The ROI Factor

Will college pay you back?

Today, the average cost to attend a public university per year is $21,000. At a private university it is $48,000. The truth is, evaluating the Return on Investment or ROI of your college decision is more important than ever. 

I’m sure you’ve heard of the term ROI as it pertains to business – perhaps on The Social Network or from binge-watching Shark Tank. In any case, you don’t have to be Mark Zuckerberg or Mark Cuban to make smart choices with your time and money–especially when it comes to one of the most expensive decisions of your life.

Determining how much a degree program will cost compared to the earning potential of your intended career is the way to establish the ROI of different colleges. But don’t forget to look at the school’s job placement rate.

Thanks to the Princeton Review’s annual reports, you can view the top 25 colleges according to their career services offices, and you can look at the median starting salary for various careers. 

Sometimes it isn’t as much about the ratings as it is the resources available to you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your prospective school’s career services office and placement programs. 

And yet, as important as ROI is, be sure to choose a college with a learning environment that will inspire personal growth, nudge you outside of your comfort zone, and encourage you to try and pursue new things. The college experience will lead you to discover your highest potential. You are, after all, your greatest investment, and discovering what you want to do in life is the greatest return. 

Finally, while I’m a big proponent of a four-year degree, I also realize it’s not right for everyone. So whether you finish college in four years, attend a trade school, learn online while you work a part-time job, or join the military, remember this: The best ROI depends on obtaining the appropriate education related to your career field. Your goal is to get a quality education at a cost that provides high value for the long term.

For more on choosing the right kind of education for your career goals, check out my new book, The Modern Guide to College, at