Newsflash: in the NY Daily News

The New York Daily News ran a piece of mine this morning. I would have preferred a different title, but authors don’t get to choose that.

Newsflash: College is a Bargain

This was stimulated by recent stories about college graduates buried under 120K of debt. A good example is this account in the New York Times. The subtitle of this story is “A Generation Hobbled by Debt.” I guess I just couldn’t take the drumbeat of misleading generalization and overwrought prose. The average student debt of college finishers at private universities is $19,000. At public universities, the figure is $13,000. This is less than the price of an economy car. At two year schools, the median debt is …. zero! More than half of students who receive a two-year associates degree leave debt free.

Yet we are bombarded with anecdotes of students (like the one in the NY Times story at the University of Northern Iowa) who leave school with a 120K mountain of debt weighing them down. Anecdotes of this sort often substitute for real thinking based on real data. It’s a yellow shade of journalism that takes an example that is completely unrepresentative (perhaps one in a thousand) and turns that into a “generation hobbled.”