Is it all worth it?

It's what we all worry about, the possibility of graduating from NDSU to a job driving cab or toasting bagels. Is it really worth it, the college degree nowadays? Are there too many of us out there? Let's look at a few numbers.

Percent of adult population with a college degree, 1960: 8.

Percent with a college degree, 1995: 22.

Annual out-of-pocket cost (public and private averaged together) of attending a four-year college: $10,000.

Average annual lost wages while studying: $15,000.

Average cost of a college education over four years: $100,000.

If you were to bank that money at 8 percent interest, you would have to earn about $8,000 more annually to justify the investment you make in higher education. Can you do that? Not at age 21 or 22. But that's misleading--the older you get, the wider the income gap between college and high school educated workers. After you're 30, your increasing income will really show the difference. So all told, the value of a college degree is clear and increasing. But you have to be patient.

Copyright 2004 by Ross F. Collins <>