College students want higher education for the money, not the knowledge

A recent study shows that most millennials find money more important than education

For most high school students, the next step after graduation is college. But, many millennials seem to not want to go to college because of concerns over job prospects after graduation.

Jake Bell, a Walter Cronkite and W.P. Carey School alumnus and candidate for Arizona Corporation Commissioner, went to college twice, but was unemployed for six months after graduation. Now, in seeing his own daughter make the college decision, he wants to her to go learn new things but is questioning whether it is actually worth it. 

“When my kids look at me, they know that their dad did everything that he was supposed to do. He went back to school and got an MBA, where the school tells you ‘Hey, when you get your MBA and when you get hired, your starting salary is $80,000 a year,'" he said. "And, I graduated and was unemployed for six months. So right now, my daughter is a junior in high school, and she’s trying to decide if it’s worth it to go to college.” 

Bell said that college is a good thing but not a guarantee for a job with a good salary.

A 2016 study, conducted between 1971-2014 by researchers from San Diego State University, surveyed over eight million students and found that millennials value education less and money more. According to the study, “over 71 percent of millennials said that making money was important,” whereas earlier generations said that though making money was the point of college, education was much more important. 

Taylor Cifuentez, a 2016 ASU graduate, is employed but owes $60,000 in student debt, which her current income is slowly making a dent in.

Cifuentez said she got two degrees but questioned the importance of doing so. 

The average cost of attending a ASU for one year, according to ASU Financial Aid office, has climbed to $28,491 for in-state students living on the Tempe campus. Like Cifuentez, many students accumulate thousands of dollars in debt. As a result, researchers found that students are motivated by the promise of a high-paying paycheck in the end. 

Erick Fowler

Graphic published on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017.

But Amy Michalenko, the director of service delivery and strategic initiatives at ASU career services, said that ASU students graduate with significant experience in their field.

"As they are coming out of school, they aren't just coming out of school with an education, which is wonderful and important, but they are coming with a lot of hands on experience," Michalenko said. 

She also said that money is a concern when going to college but that an education is a good investment. 

"The one thing that I always tell people is an investment in your education is a worthwhile investment," Michalenko said. "The investment in your education will be something that you will have and is yours for a lifetime." 

According to ASU’s career outcome statistics of the 2015-2016 school year, 87 percent of undergrads found some type of job 90 days after graduation and 42 percent of graduate students had at least one internship.

The study showed that students want to obtain more financial stability and job security, which leads them onto career paths that do not necessarily stem from their majors.

"So, it's about figuring out how do you take your education and your experiences you've had here at ASU and translate that into something that is going to be a worthwhile and impactful career for you," Michalenko said. "And, that's not going to look the same for everybody."

Reach the reporter at or follow @tinamaria_4 on Twitter.

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