Back To Career News

Don’t Believe the Hype: Most College Graduates Feel Their Degrees Were Worth the Cost


Alarmingly high rates of student loan debt have a lot of people wondering if a bachelor’s degree is really worth its cost. Short answer: yes, as long as you pick the right college and the right degree. Sure, college is extremely expensive these days, but don’t let that scare you away. Despite everything, there is still a tremendous amount of evidence to support the importance, and the benefits, of attaining a bachelor’s. In most cases, it’s still totally worth it. Here’s why.


(Photo Credit: Will Folsom/Flickr)

1. Just look at the unemployment data…

Do You Know What You're Worth?

The most recent jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics definitively shows the difference a bachelor’s degree makes. The unemployment rate for folks with a degree is 2.5 percent. But, for those who finished high school but did not go to college the rate is 5.2 percent. Those who didn’t complete high school have an unemployment rate of 7.9 percent. More education means better job security. Period.

2. College grads earn more money.

The facts are pretty clear. More education equals more income, and the gap is widening. The earnings of a family with two college graduates is much higher than a family of high school grads, and between 1979 and 2012 the gap grew by $30,000, after inflation. It’s more important than ever to earn a college degree for your financial future. Back then, folks with high school educations earned about 77 percent of what college grads earned. Today, they earn just 62 percent of what those with a bachelor’s degree do.

3. Only recent graduates with high student loan debt feel it wasn’t worth it.

Recent reports on data collected by Gallup-Purdue seem to be focusing on the idea that about half of the 30,000 college graduates surveyed didn’t strongly agree with the notion that their degrees were worth it. However, only recent graduates who left school more than $50,000 in debt were more likely than not to say that the cost wasn’t worth what was gained. The same poll found that the vast majority of college graduates DID agree that their educations were worth the cost.

Here are the actual facts from this study:

When alumni were asked whether or not they agreed with the statement that their college degrees were worth the cost, 50 percent said they strongly agreed (choosing a 5 rating on a 1-5 scale). Another 27 percent ranked their agreement with the statement as a 4. Only 23 percent of those surveyed ranked their agreement as a three or less.

4. Let’s not forget, it’s not ALL about money.

College isn’t only about the bottom line. Sure, you should absolutely do your research and be sure that the college you’re attending is one with a great return on investment (these rates do vary widely). A great resource for this is PayScale’s College ROI Report. Do your homework to be sure that you’re making a sound choice.

Additionally, let’s try to keep in mind that everything isn’t about the bottom line. The benefits of a college education go beyond dollars and cents. At the end of the day, a college education IS still worth it, no matter how you cut it. Let’s not get it twisted.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think the money you spent on college was worth it? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

4 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
SociologyPhdbiology nerdWastedTimeOverseas Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

I got my degree in an Eastern European country for a total price tag of $1500. Moved to the States few years ago and landed a decent job with my degree. US colleges are scamming people with outrageous tuition costs. It’s possible to get a great education with minimal investments.


And when you pick the wrong college and wrong degree? What a waste of 4 years of my life. The job I work now has zero to do with my major. Can’t escape the debt even by dying. 4-year college has become a scam that only the extremely wealthy and some lucky low-income athletes can win.


OMG, I have a B.S., M.A., and Phd in Sociology and taught for 14 years and made next to no money. I was then unemployed for 2 years. I’m now transitioning into IT but the pay is still extremely low. I owe a TON on my student loans. It was CLEARLY not worth it. If I had it to do over again I would have finished the B.S. degree and went to a technical college to learn skills that employers… Read more »

biology nerd
biology nerd

feelings are relitive. Kids in the great depression probably though life was alright since they had never experienced a better time. Today all these kids graduating feel alright too, but are probably going to be the next lost generation.

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.