Question: Does a College Degree Pay Off?

Answer: It depends.

From PBS NewsHour:

Some useful nuggets from the video:

  • 1/4 of colleges have a negative rate of return. In other words, the cost of the school outweighs the benefits (higher salary) earned from attending that school.
  • Three factors that determine the value of a college degree:
    • The school that you attend (presumably cost as well as its reputation/selectivity)
    • Completion rate: will you graduate after 4, 5, 6 years?
    • The job that you are get following college (determined by your major and other factors)

While I don’t agree with the professor’s belief that folks employed in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) careers are easily replaced by recent college grads, I do think his message that the value of a college degree depends on a variety of factors and that not all college degrees are created equal is a valuable one for students.  I also think the petroleum engineering example highlights the need for students to choose careers that they are passionate about rather than “chasing the money.”

Here’s the PBS NewsHour article that should accompany the video as it draws out several key points that the video glosses over.