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May 31st, 2013
06:11 PM ET

Expert: College is not worth it

The state of the student loan crisis in this country has set the stage for another battle between President Barack Obama and Congress.

College students are amassing decades worth of student loan debt, and face slim prospects for finding a job related to their degree post-graduation.

On Friday, the president urged Congress to approve his plan, which would freeze student loan interest rates. If Congress does not act, the rates would automatically double, shooting up to 6.8%.

But the Republican-led House also put forth a plan to deal with the student loan issue. Like the president's plan, it would also keep student loan rates from doubling, and would tie rates to the 10-year Treasury notes. While the president's plan freezes rates for the life of the loan, the House plan would let lending rates reset each each year.

Independent analysts say both plans have shortcomings that could lead to a dramatic spike in rates for borrowers down the road.

With the tough job market and the threat of being saddled with debt, many are beginning to question whether going to college is even worth it. The short answer, according to Penelope Trunk, co-founder of the career management site BrazenCareerist.com, is no.

"The debt becomes very limiting. If you think of college as opening doors after graduation, the debt closes those doors," said Trunk. "Because you can only go after jobs that can service the debt."

Trunk said recent graduates will not seek jobs where they will not earn enough to to pay back their debt.

Statistics show that individuals with a college degree are more likely to make a lot more money. But it is not causal, argued Trunk, who said statistics also show that kids who are likely to succeed can be identified in preschool.

"Of course the kids who are more likely to succeed go to college, because we have in our heads that you should go to college," said Trunk.

"In general we are not learning in college anything that's useful in the workforce, and colleges right now are acutely aware of that and are trying to figure out how to re-position themselves, either as learning for the sake of learning, or becoming more vocational," said Trunk.

Companies are also shifting hiring practices, said Trunk, focusing more on experience than where they were educated.

"Google is a really good example of that, because they have an algorithm for how the pick who they're going to hire," said Trunk. "They've announced they're going to shift the algorithm to downplay school and GPA, and focus on what you do online, because it's such a better indicator of how well you'll perform at work."

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