Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Tears and Regret: More than half the people who attended a for-profit college wish they'd studied at a different institution

 "If they gave gold statuettes for tears and regrets," Ronnie Milsap sang in a classic country song, "I'd be a legend in my time."

Most of us have a few regrets, but no one should regret their college choice. Yet a recent Federal Reserve  Board report shows that many Americans wish they had studied at a different school or chosen another major.

More than half of those who attended a for-profit institution wish they'd studied at a different college. Fourteen percent of for-profit college attendees reported wishing they had received less postsecondary education or not gone to college at all.

In addition, many Americans are skeptical about the benefits of their college education.  Most older Americans (82 percent of people ages 60 and older) believe that the benefits of their college education exceed the costs. 

In contrast, many people in the traditional college-going years (ages 18-29) aren't sure that a college degree is worth the money. Among young Americans, only slightly more than half (56 percent) believe that the benefits of their education exceeded the cost. More than a third of college attendees in the 30-44 age bracket reported that the cost of their education outweighed the benefits.

The Federal Reserve report also found that a high percentage of people who majored in the humanities or social sciences regret their choice of major. Forty-eight percent of people who majored in the humanities and 46 percent of those who majored in social and behavioral sciences wish they had selected a different academic program.

For years, high school graduates were told they would never get ahead unless they obtained a college degree--and that the benefits of a college diploma far outweigh the cost.

Yet, these findings show that many Americans are unhappy about their college experience. A high percentage wish they had attended a different school or chosen another academic major. Perhaps most alarming, more than four out of ten young people think the cost of their college education exceeded the benefits.


My thanks go to Dahl Shaul and Glen McGhee for calling my attention to the Recent Federal Reserve Board report.


  1. I have a BA in Political Science and Geography. I was an Honors Scholarship student and graduated with no debt. Then I went to a Third Tier Toilet law school and graduated with student loans and no job. I finally got a job by lying to a temp agency to avoid looking overqualified. I can't get job interviews if I put law school on my resume, so I don't. If I could do it again, I'd study engineering and never attend law school.

  2. Thanks for writing. I am very sorry to hear about your experience. You might enjoy reading a book by Paul Campos titled Don't Go to Law School (Unless). You can buy it on Amazon and is reasonably priced. I went to a good law school when tuition was cheap (only $500 a semester!), and I graduated into a good job market.
    The job market for lawyers is not so good now, especially for people who graduate from second- or third-tier schools. I once touted the benefits of law school to anyone who was interested, but no more. If someone asks me whether to go to law school, I tell them to read Paul Campos's book. You might want to explore bankruptcy. It is very hard to discharge student loans in bankruptcy, but USDOE may be getting more willing to allow debtors to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. You can communicate with me directly at richard.fossey@gmail.com.
    Good luck! Richard F

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