Is college worth the investment?

The Fraternity of the Soul Eater takes place on a large Midwestern University. I feel this gives me the credentials to give an opinion on the value of an education. That and the fact that I have an undergraduate degree from The University of Wisconsin and a law degree from the University of Illinois. When I am not writing books my other job is as a lawyer. I see on a weekly if not daily basis the struggles of individuals and families trying to pay for higher education costs.

Presidential candidates are also starting to notice the financial struggle of students and families. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have discussed how public universities are charging more for tuition than students can afford to pay. They are starting to notice that student loans debt is getting out of hand.

Yet, this blog is not about politics but more about practicality. It is seems there is good evidence to support the idea that a four year degree is worth obtaining. This brings to mind two questions. The first question is what degree is worth obtaining? The other question is where a college student should go to school in order to obtain the highest return on his investment? I will admit that some of the argument I intend to present is not backed up by empirical evidence and is just my opinion. I could probably look up real evidence to support my conclusions but why bother. After all it is my blog I should be able to say what I want.

I am an author which I assume you know and is why you are looking at my blog. My undergraduate degree is in psychology. I love the arts but it is not necessary to have a degree in fine arts to write, paint or act. It is my humble opinion that a degree in psychology or the fine arts is not a good investment. I hate to say this, since I readily admit when it comes to these areas of studies I am far from proficient, but it makes sense to spend your educational dollar on STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics) education. Obviously, this is not everyone’s forte, including mine, but this type of education will probably provide the best bang for the buck.

The next question is where to go to school. I spent my undergraduate years in Madison, Wisconsin even though I lived in Illinois. Out of state tuition at the time was reasonable. It may not be anymore depending on your ability to pay. I question if it makes sense to go to an out of state college.

I also question the value of a degree from a more prestigious university versus a junior college or a state school. I would argue that a degree from a private school does not translate into more money. There are certainly exceptions but there are always exceptions.

Yes, I understand this blog does not discuss the intangible aspects of an education. Harvard may provide a perfect opportunity to meet the son of a C.E.O. who will give you a job upon graduation. Amherst, might provide just the right climate for spiritual fulfillment. If you have the money and are not looking for the best return on investment by all means search for the college that meets your individual tastes.I am trying to talk about college in terms of a business proposition not in terms of self actualization.

Sadly, I believe universities are also starting to think of college in terms of a business as well. In my home town the home of the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign the Chancellor of the U of I Ms. Wise is stepping down among controversy. It appears the University is seeking to pay her an additional $400,000 bonus on her way out.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-university-of-illinois-phyllis-wise-bonus-20150810-story.html#page=1

This, is one of many examples of universities being more akin to wall-street companies than a place to educate our children. The average law school professor earns $128,000 per year not including substantial benefits while the average lawyer makes $76,999. Universities are a business and students are their clients. F.Y.I. If anyone is hiring I would gladly quit my job (as a lawyer) to be a law professor. I would also take far less than $128,000 per year, with benefits, to do the job.

http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Professor_of_Law/Salary

http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Attorney_%2f_Lawyer/Salary

University’s are seeing record numbers of international students. In part that is because universities make money on international students who pay out of state tuition.

http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2013/11/11/us-sees-record-number-of-international-college-students

The University of Illinois has more Chinese students than any other public university and the result is a great deal of money.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-university-of-illinois-chinese-students-d1-20140801-story.html#page=1

Universities are no longer set up to help students mature from adolescence to adulthood while cradled in love and school spirit. They are money making machines and our children are their products. It is time we start thinking of colleges in that manner and start looking for bang for the buck when it comes to education.

If students walk out of college with enormous debt than they might have been better off working at a low paying job and putting that money in a savings account. It is time we start looking at the cost of higher education and ask if it is worth it. The answer is just dollars and cents or perhaps dollars and common sense.