Is a College Education Actually Worth the Investment?

The debate over whether college is worth the investment or not seems to be an increasing subject matter among young adults.  Since the housing market crashed and the Great Recession took hold of America, people have witnessed climbing debt and have begun to ponder whether or not the cost of college is truly worth the investment.


Some reports show that student loan debt for our country has made its way over the $1 trillion mark as frustrated recent graduates struggle to find their place in the professional world, receiving continuous rejection letters or taking jobs for which they feel they are significantly under-qualified.  In reality, these struggles are just the same as they’ve always been, and although student loan debt may be on the rise, so, too, is the discrepancy between what you could be worth as a college graduate versus your ultimate worth without that degree.

As reported by The New York Times, the pay gap between those with degrees and those without has risen to a striking difference in recent years, reaching an all-time record in 2013.  Last year, Americans with four-year degrees reportedly earned 98 percent more per hour than those without a degree.  When you put this statistic into monetary terms, those with a degree earned an average of about $32.60 over the last decade, which has risen (albeit slightly), while their non-degree counterparts have experienced about a five percent decline in hourly wages, averaging out around $16.50 across the ten year span.

What many people get stuck on is the immediate frustration that comes from trying to find a job when you’re fresh out of college.  This has always been a difficult time for many new graduates, but the important thing to keep in mind is that with experience, your income will increase, as will your job opportunities.  It can be difficult to see past the initial frustration, but in the long run, college pays for itself many times over.  Because of the discrepancy in wage offerings for those with degrees versus those without, the ultimate effect of not possessing that degree ends up costing much more money as a result of being able to earn significantly lower wages.

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Although it seems as though colleges and universities are full of scholarly folks that are investing in their futures, the fact of the matter is that the economy is still finding itself short on qualified, educated applicants for many of the jobs that are out there.  As technology continues to take hold of our lives, increased skills and knowledge are required to do day-to-day tasks.  Generally speaking, a college degree is required just to be able to get face time in front of an employer, because companies know that those applicants that possess degrees have the ability to learn and continually adapt to the changes that will inevitably come down the line.

In a country where people once thought that completing high school was just a waste of time because those hours could be spent making money, the necessity of a college degree has absolutely taken over that old mindset.  If you’re seeking status in the middle class or a more comfortable lifestyle down the road, a college degree is absolutely a ticket that is well worth the investment in both time and money that it takes to achieve this status.  Although nothing is certain, it seems realistic that the wage gap will only continue to grow.