For every person who tries to analyze the ROI of a college education, there's another opinion piece that's published that criticizes the notion that something as noble as education should be evaluated based on monetary gains.
No one should be criticizing an honest evaluation of the value of a college education. Claiming that such evaluation is off limits is harmful to the students who end up paying the bill (for many years after their graduation).
The polarized nature of this debate is not constructive. There are many factors that have to be analyzed for students who want to make a good decision. Price and future salaries are part of that analysis.
Any arguments to the contrary are best left for philosophers and policy makers because it has little to do with the daily reality of most people.
Dealing With Reality
Whether or not a student's educational choices should be limited by their finances, the simple reality is that 99% of students are limited by this finite resource. So while others simply wish for this not to be the case, we will focus on helping students get the best education with the money they do have.
Salary in Context
The salary you are likely to receive upon graduation from a college is a relevant factor to be considered, but more so in the context of whether or not it aligns with the cost of the degree and the other outcomes that come with obtaining it.
A life spent amplifying your unique strengths and sharing them with the world is a good life indeed.
A college that helps you do that is a good fit.
One that leaves you with a mountain of debt that prevents you from doing that unless you postpone the pursuit of your dreams isn't.
Making a good salary and experiencing all of those other hard-to-measure factors that educators and policy-makers consider important are not mutually exclusive.
But if you have two options that provide a similar quality education across a broader array of other factors, how could the starting salary of graduates not be a relevant factor to consider?
There can also be wide discrepancies in outcome depending on what major a student wants to study, whether or not they plan on attending graduate school, and where they plan on living when completing their education.
That's why every attempt to compare colleges should always be highly personalized to each student's unique needs.
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