The Wall Street Journal reports that while going to college remains a profitable proposition over time, value is steadily shifting from four-year degrees to programs offered in community colleges. Although it has been the received wisdom that any four-year degree is valuable, new research implies that unilaterally investing in a bachelor’s C without consideration for that merits of the school granting the amount C no longer provides the return on investment it used to.
Choosing a school has turned into a little easier for college students and families since a number of states publish first-year earnings of graduates from state schools. In some cases, the states publish a breakdown by major too, and those looking at the data can gain some surprising insights.
For example, in Tennessee, graduates from some college programs C especially those in technology C can outearn holders of bachelor’s degrees within the very same field.
Take graduates in health professions from Dyersburg State College. They not only finish two years earlier than their counterparts in the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, they also earn $5,300 more, on average, in their newbie after graduation.
In Virginia, graduates with technical degrees from vocational schools make $20,000 more in the first year after college than do graduates in a number of fields who get bachelor’s degrees. Yet high-school seniors are regularly told that vocational schools are for college students who can’t hack it on a four-year campus.
And that\’s without taking cost into account. Considering that college programs charge a small fraction of what a four-year school charges, the main difference in value can be immense. In addition, community college graduates go into the workforce 2 yrs earlier than their peers who choose to enroll in a four-year school, padding their overall earning advantage.
Earning potential in the first year post-graduation isn’t the only thing to consider when selecting schools. Vocational schools also generally have an advantage when it comes to the amount of student loans graduates carry when they leave. Comparing education choices isn’t a straight-forward proposition, however the U.S. Department of Education recently released two tools to make the job easier for families.
The U.S. Education Department’s College Scorecard website can help you figure out where to get “the most bang for the educational buck” by compiling federal data collected from colleges. Collegerealitycheck.com in the Chronicle better Education allows for quick and easy comparisons between colleges on measures families should weigh during their search. It includes early-career salaries for college graduates from payscale.com, that are self-reported by people that use the site.