I had an interesting conversation with a college senior recently. I asked the psychology major what he planned to do for a job after college. He didn’t know.

“Why are you going to college?” I asked.

“To learn,” he said. “To improve myself.”

In a new Pew Research Center survey, “Is College Worth It?”, just under half of the respondents (47 percent) said the main purpose of a college education is to teach work-related skills and knowledge. Thirty-nine percent of those polled said the purpose of college is to help students to grow personally and intellectually. The remainder of respondents said they felt work-related skills and personal growth were equally important.

Interestingly, among survey respondents who graduated from a four-year college, only 55 percent said their college education was very useful in helping them prepare for a job or career.

One of my favorite episodes of the sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris” features a hilarious scene about college. Chris Rock, who co-created the series, guest stars as a high school counselor. He has a candid conversation with Chris, played by Tyler James Williams, about the mission of college. Here’s a bit of the conversation from the episode, which you can view on YouTube:

Williams: “I still don’t know what I want to do for a living, but I do know that my mother wants me to go to college.”

Rock: “College? Why?”

Williams: “To learn.”

Rock: “Learn. You can learn anywhere Chris. But your parents are way too broke for you to go to college to just learn. They need you to go to college to learn how to get a job.”

Here’s this week’s Color of Money question: What’s the main purpose of a college education? Send your responses to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Put “Is College Worth It”in the subject line. Be sure to include your full name, city and state.

Five Myths of Internships

Many college graduates are finding out the hard way that just having a degree isn’t enough in this job market. Many are learning too late that they needed a few good internships.  But there are some misconceptions about this job-training path.

In the Post’s “Five Myths” feature, Ross Perlin, author of “Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy” dispels myths about internships.

Here are two myths:

-- Interns enjoy workplace protections.Without legal standing, many interns are unable to claim basic workplace protections.

-- Not paying interns is legal. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act an intern is an employee, however temporary or inexperienced, and entitled to minimum wage.

Trumped By Trump

I told you so.

I said Donald Trump would not run for president. The ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ host announced this week that he had decided he didn’t want to be in the Oval Office.

 “I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election,” Trump said in a statement.


I think many in the general public (as a recent poll has shown) always saw Trump’s teasing as a way to boost his television ratings. More than half of Americans say they would not vote for him. As CBSnews.com reported: “There had been widespread skepticism about Trump's flirtation with a run grounded in the fact that he has closely guarded information about his finances in the past.”

I was more than skeptical. As I wrote recently, I didn’t believe Trump was serious about running because he wouldn’t want the scrutiny of his financial situation. The Ethics in Government Act requires those running for federal office to file disclosures of their personal finances. For an example of the kind of examination Trump’s finances would face, look no further than former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has declared his candidacy for president. Politico recently reported, Gingrich carried as much as $500,000 in debt to the jeweler Tiffany and Company in 2005 and 2006.

Let’s Talk

At11:45 a.m. ET, join me for my live video chat. At noon, I will begin my online text chat.

It’s just you and me today, so send your money questions in early or read the transcript later.

Mother May I?

Many Generation Y women don’t want to work as hard as their mothers, according to findings by the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation.

Turns out millennial women want something entirely different, writes Selena Rezvani, author of “The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead but Won’t Learn in Business School” and co-president of Women’s Road Map.

In the Post’s On Leadership blog, Rezvani writes about a new study, Generation Y Women in the Workplace, in which researchers found that overwhelmingly young female workers don’t want to emulate their mother’s careers that involved long hours.

“Young women have a clear discomfort mimicking their workaholic boomer moms, Rezvani says. “Instead, the youngest female workers tend to give equal emphasis to family and career.”

Responses to “It’s Not the Thought That Counts”

A reader wrote to advice columnist Miss Manners asking whether she should ask her husband to exchange a gift their daughter doesn’t want.

That posting led to last week’s Color Money Question: Is it rude to ask someone to take back or exchange a gift?

Here are what some gift givers and receivers had to say:

“I'm a practical gift giver,” said Adrienne Washington of Oxon Hill, Md. “This may sound petty, but I want to know that my money was spent wisely, and will be put to good use. Why would you buy someone a gift that they'll never wear or use and expect them to be grateful? [The father] should have consulted with his wife to ensure that the daughter would like the gift.”

‘When I was a little girl, I made my big sister a pair of earrings for her Christmas present – small Styrofoam balls to which I put stars and some beads. In hindsight, they were truly atrocious. Yet she put them on and wore them proudly, at least once,” wrote Sherry Appel of Upper Marlboro, Md.  “She was only 15 years old at the time, so I imagine it was pretty hard for her to do that since they were definitely not cool. I still remember to this day her kindness to me. I don’t know if I would have had the smarts or the selflessness to do that, myself.”

Shannon Miranda of Lexington, Mass. believes it's rude to purchase a gift the receiver can't use. 

 “I think it is worse to accept a gift someone has paid money for and toss it into the back of the closet rather than tactfully saying, ‘I think this gift is very thoughtful of you although I'm not sure it fits,’ and allow the giver to offer an exchange. If I'm giving a present I would prefer someone told me it wasn't right for them and let them select something they can use and appreciate. The thought of giving is what counts and the gift is the delivery of that thought.  Why should the thought be spoiled with a gift you can't use?”

“I work at a card/gift shop with a bridal registry,” wrote a reader from Kentucky. “I was appalled when I first started working there that gifts were brought back for exchange or credit. I was taught that gifts were accepted with courtesy, regardless. We have learned that if some gift was not on the bride's registry, more than likely it was returned. One girl got an extra dinner plate of fine china and asked to return it. I asked her if she never expected to break anything. But the worst offender was the bride that registered for miscellaneous [things.]  After all the showers and the wedding, she and her groom came in carrying most everything she had received. There were so many [gifts] that they were carrying them in a bushel basket. She wanted credit for all of the gifts in order to order china and apply the amount to that.”

Tia Lewis contributed to this e-letter.

 You are welcome to e-mail comments and questions to singletarym@washpost.com . Please include your name and hometown; your comments may be used in a future column or newsletter unless otherwise requested.