Is College the Right Path for Everyone?
Ellen Gray , Editor | Jun 25, 2014
Title: Editor
Topic category: Choose Your Own Path

You probably grew up with the expectation that the best path to follow is from high school to college to career. Everyone around you probably assumes that as long as you can earn the grades in high school to qualify you for admission, you will pursue your higher education. But is college for everyone? According to an analysis by Brookings, economically it is not the best path for everyone when you calculate the return on your investment.

Although on average college graduates earn $15,000 than those who do not pursue a higher degree after high school (and this earnings gap grows over their lifetime), the Brookings analysis concludes that college may not be a wise investment for certain schools, majors, occupations and individuals. When they crunched the numbers on return on investment they concluded, “by telling all young people that they should go to college no matter what, we are actually doing some of them a disservice.”

The Brookings report does acknowledge that this is only an economic analysis based on rate of return on monetary investment. The broader view of what students get out of college beyond the economic factors includes the social benefits and overall well-being of holding a college degree. Research shows that college graduates report higher job satisfaction, better health, more successful marriages and parenting experiences, lower crime rates, more political activity, higher degrees of trust and social interaction.

Their bottom-line recommendation for high school students:

  • -choose your school wisely
  • -attend a college with generous financial aid and high expected earnings
  • -don’t just enroll…graduate!

For more information about cost-benefit analysis of higher education by school, major and occupation, read the full Brookings report.

Tags: ROI, higher education, return on investment, earnings gap, college graduate, cost-benefit analysis
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