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February 18, 2013

Is College Really Worth It?

Is college really worth it?

Higher education can be expensive, but for centuries it has been a near-guarantee of personal success.

But is it still worth it? And in particular, what areas of study are worth – or not worth….


The job market is always variable, and opportunities are based on multiple factors from personal connections to local variations in the job market, but in general, if you are looking for something approaching certainty in your finances, there are some areas to focus on.

But don’t make the mistake of assuming that the degree you earn defines the job you will get. A degree is an "intellectual toolkit," a set of thinking skills your education has equipped you with. A broad humanities background, for example, gives you a range of thinking skills involving analysis, interpretation, and communication.

Those skills can be applied to a very broad range of careers. A sociology degree, for example, does not require – or limit - you to being a social worker. And if you use that degree to pursue such a low-paying career, the return on your "degree investment" is a function of your career choice, not the degree itself.

Here’s a website that explores the ‘worst’ academic areas (from a financial perspective) to major in - http://www.salary.com/8-college-degrees-with-the-worst-return-on-investment/.

For the most part, I think this article raises some good questions, but my personal experience is that the Humanities make us – and our cultures – much richer and deeper. The more history, psychology and literature we encounter – and understand – the ‘richer’ we will all be – far beyond anything money can buy.

Here’s an excerpt from a comment on that website; “Did anyone else notice that every degree listed on here is EXACTLY what this country needs more of? STOP focusing on your paycheck and trying to keep up with the Jones'! That's what got us into trouble! Everyone is looking at Google and Apple Execs and wants the big money! How about humanity? How about educating our children? How about compassion and empathy? How about giving something back that has meaning instead of taking as much as you can? So you may not be able to have that second home or fancy car like your "rich" friends. This country was built on community.”

I would only add that not only was 'this country built on community', the whole world is built on that same foundation.

I care about teaching and learning because I want to live in - and leave behind - a better world; one with more opportunity and delight, and many more interesting discoveries.

Let us know why, beyond the money, you are - or are not - going to college.

Posted by mmorf at February 18, 2013 07:14 PM


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