Pay me $200,000 and I will provide you with a flimsy gown/garment thing and a piece of thick paper with writing in two languages. Oh yeah, and a cool hat. Like thing.

And it will the best investment you will ever make.


This week, a big deal – rightfully so – was made in some circles that the unemployment rate for folks with a bachelor’s degree is now at its HIGHEST POINT EVER. The jobless rate, in November, for Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree is now at 5.1%, the highest rates since records were first kept in 1970.

That’s not good news, but if anyone wants to draw the conclusion that it’s not worth getting a bachelor’s degree, how about these statistics:

The jobless rate for those with a high school diploma was 10%.

For those without a high school diploma, it’s 15.7%.  How about this tag line:

Want to cut your chances of unemployment in half?  Get a bachelor’s degree.

Okay, but what about making money?  I just gave you $200,000 for a flimsy gown and a piece of paper – how do I get that back – with interest?

Glad you asked.  According to U. S. census data, the lifetime earnings of the average individual with only a high school diploma is 1.2M.  For an individual with a bachelor’s degree, it’s 2.1M.  For an individual with a Masters, it’s 2.5M. 

That’s an average lifetime gain of $900,000 on a $200,000 investment. (And I’m using a relatively high investment number here – if you attend any public institution or most private institutions, or receive financial assistance, your financial investment will be much less.)

But here’s the kicker – While actual results may vary. they’ll probably be better.  As I said, that $200,000 figure is probably on the high side.  Also, that $900,000 figure is based on current (actually, already outdated) data.  It would be an incredibly sound economic assumption that the person graduating college in 2015 or 2017 will earn even more.

I started this article with the thought that I would discuss financial aid. But I think that will become next Wednesday’s theme.  Because I need to stress this first: Financial Aid is meant to be just that – an aid; assistance in making the college degree a reality.  But be careful about how much influence it plays in making the final decision as to which college to attend.  I understand that sometimes it has to play a bigger role than you would like.  But always remember that – in the long-term – choosing a school that meets your needs will pay far, far more dividends in the long run.

And flimsy hats can look kind of cool.

Flimsy Hats Can Look Cool

As always, I welcome your comments, your ratings, your Facebook posts and your emails.  I can be reached at, on Facebook at “College Counseling for the Rest of Us”, on Twitter @MichaelCCR and by cell at 908-403-3819.