Interesting, provocative read from The Chronicle:
Briallen has a Ph.D. from Princeton University and is a lecturer in the English department at Yale University. Johanna is a high-school graduate working full time at a bakery for slightly above minimum wage.
[Briallen] can’t imagine her life without higher education, but as a non-tenure-track academic in a tough job market, she has limited job security, and she owes more than $800 a month in student-loan payments. Her student debt makes it impossible for her to save money or start a family anytime soon, and she is entering her mid-30s.
Johanna is 20. She was an honor student at her Jesuit prep school and was considered to be obvious “college material” by her teachers, but she graduated after the 2008 crash and couldn’t count on getting a job after college that would enable her to make student-loan payments. … Johanna was wary of graduating with substantial debt and no family safety net, so she took a year off to work and save money and try applying to college again. Her financial-aid offers the next year were no better. She ended up taking classes at the local satellite campus of a state university while living at home and working long hours at a salon to pay her own way.
After learning that she’d spent almost all of her hard-earned savings on classes she was not even required to take, Johanna lost her faith in the wisdom of investing in higher education. She left school and is now working full time for $13,000 a year. She’s proudly debt-free and self-supporting, and in her limited free time she is pursuing reading, writing, and the free or cheap cultural and educational opportunities available to her.