Is College Even Worth It? Here’s How To Decide

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College is expensive and everyone knows it. For many people, affording it easily means borrowing student loans. And people also know that their student loans will have to be paid back one day.

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Yet students consistently rack up six figures in student loans for jobs that pay $40,000 per year.

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Why do we do this to ourselves? This is partly because we have been told throughout our lives that college is the ticket out of poverty, and because many jobs out there are labeled as requiring a college degree. And sometimes, high school graduates just don’t know what else to do. By attending college, they at least have a chance to start working toward some sort of goal.

Unfortunately, some college degrees aren’t worth the trouble, and they certainly aren’t worth the cost. Still, many people find that their college degree is useless when it is too late to do anything about it.

Should you go to college? how to decide

A recent study by the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP) clarified the value proposition of various college degree programs. report, which is in a nutshell Here, shows how the return on investment (ROI) varies across the approximately 30,000 different graduate degree programs.

After perusing the data, FREOPP estimates that the average bachelor’s degree has a net ROI of $306,000 for those graduating on time. This means he believes these degree programs will add $306,000 to a graduate’s lifetime earnings after subtracting the required costs for school.

However, accounting for the risk of not graduating, the average value of a bachelor’s degree drops to $129,000. When you consider the ROIs of all degree programs that they profiled in their study, this additional factor leads to a result where more than a quarter of graduate degree programs have A. Negative King,

However, you have some control over whether or not you graduate, and you will enter college only if you have planned to finish school. According to studies, your college major is one factor that can help you decide whether a juice squeeze is worth it. And not surprisingly, not all degree programs that are necessarily tied into one long-term career field fall short in comparison to others.

“Some fields of study, including engineering, computer science, nursing, and economics, can generate returns of $1 million or more,” writes author Preston Cooper in a summary of the study. “Arts, music, religion, and psychology among others often have zero or negative net financial value.”

In other words, earning a bachelor’s degree in religious studies or art history could make your financial situation worse. For life If you had not gone to college at all.

Other Factors to Consider

How long you will go to college is another major determinant of whether or not your degree will be worth it, and for how much. Cooper writes that 16% of programs have a negative ROI when completed in four years, but that figure jumps to 21% for those who take five years to earn their degree. If it takes you six years to finish college, the percentage of programs with a negative ROI rises to 27%.

Of course, the school you attend can also play a major role in the value of your degree program. College rankings aside, the FREOPP study shows that many for-profit colleges have poor ROIs, which is not surprising given the high cost of private schools.

In fact, the cost of a private school education can be many times that of attending a public college in your state. Collegeboard estimates show that tuition and fees at the average public, four-year school worked out to $10,740 for in-state students for the 2021-22 school year. In contrast, private, non-profit four-year schools charged students an average of $38,070 per year.

Where to get future salary

If you want to research the ROI of a given degree program, you can do so by Here, FREOPP not only lets you compare the ROIs of different degree programs, but you can also compare programs from different schools.

There are other places to do more research of your own. There are some great tools from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, including their Business Outlook Handbook and their Professional Employment and Wage Statistics Homepage,

Both tools make it possible to research careers of interest to you, then to link those careers to relevant degree programs that can help you get there. you can even View national or regional professional salaries in one place, then filter to see which jobs pay the most.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is helpful because it lets you read about specific careers and their average salaries, along with more updated numbers. For example, you can find that computer and information systems managers earned a median annual salary of $151,150 nationally as of May 2020, but the top 25% in this career field earned more, like $191,470. You can also use a page like this one To learn which industries pay computer and information systems managers the most, or which states and metropolitan areas pay them the most.


Earning a degree in arts may seem like a great way to spend four years, but this option could easily leave you with decades of debt and few career prospects to boot. If you love drama and acting, it’s incredibly important to equip yourself with this kind of information. After all, you can always earn a different degree and attend shows in your spare time. Also, everyone knows you don’t need a degree to be an actor.

In any case, the key to knowing the difference is knowledge, and that knowledge is now easier than ever. Before you invest tens of thousands of dollars in a bachelor’s degree, find out how much that degree will actually cost you—and what you can expect to earn once you get it.

You may not like what you find, but your future self will probably thank you.


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