Not all college degrees are created equal

Posted on May 13th, 2013

Not all college degrees are valued equally in the marketplace. When making your college decision and figuring out whether it’s worth the price, you need to consider how valuable your degree will be when you graduate.

According to a recent Education Sector report titled “Degrees of Value: Evaluating the Return on the College Investment,” there are three main factors you should consider when evaluating the market value of your college degree. These include academic performance, college major, and college reputation.

Doing better in school leads to more job opportunities and higher starting salaries, but the return is much better for certain degrees (such as those in the math and sciences) than the liberal arts. Additionally, graduates of top-ranked colleges tend to make more than graduates of less selective institutions. These factors need to be considered because they can significantly affect future earnings and your ability to get a job upon graduating.

Higher education for decades has been selling its economic returns as the primary reason students and families should pay ever-increasing tuition prices. Indeed, the College Board publishes a report every three years titled Education Pays, which presents detailed evidence about the benefits of higher education.


The difference now for higher education is that the data allow comparisons between individual institutions, and by that measure, not all college degrees are created equal. Colleges can no longer simply cite the national averages that they have relied on since the 1970s to sell their degrees at nearly any cost.”

While the value of college degrees may vary widely between schools and majors, one thing that’s still indisputable is the fact that having a college degree is almost always better than not having one at all. Even in the recession (and perhaps, especially in a recession), there continues to be a large difference between the earnings of college graduates compared with high school graduates. Some calculations have even found that college graduates earn $1 million more than high school graduates over their lifetimes.

With the cost of college so high, it’s more important than ever to evaluate the rate of return on your college degree and assess its market value before committing several years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to a school. If you need help sorting through your options, give us a call at 1-888-234-3907 or check out our tips on affording college.

Category: Choosing a College, Financial Aid

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