While many college students go to school with dreams of fame and fortune, the reality is that many select degrees with no understanding of the employment outlook for each major.
A new website is examining the situation from the perspective of Colorado colleges and careers, and the American Enterprise Institute found something interesting in the data:
New Website Allows Colorado Students to Estimate ROI on College Degrees (Launch My Career Colorado)
Assuming the website is accurate, here are some of the results that I found that might explain why Colorado universities have expressed misgivings about the new website:
- A 2-year degree from the Community College of Denver in Dental Hygiene has an ROI of $612,991, which are the additional earnings a graduate can expect to earn over 20 years compared to a high school graduate. Average first-year wages are about $61,000 and the cost of the degree is less than $16,000.
- A 4-year degree from the University of Colorado-Boulder in Women’s Studies has an ROI of only $173,545, at a cost of more than $92,000 and estimated first-year earnings of only $23,461.
No wonder the 4-year universities might be a little concerned.
Well now — isn’t that interesting.
Honestly, the only surprise is that a women’s studies degree could have any ROI positive numbers at all.
Of course, AEI’s comparison isn’t just about four-year degrees vs. two-year. For example, a career like dental hygiene is often one of the higher-earning jobs requiring only a two-year degree; they contrasted it with a “You Want Fries With That” four-year degree like women’s studies. Comparing dental hygiene with something like engineering or accounting, for example, will obviously yield different results.
The key point is that students considering expensive four-year degrees should understand what they’re getting into before accepting student loans to pay for an education that makes them only slightly more money than a job at Starbucks on average.
On average — meaning that 50% of those women’s studies majors make less than $23,461 per year (which, working 40 hours a week is just $11.28 per hour).
Perhaps websites like Launch My Career Colorado might just help keep people from piling up significant debt while pursuing a masters in puppetry. With the warning, they might just realize that — while following one’s dreams feels awesome now — a degree in that dream is possibly, or likely, a financial disaster.
In other words: listen to this wake-up call, knock off the silliness, and get a real job.