If you stay away from for-profit schools and don't get loans to subsidize your living - YES. You will make more money from a job even if it is not in the same field as the degree. It is a step to stand on to lift you up.
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My educations were monetarily free, the institution I worked for paid for Massage school, a BS in Medical Research and Technology, and Environmental Management.
I am so fortunate. Every penny they paid was well earned and brought into my professions.
My education from top 100 schools was definitely worth it. I learned to think and analyse in addition the subject matter. I studied subjects that most women didn't take during the early age of women's lib. The technical majors combined with attendance at top notch schools made finding lucrative jobs very easy.
Yes, I attended a respected state university and picked a degree that was practical. It allowed me to have a long steady career in education. While teachers do not command top dollar, until 2008’s recession it was reasonable to expect to be able to find a job if you wanted one.
My advice to a young person would be to pick your major/career path carefully. Research the growth of the industry. Then , pick a school that is “not for profit “ or private ($$$$) . If you do choose private , make sure that the industry or area you choose is growing and commands top salaries/income potential. Most skills offered in vocational schools “for profit “ are offered at state junior colleges for much less tuition costs.
I'd say it depends on the degree. For example, one might not want to major in something that's not economically feasible and pay a lot of money for it. That strategy generally produces a net loss. Conversely, if you feel that the lifetime value of the degree will net much more than the tuition, I think it's worth it in that sense.
In my particular case, I'd say my degree is worth it because it was mostly used to leverage myself into a tech job. Were the actual course material something I couldn't have learned on YouTube or on my own? No, not at all. But the piece of paper that says "you did it! You know some things about tech" allowed me the opportunities to pay back my loans, and then some.
Having gotten out of school for about 8.5 years, my investment in tuition has paid for itself 6 times over. I'd say it's most definitely worth it from a financial standpoint. Assuming a tuition spend of $10k/yr for 4 years, and the $33k/yr for 2 years for tuition, my IRR is 34%. Quite good, by any measure.
In this article I wrote, I discuss the internal rate of return for an example major and compare it against other alternatives. I also discuss the intangibles of whether or not a degree is "worth it" by examining how much one should weigh enjoyment to a degree.
But as with anything, the key is to minimize the cost of the degree while maximizing the income produced by the degree.
I honestly think my degree was the biggest mistake of my life. I liked the college experience & miss the sense of community... But my actual degree feels useless & expensive. I've been denied jobs due to it & I'm barely making more than minimum wage now. I should have been smarter about it, but at that time I had so little knowledge of money management that I thought "surely I can pay this back in no time!" I also thought I could afford a brand new Mercedes if I wanted once I graduated. (I never tried to buy one, thank goodness.)
Most local community colleges have lots of Covid Cares Act money that they are using to help students- even students with college debt. If you got your degree from an accredited college, 1/3 to 1/2 of your credits are probably transferrable. Community college also have lots of certificates available to get you in a better job in less than 2 years.
Also most public school systems are really needing substitute teachers. If you have a bachelors degree and no crime record you can make way more than minimum.