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HomeNewsLiveEVENT: Is College Worth It Anymore?

EVENT: Is College Worth It Anymore?

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This Event to Place on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 | 12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

Event Summary

Are college students being deceived by broken promises regarding future income? At a book forum hosted by AEI’s Alex Pollock on Wednesday, an expert panel addressed this critical question and related higher education finance issues.

William Bennett and David Wilezol presented the findings from their new book “Is College Worth It?” (Thomas Nelson, April 2013).  Bennett advocated the useful skills that students gain in programs such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, while Wilezol stressed the common misconceptions that everyone should go to college and that expensive “brand name” colleges necessarily generate success. These mistaken perceptions inflate student debt, said Wilezol, and may lead to economic and personal disappointment.

Richard George of the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation explained that the overwhelming majority of student loan defaulters have not completed a degree, and many defaulters belong to a low-income cohort. He suggested that students should not be allowed to borrow until they have “demonstrated the capacity to persist” in higher education.

Richard Vedder of AEI and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity discussed the economic realities of college, contrasting the idea of college as consumption with that of college as investment. He concluded that higher education reform can be achieved with information, incentives, and innovation.
–Lilla Lukacs

Event Description

In their forthright and provocative new book “Is College Worth It?,” former secretary of education Bill Bennett and coauthor David Wilezol set out to “expose the cold reality and empty rhetoric of much college education.” Why is the average cost-benefit ratio of college deteriorating? Bennett and Wilezol observe, “Just as real estate agents and home builders benefitted from the massive influx of easy money . . . so do colleges and universities,” while their “administrative bloat increases.” The college campus, “with [its] drinking, drugs, partying, sex and sometimes learning,” is producing “a glut of BA holders” at a high cost that is sometimes worth it and sometimes not.

“College should come with a bright red warning label: Warning! High risk of debt and unemployment,” they suggest. The book presents a number of fundamental ideas about how to reduce the cost and increase the value of higher education.

At this event, Bennett and Wilezol will present their book, higher education finance experts Richard George, Representative Tom Petri, and Richard Vedder will provide discussion, and a coffee reception and book signing will follow.

An Immodest Proposal


12:00 PM
Registration and Buffet Lunch

12:30 PM
William J. Bennett, “Bill Bennett’s Morning in America” and the Claremont Institute
David Wilezol, “Bill Bennett’s Morning in America”

Richard George, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation
Tom Petri, US House of Representatives (R-WI)
Richard Vedder, AEI and the Center for College Affordability

Alex J. Pollock, AEI

1:45 PM
Coffee Reception and Book Signing

Written by
Data Journalism Editor

Rich, the People's Pundit, is the Data Journalism Editor at PPD and Director of the PPD Election Projection Model. He is also the Director of Big Data Poll, and author of "Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract."

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