Deciding which college is right for you can be a huge undertaking. You're going to be faced with a massive amount of options – and misinformation – but Best Values Schools is here to help.
Our mission at Best Value Schools is to help you in your quest. We provide you with clear, credible guidance to help you the find the best college for you.
College Degrees, Employability, and Earnings
Earning the right college degree for you is more important than ever in terms of career opportunities, earning potential and personal satisfaction. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the more education you have, the more money you will earn.
Here's a run-down of one's education level can affect their estimated salary range:
- No high school diploma – $22,860
- High school diploma or equivalent – $29,950
- Some college – $31,990
- Associate's degree – $37,030
- Bachelor's degree – $44, 970
- Master's degree or above – $59,230
The more education you have, the more likely you are to be employed.
Tuition is Increasing
Tuition has increased, overall college costs have skyrocketed, and families are amassing debt as they finance a college education. This debt can be a heavy burden on graduates entering the workforce. According to the Digest for Educational Statistics, the 2012 average annual total cost for tuition, fees, and room and board at a four-year public institution was $17,474, and for a two-year institution, the total was $8,928.
- At a private institution, annual average costs are $35,074 for four-year schools, and $23,328 for two year schools.
- Not-for-profit schools cost an average of $39,302 per year at four-year schools, and $22,310 per year for two-year colleges.
- About 7 out of 10 college students help pay for college with student loans, including 83% of students at private institutions.
- 4% of students – one in 25 – attending private universities accrued debt of more than $100,000.
Cost Versus Value
A college degree is the best way to a good future, but it does come with a price tag.
For many students and their families, it's best to tackle the issue head-on and look at prospective colleges based upon the value of an education from the prospective university. To explain:
The cost of the college education includes tuition, books, and fees. What most people forget to include are things like cost-of-living outside of the university. This includes off-campus housing when the student is an upperclassman, cultural/social activities, and overall cost-of-living (i.e., groceries, utilities, etc.).
In simple economic terms, the value of the degree is what you gain by earning the degree.
The near-term value: This includes any support or services that are available through the university
- attractive student/teacher ratio,
- availability of financial assistance,
- modern facilities and equipment,
- availability of fraternities, sororities, and other service/support organizations,
- university-supplied tutoring,
- diversity and exchange programs,
- range of facilities available to students, such as fitness centers, swimming facilities, student recreational facilities, etc.
While nearly all universities offer "room and board," the level of quality and the number of choices/accommodations vary widely from school-to-school.
The long-term value: What is gained can chiefly be measured by post-graduation prospects such as employment opportunities and starting salaries. Ask about graduation rates in the major or program. Also check the availability and success rate of university-sponsored job placement assistance.
Explore Yourself. Find Your Passion
Some students know what they want to major in. Many do not. Others know the general area they're interested in. You may want to go into computer technology, or music or English or teaching.
After a year or two of classes, exploring, growing and finding yourself, there's a good chance you'll change majors. The secret: follow your instinct, find your passion. Everything else falls into place – the clubs, the friends, the helpful professors and contacts in the real world.
Yes, different professions vary in salary. If your degree is in petroleum engineering or computer science, you may find jobs with salaries at $100,000.
If you go into the field of social work or criminal justice, the beginning salary will be in the $30,000 range.
But if you love what you're doing, you'll be successful. You'll probably advance in your field. And you'll be happy.
Whatever profession you're in, you'll probably change jobs or careers five or more times. Flexibility is the key.
Sources and References
- Value of a College Education
- Annual Earnings of Young Adults (NCES)
- Employment status of the civilian population 25 years and over by educational attainment (BLS)
- Fast Facts About Financial Aid (NCES)
- Student Debt: Myths and Facts (The Council of Independent Colleges
- What's It Worth: The Economic Value of College Majors – Interactive Summary Tables (Georgetown University)
- College Major More Important Than Degree Itself (Huffington Post)