How to Answer the Question: Is College Worth it?

The debate: “Is College Worth It?” directly affects you. Here is how. In BUZZ Today you see the debate as the professors in universities see the issue. In my earlier post “Is College Worth It? Yes – for Most” you see a different take on the issue.

  Buzz TodaySource:   The Chronicle of Higher Education:  The conversation about college and its returns gets down to a question that has dogged academe for decades, if not centuries:  What is education for:  Personal growth?  A golden ticket?  Or some of both? … for some, particularly among advocates of the liberal arts, framing the value of education in dollars and cents is a perilous trend that discounts other benefits, like college graduates’ tendencies to be more involved in civic and intellectual life.

For them, it is not so much about the economic issues Bill Bennett raises in his new book titled:  “Is College Worth It?”  For the former secretary of the department of Education, the issue is about the Return on Investment (ROI).  The answer to the question:  “Is College Worth it?” is answered with the ROI on your student education costs. ROI is all about what you get back financially (R) for what you put into it (I).  This calculation works for any financial investment decision.  It is the calculation you need to do to answer the title question.

What the professors say is that there is a lot more to be gained from an education than merely the money you can earn.  I agree and actually outline many of those benefits in my book Your Future is Calling.  There is no question a quality education makes you a better person in many ways.  These values should not be dismissed lightly.

But the reality is that in today’s highly competitive global world, where change is the only constant, ROI has rightfully moved to the top of the priority list.  Becoming a better person has to be a lower priority when food on the table and a roof over the head of your family is competing for the dollars required to enroll in a degree program at a college or university.  When this is the case, ROI does move to the top, and you have to consider how to manage it.  This is especially true for individuals with limited resources aspiring to create a better future for themselves and their loved ones.

It doesn’t matter whether you are using a part of your pay check to pay tuition or borrowing money from the federal government under the student loan program, the ROI calculation still applies.  The borrowing is merely about whether you pay the money now or later.  I both cases you should be managing the factors that determine the ROI to the best of your knowledge and ability.  How do you do that?

Briefly the answer is, you select a major that fits “who you are” and provides the best financial result.  I talk about how to use the Department of Labor data base O*NET to do that.  The other thing you need to do is to make sure you get the best purchase price you can for your education.  That data is available at the Education Department WEB site COLLEGENavigator.  I show you how to use both of these important data bases in my book Your Future is Calling.

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