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College Seniors Consider Value Of Higher Education

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NEW ROCHELLE (CBSNewYork) – This summer is shaping up to be full of anxiety for college students graduating next year.

As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, the prospects of finding meaningful work in their chosen fields doesn’t look so good, and this next generation is having doubts about what happens post-graduation.

Haley Schwartz said she worries she’ll never be able to afford a home like the one she grew up in. The honors student is feeling discouraged after internships in her chosen field have seemingly dried up.

More: PayScale College Return On Investment Report

“I didn’t hear back from most of them and when I did it was an automated response. And now I’m babysitting for a local family and that’s not something I can put on my resume,” she said.

Schwartz is certainly not alone. As they’re approaching the end of their expensive higher education, students and their parents are wondering about the value of the investment, Young reported.

“Cost a lot of money, spent a lot of time. Got good grades, made Dean’s list, the Greek Honor Society, but that’s not going to get me a job,” said Schwartz, who is now questioning whether it was all worth it.

Experts say it’s no longer possible to judge the worth of a college education just by the income you secure after graduation.

The old well-worn pathways to employment are shifting dramatically.

“The old days of corporations going to job centers with hundreds of jobs to fill are gone,” said Professor Matt Carey, with Iona College.

Carey, a business professor, advises students to start thinking about employment a lot earlier and to keep careful track of what the diploma is costing them.

“They need an education just to get ahead. Is it worth $60,000 a year? Do the math. Is that what they’ll be making when they get out?” said parent Gayle Sturmer.

Sturmer’s daughter did the math and decided to transfer from an expensive out-of-state school to a public university closer to home.

“I felt like I was burning my money,” said Elizabeth Skorvron. “The cost seemed too high for anything — a huge financial burden for a car, for anything. (So you changed?) So I did.”

Still, Skorvron said her mother is selling their home to pay for college for her and her sister.

Economists suggest there are two factors at work. They said fall-back jobs in retail and seasonal work are occupied by the underemployed displaced by the recession and technology is changing entire industries overnight, Young reported.

“When Kodak was at the height of its power it employed about 140,000 people and was worth, say $20 billion as a company. Instagram was bought by Facebook a couple of years ago for a billion dollars and employed 13 people,” Carey said.

In such uncertain times, many students said they expect to live with their parents after graduation, unsure of what happens after that.

“For me, thinking about the future is really scary. I don’t want to graduate,” Schwartz said.

The truth is, the jobs new graduates are most suited for may not even exist yet, even if those big college loans are all too real, Young reported.

Guidance counselors have suggested high school students consult return on investment surveys of colleges that compare graduate salaries with tuition costs.

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