Want to make a cool million more? Get a degree

The Brookings Institute compared the return on investments in bonds, gold, real estate and education. Assuming you are positioned to get a degree and a long career afterward, they found that getting a degree is just about the best investment you can make.

“On average, the benefits of a four-year college degree are equivalent to an investment that returns 15.2 percent per year. This is more than double the average return to stock market investments since 1950, and more than five times the returns to corporate bonds, gold, long-term government bonds, or home ownership. From any investment perspective, college is a great deal.”

Based on U.S. Census data reported in 2012, a worker with a bachelor’s degree will earn $1 million more over their lifetimes than a worker with only a high school diploma. While college is expensive — let’s say $40,000 to $90,000 for a four-year career at a decent public school when you add up costs of housing, board and tuition — it can be far more expensive not to earn one, and that’s not mentioning all of the non-monetary benefits that higher education can offer — better writing and critical-thinking skills, a social network, work and leadership experience and self confidence.

Some say “College isn’t for everybody,” but it’s hard to argue there’s anything that does as good a job at preparing millions of people every year to work and lead the next century.

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