America’s $1 trillion student loan debt and astronomical tuition costs have caused many to weigh the heavy price of attending college. As for the young adults of the Millennial generation—the most educated generation ever, widespread under- and unemployment coupled with the Great Recession have some wishing for a do-over. However, a new Pew study titled, “The Rising Cost of Not Going to College,” reveals the ultimate value and benefits of higher leaning.
In a modern, knowledge-based economy, the only thing more expensive than going to college is not going to college,” Paul Taylor, executive vice president of special projects at Pew, recently told NPR.
Here are a few highlights from the study, which analyzed a survey of 2,002 adults:
- Millennial college graduates ages 25 to 32 who are working full time earn more annually—about $17,500 more—than employed young adults holding only a high school diploma
- College-educated Millennials are more likely to be employed full time than their less-educated counterparts (89 percent vs. 82 percent) and significantly less likely to be unemployed (3.8 percent vs. 12.2 percent).
- Among the two-thirds of college-educated Millennials who borrowed money to pay for their schooling, about nine-in-ten (86 percent) say their degrees have been worth it or expect that they will be in the future
Of course, the subject in which one decides to major also plays a crucial role in how professionally and financially prepared young adults will feel in the future. Compared to social science, liberal arts or education majors, science and engineer majors were less likely to wish they had chosen a different major as an undergraduate to better prepare them for the job they wanted. Still, regardless of one’s major, about nine-in-ten Millennials with at least a bachelor’s degree say college has already paid off (72 percent) or will pay off in the future (17 percent.)
While the study thoroughly proved the economical outcomes of a college education, it also focused heavily on the historic economic disparity between those young adults with college diplomas and those without compared to the gaps of prior generations. In other words, a high school diploma is gradually becoming more and more meaningless, incomewise, given that the wage gap is increasing at the lower end of education.