Back in early 2000’s I was a mortgage broker and life was good. In 2008 the housing market crashed and things were not so good. I found a way to keep on brokering loans for another year or two and then I had to give up working for myself and go get the dreaded “Real Job”. In the midst of working my fingers to the bone for other people my wife and I discussed the idea of me going back to school to get a degree to get a better paying job. It took a couple of years of going back and forth thinking “school or not” to finally decided to take the plunge. Money was the biggest factor that made the choice hard. It was not only the cost of school, which was large, but also the issue of supporting my family of four that was causing my hesitation. In the end I decided to make the investment and go for it.
Now in school, with just under a year left to my degree the question in class comes up: is school worth it? Man I hope so. Good thing the professor gave us some reading to show us the statistics.
In the study “Is College Worth It?” By Pew Research Center dated May 16, 2011 they break down the numbers. The statistic that I found of most value was talking about what the Americans polled said they felt that a college graduate made over what a non-college graduate made. The polls showed that Americans felt that a college graduate made $20,000 more a year and the correlation with the actual numbers agreed. The report stated, “These matched estimates by the public are very close to the median gap in annual earnings between a high school and college graduate as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010: $19,550. A more detailed Pew Research Center analysis (see Chapter 5) shows that this gap varies by type of degree and field of study.”
Now I am one that likes to look at the math. Let’s say school cost me $60,000 for the bachelors program I am currently in. If the average college graduate makes $20,000 more a year, then in 3 years the cost of school would be covered by just the $20,000 more on average that I would make as a graduate. Now if I work for another 20 years that $20,000 more per year adds up to an extra $400,000 (on average) more than if I did not have the degree.
The radio broadcast on NPR entitled “Making Headlines Since The ’70s: Is College Worth It?” (NPR Staff June 18, 2011) hosted clips from interviews from Economic scholars commenting on the question about whether or not a college degree was worth the cost endured in getting said education. Both sides of the issue were discussed and to be honest I did not hear any of the experts come right out and say that college was worth it. In fact they showed examples of both sides of the issue. The one statistic that was shared that I found in favor of college education was where they discussed that by 2018 their will be 3 Million less college graduates than will be needed in this country. Economics teaches that where there is high demand and low availability that the item in demand goes up in value. Now that sounds good to me.
Looking at these two sources I would conclude that a college education makes a big impact in the long term. With hard work, good work ethic and some luck it can start having a return on the investment quite quickly. Now, that is not to say that every college graduate gets a great job right out of the gate but all in all, if I had to make the choice again I would pick school again in a heartbeat. Even with the tough economy and job market I feel that having the degree will give me an edge over the rest of the pack and thus is worth the cost.