One More Time: Yes, College Is Worth It

A new study shows that despite the plight of unemployed college graduates, a degree still holds its value. Plus, education news on plagiarism in online courses and high school dropouts.

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Sky-high student debt and countless stories about the plight of unemployed or underemployed college graduates has prompted a new wave of speculation as to whether college is really worth it. So perhaps some you might need this reminder: you know what’s even harder than not having a job? Not having a job or a college degree.

A new study from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce finds that a college degree is indeed the best defense against unemployment. “It’s a tough job market for college graduates,” the report says, “but far worse for those without a college education.”

While the unemployment rate for recent four year college graduates is 6.8%, according to researchers the unemployment rate for recent high school graduates is nearly 24%. Additionally, nearly 200,000 jobs for workers with at least a Bachelor’s degree were added during the recession; 2 million jobs for college-educated workers have been added during the recovery. At the same time, nearly four out of every five jobs destroyed by the recession were held by workers with a high school diploma or less.

Read the executive summary and download the full report here.

More education news from the week:
Free Online Education Surges, Plagued by Plagiarism 
Coursera, a company that provides free online courses in conjunction with several prestigious universities, announced last week it had registered one million students.  One of Coursera’s competitors, Udacity, has nearly 740,000 students. But with the popularity of free online courses surging, professors and students are growing increasingly concerned over plagiarism. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, one Coursera professor issued an online plea to his 39,000 students to stop cheating; in recent weeks, dozens of students in at least three Coursera courses have complained that their work has been copied by other students. Coursera told the Chronicle it will review the issue and may consider adding plagiarism-detection software. Read the full story here.

Fake Money Aims to Highlight the Dropout Crisis
The latest prop in the College Board’s “Don’t Forget Ed” campaign, which aims to make education a leading issue in the 2012 presidential race? A lump of cold, hard cash. On Wednesday, the College Board placed a 6 ft.-tall display of (fake) hundred dollar bills near the New York Stock Exchange, according to the Huffington Post. The fake bills are stamped with the message “reducing the high school dropout rate 1% would add $1.5 billion a year to the economy,” and are meant to highlight the dropout crisis. The College Board staged a related stunt in June when it placed 857 empty school desks on the National Mall in Washington DC to represent each student who drops out of school every hour of every day. Read more here.

Number: $500,000
The amount awarded in a legal settlement to seven students in New Jersey who were forced to eat their lunch on the floor of the gymnasium as punishment, according to Reuters.

In case you missed it: 
Propublica has a by-the-numbers piece breaking down the key stats from a recently released congressional report on the for-profit higher education industry. The report from the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee was fairly scathing, and the for-profit industry group, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, pushed back immediately, saying the report twisted the facts. The Propublica piece has a lengthy list of numbers the industry group did not challenge, including figures that portray the meteoric growth in the for-profit industry, the dramatically higher prices and debt loads, the amount of resources devoted to recruitment and lobbying, and executive compensation. Read the Propublica piece here.

Kayla Webley is a Staff Writer at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @kaylawebley, on Facebook or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.