Study: Despite Rising Costs, College Is Still a Good Investment

entremet

Member
Oct 26, 2017
15,370
College graduates tend to earn a substantial wage premium in the labor market. Below we plot the average annual wages of college graduates compared to those with only a high school diploma, adjusted for inflation and demographic differences between the two groups. (See our 2014 studyfor details on the methodology used for these calculations, as well as important caveats, which we revisit below.) In recent years, the average college graduate with just a bachelor’s degree earned about $78,000, compared to $45,000 for the average worker with only a high school diploma. This means a typical college graduate earns a premium of well over $30,000, or nearly 75 percent. This “college wage premium” has fluctuated over time, as shown in the bars at the bottom of the chart. The college wage premium generally increased during the 1980s and 1990s, rising from less than $20,000 to around $30,000, before settling into a relatively narrow range of $30,000 to $35,000 after 2000.


Man, that income gap is huge!
 

kmfdmpig

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
2,771
College graduates tend to earn a substantial wage premium in the labor market. Below we plot the average annual wages of college graduates compared to those with only a high school diploma, adjusted for inflation and demographic differences between the two groups. (See our 2014 studyfor details on the methodology used for these calculations, as well as important caveats, which we revisit below.) In recent years, the average college graduate with just a bachelor’s degree earned about $78,000, compared to $45,000 for the average worker with only a high school diploma. This means a typical college graduate earns a premium of well over $30,000, or nearly 75 percent. This “college wage premium” has fluctuated over time, as shown in the bars at the bottom of the chart. The college wage premium generally increased during the 1980s and 1990s, rising from less than $20,000 to around $30,000, before settling into a relatively narrow range of $30,000 to $35,000 after 2000.


Man, that income gap is huge!
The data on this is quite clear. Those with college degrees make more, have higher employment rates, less time in between jobs, lower rates of being in prison, higher life expectancy, better voting rates, less likelihood of divorce, etc... Some of that may be chicken and egg, but overall the evidence is very clear that college, while no guarantee for success, is one of the better paths to take.

The arguments against college tend not to be data driven, but rather anecdotal. Most are similar to this:
Look at this Starbucks barista with a PhD in xyz and then that singular outlier is used to dismiss the benefits of college. There's no thought to the idea that the person may not be that ambitious, may not be a good interviewer, may have studied something that isn't in demand by employers, etc...
 

Frozenprince

User-Requested Ban
Banned
Oct 25, 2017
8,973
Well I mean that's the root of the problem though.

Education shouldn't be an investment, human betterment shouldn't be for the sake of pursuing capital interests.
 

Masoyama

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,996
The data on this is quite clear. Those with college degrees make more, have higher employment rates, less time in between jobs, lower rates of being in prison, higher life expectancy, better voting rates, less likelihood of divorce, etc... Some of that may be chicken and egg, but overall the evidence is very clear that college, while no guarantee for success, is one of the better paths to take.

The arguments against college tend not to be data driven, but rather anecdotal. Most are similar to this:
Look at this Starbucks barista with a PhD in xyz and then that singular outlier is used to dismiss the benefits of college. There's no thought to the idea that the person may not be that ambitious, may not be a good interviewer, may have studied something that isn't in demand by employers, etc...
You hit on something that bothers me of other people who do not understand that an advanced title doesn’t get you everything you want. While education has a direct link to income, its also got diminishing returns and a mediocre PhD is usually a worse coworker than a really competent MsC.

Educated people do not deserve anything just by the merit of their education alone. It usually shows certain qualities that are worthy, but means nothing by itself. Higher education more so, choosing to get a higher degree has to be done with a sense of pride and self belief. You think you can analyze a problem better than most, break down an argument in a novel way or you have ideas that others dont. You get a PhD to help refine the tools you learned to use, have an expert in the field holding your feet to the fire and are given the resources to network and develop your own new ideas. At the end of the day, your are betting that given a few years you can show yourself to be better than anyone else.
 

mreddie

Member
Oct 26, 2017
10,660
Wasn't last week, there was that trade college article that basically said trade college pays more and now this?
 

Masseyme

Member
May 23, 2019
154
45k seems a bit high for the average HS salary. As does the 70k because so many degrees still get you a shitty job until you move up in your field.
 

Monkey DTT

Avenger
Oct 28, 2017
1,805
USA West Virginia
College has only given me debt so far, I honestly dont recommend it unless you have a plan or fully take it seriously. If I waited to go to school I would have appreciated what I was doing more and focused on a career. Right now I'm covered in debt with a job that pays me 18k a year (part of thats my location so I'm hoping that changes soon)
 

Goldenroad

Member
Nov 2, 2017
2,801
The problem is that most CEO's have some form of college education and those Billion+ dollar earners really throw the averages out of whack. Like I wonder what that $78,000 number would look like if you took out the top 1%-2% of earners. I'd be much more interested in the difference in the median income for someone with a bachelors degree versus someone with grade 12, especially factoring in the lost income for the years in college and the cost of servicing student loan debt.
 

HStallion

Member
Oct 25, 2017
27,535
Wasn't last week, there was that trade college article that basically said trade college pays more and now this?
A lot of blue collar skilled labor pays pretty well with great benefits these days because the pickings are often so slim. Not true for every single field but around me being a decent carpenter usually starts at $50,000.
 

Spinluck

Avenger
Oct 26, 2017
6,065
Florida
It will always, technically speaking, be a good investment no matter how much costs go up.

Things would really really have to go to pure shit for people to come to some consensus that college is a negative net investment.

Don't listen to fuckhats that say Bill Gates and Zuckerberg didn't go to college 😂😂😂😂🤣.
 

Arklite

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,449
In hindsight I'd recommend a technical or trade school. If you're not great at networking or great at presenting yourself, it's often not as easy as get your degree - get a job. A trade may serve you better.
 

Zornica

Banned
Oct 26, 2017
221
it's kinda sad that people in the US view attending university as an "investment", instead of something they want to do... I don't know why, but that kind of hyper-capitalized mindset really rubs me the wrong way
 

Sunster

The Fallen
Oct 5, 2018
2,036
i love how the merit of literally every facet of american life is measured by your return on investment
 

BigWinnie1

Member
Feb 19, 2018
2,413
Considering I make damn near 100k from drivingn for UPS with a little college because that shit wasn't for me and I get some Income from the books I write also. All without a college degree. Its not required to make a good living and you need to just apply yourself and open yourself to other experiences. I had to outright tell my mother that I didn't want to go to college anymore because I didn't feel like being pressured because she didn't finish college herself (Pop got a criminal justice degree before becoming a cop).
 

Ziltoidia 9

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,240
I've long wondered what will happen to the campuses after internet college takes over because it is offered at a much better cost.

Think of all the empty big ass buildings there will be. And a lot of the money used during the last 15 years while the cost rose was to make those big ass buildings.
 

Bobo Dakes

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
19,788
Depends on the type of person / learner you are.

Former dev coworker who never graduated, just left for a six figure position.

Person I work with directly is touching 60K doing data management.

Taught themselves.
 

Forerunner

The Fallen
Oct 30, 2017
4,510
San Diego
It being an investment is the main reason why I went. It's something that you need to get ahead in America. However, now that I look back at it, I appreciate it even more. It really did change my thought process and made me a better person overall.
 

meph

Avenger
Oct 29, 2017
323
The gap is going to continue to widen as high salary jobs will increasingly require more specialization and education as automation takes over and replaces swaths of workers. That's not to say that highly-motivated individuals can't still do well for themselves, but it isn't something that could be broadly applied to whole groups or populations.

The bigger problem is that the conclusion on its own just encourages people to go to for-profit schools and programs with no record of being attractive places for companies to recruit out of, and ultimately becomes a debt trap.