As the media focus on the proposed “human infrastructure bill,” including the proposal for a free community college, a recent Bankrate.com report on the most and least valuable university majors has caught my eye – and, if you’re college-related, you should be very interested in the report.
Before we move on to the report, we should go over some of the college-related issues we have addressed in the past, given the high cost of colleges these days and the growing problem of excessive and unaffordable student debt.
First, it is important for each student to determine whether college is really the right decision for them, based on things like their interests in studies and the like, past academic achievement, finances, work ethic, etc. It’s important to remember that ambitious and hardworking Americans in the trades can make a good living, and they had no college expenses and no student loan debt. I saw and heard a newspaper article last week that reported that truck drivers were starting out with salaries of around $ 50,000. Plus, in many other trades, you may be paid through apprenticeship programs while you learn the trade.
Second, if college is the right direction, look at how you can minimize college costs and any student loan debt. One solution is to consider 2 + 2 programs (two years of community college with credits that you can transfer to a four-year college or university where you can complete your education and specialize).
That’s why I have no problem with a free community college proposal FOR TRULY ELIGIBLE STUDENTS, with some accountability for student performance, if that proposal is what the American taxpayer public is for.
Third, if the goal is to earn a college degree, it’s critical to look at the financial return on investment (âROIâ) of any degree, as well as the ability to pay off any student loan debt, so that you can , in fact,, achieve all of your financial, life and career goals in life. I know money isn’t everything, it never was for me, but it’s something to take very seriously.
In this regard, as we have discussed so often, it is essential to research the average salaries in the career you are considering, and I like to say for the first five years of that career.
That said, here are some of the highlights from the Bankrate.com career report that may or may not surprise you.
The study ranked 159 majors based on several factors relating to degree holders (weighting in brackets): median annual income (70%), unemployment rate (20%), and career paths that do not require a high school education. -beyond a baccalaureate (10%). Architectural engineering ranks as the most valuable college major, while visual and performing arts are the least valuable.
– Architectural engineering majors earn a median annual salary of $ 90,000 (tied for 17th) as well as a low unemployment rate of 1.3% among graduates (9th best). The percentage of architectural engineering majors with a graduate degree (29.3%) is also relatively low (45th lowest), meaning architectural engineering graduates are less likely than many others to be incur the additional expenses and / or deferred income of a graduate degree.
– Those with a visual and performing arts degree earn the lowest median annual salary ($ 35,500) and face an unemployment rate of 3.6%, the 17th highest of all majors. Additionally, 28.7% of visual and performing arts graduates invested in a graduate degree, over 41 other majors.
– The top five most valuable areas of college study are: architectural engineering, construction services, computer engineering, aerospace engineering, and transportation science and technology.
– Bottom of the rankings includes: clinical psychology, composition and speaking, dramatic and theatrical arts, miscellaneous fine arts, and visual and performing arts.
– The prospect of a high salary is not everything when it comes to assessing the value of a specific academic specialization. For example, nuclear engineering – tied for the fourth highest median income among graduates ($ 100,000) – fails to rank among the 25 Most Valuable Majors (27th) due to an unemployment rate of 3.7% among graduates (15th highest). In addition, about half (50.6%) of nuclear engineering graduates obtained a graduate degree (41st highest).
– In addition, a graduate degree does not always translate into higher earnings. Four of the five majors with the highest percentage of graduate degrees (ranging from 73.5% to 94%) do not earn a top 50 median salary.
You can view the report at https://www.bankrate.com/loans/student-loans/most-valuable-college-majors/
While we’re on the subject of college, the Wall Street Journal recently released its 2022 ranking of U.S. colleges.
Rankings are based on 15 key metrics that assess colleges in four areas: results, resources, engagement, and environment.
The results represent 40% of the weighting and measure things like the salary graduates earn, the graduation rate, and the debt burden they bear. For this indicator, the best schools should come as no surprise. They are: Princeton, Yale, Duke, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Cornell, California Institute of Technology, University of Chicago and Dartmouth.
The top ten schools overall include many of these schools, but also Brown, Johns Hopkins and Northwestern.
My alma mater, Georgetown, was number 32 out of 500. Local colleges include the University of Rochester (# 52); RIT (# 154); Saint-Jean Fisher (# 320); and Nazareth (# 377).
You can and should see the report at wsj.com/collegerankingsreprint.
On a final topic, as Americans begin their holiday shopping, it appears that the “Buy Now, Pay Later” trend is increasing, especially among those who don’t have a credit card or have bad credit scores. and less than stellar credit reports. Reports and research indicate that retailers have higher sales and profits as a result, although the fees they incur, often between 3% and 5%, are often higher than credit card fees. If you are going to buy now and pay later, make sure you understand the interest or charges that might be due for late or missed payments.
John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo.