At my house we’re going thru that great American rite of passage, college admissions and financial aid applications (supplication). I have some strong opinions (you never would have guessed from my blog, no?) but think I have been trying hard not to be the evil-stepfather in the process. Anyway…
I hate to say that return-on-investment has never really entered into the college choice question in our case. While I’m a strong believer in following one’s dreams—life is too short to hate your job—I’m also a strong believer in being able to pay one’s own bills. I want my daughter to be happy and employable. If you are equally interested in say, accounting and economics, then you might want to consider the degree in economics that probably will be more flexible and pay better. Don’t need a degree in economics to see that.
As Richard Oswald writes in the Daily Yonder:
…borrowing the cost of tuition can be a debt-ridden dead-end. Graduates are forced to settle for little or nothing in wages and for jobs they weren’t trained to do when they thought they were buying better opportunities through higher education.
A public 4-year degree mostly pays off, according to analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The trick is not putting 4-years of happy hours on the student visa card. For many fields, the same analysis shows Associates (community college) degrees may pay off even better when combined with real-life work experience. (You can go to the site and enter your degree if you like and see if it was all worth it.)
That said, what you do with your education obviously makes a big difference in lifetime value of a college degree. In my own particular field, I’ve chosen to work in rural areas, which puts my salary prospects at significantly below average. It’s the price for not having to deal with metro traffic, and I’m OK with that for now. Yet I still wonder if maybe Law School wouldn’t have been a bad idea, either.