Sunday, April 5, 2009

Is it Worth the Money to Obtain a Degree or is High School Sufficient?

By Daniel Powell

With the rising cost of college today, the question may come up if it is actually worth the money to get a college degree. Stephen G. Emerson from Forbes magazine recognizes the gigantic costs and believes it is a good investment. Even though there are countless figures showing the payoff, Emerson believes the question should be “How valuable is a college degree?” Not only should college get you a higher paying job after school, it should shape your values and ambitions and provide you will the analytical skills sets needed to achieve these ambitions. If college has done this for you, it is a very worthwhile investment.

Getting into figures, the median high school graduate age 25 and older earns $26,300 while the median college graduate 25 and older earns $42,200. This is an increase of approximately 59%. While many believe it hurts to write the checks or take the loans, the earnings increase will eventually even out and then start to pull quickly ahead. How long does this typically take to happen? It takes approximately 14 years before a 4-year college graduate’s income (net of loan payments) is enough to beat what a high school graduate earns.

Some people are worried that in today’s economy that are too many overqualified people competing for fewer jobs. Many people after graduating college find this to be the case. Rachele Percell borrowed approximately $85,000 to cover the cost of college at a 4 year institution. For the last three years, she has struggled to find a job with her degree in human development. To pay for her student loans, she took a low-end desk job with an insurance company that she could have worked for straight out of high school. In my opinion, maybe getting a degree in a field with high job security to begin with is more important than pursuing what you love to do.
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