The Value of a College Degree, Chinese Edition

In my book, Thriving in the 21st Century, I warn parents not to send a child to college unless they’re college material, are motivated to study and pursue a viable career, and they can afford it. I say these things because the risk of being stuck with a useless college diploma in our challenged economy is high indeed. But at least in this country, if you have a degree you’ll be qualified for some type of job, even if it’s something that shouldn’t require a degree but does, like being a rental car agent.

But in China, the prognosis is even worse for young college grads. Check out this article, which ends with this depressing statement:

Making matters worse for graduates, the “lucky” ones with jobs can expect an average salary of 3,000 yuan per month ($487.89). Netizens have calculated that at this rate, a 2013 graduate will have enough money to purchase a bathroom in the suburbs of Beijing in 10 years, if she doesn’t eat and chooses to live on the street.

Thwarted by Student Loan Debt

This young woman wants to be a nun. But she can’t become one until she pays off her student loans. This is just one more example of how student loans can hold you back. Unless a student is going into a field where a steady, decent income is virtually assured, borrowing money to go to college is a huge risk in the current economy.


Are Healthcare and Education Industries Slowing Down?

As I wrote in Thriving in the 21st Century, healthcare and education are two of the few growth areas seen in this economy. This has been true for quite a while now. But it appears that things are changing. A combination of lower birth rates and Obamacare seem the most likely culprits, but whatever the causes, this does not bode well for future employment in these areas.

I believe healthcare workers will continue to be needed as the enormous Baby Boomer generation ages, so it’s still worth encouraging kids to go into this field if they’re so inclined, and particularly if they’re gifted in the area of caring for others. That said, the pathetic performance of other segments of our economy, when combined with news like this of declines in the best-performing sectors, makes it clear that raising kids with multiple skills as well as an entrepreneurial bent (side businesses could keep them from going hungry) is more important than ever.