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Is College Still Worth the Price? Finding a Job After Graduating

written by: •edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 6/5/2014

Earning a college diploma once landed most graduates with prestigious, high-paying jobs. The tables have turned, and those receiving four-year degrees (or higher) are now faced with the dilemma of mounting student loan debt without the jobs or funds to pay it off.

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    Is College Worth the Cost? 

    The Pew Research Center states that full-time working college graduates between the ages of 25 and 32 earn roughly $17,500 more a year than their counterparts who only have high school diplomas. This figure doesn’t take into account the usefulness of one’s degree. Some fields of study are in higher demand and pay better than others do. Others result in jobs that pay less than one can earn working full-time right out of high school. This leads many to wonder whether going to college is worthwhile.

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    Is College Worth It?

    The cost of higher education continues to increase, forcing more and more students into debt before they even graduate. Coupled with the high rate of unemployment and bleak job prospects for graduates, this has left many high school graduates wondering whether the major they choose will give them the positive Return on Investment (ROI) that they expect.

    The short answer is yes. A college education is worth the money spent on tuition, room, board, books and time if students choose a field of study that is not only in demand but will give them a positive return on their investment. According to a survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, lifetime earnings for college graduates eventually pay off. While it may be difficult and costly to do so, not attending college can hit a person harder.

    The average college graduate in the United States will learn at least $800,000 more than the typical high school graduate. This figure takes into account the cost of a college education and the years’ worth of wages lost while working toward that degree. The average college student who pays about $21,200 a year in tuition can recoup that investment before reaching 40 years old. By retirement, that same student can earn up to $831,000 more than his or her counterpart who never attended college.

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    College Degrees That Pay Off and Some That Do Not

    Challenging subjects that require students to think outside the box, put their nose to the grindstone and really work will pay off the most in the end. Those college degrees include:

    • Math
    • Information Technology
    • Human Resources
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Marketing
    • English

    While they may make you happy, these degrees probably won’t return as good of an investment:

    • Sociology
    • Fine Arts
    • Education
    • Theology or Religious Studies
    • Tourism or Hospitality
    • Nutrition
    • Psychology
    • Communications
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    Working without a Degree

    Not everyone is cut out for college or can afford a higher education. Yet, they are still able to find jobs that are not only rewarding but in the long run, can be lucrative. As today’s job market slowly increases, so are the number of jobs for high school graduates that can earn them more than if they had graduated from college.

    These include administrative assistant, automotive body repairer, bookkeeper, communications equipment manager, electrician, glazier, hair stylist, industrial machine repairer, paralegal assistant and pest control worker. While these jobs may not require a college degree, there is often training involved. Known as self-education, this type of training or learning often leads to self-employment for self-starters. It is similar to learning a trade, which is vital in today’s society.






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