After the year 2000 to date, the rate of return on a bachelor’s degree benefit has been calculated to be between 14 and 15 percent, “easily exceeding the threshold for sound investment” (Shireman 55). The estimation was made on the basis of a logical calculation, and two items were taken into account in mathematics to provide the rationale; one is the sum charged by the graduate students and the approximate sum they gain relative to the amount received by high school graduates before all groups hit the retirement age of 65 years (Oreopoulos and Petronijevic 23). When a critical approach is engaged, on either end, the degree holders have been experiencing related hardships for the recent years, considering that while the tuition fee has been escalating rapidly, the labor wages have been declining steadily over time (Abel and Deitz 4). Therefore, one is compelled to pose a question; so, how can the investment both in time and money worth it for the bachelor’s degree? Indeed, there is an evidence-based response to this critique, in that, for the last one decade, the fate of employees who are high school graduates have been deteriorating at a faster rate than their bachelor’s degree counterparts. Consequently, students have two options to make, one more costly in time and money but more rewarding for a lifetime, or rather work with an easier choice, but very unpredictable and less rewarding for a lifetime. The former argument refers to those students who pursue a bachelor’s degree, incur more loans paying tuition fee and at least four years in college, whereas the latter assertion relates to the high school graduates, who would have it ease in terms of cost and time, but will instead face a possibility of remaining jobless for a long period (Abel and Deitz 7). Therefore, the college degree expressly wins in the standoff, considering that while the bachelor’s degree could be more costly, but the workers with any credentials less than this mark are declining further and further over time. Other than discussing the questions of the duration of a college degree and how much it costs, whether college graduates get paid more, and with a higher probability of employment, it is imperative too to critically analyze if the benefits of college are exclusively limited to career earnings and what bachelor’s degree graduates say about the worth of their investment.
The college degree is costly both in the time spent, and the cash spends by every average learner. The undergraduate bachelor’s degree lasts for forty-eight months on average. The whole period is characterized by between 120 and 128 semester credit hours. However, for the students who have already covered the associate degree in one of the community colleges, they could expressly transfer 60 semester credit hours to the other segment of their studies (Oreopoulos and Petronijevic 121). A study done in 2016 revealed that most parents from across the world had a great desire for their children to study in the US, considering the diverse and quality education under the country`s curriculum. However, the same survey as well noted that American education, particularly at the college level was the most expense globally. The average cost in every single year was estimated at $33,215 per student. If the amount is multiplied by four, an estimated period a degree will take to be completed; then it becomes apparent that apparently, affording higher education is very expensive (Abel and Deitz 4). Nevertheless, it has been revealed through evidence-based data that despite the escalating cost to guardians, sponsors, and parents, a college education is worth it, considering the benefits that come after one earns a bachelor’s degree for a lifetime.
For the average wages over time, in the US for instance, the average salary for a license holder has been declining for the past forty years. For example, in 1970, the earnings for the college graduates decreased to surprising levels, even though there was witnessed an overall decline in wages for all workers at all levels between 1970 and 1982. However, on average, the bachelor’s degree holders observed a much more rapid decrease than the rest of the workers in the country (Johnson et al. 781). The decline from $60,000 to $56,000, which is an estimated 8 percent decrease, was twice as much the amount reduced on the wages of those with high school diplomas and an associate’s degree. Indeed, the decline in wages for the bachelor’s degree graduates in the 1970s attracted absurd arguments like, “a large number of people going to college had produced an overeducated workforce” (Taylor 6). Nevertheless, there was a significant change in the early 1980s and ten years later, as there was a sharp increase in wages for the bachelor’s degree workers across different professions, both in absolute and relative terms. This era was characterized by computer technologies, and almost 55 percent of the work opportunities in America needed potential employees who could offer skilled labor-backed with a bachelor’s degree. The wages would rise even more up to early 2000, as many people went to college to earn degrees and the employer was competing for the few that were in the market circulation then (Taylor 132). This period experience an exponential change in wages for the bachelor`s degree graduates, as they experience a 31 percent increment in their earnings, whereas the those with an associate degree had a 12 percent increase, with no change for the high school graduates. Indeed, the benefit for those with college degrees doubled across the timeframe, portraying a justification in the argument that even though a college degree is costly in time and funds, the reward across time is always an assured settlement (Johnson et al. 812).
Nevertheless, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, it is true that wages are falling while tuition fee is steadily rising, similarly to the increased unemployment rates among the college degree holders, portraying a feeling that the college degree benefits are at stake, and with an overarching doubt. Nevertheless, these three factors alone cannot offer a true judgment as to whether a college degree is worth it or not (Taylor 22). A critical analysis of all the benefits there are that accompany college degree reveals that investing in an education at a level of higher learning is the best economic decision an average person can make. A broad spectrum for confirming this argument as true lies in the bitter truth that workers with any academic credentials below a bachelor’s degree are experiencing hard times in the job market, characterized by the declining fortunes. Another sound argument would be, despite the stagnation in wages and occasional decline for the college degree holders, the payments for associate degrees and high school graduates have been expressly falling all along for the last seventeen years (Rose 28). This indicates that college degree reward has average remained on its premium high for decades. Furthermore, driven by the declining wages for the high school graduates, the reducing opportunity cost of going to school has been a fundamental tool is offsetting the rising tuition fee for college students. Therefore, regardless of the field of specialization, a college degree on average remains to be the best investment in the academic arena. Nevertheless, the disturbing challenges are that college students pay a lot of money to complete their degrees, with less and less anticipated in wages following their graduation (Roksa and Levey 396). There is no assurance within a foreseeable future as to whether there are any changes guaranteed, however, the history between college degree students and those with inferior academic credentials has been a clear prove that the premiums of the former lead the scenes in the job market (Taylor 58). Furthermore, individuals who invest in college degree stand a better chance of making it in the job market and even for other accompanying segments of a fulfilling life, considering that those who opt for different options inferior to do not unravel better fortunes either.
The question of whether college degree holders earn more than those with lower academic qualifications in the job market is subject to controversial discussions, however, on average, the best of fit line put the latter group on an advantage in their dealing with the employer. Researchers have argued that for the better, “The economic benefits of a college degree can be thought of like the extra wages one can earn a college degree about what one would earn without one” (Taylor 11). Such a reality can be reached when the wages for the college degree holders are rated against their high school graduate counterparts. Characterized with a couple of significant caveats, the salaries for the college degree workers are comparably better than the other categories below on the academic ladder. First, there is a solid background in social life for degree holders in the sense that they possess the skill, aptitudes, insight, competence, and other excellent characteristics as opposed to those who never went to college. Secondly, the latter argument justifies that going to college does not only lead to financial fortunes, rather, it equips the learners with the ability to land on a platform of global standards in terms of interaction, flexibility, making connections and bargaining for better jobs, as well as attracting good will in the job market. Researchers have indicated that these postulations could come out different. However, it can only happen on a small margin because on average, the college degree is worth the investment, as it pays off far much better than high school diplomas or associate degrees.
As much as degree holders are more likely to be employed, their benefits are not limited to career earnings alone. For one to earn a college degree, or experience the college academic environment that would lead to their graduation with such a qualification despite the escalating cost, remain to be a significant component of the “American Dream” (Taylor 92).Even though it could appear complex for a larger percentage of the population, it remains the fact that it rewards. A college degree leads to a complete person in development and sophistication, a global citizen so to say, with excellent social abilities, prepared both intellectually and socially for respective careers ahead and adulthood life. Research studies have proven that college education leads to generally stable and happier lives, other than the benefits of highly skilled and better-paying jobs. As such, many people would want to join college and pursue higher education without having the insight of what kind of rewards follow; however, there is certainty of reward as opposed to those who shy away from the cost of time and funds.
The college degree holders have a more stable earning scheme compared to their high school graduate counterparts because even though the wages have been falling, the decline has been more devastating for the latter category. For instance, during the period between 2001 and 2013, there has been a decrease in wages for both the college graduates and the high school graduates at an average rate of 10 percent and 8 percent respectively. Nevertheless, despite the otherwise bigger margin in decline for the degree holders, they still earned 75 percent more than high school grduates. This advantages in pay culminates into a significant amount, considering that for a long time an average degree holder will have earned one million US dollars more than a high school graduate and $325,000 more than an associate degree holder for a lifetime. on the other hand, even though college graduates could get stuck up in jobs worth the skills of the high school graduates, their earning are relatively higher than the latter groups, and the probability of the latter to be employed is lower compared to the former category, hence the worth of the college degree (Roksa and Levey 401).
An interview with college graduates in 2016 revealed that half of the alumni population agrees with the argument that the bachelor’s degree is worth the cost and time. The study by the Gallup-Purdue University Study discovered that more than thirty thousand students from across the US indicated that their several colleges of research had made a positive impact in their careers for life. Nevertheless, the data came as many surprises to the researcher as only 26 percent of the alumni strongly agreed that university education was worth it, “Given the worth us as a country place on schooling, you would expect that we would have a much higher percentage who say they definitely agree with that declaration,”(New 5). Furthermore, barely 38 percent of the graduates of between 2008 and 2015 agreed that college education was worth it, with a whopping 62 percent declining the notion, considering that their entry into higher education has been characterized by hard economic times. Students who had studied on loan of worth $25000 or below strongly agreed with the statement that their college education was worth it. However, seventy percent of those who borrowed $50,000 or more disagreed considering that rising loan interest rates and the declining wages with an overall reduced employment rate. Nevertheless, on an average scale of whether students agreed or not, regardless of those who strongly agreed, it is evident that a majority of the college degree holders are of the opinion that their college degree was worth it, especially if their compare themselves with their counterparts who never pursued college degrees after high school graduation (New 16).
In conclusion, therefore, pursuing a college degree is accompanied by a couple of challenges, the cardinal ones being high cost and more time spend, however, the investment is often worth it in the long run. It is projected that at the end of a bachelor’s degree, learners will have spent approximately four years in class having covered between 120 and 128 semester credit hours, and an average cost of $ 33,215 annually. This is very costly to an average student, even with or without load and other aides, which culminated into loans to be paid worth of with escalating interest rates. Nevertheless, across the period since the 1970s, there has been a stagnation in wages among the degree holders with a continuous fall for those with lower academic credentials like associate degrees and high school diplomas. On average, a degree holder earns $1 million more than a high school graduate, with makes a degree worth it despite the challenges, as other option less than this never lead to similar fortunes but secondary rewards.
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