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Timely: What’s the Value of a College Degree?

By JLP | May 2, 2012

Thanks to Liz Weston (@LizWeston for linking to this on Twitter: What’s the value of college degree?

In light of the post I put up yesterday, this is a timely article. I love this point (bold mine):

Anthony Carnevale, the center’s director, explains why students need to pay attention to their earnings potential when picking a major.

Think about it…

If you become a petroleum engineer, you’ll earn $90,000 out of college. If you become social worker, you will make $35,000. The differences are huge.

This was the point I was trying to make yesterday. You have to look at your life as a business and perform some sort of due diligence and cost/benefit analysis when picking a major and a school. It makes no sense to go to a private school, accumulate $100,000 in student loan debt in order to become a teacher making $35,000 a year, and then complain to the rest of us about how hard it is to pay off your loans.

Granted, not everyone is engineering material. Not everyone is teacher material either. Go to school to become whatever it is you want to become. Just be sure and understand the costs/benefits of your desired degree.

Topics: Careers, College Funding, Kids and Money | 3 Comments »


3 Responses to “Timely: What’s the Value of a College Degree?”

  1. Russ Says:
    May 2nd, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Too many kids and parents don’t realize that college is not the door opener that it used to be.

    Simply just going to any college is not a wise investment. There are probably only 50 colleges worth going in debt for and even many of those are questionable at some point.

    It is one thing to go $50k or even $100k in debt for an engineering degree from MIT versus a Art History degree from Podunk State. Podunk state is fine assuming you don’t have to pay much for it.

    I’m starting to think that many kids would be better off if they could take the $100k they would spend on some BS soft degree and start a business or get some real vocational training of a useful skill. I can’t tell you how many plumbers, pipefitters, and other tradesman I meet who make around $100k or more.

    Of course, the real scandal here is that student loan availability has inflated the cost of college education beyond all reasonableness. it almost parrallels the housing market.

  2. TK Says:
    May 2nd, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    On point. In addition to certain fields being more stable and lucrative within in those fields there will still be winners and losers but the costs are the same. A law degree is a fortune and sure there are big firms in big cities that pay six figures right out of school but most graduates make well below that (public defenders/prosecutors, in-house corporate, ambuklance chasers, etc.) Student loans have inflated costs but so too has parents willingness to pay for college at the expense of their own financial well being. And student housing today is a joke, its luxury – pools, tanning beds, etc and it is now considered a basic need at $800/month for a bed.

  3. Bridget Says:
    May 3rd, 2012 at 8:31 am

    I think there are many contributing factors to the college tuition bubble (availability of loans, inflated expectations tied to a degree, willingness of parents to condone such decision making, etc.) The point is: it’s a bubble. I just hope it bursts before my kiddos head off to college. They’re toddlers now, but when I look at the average annual tuition increase, even for state schools, I get nervous.

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