This article is taken from the book "5 things Every Student Should Know Before Choosing a College." You can download the book for free here.Perhaps you heard this term watching The Social Network, or maybe you’ve gleaned your wisdom from binge-watching Shark Tank. In either case, you don’t have to be Mark Zukerberg, Mark Cuban, or even Jay Z to ensure you make smart choices with your time and money. Return on investment (ROI) is your first step to choosing the college of your dreams. College is costly; that almost goes without saying. In fact, it is difficult to research colleges without encountering data about the extensive amount of debt college students accrue over the course of their education. While the facts don’t lie, there is much more to the story of college loan debt.
Future salary for those who earn a Bachelor’s degree varies by major, yet the stats are clear that gaining any four-year degree equates to better earning potential than those with a high school diploma or two-year Associate’s degree. The average salary for college graduates has increased over the past decade, which means getting a degree has never been more beneficial.
So how do you choose the right college with the right degree program? Simply consider the ROI. How much the program costs compared to the earning potential of your intended degree is a great place to start. The internet is full of available tools to help you determine what you could make post-graduation. This simple tool provides a quick view of average salary potential by degree, while other websites like salary.com help you determine how much you can make based on job type and location.
Now that you know how much you can make after college, it’s time to compare that to the cost of the program. Most schools make tuition costs and financial aid information readily available on their websites. Another great resource are websites like consumerfinance.gov which offer cost comparison views of different schools. Think trivago.com but for universities. Don’t forget to research the important facts: what scholarships are available and do I qualify? What other sources of financial aid does this school accept or provide?
Nothing quite says ROI, however, like a school whose students are highly employable after graduation. 95% of education majors at Southeastern University, for instance, find jobs before the beginning of the next school year. Other schools boast high retention rates or an emphasis on career placement in a specific sector of society. If you want to ensure your success, find out how easily students graduating from your prospective university or degree program find employment.
If you’re still unsure about what you want to study in college, all is not lost. Search for universities with great career placement programs or that offer a wide range of academic options. Find schools that have a great overall rate of job placement in all of their academic programs, not just one or two. Or find an environment that will inspire you toward growth and get you outside of your comfort zone, encouraging you to try and pursue new things. Maybe, just maybe, college will be the road that leads you to discover your highest potential. You are, after all, your greatest investment, and discovering where you want to go in life is a significant return.
This article was taken from the book "5 things Every Student Should Know Before Choosing a College." Download the full book for free here.