There’s a hot debate going on today about the usefulness of a college education, specifically an expensive four-year degree. Depending on what your career goals are a four-year degree from a top rated college may not be necessary and even an unwise expense.
If we’re honest about the reasons why one college is chosen over another, it’s rarely about the education itself. A young person may want to experience life away from home and the ever watchful gaze of their parents, a moneyed person may want to attend a prestigious school more for the life contacts they will make rather than the education they receive, while another person may chose to attend a certain college because that is where generations of their family graduated from.
Today we have many graduates coming from community colleges with a two-year technical degree that is enabling them to enter the workforce and make as much as their bachelor degree holding counterparts. A recent study from the Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce concluded that nearly 30 percent of those holding associate’s degrees actually make more than those with bachelor’s degrees. Add the additional expense of the four-year college or university and you can see why for some, a technical two-year degree may be a better solution to their educational needs.
However for others, particularly those who wish to excel in the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) a four-year degree from a top college makes a bit more sense. Many employers looking for those experienced in STEM disciplines will seek graduates from schools which they know specialize in their particular field. For example in the field of marine biology which is the study of underwater organisms and their ecosystems, there are several well known colleges and universities such as the University of Texas at Austin, California State University in Long Beach, the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC, and the University of California at San Diego just to name a few.
Engineering is another of the STEM disciplines, one which requires a degree to obtain work. Because engineering covers such a wide field one must choose which branch of engineering holds interest; civil or mechanical engineering, computer engineering, architectural engineering, biomechanical or robotics engineering, the list is quite extensive. Petroleum engineering is an industry on the rise with job growth expected at 26 percent, far higher than many other industries. The median pay for a petroleum engineer is approximately $130,000 dollars annually, which well justifies the cost of a four-year degree. Some of the best colleges and universities for petroleum engineers include Stanford University in California, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Tulsa, and the Illinois Institute of Technology.
No matter which school is under consideration a thorough background check should be included. Check the credentials of the professors, ensure that their curriculum is what you need, and calculate your ROI or Return on Investment; after all of the money you will invest for the education, what can you expect to earn over your lifetime? Run the numbers and make sure that your investment will be worth it in.