The benefits of college depend on the particulars of each person

While the evidence on the economic and happiness benefits is mixed, attending college depends on the particulars of each person.

A child's gifts, circumstances, and career ambitions all affect whether college is the right choice. But, the parents are often more excited that their child will get into college while the child does not want to be there in the first place. While college is the right choice for many, it is good to remember that there is not just one path to success.

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College as an investment

College is often described as an investment in the future. You pay upfront so you can benefit for years afterwards. According to research, as of 2011 a college degree delivered an inflation-adjusted annual return of more than 15 percent, which is a good deal.

However, past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Wage growth is stagnating for college graduates, with average starting salaries increasing by just 1.4 percent from 2015 to 2018.

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Wealth Is A Relative Term

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Millennials and Life Milestones

Millennials still feel pressure to live up to their parents’ and grandparents’ norms, even if those expectations really aren’t relevant anymore. They were born into a very different world than the one their parents knew, and navigate it in a very different way:

  • They’re getting married on an average of seven years later than their parents.
  • the age women first give birth has consistently risen over the past 40 years.
  • They are, on average, better educated than previous generations.
  • They’re entering the workforce later, so they start saving for homes later

The big technical leap of the 1930s could not have happened without the devastation of the depression. However, there is a limit to stress-induced innovation: The foundations of the economy itself should remain intact to support new ideas and innovations.

This balance between a disturbance in the economy, while the foundations of the economy remain intact, has only happened a few times in modern history: the period from 1930 to 1945 and in 2020.

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