This morning I read an article about college degrees with the lowest “return on investment.” Among those listed were degrees in sociology, theology/religion, fine arts, education, and psychology.
It is no surprise that median salaries in fields related to the aforementioned studies/degrees are not in the top income bracket. I also know that not everyone chooses a field of study and a degree based on earning potential. However, I’m stuck on the concept of “return” as monetary.
Granted, this degree-to-salary ROI is pragmatic and serves a useful purpose in career-planning. The financial reality of the cost of living comes as a mind-bender to young people who haven’t explored such facts of life.
I’m not taking issue with the reasons for examining the ratio of earnings to cost of degree. I am, however, ruminating on what is considered a good “return” on investing in a college degree.
If a degreed woman chooses the role of stay-at-home mother over a career outside the home, how would her ROI be determined? Would she need an income—let’s say from her spouse—for the investment in her college education to be deemed a positive return? Would the amount of income from the spouse determine the value of her ROI?
If an individual with a degree in religious studies earns only a small stipend while he builds a school in Africa to educate previously unschooled children, is his ROI negligible?
If a social worker with meager income from a non-profit organization establishes a food pantry that feeds hundreds of hungry persons in the community, would the ROI on a degree in social work be determined solely by earned income?
If a person with a degree in business, finance or accounting never realizes an income within the projected salary range for those studies, would this be viewed as a negative return and/or a bad investment?
I can see that I’m mixing apples and oranges—value of degree vs. value of education; “return” in terms of dollars vs. successful effort, personal satisfaction, and making a difference.
I’m just ruminating.
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