The ROI of Higher Education

The ROI of Higher Education

It’s a fact. Going back to school takes a lot of resources, including time, energy, and money. Though your career may be in full swing and you feel comfortable with your lifestyle, you may also be wondering where completing a degree fits into everything. Whether you’re considering furthering your education in order to advance your career or shift gears completely, there’s no doubt the decision may fall to the back burner of your life. If you are still on the fence, we understand there are many questions and concerns. We’re here to explain the multiple benefits of returning to school—including the return on investment you are expecting.


Q & A

No matter what stage of life you’re in, you’ve probably questioned how higher education can fit into your everyday life. Before making the commitment to further your education, consider these top questions you may face:

  • Can you achieve the credentials you are seeking?

Taking a courageous leap and recommitting to your education comes with some notable benefits. As a result of going back to school, expect an increased earning potential, potential promotion, lower unemployment rate, and an expansion of your personal brand.

However, don’t go back to school to just make yourself more marketable. The big picture is that people with master’s degrees earn 18 percent more than those with simply an undergraduate degree, depending on their field. The pay gap changes drastically between those with a four-year degree compared to those with only some or no college experience at all. In many fast-growing professions a graduate degree is essential.

  • Is it worth the time and money?

Unfortunately, you may have to give up a portion of your free time on top of maintaining a work-life balance. Though there is a lot at risk, MHEC suggests you know your endgame and your goal upon graduation. This could be something along the lines of building on the skills you’ve developed in one profession and transitioning these to another career path.

  • Will my job permit me to return to school?

Before you commit to enrolling, it’s best to talk to your boss to discuss your interest in furthering your education as a strategic career decision and to gauge their thoughts. Depending on your job, some companies will pay for your tuition or a stipend of the cost in order to encourage career advancement.  A completed undergraduate or master’s degree can lead to a personal promotion or a value-ad for the company. Similarly, if you’re interested in a lateral move in your current company, start the conversation sooner rather than later with your current boss and the desired department.

  • How long until I see a return on my investment?

The best way to figure out your return on investment for education is to run through an ROI evaluation before making your decision. First, calculate your potential income change, and then determine how long your school investment will take to pay off. If you are able to recuperate your investment in five or fewer years, going back to school is a great choice for you. This can be determined per occupation and is based on the assumption that everything will go as planned.

Degree Outlook

You may be wondering which degrees are the most fruitful. With the amount of time, money, and effort school takes, it’s best to know that you will be getting something out of it. One of the most lucrative industries that promises ROI is Engineering. Petroleum engineers as a group fetch the highest median salary: $120,000. This is mainly due to the difficulty associated with the job and how few engineers are out there.

Engineering student using large drill at the university

Besides engineering, only two other majors top the ROI charts with job security and competitive pay. Those being, Pharmacy/Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration ($105,000) and the combo degree of Math and Computer Sciences ($98,000). One way to distinguish between majors and degrees is by doing research of the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to see the pay rates. Midlothian’s key industries are well suited for a knowledgeable and skilled workforce in engineering and computer sciences with our leading manufacturing industry.

Going back to school is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Before enrolling you should carefully consider your lifestyle,options, and whether you will get the ROI you seek. With the Midlothian Higher Education Center, you can receive help with planning your degree path, learning whether night or online classes will work for you, and gaining extra guidance on matters like tuition or scheduling. MHEC wants you to know that you have options. Taking the first step toward furthering your education and advancing your career starts with you. We’re just here to help you get there.

More Tips for Adult Working Students: