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Ark-La-Tex In-Depth: Is College Still Worth It? - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Ark-La-Tex In-Depth: Is College Still Worth It?

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SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER CITY, La. -

"I started off just teaching my little brother and sister."

LSU-Shreveport junior, Symphony Davis, says she can't remember a time when she didn't want to be a teacher.

But to make that happen, she knew she'd need more than just a high school diploma.

"With my immediate family, I was going to be the first one to graduate from college so I was very excited and I was like, college is a 'yes'!"

And while Davis has always been sure of her path, there is an increasing number of prospective students who are questioning if college is right for them.

According to a recent Mckinsey and Company report, nearly half of all U.S, graduates from 4-year colleges are in jobs that don't require a 4-year degree.

Additionally, the report says that more than half of the graduates they surveyed would choose a different school or major if they could do it all over again.

Essentially, these graduates feel overqualified, often unable to find a job in their field of study.

But local colleges say the argument for investing in a higher education is best made through assessing what you give up when you opt out.

"I think it's important to realize that in the last recession, that was devastating for the entire country, about 4 out of every 5 jobs that were lost were held by people that didn't have a college degree," says Dr. Paul Sisson, LSU-S Interim Chancellor.

On top of that, our area is home to some of the most affordable colleges in the state.

Dr. Sisson says the cost of earning a four-year degree at LSU-S comes in at about $21,000.

Compare that to a nationwide average of $89,000 over the course of four years.

"If you had to pay for it all out-of-pocket, which almost none of our students do. We offer many scholarships, and there's state aid and federal financial aid."

The Mckinsey report also states that a third of 4-year college graduates don't feel college prepared them well for employment, and it's even worse when you look at 2-year colleges.

But across the river, Bossier Parish Community College regularly boasts record-breaking enrollment numbers.

"At BPCC, we continually create and align programs that maximize our graduates' opportunities at surprisingly lucrative careers," says Allison Martin, Director of BPCC's Institutional Effectiveness Initiatives.

Martin says the 2-year college stays on the pulse of the local and national job market and reflects that in the programs it offers.

"Students with a 2-year degree are able to earn some high-paying jobs."

Students like Melvin Jack, self-employed for 15 years, but now back in the college classroom.

"I think you can get a quality education at a discounted price here," Jack says.

An industrial technologies student, Jack says his decision to go back to school hinged on his desire to offer valuable skills to future employers.

"I just wanted to make sure that I was very employable, not just someone looking for a job but I wanted to be a person that the industry desired to have."

And Dr. Sisson says, economically, the true return on an investment in higher ed is revealed through lifetime earnings potential.

According to Forbes.com... In a 40-year career, the average worker with a high school diploma earns makes about $77,000, while a bachelor's degree holder brings in about $1.4 million.

"You get to a PhD, and you're talking about maybe $2.5 to $3 milion more than if you had stopped with just a high school diploma, over a lifetime."

And when Symphony Davis is one day in front her own classroom, she says she'll be forever grateful for her investment.

"Know what you want to do in your future, and what goal you're trying to aim towards and do what it takes to get there."

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