College and Health Insurance: Too costly but worth it for most everyone

By General Education Advice

Years ago, I developed a subsidiary to The Learning Consultants: Career Counseling Connecticut

I did so because I saw so many young adults floundering at the start of their careers.  This work naturally put me in the conversation with journalists. They  would ask a seemingly reasonable question: “is college worth the cost?”  Covid has only intensified this question.

The premise of the question stemmed from a purely economic analysis.  Could the young adult who was struggling in his/her career found been on equal footing with someone who had not spent so much money for college?  Inevitably, the outliers to this answer – Mark Zuckerberg/Bill Gates (Harvard drop outs who started billion dollar companies) or more sensible examples such as successful plumbers or others in the trades who did not go to college but made a good living.

Journalists Do Not Work With Young adults On Career Questions

The college value question is often addressed by people who do not work with high school students.  Most of the journalists of this ilk seem to think that 18 year olds could forego college, get training in coding or some other tech discipline, and get hired in the work force. Others will suggest giving the 18 year old the college money to go start a business or – again the more sensible ones – might suggest entering the trades as alternative to college.

My work has been with Connecticut students in the New Haven to Stonington area, primarily in the Guilford, Madison, Old Saybrook, Essex, Old Lyme, and East Lyme areas. I mention because these are the type of students who would be best positioned to enter the work force or start a business as 18 year olds.  While we work with all types of students, those in our Winter SAT-ACT Mastery Seminar all seemed headed to success in life.  But none of them are considering skipping a college –  as we discuss the issue within the SAT-ACT class – because the “other options” are not good.

Alternative Options to College Are Usually Not Good or Of No Interest

Let’s start with what might be the best general suggestion: enter the trades.  When I provide college to career counseling to students who are not motivated in school, I do suggest both the trades and the military.  I recognize that my suburban Connecticut clientele are a distinct socioeconomic group but I can’t emphasize enough how quickly both ideas are shot down.  “No interest” is the most common response, even when I try to make a compelling case to a young man (I don’t mean to be gender specific but this is usually the case) who a couple generations ago would like

There are not many really good options for Connecticut suburban types to explore other than college.  Sure, there is an outlier or two who could effectively start a business – I’m sure most parents are laughing hard at the suggestion about giving their child $100-$200,ooo to start a business  – and I definitely know that some asocial advanced tech types might want to skip college – even though they probably should go to college for socialization – and train for a specialized tech job.  My guess is that most of those types would a rough time at 18 with all the soft skills that are associated with all work, even tech work.

If those writers were addressing the housing market as they do the college market, they would be writing things like: “maybe you should build your own house” or “live in a Winnebago”.  These cost-saving options do make sense for less than 1% of the population but for no one else.

So, is college the best option for most Connecticut suburban types? Absolutely. Is it worth it? That’s nonsensical question unless the specifics are revealed.