Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A College Degree: Benefits vs. Costs (Out-of-Pocket PLUS Opportunity)

Noticed this article over the weekend in Money Magazine. The authors talked about the rising cost of eductation and whether the investment remains worthwhile (keep in mind that if the student in question can earn about $30K or more at a full-time job, opportunity costs (cost of foregoing next best option) must also be considered). The article does point that many universities mitigate the "sticker price" through scholarships and low-interest loans.

One focus of the article was the cost of exclusive private liberal-arts schools, which I generally would not recommend UNLESS you received a major scholarship (I briefly taught at DePauw in Indiana, which is a school in this category). I DO tend to prefer mid-sized (6000 to 25000) public universities where the student qualifies for in-state tuition (I have a special bias for students in Tennessee and parts of Southern Kentucky). Large public universities (such as "Big Ten" or "Southeastern Conference" schools) in my opinion are best for graduate studies, though they make sense if the student is an accomplished athlete or wishes to major in an esoteric field (such as marine biology).

As important as the university chosen is the major chosen. From a cost-benefit standpoint, a liberal arts major rarely works unless one plans to go to graduate/professional school (then think English or a common foreign language such as Spanish), has an extraordinary talent (think Melinda Doolittle of American Idol) or goes into the sciences (and even in the sciences you probably should expect graduate or professional studies).

My preferences: engineering or enginereering technology for the facile with hands or electronic devices, information systems/computer science if that is of interest, accounting, finance or marketing in business, secondary education with math or science emphasis or special needs in education. Nursing (or related health professions such as physical therapy) also remains an excellent choice, but beware of strange working hour expectations. Finally, graduate or professional school often is a good investment if one qualifies AND if the opportunity cost of foregoing a good salary in the meantime is viable.

1 Comments:

Blogger Centenial College said...

That's good comparison but if we need good education then we have spend money not only money but we have to attention and time also which it necessary to get good education.

:)

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4:31 AM  

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