All students and their parents know that going to a university or college is not cheap. And as if that wasn’t enough, the costs increase each year as well. Due to the increased costs of getting a higher education either at a college or a university, people have started to question the actual value of university or college education.
Which costs are we talking about? First and foremost the tuition cost but also the time full-time employment students lose when going to college. In addition most students have thousands of dollars of debt when they come out of school. Is it really worth it? Is college education an investment that pays off? These are questions any student and their parents should consider. In this article I will briefly discuss an approach for answering these questions. If we use a strictly economic model, it’s pretty easy: You must simply review the investment of the education and estimate the return from it. This can be done both from a personal view and from the view of society.
From a financial point of view, reliable data to suggest that on average and over time a college graduate will earn a great deal more than a high school graduate. The United States Census bureau estimates that over a lifetime a university or college graduate will earn on average around $2.1 million dollars compared to an median lifetime income of $1.2 million dollars for a high school graduate.
In comparison with the cost of attending a four year public university or college at an average of cost of about $10,000 per year and even adding the cost of lost working time, it is very clear that attending university or collage has financial value.
But there are more benefits than the strict financial. In a report published by the Institute for Higher Education Policy in 1998, there are evidence that people who completed a college or university program experienced a number of ancillary benefits. Some of the major benefits was:
- improved quality of life for their children
- more hobbies and leisure activities
- higher levels of saving
- increased mobility; personal as well as professional
- better consumer decision making
Another report from the Carnegie Foundation mentioned some other benefits of higher education like a clear tendency for post-secondary students to become
- more cultured,
- more consistent
- less authoritarian
- more open-minded,
- more rational
What it also showed was that these advantages are also passed along to their children and even their children’s children.
We known for a long time that university or college education can even improve your health and numerous studies have shown positive correlation between completion of higher education and good health, not only for graduates but for their children as well.
There is also advantage and value to the society from higher education. According to the Institute for Higher Education these advantages include
- higher tax revenues,
- more productivity at the workplace
- expanded consumption
- more workforce flexibility
- less reliance on government financial support.
The conclusion is that even when a strictly scientific method is applied, it seems to be valuable to take a college education.