A college education for everyone

On virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment—from personal earnings to job satisfaction to the share employed full time—young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education. The pay gap was significantly smaller in previous generations. But do these benefits outweigh the financial burden imposed by four or more years of college? Among Millennials ages 25 to 32, the answer is clearly yes:

A college education for everyone

Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. The parent of another senior tells me he stands at the mailbox for an hour every day waiting for a hoped-for acceptance letter to arrive.

Parents are also uptight. Competition for places top-brand colleges is absurdly intense. A degree from a prestigious university can open doors to elite business schools and law schools -- and to jobs paying hundreds of thousands, if not millions, a year. So parents who can afford it are paying grotesque sums to give their kids an edge.

They hire test preparation coaches. They arrange for consultants to help their children write compelling essays on college applications.

They make generous contributions to the elite colleges they once attended, to which their kids are applying -- colleges that give extra points to "legacies" and even more to those from wealthy families that donate tons of money.

You might call this affirmative action for the rich. The same intensifying competition is affecting mid-range colleges and universities that are doing everything they can to burnish their own brands -- competing with other mid-range institutions to enlarge their applicant pools, attract good students, and inch upward on the U.

NEA - It's Time to Push for Free College

Every college president wants to increase the ratio of applications to admissions, thereby becoming more elite. Excuse me, but this is nuts. The biggest absurdity is that a four-year college degree has become the only gateway into the American middle class.

But not every young person is suited to four years of college. Yet if they start college and then drop out, they feel like total failures. This has to stop. Young people need an alternative. That alternative should be a world-class system of vocational-technical education.

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For example, the emerging economy will need platoons of technicians able to install, service, and repair all the high-tech machinery filling up hospitals, offices, and factories. And people who can upgrade the software embedded in almost every gadget you buy.

Yet the vocational and technical education now available to young Americans is typically underfunded and inadequate. And too often denigrated as being for "losers.

Germany -- whose median wage after taxes and transfers is higher than ours -- gives many of its young people world-class technical skills that have made Germany a world leader in fields such as precision manufacturing.

Instead, rising high-school seniors could be given the option of entering a program that extends a year or two beyond high school and ends with a diploma acknowledging their technical expertise.

Government could be investing enough money to make these programs thrive. And raising taxes on top incomes enough to temper the wild competition for admission to elite colleges that grease the way to those top incomes.

Watch the trailer below: Follow Robert Reich on Twitter:Jan 12,  · Pay gap between college grads and everyone else at a record. Americans with no more than a high school diploma have fallen so far behind college graduates in .

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A college education for everyone

For those who question the value of college in this era of soaring student debt and high unemployment, the attitudes and experiences of today’s young adults—members of the so-called Millennial generation—provide a compelling answer.

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