Does a College Degree Really Pay Off?


We’ll cut to the chase: yes, on average, people with college degrees earn more. Great news, right? Well, yes and no. After all, you’re not average! So, when you’re looking at an investment of tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars, how do you figure out whether it’s the right decision for you? Here are some key things to consider.

Some Jobs Require a College Degree

If it’s your dream to join the ranks of veterinarians or accountants or teachers, then a college degree is part of the price of admission. But not all desirable or high-paying jobs require higher education. Lots of technology jobs, for example, demand top-notch skills that don’t have to be learned in college. Remember, though, there are a lot of positions where employers say a degree is “preferred” so having one may give you a leg up on the competition.

All Colleges & Degrees are Not Created Equal

One of the things about the college degree payoff average is that it mushes together super high-cost schools and degrees, with more moderately-priced options that still deliver big on value. See how your favorites stack up by checking out this ranking tool from Georgetown University that lists return-on-investment for 4,500 institutions and the Philadelphia Inquirer’s comparison of ROI on various schools’ degree programs.

College is About More than Money

While you’re in class learning the skills to work in your chosen field, you’ll probably also be picking up some pretty useful skills that will serve you well in the workplace, like critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork. Universities also often draw students from all over, so you’re likely to be exposed to people who speak different languages and come from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. That exposure can broaden your horizons and also better prepare you to work in the global economy.

To Get the Pay-Off, You Have to Finish

Sadly, college completion rates aren’t great. In fact, more than 60% of students who begin a degree program will still not have a degree after six years. So, if you decide that college is for you, be sure you’re able to make the commitment to go for it and keep up with the coursework you need to finish and get you on the path of the career of your dreams!

Did you know USE Credit Union offers annual scholarships to deserving high school and college students pursuing their academic dreams? For more information, visit


Consult a qualified advisor or counselor.

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