A College Degree Doubles Earnings

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that lifetime earnings for college graduates equates to double that of those who did not go to college. Earnings increase with the level of degree earned. Having a degree can certainly open more doors (and bank accounts) compared to not having one.

Earnings chart

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Surveys, March 1998, 1999, and 2000.

Right before the fall of my senior year in college, I channeled all the wisdom I had accumulated in my 21 years and came to the brilliant conclusion that I would be better off working out in the real world than staying in school and completing a degree in English literature. After all, I had not chosen the education/teaching option and what jobs would there be for someone whose only skill set included writing poetry and reading Middle English aloud? Besides, my grades had already proven that I was not suited to a future in business or programming, so I quit college and entered the realm of the minimum wage worker. 

I met the requirements for hire by K-Mart which really meant I was pleasant, friendly and appeared to be trainable. Over the years, I worked my way up from cashier to cash-cage clerk to small appliances manager, earning the occasional and coveted raise of 25 cents more per hour. The four years I spent there were an education of a different type. In addition to learning how to work with and serve a truly diverse population of people who literally came from all walks of life, I learned how to serve customers, compare previous sales cycles to that of the current year, project sales, and plan seasonal inventory purchases. I learned, in real life, all about the "bottom line." When I returned to college to complete my degree, I understood and appreciated the value of a four-year degree.


Z. Kelly Queijo is the founder of SmartCollegeVisit and a frequent contributor to Handshake 2.0.

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