New salary figures show college is still worth it

Those with degrees still earn more than high-school graduates and dropouts, according to the US Census Bureau.

By Kim Peterson Apr 2, 2013 3:45PM
Image: College graduate (© Corbis)The tough economy and high cost of tuition have some teens and their parents questioning the value of a college education. Is it worth it to incur that kind of debt? Is the payoff still there?

The answer seems to be yes. New numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show that college-educated Americans earned about $11,749 in the last three months of 2011, according to The Wall Street Journal. Those with a post-graduate degree earned a median $15,733 in the same period.

The average high-school dropout, however, earned only $4,026.

And those with college educations were more likely to have jobs. College-educated Americans have an unemployment rate of 3.8%. Compare that with a rate of 7.9% for high-school grads and 11.2% for high-school dropouts, the Journal reports.

Still, these numbers haven't stopped a broad anti-college movement from gaining momentum. Consider the likes of UnCollege, a group that encourages people to find alternatives to college. "You can contribute to society without necessarily having a university degree," the group says on its website.

There's also Enstitute, a nonprofit group offering a two-year, paid apprenticeship program to people who don't want to attend college.

More on moneyNOW

Apr 2, 2013 4:07PM
How about we change things so that people in college only need to take classes that are relevant to their degree...I can't tell you how many bs classes I had to take that had nothing to do with my degree. (Appreciation of music when I'm a biology major???) WTF!!!
Apr 2, 2013 4:01PM
Obviously their data does not include welders who make over a hundred grand a year, or plumbers who make about 75 grand a year. Go into the trades, kids. You can get the training you need in about two years and earn enough money to eventually start your own business. Sounds like their "dropout" wages take into account a lot of transitional jobs that don't pay very well. 
Apr 2, 2013 4:05PM
Shop around....don't pay the ridiculous tuition some universities are asking.  They are not worth it.  If you are good, a degree from a less expensive school will suffice...especially after you have been in the work force a few years.
Apr 2, 2013 4:04PM
There's also the down side of having a college degree with the attached student loans and then not finding the great job that was supposed to come with having a degree. I achieved a Bachelor's degree in 2006 and all I have to show for the effort is $30,000 in student loans.
Apr 2, 2013 4:10PM
What does the average high school graduate make?  Why are they comparing college graduates to high school dropouts?
Apr 2, 2013 3:56PM
It's still expensive.  Drop the price since there are fewer jobs, please.
Apr 2, 2013 4:07PM
It's tough now!  With post doc education adding up to over $500,000 and the IRS killing you and phasing you out of deductions - it's really hard to make it worth it.  Way to kill American dream of hard work and success!
Apr 2, 2013 4:01PM
Right, because school never got anyone anywhere in life?! Come on people! The facts are out is important. Without it we will all turn into a bunch of honey-boo boos.
Apr 2, 2013 4:20PM
So, a college grad earns about $1000/month more.  BS.  If an average state college is roughly $35-40,000/year, then 4.5 years of college (because average grad doesn't do it in 5 years) spends about $158-180,000.  That means it would take roughly 12-15 years to just break even with the additional $1000/month you earn with that degree.  Now that takes into account the really low income jobs and the really high income jobs.

BS.  College expense is ridiculous and out of hand. You would be better to invest the $157-180,000 of college expense, learn a decent trade and work.  We need to reduce the amount of money available for college loans, since so many are not being paid back anyway.  This will force more to consider the JC/CC route which is much more affordable and worthwhile.  We must force colleges to reduce the cost of tuition and you do that by reducing the amount of money available.  It is simple supply/demand.  Most, if not all, college profs are overpaid, and not worth it.  There isn't much you cannot learn at a JC/CC or online anymore, especially with all the BS degrees people get nowadays.  
Apr 2, 2013 4:22PM
How about taking stupid requirements out of the degree programs to reduce the cost of tuition?    Ex:  algebra for an English degree?  Really?   If I wanted to a job related to math, which I hate,  I wouldn't be going after an English degree.   Ridiculous and nothing but greedy on the part of the schools.  Don't even try to justify it, people, there is no excuse.  
Apr 2, 2013 4:07PM
Still feel like colleges should only expect payment in return if you actually are able to get a job for your degree...doesnt make sense to pay a school thousands of dollars if the only job you can land afterwards is retail because our economy is so choked.
Apr 2, 2013 4:07PM
I do not approve of this message. I have 3 college degrees and I work 3 jobs that are not relevant to either of the two degrees I earned.
Apr 2, 2013 4:39PM
Interesting that it shows the median income of college grads, those with post grad degrees, and high school drop-outs, but not high school graduates.  Also, I don't understand why having debt as a result of education is a given.  My daughter completed her bachelors with no debt.  Her mother and I paid each semester.  She started at a Jr. College then moved on to a University.  It took a little longer because she couldn's always take a full load due to finances, but she has no debt, and has a degree.
Apr 2, 2013 4:12PM
I'm sure this survey was performed by people who have a college degree.  The survey has to come out in their favor because they don't want their degree, that they paid for, to be worthless.
Apr 2, 2013 4:22PM
Nothing on MSN ever adds up correctly.
Apr 2, 2013 4:52PM
For 30 years, 3 major lies have been constantly crammed into the heads of students:

1.  You can't be successful without going to college and getting a degree.
2.  If you go to college and get a degree, you are guaranteed to be successful.
3.  A college degree is always worth the money, no matter how much it costs.

College is fine.  But so is learning a skill or a trade.  Everyone is different and has different motivations, goals, aspirations, abilities, etc...  One thing is for sure, we have far too many lawyers and MBAs running around, and not nearly enough skilled carpenters, plumbers, welders, LPNs, mechanics, electricians, etc...
Apr 2, 2013 4:15PM
There is a fallacy at work here. People imagine that getting a certain degree or certain level of education will guarantee you a certain position and salary. About the only thing you can say that about for certain are medical and nursing degrees. These, along with the requisite professional license, will get you a job in your field, though perhaps not where you hoped to work or under the conditions you hoped for. Other degrees will not. An engineering degree will not make you into a brilliant engineer and an MBA will not make you into Fortune 500 executive either if you are  material for one of those things in the first place, you might end up not being able to get a job at all.

By selecting for for graduate and professional degrees, you are strongly selected into a group of people who have a high aptitude for success in their field. But the most important thing is not what field you work in, but whether or not you go to the top of your occupation. Someone in maintenance and janitorial work could make minimum wage. Or they could make a million a year if they started their own successful business and had enough contracts and employees.

I wonder if a college grad wrote this article! 
Apr 2, 2013 4:01PM
College would be a much better value if they cut the pay of professors by 30% and the pay of administrators by 50%. 
Apr 2, 2013 4:27PM

This article is full of shitake mushrooms. For the last 3 years, people in trades and non-college jobs have been earning more money if you take what they make and what they owe in student loans away.


I am sure since colleges are raising rates faster than inflation, they had to start changing the "press" to make sure they can send out their propaganda. I have a degree and two professional licenses and I have told my children that the "trades" or owning a small business is the way to go.

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