Prof. Peter Cappelli, author of Will College Pay Off?
Peter is a Professor of Management at The Wharton School. Having worked in the U.S. Department of Labor and Department of Education, Peter’s focus is on education and the quality of the workforce.
Backed up by extensive research and immense experience, Peter wrote the book, Will College Pay Off?, to improve people’s understanding of the financial risks involved in going to college.
Questions Answered Today:
Is it true that people who go to college get paid more compared to those who don’t?
Surprisingly, the answer is not an outright “yes.” Studies suggest that the pay a college graduate gets is only 2% higher than those who did not go to college.
The real answer is that it depends. According to research, there are three reasons for this:
- It depends on the person’s cognitive skills. People who go to college may have more family support, money, resources, social connections, etc. These possibly lead to better cognitive skills compared to those who did not go to college.
- It depends on whether the person actually finished college. Getting into college doesn’t mean that much for employers: it’s actually graduating that does.
- It depends on the person’s demonstration of skills that are helpful for employers.
Now, here’s the scary part, as Peter said. While these are three very different reasons, there’s not enough data that tells us which matters the most. The key, though, is to understand that going to college does not equate graduating from college. In fact, statistically, only around 30-40% of college students get a college degree.
Hence, getting a college degree is quite a financial risk that needs careful consideration.
“Doing well in college does not predict much about income after college.”— Prof. Peter Cappelli
What are the common misconceptions about getting into college?
“The idea of thinking of a college degree as a uniform thing, which we often hear about, is just a mistake.”— Prof. Peter Capelli
- WHEN you go to college doesn’t really matter. Students don’t have to go to college after high school. Students should go when they’re ready, as readiness increases the chance of finishing a degree.
- It’s not true that people who get the most money are from elite schools. Why? These schools mostly produce professionals in the Arts, which don’t make money. It’s Colorado College of the Mines, the Coast Guard Academy, or engineering schools that produce graduates that have greater access to high-paying jobs. The field where the student wants to work should be carefully considered.
There has been an increase in the number of people who go to college but are on the “lower end of the academic spectrum.” Here are the differences for these students compared to those who get a degree from an elite school:
- As they often (not always) make less money, these graduates often don’t do as well as graduates of elite colleges do.
- The student often doesn’t have the same background, resources, and support as the other elite school student has.
- Standards may be lower at the schools these students attend, so there’s potentially not as much to learn.
- Sometimes, the internships that schools offer are not the best bet. Peter thinks that paying tuition to have your student volunteer somewhere, not getting paid, may be an expensive way to go. A better option may be to get work experiences during summer. Ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my money? Could my student get experience some other way?”
Did COVID really change education and the workforce?
Contrary to what many believe, Peter says that there haven’t been any major reforms or changes in job sectors due to COVID-19. There’s no evidence that there’s a need for skills or that there are new jobs out there.
Take working and going to school from home as an example. We initially thought that working and going to school from home might be the “new normal,” but here’s what’s happened:
- Only 11% of employees work from home, with some companies cutting up to 20% pay for remote workers.
- Students are now back in classrooms, only with masks on.
- Pre-COVID programs such as Sunrise Semester and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been launched, but they weren’t really successful.
While Peter thinks that these may change in the future, he hasn’t seen changes happening now.
“I don’t think [COVID] changes much of anything to be honest. I don’t think jobs have changed.”— Prof. Peter Capelli
So, how do I know if college will pay off for my student?
Fortunately, there are ways to predict your student’s chances of actually finishing a degree. Here are some of the things you could do:
- This is a no brainer—gauge their readiness for college. There are plenty of resources you can use to evaluate this.
- Pick schools carefully! Your student’s success can be aided by the environment they are in. These details will help you get to know the school more:
- Graduation rate. If the percentage of students that graduate on time is 10%, it’s probably not a great pick.
- Scheduling of courses. Often, a major that has a lot of pre-requisites is harder to finish.
“The more that you go to a school that provides lots of support, the better the odds are your kids will graduate on time.”— Prof. Peter Cappelli
Peter also notes the following:
- It’s harder to graduate from state universities compared to private schools.
- Sciences may be harder to get through due to lack of lab spaces and other related resources.
- Specialized schools (i.e. engineering schools, etc.) may not be the best idea. If your student changes their mind, they may end up needing to change schools instead of just changing majors.
- There’s absolutely no big disadvantage to starting college a year later, so let the student take a gap year if they must. Readiness precedes everything else!
What tips can you give from a college financial perspective?
Peter could not stress this enough—waiting may be a good idea. If you are not confident that your student could make it in college, think hard before making risky financial decisions such as:
- Taking out a home equity loan
- Putting your own retirement at risk
If your student fails to get a degree, you may end up in a worse situation, even worse than if the student never went to college in the first place.
“Your kid doesn’t have to go the year they get out of high school. If you wait, it’s not the end of the world.”— Prof. Peter Cappelli
If you really want the student to pursue getting into college without risking everything, here are some smart tips:
- Look for financial aid, especially if the student is highly qualified based on need or merit. There are many colleges that are looking for academically competitive students.
- Don’t be afraid to explore, even the most expensive schools. You never know what they’re looking for in a student, and they typically offer financial aid to help you with the cost.
- Educate yourself about the application process. There are legitimate resources available from different organizations and higher education associations to help you learn and understand the process. Books such as Peter’s Will College Pay Off? should also provide some golden nuggets that are helpful in decision making.
Today, I recommend a series of podcasts we released recently. Recorded with college advisor Chuck Erickson, Taming the High Cost of College’s episodes 119 through 129 are great resources for college planning. Here are each episode’s highlights:
Episode 119: How college consultants can help you with the college process
Episode 120: Knowing and recognizing good-fit schools for your student
Episode 121: Learning how much college costs by understanding ‘net price’ vs. ‘sticker price’
Episode 122: Choosing a major and a career
Episode 123: Researching colleges and some tools to help you
Episode 124: How college visits can help you choose a college
Episode 125: How to get accepted in the college of your choice, including competitive schools
Episode 126: How to find and win the right scholarships for your student
Episode 127: The good and bad of student loans
Episode 128: College testing, why it matters, and how it’s changed from the pandemic
Episode 129: Everything you need to know about need-based financial aid
Links and Resources
Helpful Articles and Resources
- Taming The High Cost Of College
- Will College Pay Off?: A Guide to the Most Important Financial Decision You’ll Ever Make
- Prof. Peter Cappelli’s Contact Info:
- LinkedIn: Peter Cappelli
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Will college pay off? We're gonna find out and this interview of Peter Cappelli, the author of Will College Pay Off?
You have kids, they grow up, and before you know it, it's time to plan for college. Where do you start? How much is it going to cost? Will you qualify for financial aid? Should you be looking into scholarships? When will you be able to retire? What about student loans? The list of questions is never ending. The good news is all the answers are right here. Welcome to the Taming the High Cost of College Podcast. Here is your host, certified financial planner, Brad Baldridge.
Welcome to Taming the High Cost of College. I'm your host, Brad Baldridge. Today we have an interview with Peter Cappelli. He is the author of Will College Pay Off? We spend some time talking about how college pays off. And when it doesn't talk a little bit more about some of the new things that are going on around college as well. As always shownotes are available at tamingthehighcostofcollege/138. After the interview, in Brad Recommends, we're also going to jump into the 10 podcasts that we launched this summer, and how they can help you build a college plan. Let's jump into the interview with Peter.
Today we're sitting down with Peter Cappelli. He's a Professor of Management at the Wharton School. Welcome, Peter.
Thank you. Pleasure to be with you folks.
So obviously, you're a professor and you do a lot of research. I've seen some of your books, and you've been on podcasts, etc. So tell us a little bit more about what your focus is and what you've been involved in recently.
Well, I think on the topic we're going to talk about today of education, I spent about 10 years around Washington. First in the, actually in the Reagan Administration, Labor Department and then colleague and I ran a research center for the US Department of Education, education and the quality of the workforce, which is very much I think we're going to talk about. We did that for about eight years, overlap the Clinton administration and the George Herbert Walker Bush administration. And so I wrote a book about this a few years ago, and the book was about the title is Will College Pay Off? And it was really driven, to be honest, by my irritation at my colleagues who seem to think that it was just completely obvious that everybody should go to college because people who went to college or graduated from college made more money. But it seemed to be that was just the wrong way to ask the question. Rather, it's a kind of different question than whether you should go to college.
Right, for sure. So let's talk a little bit about about that, then Will College Pay Off?
Yeah, well, the answer is everybody who's been to college knows the answer is always, 'it depends,' no matter what the question is. The answer is, it depends. And I think in this case, it is clear that people with college degrees, on average, make more than people without college degrees. But here's the surprising thing, despite decades of research, there are at least three explanations as to why that might be true. The first is people go to college in the first place, have more going for them, they have more family support, they have families with more money, they have all kinds of resources, that social connections and things that people who don't go to college don't have, they might be smarter in terms of cognitive skills. So that's one thing. And second thing might be that you are demonstrating something to employers by the fact that you go to college, and particularly that you finish. So going to college doesn't do very much for you. It's actually graduating that matters. And the third is maybe you actually learned something in college that is truly useful to employers. But those are three quite different explanations. And here's the scary part, maybe, we really don't know which of those is the most important or how important each of those is. So the first question is, there's just a whole bunch about this that we don't know. But here's the the key, I think to the book that I wrote was just recognizing that going to college and graduating from college are not the same thing. And we don't know for sure what percentage of people are going to graduate because you can always go back and finish up. But the scary statistic that you probably know, is that only 40% of full time college students graduate in four years and only 60% graduate in six years. And that's people who claim they're going to school full time. So we think there's almost 40% or so of people who enter college who never get a college degree. And even if it's less than that, say it's 30%, that's a big number and a big risk if you're heading down that path.
Right? Absolutely. So one of the things that I talked to parents about and again, I try and do it well, the students are not in the room. But in essence, not all students are created equal. And there's a big difference between college for the high academic achiever, that kid that's going to be successful, whatever they do, I think there's maybe 20% of the population at the top that is going to just hit it out of the park, they could study anything, do anything, and they just have the drive. And the grit, I guess, is another term that they've used, that they're just going to be successful. And if the bottom end of the spectrum, there's that 20%, that maybe they're just not mature, or they don't have skills, or they can't learn skills very easily, and they're just going to struggle. I think it's the middle 60% that where college can make a big difference one way or the other. As far as education and career paths and all that type of thing. Would you agree with that? And again, maybe it's not 20% on each end, maybe is 10 or 40? I mean, you're the academic have any of that type of research ever been?
Well, I think is we're kicking this around, the issue is, of course, the top 20% on what dimension, right? So, maturity seems to matter more, however you want to code that then probably raw cognitive ability. But another thing to just muddle things up for parents a bit is that doing well in college does not predict much about at least income after college, quite surprisingly. Always deserves my colleagues to hear that, we'd like to think that doing well in college is the key to success. It is the key to going to graduate school, but it isn't necessarily the key to doing better, in whatever job that you want to pick. You know, from careful studies of this, differences in grades such as being a really good student versus not so good. If you go into the same general field, it explains about 2% of the variation in pay. So not all that much, right? I think the other thing you were hinting at is that when you go to college might really matter. So, somebody who just can't get it together at 18 might be terrific at age 21 or 22. So it's not the end of the world if you don't go to college as soon as you finish high school.
Absolutely. The other area that I find challenging for many families is that college is one size fits all or I mean, college, especially the soundbite world and the other politicians, that type of thing is that what college is for everybody. College alone is a crazy broad term. And so what does that mean? And again, how do parents take advantage of that idea of college could be different for different people?
Yeah, well, I think you're right, this is the great issue is the variation across what we describe as college, even if we're talking about four-year colleges, right? You know, if you look at stuff, like the studies that are done that show you which college has the greatest return. In other words, their students make the most money, it's always puzzling. And the reason it's always puzzling, because it's never the schools that you thought about, right? It's not going to be Penn and Princeton and Harvard, and places like that. It's going to be Colorado College of the Mines, or the Coast Guard Academy or stuff like that. Gee, why is that? Well, here's the simple answer. It's not that Yale doesn't produce more investment bankers. It's that places like Harvard and Yale and Penn and other places, produce a lot of social workers and a lot of teachers and a lot of people who go into fields in the Arts where they don't make much money. People who go to an engineering school all come out with engineering degrees. So none of them are going to low wage occupations. But it's not that they're making a ton of money by absolute standards, either. So, one of the things to recognize when you're looking across colleges, is that they're covering up with those kinds of assessments, a great deal of variation in basically the fields that people are choosing. But I think one of the things also, I think we have to recognize is about twice as many kids percentage wise are going to college now, as opposed to a generation or so before. And those kids are not, they didn't expand the Ivy League, right. And in fact, the most elite schools also have a ton of students now from other countries. So the proportion of American kids who are going to the super elite schools is actually quite a bit smaller than it was. Maybe when you and I went to college. And the great expansion has been in what you might think of as the lower end of the academic spectrum, in the sense that the students who go there don't have necessarily the background that the kids have at the snowier schools, they don't cost as much often but not always the case. And the graduates from those schools don't do as well. And some of it is because they wouldn't do as well before they went in because of all these resources that matter based on your family to getting jobs and careers and things and other kinds of support. And some of it may have to do with the fact that the standards at those schools are lower, so you're really not learning as much. So the idea of thinking of a college degree as a uniform thing, which we often hear is just a mistake, and you don't want to go down that path.
Absolutely. I think one of the shifts that, and again, I don't have a lot of hardcore evidence just seems to be intuitive, you know, that when you look out there is that a lot of the on the job training and the apprenticeships and that type of thing that were much more prevalent or less so, because again, if you take a typical apprenticeship type thing, which may be working in heating and air conditioning, well, it got more complex in that now there's electronics involved in that type of thing. And a lot of two-year and four-year colleges now offer various training in that regard. So if you're the employer, why would you bring on someone that has zero experience, and start them at the very bottom, when you can bring in someone that has a two-year degree, who spent two years tinkering in the lab at the two year college or four year college with H-back controllers, and all that kind of stuff. So now, they've raised their hand and said, 'I'm interested in this stuff enough that I actually spent two years and paid,' versus 'I want to show up, and you're going to pay me to learn.'
Yeah, I think that's right. That's a good point. You know, the problem is, I don't think this is a good thing for students. And I don't think it's a good thing, frankly, for the economy, that we are now expecting employee ease or students to get their own work based learning experiences. And here's the reason why it's not such a great thing for the economy is that it's a whole lot easier to become a plumber, if you're working as an apprentice than if you're sitting in a community college trying to learn how to be a plumber, right? It's really hands on stuff. And creating the kind of tasks that are hands on in a classroom, as opposed to out in a real plumbing context is just a whole lot harder. And if you're working as an apprentice, you're actually contributing something. You're not simply learning, you're kind of useful, right? So I think we all recognize that. And there are lots of reasons why apprenticeship programs went down. Frankly, a lot of them went down when unions went down for the craft horns anyway, because that's how a lot of people got their craft their craft, training and skills. But as you say, it's also true now that parents and kids feel that, 'If I want to become an electrician, I have to go to community college to do it.' And it is bizarre. And I must say, I went through this with one of my kids who was interested in becoming an electrician. I mean, well, there are picking up some skills as a welder. And the amazing thing was that there was no place to learn how to do that other than going to community colleges, at least the places where he wanted to do it, and they had turned it into a two-year degree. Believe me, there was no reason you needed a two year degree to becoming a welder. What you need is a lot of practice, welding. And there may be some things you can learn in classes, but they had all this stuff built around it. So they could turn it into a two-year program. But all that stuff has to be paid for. And the other thing is for a kid, that's two years out of your life, right, where you could be maybe making some money or something, right. So it's a pretty expensive way to get training, which probably isn't going to be quite as good as it would be if you could have done it in a hands on fashion.
Right? For sure. Again, but from a parental aspect of well, how do I give my future welder a leg up? As far as landing, the internships are getting a position at the premium welding jobs? Well probably get them in education and welding. And no thought about the next stages and is that the best way to do it from a societal standpoint? But I think that's the other part of it is, in the competitive world, people are going out and getting more education, just so that they, again, perhaps have a leg up when they're applying and have something on their resume, so to speak.
Yeah, I think you're right. As a parent, you're kind of stuck with this problem. One thing I would caution parents about, particularly with four-year degrees, though, is that a lot of four-year degree programs are marketing themselves, based on their internships that they'll offer your kids. And you got to be really careful about going down that path a lot. Because if you think about what happens in those internships, you're pretty much in most cases working for free for somebody. And by the way, that's the way they work. If you get college credit for the internship while you're working for somebody else, it makes a stronger case that a for profit employer doesn't have to pay you for that time when you're working, otherwise they do, right? And if you think about it, you're paying college tuition for your kid, basically, to volunteer someplace. And that's a pretty expensive way to get work experience. And there might be a way to get that in the summer, if you can just volunteers someplace, you have to be not for profit if you're not going to get paid. But you could get much the same experience some other way without having to pay college tuition and college room and board. And so the question you want to ask yourself, 'Is this the best use of that money and time when somebody is in college, or could you get it some other way?' Right? And that's, I think we're thinking about, even for parents.
Absolutely. I think a shift as well from, again, in the past, the common wisdom was, 'Go get a college degree, and then you'll be employable, life will be good.' And it worked that way for a long time. Until like, 2007, I think is the first real wakeup where college graduates didn't automatically roll right into a nice job. Do you think there's a saturation of college graduates?
As far as
Yeah. I mean, if you think back 40 years or so ago, we had maybe a quarter of students going on to four-year colleges. And I think now the figure of high school graduates starts bumping up, could be like, close to 70% of students are heading to college after high school. I mean, it's just not that much of a differentiator anymore. You may feel as a parent, you still are stuck with having to do that, because you want your kid to get a leg up. But it's not much of a leg up because everybody else is doing the same thing. So it becomes maybe just a necessary condition is apparent, but it's kind of depressing.
Yes, absolutely. I think that's the challenge, right? Is is just what you have to do to to get a seat at the table, let alone an offer and that type of thing. So I don't know, I know you're just recently I've been looking at the COVID thing. Do you think COVID Is reworking? And I, probably answer's yes. But reworking education and the job market and any hypotheses and how that might impact what you might want to do rolling in the college? I mean, if you're a junior trying to say, 'Well, should I do a degree or not? Or which degree or how does COVID factor into...' It changes education, for sure. Does it change?
Yeah, I don't think it changes much of anything to be honest. I don't think the jobs have not changed. It's not like one sector of the economy disappeared, and another sector came back. If you look at work from home, which we thought was going to be the big revolution, the census reported this month that only 11% of people are working remotely, now working telecommuting from, rather than being in their office. So the jobs aren't changing, and college hasn't changed really, either. I mean, we are back in classrooms now. The only difference, at least on my campus is everybody is masked up. I think delivering classes work better remotely than we thought. But the students don't like it better. And I think there's, at least looking at our folks, a pretty good sense that performance was worse, kids weren't working as hard, they weren't learning as much. So I don't see anything, frankly, changing in a fundamental way. You know, employers might decide that they want more people to work remotely. But we're not seeing that quite yet. We don't know exactly what they're going to do. But at least what I'm seeing now is, a lot of employers are walking back a lot of that talk about remote work. You know, even the Silicon Valley companies that were initially all over this, 'you can work from anywhere,' are now starting to charge their employees to work remotely, in some cases up to 20% pay cut, if you want to work from home, depending where your home is. So I don't see anything changing. And honestly, people have been saying this for about 20 years, that things have to are going to be different, we're going to need new skills, etc. There's just zero evidence of any of that has ever been rue. Looks pretty much the same as it did for a long time. Now. I mean, at some point, things will change. But as we all know, change of the kind we're talking about takes a long time to happen.
Right? Yeah. And I guess I'm of the opinion that higher education, in general is going to go through a revolution, starting at the margins with adult learners and that type of stuff. And it's having tough inroads into the college experience, because I think, in many regards, parents really want their kids to have the college experience, like they remember.
And are willing to pay what it takes to make it happen.
Mm hmm. Yeah.
And that's, and I think that's one of the reasons that college has become so expensive is college just raise the prices and kids still came. So they raised them, again, and kids still came.
Well, there's a little caveat on that, if you look at, the richer the school you go to, the cheaper it's going to be for you. So for example, my college 60% of students get financial aid. And if you are a student whose parents make less than $100,000 a year, your tuition is effectively free. So there's a ton of financial aid, I think it's 60%, sorry, of all students get financial aid, not just in my college, so there's a ton of financial aid that students get, and it's extremely difficult to know what it's gonna cost you to go to college until you try and apply and find out, then it's going to differ college by college by college.
Absolutely. And that's what I spent a lot of time working with families, I met very challenge of nearly impossible to know the price of the college. So you get your final offer at the end of the game. For the someone that's just walking into it, as you delve into it, there are ways that we can use net price calculators and software, etc. etc. to get a reasonable guesstimate of what college will cost. But, again, it's relatively complicated. There's different types of college, you get in your head and elite, private college where the challenge is not how to pay for it ever, the real challenge is getting accepted.
Because it's very selective. Other schools, they're not selective, but then you're going to have to pay, substantially more potentially, for that privilege of 'we take all comers.' So I think there's a big challenge there as well. So as far as COVID is concerned, you don't see any changes at your school, as far as thoughts of doing hybrid classes are somehow trying to get squeeze a little efficiency out of the various models and that type of thing?
Well, we're not trying to produce the cheapest education possible, right? But places are, but you know, this goes back to, some of us are old enough to remember things like Sunrise semester, where colleges used to offer courses at like five o'clock in the morning on public television channels. And that never took off. And the MOOCs, were going to revolutionize education. They made some progress, but not that much, very few people ever finish, MOOCs progress, they sign up for it, millions of people sign up, but almost nobody finishes. And the problem is, it's not that we couldn't deliver an education cheaper than we do, it's not clear that kids will learn it. And this is like thinking about learning organic chemistry with a completely portable device that has all the best information in it and everything you would need, it's called a textbook, and you could just sit by yourself and try to learn organic chemistry with a textbook and almost nobody is able to do that. So what colleges, particularly residential colleges are able to do, is create a context that forces people to learn. And we haven't been able to replicate that with cheaper online delivery systems.
Okay, so I guess getting back to kind of the idea of, 'Is college worth it?' Do you feel like there's any sort of, if then else type of thoughts for parents? Like, I mean, is there, how do you help a typical parents say, 'An average college is worth it.' But no family is average, or maybe one family, I guess, maybe that bit definition, depending what type of average you're talking about, is average. So how do you know where the payoffs exist and where the traps are, so to speak? Is there any sage advice you can give us there? As far as you, maybe pick a different paths if X or Y, or you'll be willing to spend more for this or that?
Yeah, I think we know some things that are going to be helpful. But here's the first. And that is to try to predict whether your kid will actually graduate or not. And another way of saying, 'Are they ready to go to college now?' And there are calculators that will help you do that. And they're pretty simple and they'll help you make that calculation. There are also things that you can look at, that will help you figure out whether your kid will graduate on time, right? And here's the big thing about this. The more that you go to a school that provides lots of support, the better the odds are your kids will graduate on time. Here's a way to find that out most colleges, you can find that out. I think they're required now, to tell you the graduation rate. And for some schools, it's as low as like 10%. So that's a bad bet, right? If you're going to a school where only 10% of the kids graduate on time, that's a bad bet. It could be because a lot of people are going to school part time. But that's something you could find out as well. And you can get that information. Another thing that you can do is you can look at the way the courses are scheduled. So for example, if you're going into a major that has a lot of prerequisites, that is going to be difficult to finish, right, because a lot of kids end up changing majors. And when they do that, they end up having to start over. I've certainly had one kid who did that already. And you can look at that intel. State universities are much worse at getting kids graduated on time than private kids schools are, because they're running really lean now. Sciences are harder to get kids through, because they often don't have the lab space and things. So some of those things you can figure out, I would be cautious about going to a very specific school, like just those engineering. Because if you do that, and your kid decides they don't like engineering, they got to switch schools altogether. So there are some things that you can do to help figure out what the odds are that your kid will graduate on time. There are also things you can do to figure out whether my kid is actually ready to go to college on time. And there's absolutely no big disadvantage to starting college a year later, so particularly if you think your kids are not particularly mature.
Right, absolutely. So a gap year, we've had a couple of podcasts on that idea as well, where it can be a very formal gap year, it could just be a year of work and a little more self directed by the family. And of course, there's big industry now around gap years where you can pay just as much as you spend on college, for the gap year experience, so to speak. And if you can afford it, there's perhaps nothing wrong with it. But I don't think the price tag is indicative of the benefit potentially. Alright, so again, if families are struggling, any final words of advice around the stress of colleges, I think a big thing? How would you recommend families that again, from an academic standpoint, deal with the overwhelm most families have and that they don't really understand how the system works. Most parents say, 'This is a lot different than when I went to college,' assuming they did go to college.
And a lot of parents don't have that, maybe they just did a two year degree from home, or they didn't do any college at all, or moved from a different country or whatever it might be. How do we deal with the overwhelm?
Well, I guess the first thing, as we said is your kid doesn't have to go the year they get out of high school. So you know, if you wait, it's not the end of the world. The second thing, though, I would say is, particularly if you don't have a lot of money, it is a really risky bet, to effectively bet the farm by taking out a home equity loan or putting your own retirement at risk to get your kid into a college unless you're really sure that your kid is going to thrive at college. If they're really doing well in high school, and they really, really want to go, first of all, if you don't have much money, you can get financial aid someplace. And if you're going to a place that's not offering you a good deal, and you don't have much money as a family, look someplace else. Because there are lots of schools that are desperate to have really good qualified students who are from, let's say, not just the wealthiest segment of society. So you need to look around, don't shy away from going to schools you think very expensive just because you think you can't afford it, they're probably your best bet. I'd say beyond that, though, I would think really hard about taking on myself into debt to try to get my kid who's not all that serious about college into college. So it's a really, really risky bet. You know, a kid who takes out loans or goes into debt, to go to college and then doesn't graduate is in a far deeper hole than if they never went in the first place. So it is really important to go into this thing with your eyes open and don't feel like you're crippling your kid if they don't go to college the year they graduate from high school.
Correct. And I think there's also as a shift, and I don't know how permanent is, but I've, again, anecdotally, maybe you've heard this as well that some employers now are backing off of must have a college degree, you know, which is a again, a lot of employers put that in every position just because they didn't get sued. It was easy. And it prevented them from having to deal with well, again, a lot of high school graduates potentially aren't very strong in reading, in basic math, let alone the skills they're looking for. So if they could get a lot of qualified candidates and require a degree.
Then why not
There's no reason not to, why not?
I think with what's going on the employment currently with COVID going etc. I've heard a few places that are now backing off of that and saying degree optional is becoming more prevalent. You think that is a temporary thing? Or do you think that maybe employers are catching on that college isn't necessarily the pancrea that they think it is?
I think they have to figure out what's in it for them. I think if they could pay these folks who did go to college less, they might very well do it. I think the problem right now is, their incentives are still to, 'Well, if we're gonna pay this much, we might as well give it the best person we can for it. And if they're older, and they've got a college degree, other things equal, we might as well take them.' It's kind of a lazy way to hire frankly, rather than try to figure out what the person can actually do. But they're not always trying their hardest either.
Alright, so I guess as far as any researcher and so forth, if people want more information from you, or where can you be found?
If you put my name in, last name is Cappelli with two P's and two L's at Wharton, W-H-A-R-T-O-N anywhere in there, boom, my name pops up. There's not too many Cappellis of Wharton. And also, I have this book on this topic called Will College Pay Off? You can get a lot of good information online as well. If you go to organizations, of course, that end with dot org, rather than vendors who are selling you stuff. The higher education associations provide a lot of good information and you can learn a lot about financial aid from those places as well.
All right, well, I appreciate your time. And we'll stay in touch.
Good. Thank you, Brad.
All right, I hope you enjoyed the interview. If you want to learn more about Peter's book Will College Pay Off?, all the links are in our show notes. Stay tuned for Brad Recommends.
The latest tips, tricks and tools you can use today. This is Brad Recommends on Taming the High Cost of College.
Today, I'm recommending a batch of podcasts that we released this past summer. It's podcast number 119 through 129. So those 11 podcasts are a great introduction to college planning. So there's 10 key topics that we cover. And each of those topics are something that most families are going to have to deal with at some point as they're planning for college. So I'm gonna just quickly run down the list here. But first one, 119 is working with college consultants, we talked a little bit about what you might want to consider if you're decide to work with consultants, and how consultants can actually help you in the process. 120 is finding a good fit school, we talked about what a good fit school might be and how to recognize one. 121, the real price of college. We talk about net price versus sticker price and how the pricing actually works for college. 122 is about choosing a college major, 123 how to research colleges, and we give you ideas on how to use the internet and different websites. 124 is college visits, and how they're important and how to take advantage of those. 125, getting accepted to a college. And we also talk a bit about the competitive colleges. 126, how to find and win scholarships, think scholarships is a big deal for a lot of families, they really want the free money. But you really need to understand how scholarships work to figure out if you're actually going to qualify for scholarships, and if so, which types you're going to qualify for, so that you spend your time focused on the right scholarships. 127 is all about student loans, the good, the bad, the ugly. 128 is college testing. And then finally, 129 we talked about how need-based financial aid works, and a little bit about the formulas and how to figure that out for your family as well. So all of those episodes are recorded with another college adviser, Chuck, and he does a lot of work with students. I obviously do a lot of work with parents. And together we were able to cover these topics in some pretty good detail. And if you're just starting to learn the college process, that would be a great review to kind of go through those 10 or 11 episodes and learn the basics on a number of different topics. Alright, that's all we have for today. As always, we appreciate reviews and please share this podcast to people who might benefit from it. That's all we have this week. We'll see you next week.
Thank you for listening to the Taming the High Cost of College Podcast. Now it's time for you to take action head to tamingthehighcostofcollege.com for show notes, bonus content, and to leave feedback for Brad. The next step on your college journey starts now.
Brad Baldridge is a registered representative of Cambridge Investment Research and an investment advisor representative of Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, a registered investment advisor. Securities are offered through Cambridge Investment Research Incorporated, a broker dealer and member of FINRA and SIPC. Brad owns two companies: Baldrige Wealth Management and Baldridge College Solutions. The Baldridge companies are not affiliated with Cambridge Investment Research.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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