This paper evaluates whether the rewards gained from obtaining a college education justify the time, effort, and risk involved. The financial gains that stem from gaining a university degree generally tend to make it worthwhile, as on average, university graduates earn substantially more than those who have only graduated high school. However, this is not true for all universities and courses. Graduates of certain courses and universities are actually less well off in terms of earnings than individuals in full-time employment who have never attended university.

Is A College Education Worth the Effort and Cost?

Education Degree

Higher education is regarded by many as being the most straightforward road to a high-earning career. There is a commonly held perception that all a person needs to do in order to increase his or her earning potential is enroll at college and complete a degree course. However, with university fees in many countries steadily rising and many jobs now favoring experience over qualifications, it is arguable that this belief no longer holds true. Throughout the course of this paper, the points for and against college education being worthwhile will be critically examined. The overall aim will be to gain an accurate insight into whether or not a college education is actually worth the effort and cost involved in attaining it.

The cost of attending university in the U.S. has risen constantly since the 1970s. It now costs five times more to go to college than it did three decades ago. Does the end result still justify the expense? The average student at a four-year institution spends a total of $36,589 in tuition fees. The average college graduate between the age of 25 and 32 who is in full-time employment earns $17,500 per year more than the average worker who has graduated high-school but not university. Therefore, the final rewards of university do appear to pay off.

However, it is notable that the earning potential of college graduates varies wildly depending upon the university and subject of the degree that is attained. Certain combinations of university and subject actually result in graduates earning substantially less than they would have been able to earn if they entered into full-time employment immediately after finishing high school. Art graduates who have gained their degree from Murray State University make $147,000 less than high school graduates over a 20-year period when taking into account the cost of their education. Arts degrees in general tend to offer poor return on investment.

Unsurprisingly, the subjects that yield the greatest rewards are those that are the most difficult, and the universities that produce the highest earners are those that rank highly in terms of prestige and academic achievement. Some subjects can have a huge impact upon an individual's earning potential irrespective of the university that they are studied at. The results of a study by compensation, benefits, and salary information company Pay Scale indicate that even the engineering courses with the lowest earning rates generate a return of just under $500,000 over a 20-year period.

It is notable that not everybody who starts a 4-year course at college goes on to complete it. Therefore, in addition to the effort and cost that are involved in graduating from university, the risk involved also needs to be taken into consideration. The graduation rate of full-time, first-time undergraduate students attending a four-year course is 59 percent. There is evidently a substantial chance of failure or dropping out present. It is clear from this that attending a course with a low rate of reward does not justify this risk. However, gaining a qualification in a subject like engineering that is likely to have a reward of nearly half a million dollars over the course of two decades would be deemed by most people to be worth the risk.

In conclusion, overall, the time, effort, and risk associated with gaining a college education are outweighed by the advantage that it provides in terms of earning potential. This does not apply to all courses and universities. Whilst gaining a degree in a difficult subject from a reputable university can lead to a higher income in later life, attaining a qualification in a less technical subject from a lower status university can mean earning less than someone who only graduated high school. It is therefore wise for university students to choose their colleges and courses wisely, as the wrong choice could have a detrimental impact upon future earning rates.


Free English Help - Student Degree Cost and Potential Success. Web. https://freeenglishhelp.com/college-university-degree-cost

The Economist. Is College Worth It?

The Economist. The Value of University: Where's Best?

National Center for Education Statistics. Graduation Rates.

National Center for Education Statistics. Tuition costs of colleges and universities.

Why Does A College Degree Cost So Much?