Is College Really Worth It?

is college worth it

Is College Really Worth the Cost and Effort?

written by: Sarah Miller for Student Choice

Campus visits. Applications. Tuition payments. Financial aid. With all of the work it takes to get to and through college, you may start to wonder, “Is it really worth it?” In most cases the answer is YES.  While college can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor, it does pay off in the end.


The Payout vs. The Payoff

The cost of attending college has increased 1,120% since 1978. Let that sink in for a minute. Yes, college is EXPENSIVE, and it’s getting more expensive over time. The average student borrower had just shy of $30,000 in debt as of 2012. Why is that? State funding for colleges is decreasing and that money has to be made up somewhere. Interest rates are also increasing at a time when solutions for financing an education are dwindling. But the real question is whether you can afford NOT to attend college.

The Pew Research Center recently shared the results of a study showing the differences in income and employment for those who graduate from college. As it turns out, that gap has grown to the widest it’s been in about 50 years.


Here’s what the study showed for people aged 25-32:

Median Annual Income Unemployment Rate
With Bachelor’s Degree (or more) $45,000 3.8%
High School Graduate $28,000 12.2%

See more results of the Pew Research survey here.

That means on average you’ll make about $17,500 more per year with a college degree!  And you’ll be more likely to find and keep a job.


Still not sure it’s worth it? Try this quick quiz.

Answer “True” or “False” to the following questions:

  1. I would like to have a career vs. “just a job.”
  2. I want to feel prepared to enter the job market, with relevant skills.
  3. I want to live above the poverty line.
  4. I want a better chance of landing a job.

If you answered “True” to the above questions, a college degree should be in your future plans.


You Need an Edge

Today’s workforce is the most educated in history; 34% of young adults in the workforce have at least a bachelor’s degree. That means competition is stiff for jobs. Let’s imagine you apply for a job and are selected as one of three finalists for the position. Of the three, one has a bachelor’s degree, one has an associate’s degree, and you have a high school diploma. You all have similar backgrounds and experience (maybe you’ve been working in the field for a few years while the others had college internships). Who do you think will land the job? Odds are good that, all other factors being similar, the candidate with the bachelor’s degree will score the job.


What Else Matters

All degrees are not created equal. Certain careers are in higher demand, and obviously some jobs pay more than others. The amount of money you’ll make when you graduate from college (and years down the road) may help determine if college is worth it for you. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has resources to help you research up and coming careers and their salaries.

Minimizing debt and the number of years you spend in college are also important ways to make a college education pay off. The bottom line? If you do a little research and take college seriously, it’s definitely worth it!

Need a little extra help getting an edge – talk to your credit union. Don’t have one – click below.

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One thought on “Is College Really Worth It?

  1. Great post Sarah. There was also a good related article in the Washington Post this past weekend by noted financial planning columnist Michelle Singletary that further emphasis’s these points.

    Bottom line, it often pays in many ways to get a college degree — especially over a career — in both good economic times and bad. The data is still clear on these points despite the ever rising school costs. But, when taking out loans, know what you can reasonably afford after graduating and when it does (and doesn’t) make sense to attend some of the more expensive schools.

    Here is a link to the Washington Post article:

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