If a college degree costs a fortune and sometimes has a questionable ROI, you might be tempted to forego school and play the lottery instead. Last week, the American Powerball lottery hit $440 million, which is enough to pay for four years of full tuition and room and board at Harvard for approximately 6,981 people. With numbers like that, one might wonder whether playing the lottery is a safer bet, as it were, than going to college. This past August, Investopedia crunched the numbers, comparing long-term investing to playing the lottery. Investopedia reported that an average, non college-educated person would spend, on average $250 a year on the lottery. Yet if that same person were to just invest the same amount of money in an IRA, and if historical stock market trends continued, that same person would have more than $30,000 USD. Not bad, right?
While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional “idiot tax” (as my dad was fond of calling lottery tickets) and the ensuing daydreams that can happen when you’re holding a destined-to-lose lottery ticket, it’s clear that informed financial choices win out, time after time. And one of the best ways to ensure that you are in a position to make informed financial choices is to get a college education. Despite bad press and scorn for those who major in esoteric subjects like the consistently beleaguered Women’s Studies, college degrees almost always increase lifetime earnings (that is, how much money someone earns over the course of their lives), usually by about one million dollars compared to those without such degrees. Some counter that it is barely worth it given the cost of college, but until the overall cost of four years in college exceeds a million dollars, it is still a positive return on your investment.
College degrees, no matter what the subject, expose you to a network of people. Even those much-despised art or whatever degrees give you valuable skills in research and writing, which will help in virtually all careers. With a degree and the hard work it entails, you are showing potential employers you can stick with a tough commitment and see it through. Sure, nobody can predict the future: Maybe an enormous asteroid will wipe out the entire earth tomorrow (and perhaps we would have known about it if you had majored in astronomy. THANKS!), but one of the best things you can do for yourself is to earn a degree (And to do so ideally on time, with good grades, and with minimal debt). Keep your eye on the prize – and the prize is not a winning lotto ticket. Completing the degree is important, and you should make it your absolute highest priority. Sometimes that might mean making a tough choice between socializing and working – or outsourcing and socializing.
Unemployed Professors understands, and is here to help you increase the odds that your investment will pay off! Post your college project today and see how we can get you closer to that credential.