The value of a college education

I've been thinking lately about the value of a college education. I earned a B.A. in Psychology from Willamette University in 1991 (with a minor in English Lit, and almost another minor in Speech Com). What have I done with this degree? Almost nothing. Yet I do not regret the money and years I spent working to earn it.

The Financial Value of a College Degree

Does earning a college degree make a difference to your future? Absolutely. The facts are striking. On average, those who have a college degree earn almost twice as much as those who do not. According to the U.S. Census Bureau:

Adults with advanced degrees earn four times more than those with less than a high school diploma. Workers 18 and older with a master's, professional or doctoral degree earned an average of $82,320 in 2006, while those with less than a high school diploma earned $20,873.

Workers with a bachelor's degree earned an average of $56,788 in 2006; those with a high school diploma earned $31,071. This flurry of numbers makes more sense when viewed in a table:

EducationAvg. IncomeIncrease
Drop-out$20,873
High school$31,07148.9%
College$56,78882.8%
Advanced$82,32045.0%

Completing college is huge. Over a life-time, a college degree is generally worth almost a million dollars. That's money that can be used for saving, for fun, for whatever. The financial benefits of a college education are significant, and they're very real.

Other Benefits of a College Degree

Obtaining a college degree isn't just about making more money. According to Katharine Hansen at Quintessential Careers, a college education is associated with other benefits, such as:

  • Longer life-spans
  • Greater economic stability and security
  • More prestigious employment and greater job satisfaction
  • Less dependency on government assistance
  • Greater participation in leisure and artistic activities
  • Greater community service and leadership
  • More self-confidence

A college education also gives you a broad base of knowledge on which to build. It teaches you to solve more of life's problems. It gives you future reference points for discussing art, entertainment, politics, and history.

College offers other learning opportunities, too. Much of what I gained in college came from learning outside the classroom, from participating in clubs and other campus organizations. Many degree programs allow students to “test-drive” careers through internships and practicums.

The Label on Your Degree Does NOT Matter

I asked Michael Hampton, director of career development at Western Oregon University, what advice he would offer a student who is deciding whether or not to attend college. He replied:

Unless you are going to be an engineer, architect, teacher, lawyer, the label on your degree does not matter. The degree is a check-mark (as opposed to the focus) in most job requirements. Many job ads will state: “Business, Communications or other degree required.” Most folks have the “other”.

I have a BA in Speech, Telecommunications & Film. As a television news photographer, youth director, communications director, substitute school teacher, sports marketing manager, career programs coordinator, no one ever said to me: “You know what? We would like to hire you, but we're not sure what that label is on your degree.”

Honestly, at the University of Oregon, I was looking for an “easy” degree because I was not a book-smart student. I was able to take mostly film & television classes to earn my BA, so I signed up. The experiences I took advantage of (internships, volunteering, and part-time jobs) in college set me up to be marketable to employers. Again, the jobs I went after required degrees, but the label on the degree was not a barrier.

Here are some more prominent examples:

  • What was Alan Greenspan‘s major? Econ, but he studied music first
  • What was Michael Jordan‘s major? Math, then Geography (dropped out to play professional basketball, later returned to earn his degree)
  • What was Lisa Kudrow‘s major? Biology
  • What was Cindy Crawford‘s major? Chemical Engineering (dropped out for modeling career)
  • What was Ted Turner‘s major? Classics (expelled for hanky-panky)
  • What was former HP CEO Carly Fiorina‘s major? Philosophy
  • What was George W. Bush‘s major? History
  • What was Jay Leno‘s major? Philosophy

If a student is struggling to get good grades, I encourage them to look at the course catalog and choose a major based on the likability of most of the classes they would have to take, their positive experiences with the professors in the major, and the number of credits they have already taken that are compatible. They should set themselves up to be successful. Getting through the pre-reqs is a major barrier for some. Combine some “fun” classes with the challenging required courses to try and make the experience more enjoyable.

Against the Grain

But what if, instead of paying for your child's education, you provided this lump sum to them in a one-year certificate of deposit, earning the current highest return available (2.24% as of the writing of this article, according to Bankrate.com)? Now the child's salary would be greatly reduced; the lifetime earning potential would only be $4.2 million assuming the same circumstances as before.

However, assuming that in both scenarios the child in question was able to save 5% of their annual income (assumed to be a lump-sum deposit at the beginning of the year to keep calculations simple), the child with the high school education will have accumulated $646,532 in the one-year CDs by the time they've reached retirement age. The child with the college degree would only accumulate $438.132, a difference of $208,400.

Perhaps it could be argued that the child with the college degree could live with the same expense basis as the one with the high school education, thereby freeing up more money for saving and investing. However, I would encourage a recognition of Parkinson's Second Law, which tells us that “expenses rise to meet income”.

Rich or poor, thrifty or not, the current savings rate as of the end of May for Americans was only 6.9%. For much of the recent past it's been lower than that, even to the point of occasionally becoming negative. For as many responsible people who are reading these words, there are many more who would be swept along by circumstances and society, spending exactly what they make (or more), year after year.

Public vs. Private

What if one were to assume a lower university bill? Perhaps a private school isn't in the cards for these two kids (and their parents), but a public four-year institution could be.

The current median cost of four years at a public university for the 2009-2010 school year is only $29,021. At that rate, assuming the same parameters as before (rate of salary increase and inflation, etc.), the college grad does come out ahead, but only by $26,090 at age 65. Certainly, that's a much smaller margin than I would have assumed, and I would guess it surprises many of you, as well.

In fact, for the lifetime earnings calculation to balance (that is, for both the high school and college grad to show the same dollar figure in savings at retirement age), the high school graduate would only need a “head start” fund of $38,030! Just think, for less than the price of a new SUV, four years of college-educated earning power can be rendered moot. This result, frankly, surprised the heck out of me.

Other scenarios could be run, as well. What if you're not able to provide any funds at all for your son or daughter? My folks didn't pay for any of my college expenses; I expect many of you are/were in that same boat. One could look at the opportunity cost of college loan repayment vs. a clean slate for a high school grad with no debt encumbrance.

For a graduate of an average private university, repaying a college loan bill of $114,626 at 6% interest (remember, student loan interest is capitalized while the student is in school) will take 10 years and $152,710. That's assuming they're able to make the monthly loan payments of $1,273 right out of college, and don't have to go with a longer-term repayment plan. After this is done, the college grad will only amass $37,272 more in savings than the high school grad, simply due to the long repayment period they must overcome.

Be Cool — Stay in School

While a college education statistically provides a better shot at obtaining wealth, it does not guarantee success. There are English majors who end up with convenience store careers. There are high school drop-outs who go on to run multi-million dollar corporations. But obtaining a college education improves your odds.

For some young adults, college can seem like a waste of time. (Or worse, a waste of money.) Other things seem more important. I had friends who dropped out of school to pursue girlfriends across the country. I had friends who were convinced they could make more money by skipping college altogether. Student loans can be so enormous that they make a person lose sight of the fact that they're an almost guaranteed investment in the future.

I personally had problems finding a career path — I simply had no idea what I wanted to do. When I went entered college, I wanted to be a religion major. Then I wanted to be a writer. Then I wanted to be a grade school teacher. Ultimately I earned a psychology degree, which has had little direct benefit to my life. But the education I obtained, my campus experience, and the contacts I made have been invaluable. A large part of who I am today was forged by my experiences in college. The value of a college isn't just in the destination, but in the journey.

Resources

In preparing this article, I relied heavily on the following sources:

How many of you attended college? Are you glad you did? If you didn't get a degree, do you regret it? If you could talk to your 18-year-old self, what would you tell her? If I had a chance, I'd tell the young J.D.: “Set goals. Study more. Find a direction for life!”

Update: As usual, there are some great comments. Many have noted that education does not cause all these wonderful things — it's simply correlated with them. (It may be that people who obtain an education would live longer even without one.) Also — and this is key — more important than education is doing what you love. Passion and drive can bring success, no matter what level of schooling you have.

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sir jorge
sir jorge
12 years ago

I received a Bachelor’s in Interactive Media Design, and hold an A.A in History and my peers make more money than I do without the college education.

Certain fields just don’t get paid as much as the statistics for a college degree, i wouldn’t recommend it.

Maybe it differs city to city, but here in Seattle my Degree has garnered me poor wages across the board due to over saturation in the field

J.D.
J.D.
12 years ago

This is a rare post that I conceived, wrote, edited, and published all on the same day. As a result, I actually know how long it took to create. From start to finish, this article took four hours to write. The first hour was spent on a braindump: just pouring out the various ideas I had. (I also e-mailed a couple of friends, including Michael Hampton, asking for tips.) The second hour was spent fleshing out details. The third hour was spent organizing the information, and incorporating some of what Michael sent me. The fourth hour was completely spent editing.… Read more »

Tamara
Tamara
12 years ago

Interesting stuff. I found your blog about 2 weeks ago and bookmarked several posts to share with my husband on our annual “Financial Summit” getaway. (We “splurge” on an inexpensive hotel for a weekend to focus on our budget & financial goals.) Anyway, my husband and I both have college degrees. He in Social Work, and I in Music Education. Both of us worked in career fields related to our degrees and earned appropriate salaries for the fields we were in. Now, however, neither of us is working in the field in which we received our degrees. We both benefitted… Read more »

Curtis
Curtis
12 years ago

Personally, I have a BS in Engineering Management and an MBA in Business Administration. I’m definitely glad I got the latter. My salary has doubled since I started the graduate degree. Sure, it would have gone up anyway, but it has really helped get my foot in the door and look more professional. I totally agree that what matters is giving yourslef the chance to have the odds in your favor. Everyone has a story of someone they know who made it big without college and someone who flopped afterwards. There will always be extremes and you can’t count on… Read more »

Vixen
Vixen
12 years ago

This was the perfect timing for me to read this article. As much as I love my major and attending school, there are times I’m just so exhausted.

Thanks for putting things back in perspective!

VinTek
VinTek
12 years ago

Ummmm…Cindy Crawford and Michael Jordan dropped out. Ted Turner was expelled. And the link you provided for Robin Williams doesn’t say anything about him being a philosophy major or having gone to college (unless Julliard counts).

Jeremy
Jeremy
12 years ago

“Unless you are going to be an engineer, architect, teacher, lawyer, the label on your degree does not matter. The degree is a check-mark (as opposed to the focus) in most job requirements. Many job ads will state: “Business, Communications or other degree required.” Most folks have the “other”. ” This is so true. I actually went to college to become an architect, but I’m doing the furthest thing from architecture as a career. Every job I received after college may have preferred a degree in a specific field, but generally they just wanted you to have some sort of… Read more »

Ernesto
Ernesto
12 years ago

Good post JD. I’ve got a BS in Math and have NEVER used any of my coursework in a professional capacity. I know for certain that just having a degree has opened doors for me.

Minimum Wage
Minimum Wage
12 years ago

I have a degree and earn minimum wage. Can I give away my degree and take the earnings instead for a high school graduate?

Anne
Anne
12 years ago

Actually, if you’re going to be a lawyer, your undergraduate major doesn’t matter one bit. Once I had a law degree from a top school, prospective employers didn’t care if my college degree was a B.A. in basketweaving from Party University. I think there are two lessons here: first, if you know you’re going to get a law degree, don’t go into debt for your bachelor’s–save that for law school. Second, study what you enjoy in college so you have something to fall back on when you get burned out practicing law.

Kari
Kari
12 years ago

If I could go back I would tell my 18-year old self (actually 17 since I started college a year earlier) to just hurry up and finish the degree, any degree! I was set to graduate with a B.S. in Biology when I was 21 but during my senior year, I lost all focus, didn’t care, flunked a couple of courses, dropped out and went to work. I intended to go back in a year and finish but instead met THE ONE at the job I had taken, got married, and so on. I finally graduated this past summer, 11… Read more »

Sybbis
Sybbis
12 years ago

I think that the important thing, as in so many areas of life, is not the process but starting it with a goal. My advice to my 18-year-old self: * Don’t believe the people who say that their degree program leads to starting salaries of $40k or $50k or whatever. Definitely don’t change majors because your original program isn’t saying that and the new one is. You’ll end up pulling $30k and miserable. * Wait on school until you’re really ready to do it and do well at it. Don’t go at 18 just because it’s expected. Starting your career… Read more »

james
james
12 years ago

Hmmmm. I agree, in principle. For any given field, a higher degree will earn more money. Some fields will pay a PhD less than other fields will pay a high school graduate (e.g. post-doc researchers vs salespeople). And in some fields you absolutely need a degree. I think that a degree is more than a checkbox. Obviously, quality of school is important. Second, science vs. liberal arts is undoubtedly important. Marketing, communications, philosophy, etc are all sorta/kinda interchangeable. But try getting a economics or statistics job (not even science) with a commuications degree. Also, the Alan Greenspan example is interesting,… Read more »

Gabe
Gabe
12 years ago

There is a big difference between correlation and causation. The statistic shows that people with degrees get high paying jobs, but doesn’t indicate why. It could be they are smarter, more motivated, more interested in success, or have less factors holding them back. Freakanomics has a great example of this. Children growing up in a house full of books do better in school. But adding books to a house doesn’t make a kid do better in school. While I do agree getting a college degree increases your chances of success, I’d be curious to see if any studies were done… Read more »

Irma Guevara
Irma Guevara
2 years ago
Reply to  Gabe

I’m not sure if my reply really answers your question directly, but I’d like to put my two cents in. When I was a teen I wanted to be a veterinarian. Life happened and I had two children at an early age. Even that didn’t happen, my parents (divorced) were in no position to pay for this. When I was 20 I got a job at a major electronics corporation as the mailgirl. I eventually worked my way up in 17 years as an analyst, all using job experience and drive. After that I went in a complete direction and… Read more »

MSMomsmoney
MSMomsmoney
12 years ago

GREAT article!

Forcing my teenagers to read it. Thanks.

KC
KC
12 years ago

Michael Jordan dropped out of college, but did finish his degree in 1986. Coincidentally the average salary for a geography major graduating in 1986 from Carolina was somewhere around $200k. Guess Michael skewed that a bit upwards? The most important thing I got from my college degree was the appreciation for myself. I got out of my dinky hometown, I saw more of the world, met people from other places, learned more about myself and graduated with hope and self-esteem. I do rail against the cost of education though. I’m just amazed at what people will pay for a degree.… Read more »

Rob Madrid
Rob Madrid
12 years ago

Minimum wage made a good point, degrees do not automaticly mean more money. Along the same lines I have to question if spending tens of thousands of dollars (usally borrowed) is worth it. Almost every PF blog I read where they are tying to get out of debt school debts are a large portion of it. Most people would be better off getting a trade instead. Quite common is the low wage worker with tons of school debt.

Minimum Wage
Minimum Wage
12 years ago

I’m just amazed at what people will pay for a degree.

SG
SG
12 years ago

Far too many parents say to their children, ‘You have to go to college so you can get a good job.’ They don’t always say, ‘You have to go to college and go to classes and complete the problem sets and answer the professor’s questions and do the research and write the papers and sit the exams so you’ll have a better chance of being able to have the luxury to choose what you want to do with your life.’

Justin
Justin
12 years ago

Honestly, the biggest mistake I ever made was going to college. Twelve years after graduation I’m still paying for that mistake. I’ve noticed that the biggest money makers in the world either didn’t go to college or dropped out, with very few exceptions. I also know many people who have gone up into graduate degrees who are very happy they did. Ultimately, I think the question is, “What’s the goal?” For someone like me, an actor, college is a very bad idea unless you go to a school which is located in a major market. For someone looking for a… Read more »

adfecto
adfecto
12 years ago

When I sat down to write a post about my money decisions for my blog, I immediately knew that my educational choices were far and away my best. I got a BA in Computer Engineering and then took a job with an employer that paid for me to get a MS in Software Engineering. To get here is/was a lot of hard work, long nights, and Red Bull but it has paid off. This path is really only for those who enjoyed taking apart electronics when they were kids, begged for Legos and erector sets for Christmas, and would rather… Read more »

Aleks
Aleks
12 years ago

Most of the “other benefits” listed are correlative, not causative. Getting a college degree will not make you live longer, nor will it give you more time for leisure (although once you finish your degree, you may feel like you have a lot more time). It may not even lead to a higher paying job, as Minimum Wage has noted. Sure, on average people with a degree will earn more and live longer, but on average everyone has one testicle and one breast. I don’t think people should go to school to “get a degree.” They should go to school… Read more »

Mud Puppy
Mud Puppy
12 years ago

I agree 100%.

My wife and I were discussing this topic recently. The one thing I’d say though, is to try to come out of it with as little debt as possible.

We both went on 100% credit, and are paying for it now. We could have lived on less, and supplemented it to ease some of the stress we’re having now for sure.

But overall, it will always be worth it!!

ps. I have a Business Management degree, and I’ve done Graphic Design since I graduated.

SJean
SJean
12 years ago

for leno, crawford, michael jordan… I don’t think college did much for their careers! 🙂

Labels can matter, but they don’t have too. You could make a chart of the average pay for different majors, and there will be some clear winners. It’ll be hard to get into engineering with a music degree. But you can do a lot of stuff with having an “other” degree than having no degree.

Anony
Anony
12 years ago

When going to the Wikipeida article on Alan Greenspan, you find that he got a BS, MA and PHD in Economics. Although the article does state he was a very good musician.

Tana
Tana
12 years ago

Very interesting. I have an interdisciplinary degree in Humanities (aka General Studies). While on the surface it may appear useless – unlike a nursing degree or others mentioned in the post – I would have to agree that it was worth the time and money invested in getting it. My parents always told me you go to college to learn how to think. My degree was very much a “thinking” degree. Since college (about ten years) I’ve worked in biotech, insurance, and now design. My skills – mainly my ability to think logically and analytically – has taken me far… Read more »

jenolyman
jenolyman
12 years ago

I remember hearing in one of my college classes that there was a very strong correlation between how successful a man was in his chosen profession and his mother’s education level. The more education the mother had, the more successful the son. This was 14 years ago and I know you can skew statistics, but still an interesting thought.

Laura
Laura
12 years ago

I graduated a month ago and (finally) got my B.S. in Business Management. I’m glad I attended, I just wish I started as a business major student. I would’ve been motivated enough to finish sooner. I changed degrees twice (both in first two years).

Jeff S
Jeff S
12 years ago

It bothers me that so many people look at the edge cases (extreme success/no degree, no success/advanced degree). These are few in number. The whole picture needs to be examined, namely, if you get a degree from an accredited institution, your chances for success are much higher than if you just graduated from high school. Case in point: my dad and I are both software developers. Because he didn’t have a degree, it took him 20 years to reach the salary point it took me 4 years to reach. And my degree isn’t even technical! So, in summary, get a… Read more »

COD
COD
12 years ago

I have 3 degrees, an AS, BS, and MBA. Certainly the “college degree required” bit is a checkmark. How many of those jobs really require anything you may have learned in college? A college degree today is the equivalent of a high school degree in the 50s. It’s the price of admission to corporate America.

I don’t dispute that college graduates earn much more. What I question is why. Are we worth more, or is it just really good marketing by the higher education industry?

Ron@TheWisdomJournal
12 years ago

Getting a degree from the right school is the key. An overpriced school that lands you $150,000 in debt from the start is a poor choice. I am a proponent of online education with a bachelors from one school and an MBA from another. They were very demanding and I learned a great deal that I’m able to use in my corporate world job. You can read about my experience at my blog if you like. Again, I would shy away from the mega expensive schools. The internal rate of return for those cash flows take a long time to… Read more »

plonkee
plonkee
12 years ago

Going to university was probably the best decision I’ve ever made. It gave me confidence, the ability to mix with other bright people with similar interests, and most importantly of all the opportunity to study the subject that I loved.

As it happens, I wouldn’t have got my job without a degree in a science/engineering type field, and it’s a job that I love. I also probably wouldn’t have moved cities, bought a house, discovered travel,…

Did I mention that it’s probably the best decision I ever made.

J.D.
J.D.
12 years ago

Thanks, folks, for the corrections. I’ve made the changes to the list of famous people, and used a strikethru to note better wording earlier in the piece. You’re all right: correlation does not imply causation. That’s an error on my part.

And remember that one of my major points is this: Education does not guarantee success, but it does improve the odds. Significantly.

Marc
Marc
12 years ago

I’m glad someone else pointed out the difference between cause and correlation. As far as I’m concerned, the educational system is a travesty. It simply does not do what it claims it does. People who can prosper without a diploma are infinitely more capable than those who depend on them for their success. Universities make people irresponsible, instill in them an abominable faith in the infallibility of self-styled experts, and perpetuate and promote political bias. Any omnipresent social institution that claims impartiality while, in effect, being dominated by a single political point of view — studies have shown that a… Read more »

skylike
skylike
9 years ago
Reply to  Marc

Marc, can I guess you already have a degree? I don’t necessarily disagree with you and the relevance and quality of education can always be overhauled for improvemenht,only I can’t understand encouraging others not to take advantage of an education system that can provide the same opportunities you’ve had to earn a better living. It’s the chance to increase our opportunities in life that needs to be highlighted. Having said that, I chose to be a stay at home mum from the age of 30 because I found that far more rewarding and interesting than pursuing a career. Even so,… Read more »

Jeffeb3
Jeffeb3
12 years ago

You can’t get a college degree for the money. It will almost always burn you. Take that statement with a grain of salt, I went to an all engineering school, and the people who just wanted the money (hated math) they struggled through classes, cheated a lot, and ended up with a job that would “take them” but they struggled with their job too. They might make more than average, but they are miserable, and that type of quality isn’t sustainable. I would venture a guess that anyone with a degree from my school could take their pick of jobs… Read more »

Aaron
Aaron
12 years ago

” If you could talk to your 18-year-old self, what would you tell her?”

How about buy Apple oh, and Google.

Interesting article. Have you thought about an article on the value of a graduate degree. Both my wife and I have PhDs in chemistry. I do pretty well, she’s somewhere between the average high school and college grad. My general recommendation, don’t get a PhD unless you want to do academics. The most bang for your buck is in a Master’s degree.

Peter
Peter
12 years ago

How many 18-21 year olds actually, truely, would work full time and actually live like a college student and save the “opportunity cost” into a IRA or other retirement fund? I think the budget category labeled “blow” pretty much consumed the majority of the income of those friends and acquantences I knew who weren’t going to college. That’s why blogs like this help, but not until most of us have already racked up the debt regardless of attending college or not. I will say that my wife (HS diploma only) went to work for a company that paid two other… Read more »

Emily R
Emily R
12 years ago

I have a BS & an MS in statistics. Without them (or very similar degrees) I couldn’t have been considered for my current job. A few prestigious internships didn’t hurt to set me above my peers.
That being said, I feel the greatest benefit I’ve received from my education was actually my education. Critical thinking, problem solving, learning how to work the system. And I got out of the whole thing less than $8K in the hole.

TosaJen
TosaJen
12 years ago

I’ve been to college twice: at “college age” to get my parents-sponsored BS in English (with some foreign languages and engineering classes thrown in) and about 10 years later to take some Math and Computer Science classes in preparation for graduate school (which I haven’t pursued, yet). I was able to get a job out of college with relative ease (although I had to move to a coast), and my career has progressed with a few twists and turns since then. The latter set of classes helped my career a bit. I’m making a lot more money that I would… Read more »

Annie J
Annie J
12 years ago

I don’t wholeheartedly agree with this post. While I love learning and I’m all for continued education, I don’t believe having a degree is an automatic ticket to a higher salary. I believe it depends on the career one wants to pursue. My husband’s salary falls into that Bachelor’s Degree range you mentioned, although he never attended college. He is a construction worker, and did not need a degree for his chosen field. As for me, I tried going to college right after high school because that’s what my teacher’s expected of me (since I took all the college-bound classes… Read more »

Jenn
Jenn
12 years ago

I got a B.A. in writing in college but always intended to become an editor. Not a highly-paid career, true. But I love words and wanted to work with them; I didn’t care how much I would get paid. I figured going to college would help me achieve my goal. It did. I was able to get career experience by working in various Writing Centers and getting an editing internship. Now I work for a small publishing house at a ministry. I make less than the high-school dropouts you list. But I live well enough (i.e., I have enough to… Read more »

Early Retirement Extreme
Early Retirement Extreme
12 years ago

This is what I would tell my 18 year old self. My 18 year old self, I would say, there is almost nothing you can learn at an institution that you can not learn by yourself. If you are smart enough to get accepted at whatever prestigious university, you will be as successful as their students without spending 4-6 years learning things that are as testable as they are useless. Mostly success is about intelligence, persistence and drive. Getting a sheepskin from passing courses adds little value to that. It just shows what you already know – that you have… Read more »

Brian Crescimanno
Brian Crescimanno
12 years ago

Thanks for posting this JD. Over the past 2-3 days, my girlfriend and I have started the steps to go back to school. I am a 26 year-old with a BS in Management from Georgia Tech–she is 23 and never finished her degree. She is looking to get back into a Bachelor’s program to finish and I am pursuing my MBA. So this was post was quite timely for our situation! I wish I could tell my 18 year old self: “Go to class you idiot!” It took me several extra semesters to graduate because I spent so much time… Read more »

Sandy
Sandy
12 years ago

I’m a supporter of college; it really does get your foot in the door, most cases, and emphasized it for my daughter who has a RN degree now. I think people tend to gain more maturity who go as well as an increased vocabulary. As for myself, I worked after high school in law firms, then at age 28 wondered, how would I do in college if I were to go? Would I get A’s, D’s – I was curious. So I went to a community college, part-time, for 2 years and got A’s in every class. (I had to… Read more »

JenK
JenK
12 years ago

Adfecto, the cost for my BS in CompSci was $20K tuition+books at U + $3K tuition+books at community college. Despite getting into the relatively low-paying fields of tech support and testing I still paid off the $20K in student loans within 4 years.

This post dovetails well with my book club this month (Sayers’ Gaudy Night). As one Master of Arts points out, “If you learn how to tackle one subject – any subject – you’ve learnt how to tackle all subjects.”

daedala
daedala
12 years ago

I’m very glad I attended college. If I could talk to myself at 18, I’d tell her to go to a different school. My school was not a good fit for me, though I did manage to graduate.

One of the unspoken purposes of college is class laundering. Of course, we don’t have class in the U.S., but if we did, that would be part of the use of college.

Victor
Victor
12 years ago

” If you could talk to your 18-year-old self, what would you tell him?” Get a degree in Finance and then work for a company that will pay for your masters. While there, work hard and smart and earn over $100K/yr. I have BS-Biology and BA-Criminology. I am now in the computer field, where people just need certifications and not degrees. I make the same as people who never went to university. All in all, it is what you do with what you have that makes the most difference. Degrees don’t make one person better than another, although some like… Read more »

Sandy
Sandy
12 years ago

Jeffeb3 says: “if you are working at your potential, and you like what you do, the money will follow.” Boy, I think that is the KEY! At least from my own personal experience. I always had jobs I loved — like I would have worked there on a volunteer basis, but of course would never tell my employers that. I looked forward to going into work on Mondays and if it were 3:00 p.m., I’d often wish it were 10:00 a.m. again, because the day was going by too fast — that’s self-actualization, when you are doing what you enjoy… Read more »

plonkee
plonkee
12 years ago

@47.daedala
Ooh. Social climbing is a great reason to go to uni. And I mean that in absolutely the best way. If you aspire to live a middle-middle class lifestyle in the UK then your best bet is to go to Uni, and mix with people born into it. You’ll pick it up in no time.

Christina
Christina
12 years ago

It’s really difficult to believe this right now, but I sincerely hope that it’s true. I’m 22 and last summer I finished my Bachelor of Science in Psychology. The diploma’s hanging on a wall in my bedroom, of all places, and the two times I’ve tried looking for a job, I’ve been made to feel that my degree is completely useless. Most people are looking for specific degrees, and nobody is looking for a Psych major unless they’re in graduate school. This may just be how they advertise it, though, because frankly I don’t even try for the jobs that… Read more »

Camille
Camille
8 years ago
Reply to  Christina

Christina, I found this article 4 years later and I’m on the same boat as you were in 2008! I thought I wanted to be a speech therapist, but realized it wasn’t the right fit in my first semester of grad school, so I dropped it. I got a well-rounded education at a private university, with not that much in debt. Now I am job-hunting and feel as you did towards those “Business degree preferred” job ads.

I am curious to see where you are at now. I hope you have found success… Any advice?

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