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Does a College Degree Pay Off or Not?

By Joseph Cueto on April 4, 2015

Having a college degree under your belt: Yay or nay?

How do you feel about being a college degree holder? Parents (and you may have heard of this narrative before) may hold the opinion that seeing their children complete their education is one of the greatest and priceless gifts they can give. For students, it is safe to assume that having the opportunity to finish college would be viewed as a merit. The odds to do so can be daunting. According to 2008 data from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), out of 100 Grade 1 pupils, only 14 students would eventually graduate from college.

However, as this article by Bloomberg’s Natalie Kitroeff mentions, a particular sector in the U.S. considers college education as an investment  that can turn into a liability:

A majority of college graduates say that students who recently left school will get a lower return on their degree than they would have a decade ago, according to a report released by an educational technology company, Greenwood Hall. The report was based on a poll of 2,000 people, 900 of them college graduates of all ages, conducted by Nielsen for Greenwood Hall.

Greenwood Hall CEO John Hall cites “level of cost” and “high student debt” as chief reasons why these respondents see college’s stock on the downswing. Examining the Philippine context, there are factors that suggest that a college degree can be viewed in the same degree as well. College education, according to the website Smart Parenting, is a privilege, not a right. Why? Thanks to a lofty tuition fees, said to be P60,000, the average annual cost for a student entering college in the Philippines. Also, this article details steps that the Philippines can take to ensure that education is accessible by all walks of life, implying that the country’s educational system has a long way to go.

But before everyone gets swept up with this specific sentiment, here are points to consider towards the “yay” side of the ledger from Pew Research Center economist Rick Fry:

  • Skipping college can be a costlier decision
  • College degree holders make a more substantial amount of money than those who did not pursue tertiary education
  • College equips students with various skills that can be of use to organizations, leading to “good” jobs
  • Not attending college can be a ticket to poverty

So yay or nay to a college degree? What do you say? The answer, which you can share below, depends on who you ask. There can be many paths to success, one that involves taking the college route or an unconventional path. Some, like a 70-year-old man from Pangasinan, go to great lengths to pursue it. For those who are willing to think big and pay the price, both literally and figuratively, a college degree can be an asset that offers tons of benefits and options. Take it seriously.


Image from Rollins College