck, colleges will probably need those CMOs if people start believing a Wall Street report that the average college degree returns a mere $280,000 more than someone who worked straight out of high school.

But still, a college degree opens up more employment opportunities than if you take your chances working straight out of high school without eventually pursuing a degree. So how will you know what college to go to?

For starters, check out the Department of Education’s College Financial Aid Shopping Sheet.

This little puppy will give you better, more reliable information than what the average CMO will be willing to divulge in those flashy and “inspiring” TV ads.

Take for example graduation rates and the rate by which students default on their loans after graduating from a particular college.

You can see at a glance whether a college can produce a steady stream of graduates and not just entice freshmen with lots of aid and then cut off that aid once they hit the second or third year.

You can also see if the graduates actually get into a decent job that can pay the student debt. The last thing you want to do is shell out thirty to seventy grand for a degree and then end up as a barista for the rest of your life.

It’s just a sad, sad thing when the guy or gal serving you coffee has a degree in law or social studies.

  1. Source: The Class of 2012 – Labor market for young graduates remains grim