What is College and Why Invest in It?

WHAT?

“College” is a training program designed for high school graduates to receive more education (“higher education”) with a certificate (“degree”) for successful completion of studies.  The available degrees are a trade school degree, 2-year associates degree, 4-year bachelors degree, masters degree, doctoral degree, and professional degree.  Students may apply for federal student aid to earn any of these degrees (ref 1).  

WHY?

Children need a good education in order to manage their adult lives.  Graduation from high school signifies an educational achievement that offers opportunities for immediate employment or enrollment in college.  Furthermore, graduation from college generally results in a higher income, healthier lifestyle, and greater contribution to society compared to the completion of high school (ref 1, 2).  

A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITY

Students who graduate from college (rather than dropping out early) earn the most value for their type of higher education (ref 2).  College offers the opportunity to expand knowledge, improve thinking, launch a career, and build new relationships [my opinion: college also increases the student’s capacity for making financial decisions]. Although other organizations offer a similar opportunity through on-the-job training (e.g., armed forces, businesses), colleges offer opportunities that can’t be obtained elsewhere.  For example, many professions require a college degree.  

RETURN AND RISK

College is not free and can be quite expensive; it’s a risky investment in your child’s future (ref 3).  Is it worth the investment?  Yes, if your student graduates with reasonable financial and emotional health.  College graduation improves students’ chances for financial success as measured by the return-on-investment (ROI).   Here are several measures of the ROI in college (ref 2):

  • graduation from college increases the employment rate
  • college graduates have more job security
  • college graduates earn more money than those with less education

The payback period for a college degree is the number of years needed to recoup the cost of college.  The length of the payback period depends on the annual salary of the college graduate and total cost of college (ref 3).  The choice of school and total time of enrollment are prime determinants of total cost.

Nearly all parents want their child to attend college, yet only one third of college students earn a bachelors degree or higher (ref 2).  The high dropout rate may be due to academic or emotional stress, especially during the transition from high school to college.  The student and family may not be prepared for the academic and social life of college (ref 4).    

NEXT?

The process of college preparation (“College Prep”) can help motivate children to attend college and graduate with a degree (ref 5).  College Prep should start at home as early as possible and continue through high school. 

REFERENCES

  1. Federal Student Aid.  U.S. Department of Education. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/ 
  2. Return on Investment in College Education. Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. 2017.  https://www.agb.org/sites/default/files/report_2017_guardians_roi.pdf 
  3. Jonathan F. Foster. The risks of investing in a college education. Fortune, March 25, 2015.  http://fortune.com/2015/03/25/the-risks-of-investing-in-a-college-education/ 
  4. Emotional Health & Your College Student. A Guide for Parents.  The Jed Foundation  http://www.transitionyear.org/_downloads/parent_pdf_guide.pdf 
  5. College preparation checklist. Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education.  https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/college-prep-checklist.pdf 

 Copyright © 2018 Douglas R. Knight 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s