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VOL. 42 | NO. 8 | Friday, February 23, 2018

What’s the ROI of your college education?

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College is expensive; private college is even more so. My undergraduate school is now charging approximately $50,000 per year, just for tuition.

Assuming you’re paying out of pocket, that’s $200,000 for a four-year degree, not including room and board.

I love my college, but this is bananas. The idea that a student or parents are expected to come up with this much money for school is difficult to wrap the mind around.

The high cost of college makes you wonder where the money is going. College is more than a finishing school. It’s more than a place to learn about history. It will set the foundation for your future professional career.

To facilitate this career, many colleges offer a career resources center, but they typically are opt-in. In other words, career resources aren’t a priority.

If finding a job is the ultimate goal, why doesn’t every college offer a mandatory class about just this topic?

Why, along with history, math and writing, isn’t there a class in how to get a job? After all, we spend four years learning the skills we need to do the job. Why not have a course in how to get that job?

It seems simple. Universities could leverage existing career resources staff, or they could find outside coaches or professionals. Fundamentals might include elevator pitches, resume writing and professional networking.

Students would be more likely to land a job upon graduation if they knew how to look for one. They very well might make more money, too, and the school would become more valuable.

If your school already has a program like this, that’s excellent news. But sadly, most of the students I speak to don’t have such a course.

If you are evaluating where you want to go to college (or graduate school), consider this: Most schools publish what’s called a post-graduation report. You can typically find it through a straightforward internet search such as “post-graduation report for Harvard University.”

This report will typically share information such as what industries graduates work in, what companies hire graduates, where graduates live geographically and how much graduates make.

The “how much graduates make” portion is important.

Graduates from certain colleges (or with certain degrees) make much more (or much less) than other graduates. This is real.

Companies very often will pay a graduate from a pricey school more than one from another school. Or they will pay graduates with science or computer backgrounds more than those with art or history backgrounds. This may seem intuitive, but the post-graduation report outlines it clearly.

The next question is – will this education have a good return on investment?

Education is an investment. It’s an investment in future income. Fortunately, there are ROI calculators online that can help think through this process.

At the end of the day, the college and major you select may be influenced by the ROI of the degree.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.