The Oz-onomics Podcast

Is a College Degree Really Worth It?

February 28, 2020

My podcast discusses the benefits, and few drawbacks, or receiving a college degree. It discusses the cost versus the rate of return, along with other benefits to getting a college degree. It also discusses the benefit of a degree over going through a technical program.

Podcast by: Elizabeth Evans



Kate: Hey everyone. Welcome to Oz-onomics, a podcast created for and by students in introductory economics classes at SUNY Oswego.

GABRIELLA: In this series, we'll have discussions about various economic principles and how they apply to our day to day lives.

KATE: Are you ready?

GABRIELLA: Let's go.


Hello, my name is Elizabeth Evans, and today my podcast will be about whether a college degree really pays off. A lot of people say that a college degree is not worth the money, or the time that it takes to receive the college degree, and that you really don't make that much more money with a career requiring a degree. This simply is not true. With a college degree, you can earn a lot more money than those without a college degree. People who have a bachelor's degree generally make anywhere from $17 to $22,000 more per year than someone with just a high school diploma. People with a bachelor's degree make 84% more over their lifetime than a high school graduate. They are also four times more likely to be employed, and the unemployment rates in the United States are the lowest for those with a bachelor's degree. Although college tuition costs have risen 260% over the last 40 years, and the U.S. student debt is over $1 trillion. It is still worth getting a degree. Obviously, there are some degrees that make more money than others. So you have to make sure to choose wisely!  Many jobs now require a degree. But there are also a lot of benefits to having a degree that don't have anything to do with job requirements. Having a degree will give you access to more opportunities, not only through jobs, but also through life experiences, learning inside and out of the classroom, and job advancement at your current job. Better jobs also means access to better health care benefits with as much as healthcare costs now in the United States, it's very important to have good benefits and a really good job. Usually those supported by a degree will have better health care benefits for you and your family. If you have one piece with a bachelor's degree or higher also reported higher job satisfaction.

Again, a bachelor's degree or a higher degree can give you opportunity for more jobs in the market, or advancement at your current job. If you're looking to move up at the same company, a degree can also give you more job security. During a recession, unemployment rates are far lower among college grads. And when companies are looking to let people go, they're going to keep people with the most experience and the most education. Having any degree helps you build and maintain a professional network, both through your contacts at your school and through work. You will be happier with your work and your job selection, especially if you spent a lot of time working towards a degree in that specific field. And you can also have higher self- satisfaction because you put a lot of effort into that degree and you accomplished something that will help you for the rest of your life. The risk is definitely worth the reward and so is the cost of a college degree. Some people say  the technical training is better, it is faster and it's much more affordable. But technical professions, such as a plumber, or an electrician,  are not as in demand as college degrees right now. They also have not been proven that they make more money over the course of a lifetime. A college degree has been proven to be paid off in 12 years, sometimes less. If people want to put more money towards their degree, they can obviously pay  it off quicker than normal. If a person who has a degree worked for only 32 years of their life, which is much shorter than the average work lifetime, then they will have 20 years of solid earnings after paying off their degree. If you take the lowest amount of money, the $17,000 more a year that they earn over those without a degree. That means that they can make at least $340,000 more over their lifetime than someone who only has a high school diploma. These figures are also just for someone with a bachelor's degree, those numbers would most likely be even higher for someone with a masters or a PhD. The opportunity cost of not getting a college degree is much greater than the actual cost of a college degree. You will not have as much access to job opportunities or advancements in your current career. You may be stuck in a dead end jobs where you there's just nowhere to go and you're stuck making pretty much the same amount of money for your whole lifetime because you won't get very many raises, you will lose out on some important life experiences, as well as important benefits such as health care, and job security, which is also very important if you have a family. These added benefits that really don't have anything to do with money. Make getting a degree alone worth it. So anyone who says that getting a college degree in today's world is not worth it is definitely wrong. And college degrees really do pay off


MICHAEL: There you have a folks on another edition of Oz-onomics, where economics becomes easier for Oswego students to understand where you get your money that you pay for your tuition worth. If you feel like being ahead of the curve, grab a seat, grab your phone, shift your fingers left and right. And download Oz-onomics on the podcast app. See you later.

The introduction to this podcast was provided by Kate Soanes and Gabriella Schaff. Michael Kolawale provided the outro. Music by Lobo Loco.

Show Notes

Capelli, P. 2015. Will College Pay off? -

Does college pay off? Tuition costs vs. earning power-

Knerl, L. 2018. 10 reasons why a bachelor’s degree is important. Northeastern University.

Lobosco, K. 2017. Average college degree pays off by age 34. CNN Money. -

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