Is a College Degree Worth It?

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  • June 2, 2014

June 2, 2014

I am inclined to forward to you all a post from the blog called “The UpShot” on the NY Times website.  Over the last couple of years, it feels as if the college degree is attacked on a weekly basis in the media.  Quite frankly, I find myself pondering the return on investment for society and individuals.  I know having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree has been great for me and my career, but everyone’s circumstances are different.  There are so many problems in higher education from the high cost to bloated infrastructures to slowness to respond to market forces.  We live it every day! And yet, the value of attaining a bachelor’s degree still makes sense in almost every circumstance; however, it does not guarantee success.  I think this latter point is key.  Here are some interesting takeaways from blog post:

  • The decision not to attend college for fear that it’s a bad deal is among the most economically irrational decisions anybody could make in 2014.
  • Public discussion today often focuses on the undeniable fact that a bachelor’s degree does not guarantee success. But of course it doesn’t.
  • Over the long run, college is cheaper than free. Not going to college will cost you about half a million dollars.
  • The big economic returns go to people with four-year degrees.
  • The unemployment rate in April for people between 25 and 34 years old with a bachelor’s degree was a mere 3 percent.
  • From almost any individual’s perspective, college is a no-brainer. It’s the most reliable ticket to the middle class and beyond.

Although I think our higher education system is broken in many ways, I remain a believer that for almost all people, attaining a bachelor’s degree and in some cases a master’s degree is a great investment.  The key is making sure individuals choose a high quality program and university at a price point that makes sense for them.  The motivating factor for us is that we can help make this connection between education consumers and education providers successful.

For the counterpoint delivered by NPR, read this blog post, but I generally agree with their conclusion that college isn’t worth it when: (1) if…you don’t graduate, (2) if…you pick the wrong college, and (3) if… you pick the wrong degree.  TLH plays a key part in helping the education consumer solve all three issues.





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7 Comments on "Is a College Degree Worth It?"

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Hillary Leetney
Getting a job when you don’t have a degree is hard. And even if you do know a lot, there’s no guarantee you will be paid properly. This happened to me. I don’t have a degree in design but I’m good at it and I do my job properly but unfortunately my employer isn’t paying me the same amount of money he’s paying to other my colleagues. And that’s a major downside of not having a degree. That’s why I support the author here and a dissertation writer who says degree is a guarantee for a good job and decent… Read more »
M. Tierney
Now in grad school with a degree completely different than my undergrad, I believe more than ever one will get the best return on their educational investment when they are focused and know exactly what they want to get out of school. If one simply goes to school in hopes of finding the answers of life and what they should do, an education is a higher-risk investment than one who enrolls to become a great statistician. A narrow focus will only increase the value of your education because you will cater each and every class to serve you in reaching… Read more »
Jennifer Logsdon

I recently heard someone say, “A degree won’t guarantee you a seat at the table, but it will increase the probability of you having the opportunity to get a seat at the table.” It seems that sometimes we lose sight of that. My degrees were worth every bit of effort and funding put into them; I believe it is how I choose to use them that makes the difference.

Samuel Todorich

Thank you for sharing, I couldn’t agree more. As with any investment, there is a payback period. Depending on a number of variables (the cost of the institution, the degree, the drive of the individual, etc.) the payback period will vary, but in most cases the ROI is well worth the investment and effort.

Jennifer Bell
I do think it’s wise for prospective college students to run the numbers for themselves and their situation in life before making such a huge upfront financial investment. Broad statistics like these are helpful, but will a 50-year-old who only has 15 or so years left in the workforce see a significant return on investment for a degree? Or say an 18-year-old knows for a fact he wants to be a mechanic, and he knows he can learn all the necessary skills through an apprenticeship that costs him nothing; he needs to study how much degree-holding vs. non-degree-holding mechanics in… Read more »