WSU is advancing Washington industries …
WSU teams with aviation to develop sustainable aviation biofuels …
WSU partners to develop bioproducts that reduce dependence on petroleum imports …
WSU works with state commodity commissions to conduct needed agricultural research …
WSU developed the technology used for wood-plastic composites used for buildings …
WSU researchers work to improve dairy productivity and reduce disease …
WSU research has made Washington one of the world’s most productive wheat-growing regions …

"Take Five" for WSU and higher education, In the News, The state of higher education in Washington State

What’s the value of your higher education – data will surprise you, and we want to know your story

Scholarships

We enjoy sharing compelling data that demonstrate how higher education is faring in our state. We also like to share compelling information we hope encourages public policy makers to continue reinvestment in higher education in our state. Some of our best posts have been accompanied by story telling activity on our social media sites, including our WSU Impact Facebook page. We hope this provocative data and our request spurs you to reply either on Facebook or on this post. Read on ….

As strong believers in the value of higher education, it is always interesting for WSU Impact to report objective data supporting what many of us have experienced as a WSU graduate – our college degree(s) has brought us tremendous value.

We have heard from some of our WSU Impact members that a college education has made a difference in employment success. Your posts and comments have demonstrated that your college experience paved the way for job satisfaction, positive changes in careers pathways, and increased professional choices. Your personal stories have helped to demonstrate that higher education has led many graduates to high-skilled work, secure jobs, running a business, and delightfully, encourage the next generation to attend college, too.

Recently, we came across a series of new studies that are demonstrating the sharp wage increase and lowered unemployment rate that comes from earning a college degree. One such study caught our eye when it comes to assessing the value of a college degree. In a recent paper, MIT economist David Autor finds that not going to college will cost you about $500,000.

That’s right. Even after you pay for tuition and fees, the net ‘cost’ of your college education is negative half a million dollars – basically, the paper found that attending college is cheaper than free! Now that’s value. 

In addition, data show that the rising earnings of workers with a college education is not only because more high paying jobs are available to those who earned at least a bachelor’s degree, it is also due to the rapidly falling earnings among those with a high school diploma. According to the new data, based on an analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree. That’s up from 89 percent five years earlier, 85 percent a decade earlier and 64 percent in the early 1980s.

The rising relative earnings of workers with a college degree is not simply due to rising real earnings, but is also due to falling real earnings among non–college-educated workers. Between 1980 and 2012, real hourly earnings of full-time college-educated U.S. males rose anywhere from 20% to 56%, with the greatest gains among those with a postbaccalaureate degree (Fig. 6A). During the same period, real earnings of males with high school or lower educational levels declined substantially, falling by 22% among high school dropouts and 11% among high school graduates. Although the picture is generally brighter for females (Fig. 6B), real earnings growth among females without at least some college education over this three-decade interval was extremely modest.

The rising relative earnings of workers with a college degree is not simply due to rising real earnings, but is also due to falling real earnings among non–college-educated workers. Between 1980 and 2012, real hourly earnings of full-time college-educated U.S. males rose anywhere from 20% to 56%, with the greatest gains among those with a postbaccalaureate degree (Fig. 6A). During the same period, real earnings of males with high school or lower educational levels declined substantially, falling by 22% among high school dropouts and 11% among high school graduates. Although the picture is generally brighter for females (Fig. 6B), real earnings growth among females without at least some college education over this three-decade interval was extremely modest. (Source: D.H. Autor. Science, Vol. 344, No. 6186, pp. 843-851. 2014)

 

These studies show that the pay gap between college graduates and everyone else has reached a record high. With income statistics growingly stark about the true worth – or value  of a college education, the data have implications concerning public policy decisions and funding for increasing access to higher education. For the struggles that young college graduates may face, a four-year degree has likely never been more valuable to the long term earning potential of individuals and families – and commensurately, our state’s communities and overall economy.

Please share your own story about the value of your higher education degree. Does your personal experience align with the statistics? Have you leveraged your college education to find a fulfilling career? Do you feel you have received value for your investment in your college degree? What are your thoughts about the data – is it surprising to you and does it influence your attitudes towards the value of a college degree?

No comments yet.

Add your response

You must be logged in to post a comment.