Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What's a 4-Year Degree Worth?

Depends on the major, although increasingly a degree is not worth nearly as much as it costs.

Students should choose a career they are passionate about, but it is important to open their eyes to the earning potential of various careers. Unfortunately, by the time most students have figured this out, they've already lost interest in math and science - critical foundations for higher paying careers.

College Students Deserve to Know What Degrees Will Pay

The typical lifetime earnings of engineering and computer science majors business are 50 percent higher than those of humanities majors, according to an analysis by researchers at Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce.

From the Washington Post:

a four-year degree, which is a $100,000 to $200,000 investment at many private and public schools, is a black hole of data.

It's becoming a black hole of cash, too. The price of a post-secondary education is rising even faster than health care costs. Four-year college student graduate with an average of $25,000 in loan debt ... and those are the success stories, since fewer than 60 percent of four-year college students graduate in six years, anyway.

Better data wouldn't cure education inflation, but it would be a good start. The government should require every college to post a standard fact sheet about its degrees, along the lines of Harvard University education economist Bridget Terry Long's paper. The fact sheet could include total cost of attendance (median and average), loan default rate by degree, six-year graduation rate, employment rate and median salary twelve months after graduation, and alumni satisfaction rate.

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