Financing Your College Education: Weighing Majors versus Salary
Unfortunately, the cost of college tuition has continued to skyrocket the past ten years or so, and tuition rates vary all over the spectrum depending on factors such as public versus private and in-state versus out-of-state. When it comes to choosing a university, I have always advised my students to weigh their prospective field’s salary against the cost of each school’s tuition to determine if it is indeed a solid investment. For instance:
If you plan on becoming a teacher, it is important to know that the average starting salary is between $30-40K and that the average salary after 25 years is around $60K. If you plan to finance your education, it would be wise to choose a more affordable school to pursue an undergraduate degree. While attending Vanderbilt sounds quite prestigious, it doesn’t make much sense to spend $40K a year in student loans to graduate into an industry where your annual salary is equivalent to your yearly college tuition. Your best bet is to stay in-state, take advantage of the Hope scholarship, and apply to Vandy for a Master’s degree (if you’re set on still having an Ivy-League tag to your resume).
If you are undeclared or plan to pursue a general Business or Liberal Arts degree, it also makes sense to save the money for graduate school. For the most part, these majors offer the same classes across the board, and as such, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pay $40K a year for a Business degree when you could just as easily get the same degree for $15K a year. To be honest, gradate degrees are the new Bachelor’s degrees, so if you’re looking to get a generalized BA in a field such as business, plan on pursuing an MBA – and that is where is pays to open up the pocketbook and get into a university well-known for its MBA program.
Bottom line: don’t choose a school solely based on its name. It may sound great telling people you graduated from there, but it won’t feel so great writing those monthly student loan checks until your own grandchildren go to college. Weigh the investment when you choose a school, especially for your undergraduate program and remember that whether you go to MIT or MTSU, your academic experience will ultimately be what you make out of it.