Many college degrees cost more than they would pay in a lifetime

For many ambitious students, the decision to attend college comes with scary warnings, such as years of unpayable debt. Now there’s something else to worry about: Even if having a degree would lead to higher earnings potential, a Analysis said about 30% of students will not earn enough money to cover the cost of studying.

All things considered, the decision to attend college involves a lot of financial decisions that the typical high school graduate may not be fully aware of, including how to pay off debt. regarding education and how much they can expect to earn from the degree they choose. High school students are most interested in going to college to get a degree A good job will help them earn more money—but about a third of degree programs fail to deliver the return on investment people pay to attend, according to new report report from the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, which analyzed how much people spend on higher education compared to how much they earn over their lifetime.

The financial return that comes from pursuing a college education is often worth more than not, the report says, but it depends heavily on the major a student chooses — and it creates conflict in which students must choose. choose between commercial School to optimize their financial returns or pursue a niche They may hate it, but they will pay handsomely.

According to the report, on average, bachelor’s degrees in fields such as engineering, computer science, nursing and economics provide the greatest return on financial investment, or income relative to how expensive the degree is. grant. For example, with an engineering degree, a student can expect lifetime earnings of about $950,000, while a student completing a nursing degree can expect lifetime earnings of about $618,000.

When choosing a college program and degree, the most important factor students should consider is how much money they will earn, according to Preston Cooper, the report’s lead author.

“A high-paying career path pays dividends for decades, while high tuition costs pay off in a few years at most,” Cooper said.

Other fields, especially the fine arts field, yield significantly less financial returns. Bachelor’s degrees in psychology, humanities, English and literature are among the degrees with the lowest financial returns; On average, students pursuing a degree in fine arts actually lose about $88,000 over their lifetime.

In these fields, Cooper said, there are still ways to ensure a college degree remains valuable. For example, with English majors, he said “there is evidence that when combined with more tangible skills and marketing activities, graduates can improve their return on investment.” to improve the value of the degree they will receive after graduating from university.”

Trade schools can offer a higher return on investment than a traditional bachelor’s degree because, according to Cooper, they are typically shorter programs, cost less in tuition, and offer a pathway straight into higher-paying jobs in fields like HVAC and construction. But the profitability of trade schools depends on the field, he said, adding that cosmetology degrees are not equally profitable.

The report found that nearly a quarter of four-year degree programs had a negative return on investment, as did 43% of two-year degree programs. For example, a bachelor’s degree in drama at the University of Southern California costs students more than $160,000 over four years, but graduates of the program earn $10,000 less than they would have earned if they had a job for which they don’t need a degree, the report found. .

Meanwhile, other fields can be extremely lucrative. The report estimates that graduates of Princeton University’s computer engineering program can expect to earn lifetime earnings of over $7 million.

Regardless of field, college enrollment rates are up decreased over the past decadeaccording to one report by College Transitions, a data-driven blog by researchers and former college admissions officers. Several factors are responsible for this trend, including The national birth rate decreased, immigration decreasedthe pandemicand increase university tuition prices. For students, who often prioritize earning potential when making decisions about attending school, these financial challenges are giving way to increased stressors, like exhaustion and dissatisfaction. In the work.

A new one learn published by the Journal of Business and Psychology found a large gap between people’s career interests and the most in-demand jobs in the country, revealing the most attractive jobs in the labor market significantly different from what people care about.

The study, using a national dataset of more than 1.2 million U.S. residents and employment data from the Department of Labor, found that people are most interested in pursuing artistic work, but it is one of In the areas with the least demand, only 2% of employees are employed. marketable jobs related to artistic interests. In contrast, the jobs with the least interest are described as systematic or detail-oriented jobs, which include those with the highest demands.

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