News & Politics

New Website Warns of ROIs for Majors Like 'Women's Studies'

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.