Does Higher Education Really Pay Off? A Second Look

by Taylor O’Connor

To go to college, or not to go to college: that is the question. Some people raise the thought of whether or not getting a higher education really pays off in the long run or if it just a waste of time and money. While some think the latter, new studies are proving that wrong.

According to an article by Megan Rogers, a new 2013 report released by College Board shows that the median earnings of a bachelor’s degree recipient over 40 years of full time work is 65% higher than the earnings of someone with just a high school diploma. That is a large difference in someone’s lifetime of income. The report also found that the median earnings in 2011 for a bachelor degree holder over a high school diploma holder were $21,000 more for full time work. Even just having some college experience gets around $5,000 more in 2011 than a just being a high school graduate.

This report also has shown that the rate of college enrollment for high school graduates has increased for both those from families with high and low income levels. More students are enrolling in colleges in pursuit to further their education.

Despite all these good signs, one big problem with this report is that it takes into account the median report values. Not all students can go into college with these numbers in mind because the report includes students from all different backgrounds with different majors, college experiences, and levels of determination. If the report says that students have a median salary that is $21,000 more than someone with a high school diploma, one needs to remember this takes into account engineers, nurses, and other higher paying major. An education or philosophy major cannot go into the work field after graduation expecting to make this median value. These numbers are all median numbers and need to be viewed that way, without skewing any information as positive when it could potentially be negative.


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