Is College Even Worth It?

In today’s competitive job market, it can feel impossible to stand out. Faced with rising attacks on our immaturity and irresponsibility, how can the youth of today ever expect to find a job? The answer is simpler than it seems: education.

It’s no secret that workers can increase their ability to earn money by developing their skills and knowledge. The more they know about a particular job or industry, the more valuable they are to an employer. Advanced techniques and skills are not only more likely to land an individual a job in the first place; they also give workers an edge when it comes to receiving raises or promotions.

One way a future employee can learn necessary techniques and skills is through post-secondary education. Post-secondary education is any education you receive after high school. This could be an associate’s degree from a community college, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or a doctoral degree.

However, with rising tuition fees and ever-increasing costs of living, post-secondary education can be incredibly expensive. If you’re just considering a bachelor’s degree, you may pay $100,000 for a public university or $250,000 for a private university. If you go further and study a master’s or a doctoral degree, you’ll be paying even more. So, at the current costs of tuition in the US, is college even worth it?

The answer, in most cases, is yes.

When comparing salary data across different education levels, we see that, generally, the more educated you are, the more you will earn. On average, those with a high school diploma earn $1.30 million over their lifetimes, while those with a college degree earn $2.27 million. If you go on to a professional degree, such as an MD or JD, the average is $3.65 million.

So, while the cost of tuition may be a hard pill to swallow at first, consider it an investment – one that will pay for itself many times over. For $100,000 to $250,000, you could potentially be increasing the amount of money you earn over your lifetime by $2.27-1.30 = $0.97 million, or $970,000. That’s nearly a million dollars!

If you’re still not convinced, there are also many ways to minimize the cost of college in the first place. Your best bet is to apply for scholarships and financial aid (pro tip: you can negotiate the financial aid you receive!). Other examples include choosing a small meal plan and cheap housing, buying or renting used textbooks, and working while in school.

Lastly, keep in mind that not all degrees are equal. When it comes to choosing a college or program, consider the following questions: What useful skills and knowledge will I gain? Does this field of study align with my career goals? How much does the program cost? Will I see a wage increase that can justify the cost? What types of jobs/salaries are available to workers with this degree?

By being smart about the college and program you choose, as well as utilizing financial aid, scholarships, and other resources, you can minimize the amount you pay for college up-front. The skills and experience you gain as a college graduate will give you a competitive edge in the workforce, allowing you to earn more right from the start AND be more likely to receive raises and promotions, resulting in a substantial increase in your earning potential over the course of your lifetime.