From the Desk of Barbara Robertson

Is college a worthwhile investment? The question has gained new currency in the wake of economist Bryan Caplan’s recent book, “The Case Against Education,” with various commentators weighing in for and against the proposition that our current system of colleges and universities vastly overcharges yet underdelivers as an incubator for skilled workers.

Without addressing Mr. Caplan’s assertions specifically, I’d argue that there’s a large – and growing – body of data indicating that yes, college remains very much a worthwhile investment. To cite one example, economists Tim Bartik and Brad Hershbein recently found that people from low-income backgrounds who complete college increase their career earnings by 71 percent, compared to those who complete only high school. I could point to numerous other studies that reach similar conclusions.

The larger issue it seems to me is the narrow definition of postsecondary education. In such discussions, vocational training often goes unmentioned. Yet such training remains a vitally important avenue to prosperity for many students and their families.

More to the point, when postsecondary education is taken to mean a system of both colleges and vocational training programs, who could plausibly argue against its enduring value? What other options are we to offer high school students on the cusp of adulthood?

Should you or a family member decide to pursue a postsecondary education, please know that the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara stands ready to help.

Wishing you a pleasant and productive summer.