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Worth the Investment? You Better Believe It!

A host of reasons play into which college a student chooses to attend, but for most parents, there is only one goal when you send your child off to school: You want them to graduate. The college experience may provide many benefits to your child (a place to mature, networking and self-actualization to name a few), but without an actual degree, a student has limited opportunities to cash in on their investment (you know, with that good paying job or acceptance into graduate school).

So we know you want your child to graduate and odds are you want them to graduate within four years, but that might not be as straightforward as it seems. Nationally, the four-year graduation rate for students who attend public institutions is only 32.8%1. However, that rate jumps to 52.9% for students who attend Christian institutions. Pause for a moment and let that sink in.

This might be a good time to mention that the graduation rates you typically see are based upon five year data – yes, five – not four. Keep that in mind when you look at individual college information.

So we know that graduation is important, but a degree is only one part of the equation. Now your college graduate needs to find not just a job, but a career.  

You probably don't need any convincing that a degree opens the doors to higher earning potential, but let’s put some numbers to that. According to the 2012 U.S. census data, an individual with a bachelor’s degree will earn approximately $2.4 million over the course of their life, while an individual with only a high school diploma will earn around $1.3 million. Now add higher four-year graduation rates to the equation, and you get a college-educated student who has the potential to start earning more quickly.

One more statistic that you might be interested in is this: In 2013, The National Center for Educational Statistics found that 84% of college graduates between the ages of 25-34 w­­­­ere employed, while only 69% of those with only a high school diploma were employed. Those four-year graduation rates and that higher earning potential really do mean that the sky is the limit for a student.

So what do all of these numbers mean?

Well, the numbers make a pretty clear case that a college degree is a worthwhile investment. Where opinions vary, however, is the assumption that all degrees are the same. For instance, does your student feel safe and satisfied at their chosen institution? Is your child surrounded by people who are a positive influence on their development? Are they encouraged and motivated in the environment in which they are studying? Are graduates finding employment or being accepted into grad school? Do they successfully repay their student loans?

These are all great questions, but let’s start here: Do they graduate?