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Can Money Really Reflect The Value Of College Majors?

Can Money Really Reflect The Value Of College Majors?

Starting a college education is an exciting decision that can enrich your life for decades into the future. There are many ways to look at the value of a college education, including money and personal growth. If you are concerned about the years of effort and expenses required to obtain a post-secondary education, give yourself the benefit of reviewing the value of advanced study.

1. Engineering Majors Earn The Highest Incomes

For students who are interested in maximizing their income, engineering is an excellent choice. Engineering majors tend to earn more than many other graduates. In fact, some specialized engineers (e.g. petroleum) have earned +$90,000 salaries upon graduation according to a Wall Street Journal report. For those who enjoy the precision of science, math and engineering, there are many wonderful ways to make an excellent income and make the world a better place.

According to The Hamilton Project, engineering majors tend to earn over $2 million over the course of their careers. In contrast, English Language and Literature majors tend to earn $1 million over the course of their working career.

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Lifetime Earnings By College Major (The Hamilton Project)

    2. Reduced Likelihood of Unemployment

    Unemployment is an unpleasant experience by any measure. Not only do you have the prospect of lost income, but you also have to contend with the unpredictable job search process. The unemployment rate for college graduates in the US peaked at about 4% in 2010 according to a Business Insider report.

    Avoiding the anxiety and discomfort of unemployment is a significant benefit! According to Robert L. Leahy, director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy, “Research suggests that being unemployed doubles a person’s chance of a major depressive episode and that unemployment is also highly associated with domestic violence and alcohol abuse.” (source: Unemployment takes tough mental toll, CNN).

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    3. Increased Access To Six Figure Jobs

    Earning a six figure income is one of the rewards available to college graduates. For example, most project managers with six figure salaries have a four year degree. Other highly paid careers such as medicine, law and engineering also require a college education. While there are significant numbers of people earning high incomes without a college degree, it is a much more difficult to earn a high income.

    4. Understanding The World

    For many fields of study- including the liberal arts and social sciences – you gain a much deeper understanding of the world. My university studies focused on history and it enhances every aspect of my life. Whether I’m seeking to understand the latest revolution, the economic forces that influence our choices or the impact that leaders have, history has enriched my life deeply. My knowledge of history also enhances my enjoyment of travel and ability to understand different countries.

    If you are studying the social sciences, humanities or another field that prompts your friends and family to ask “what are you going to do with that?”, don’t worry. Smart motivated people who understand the world usually find good opportunities.

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    5. Improved Critical Thinking Skills

    Improving the quality of your thinking and reasoning skills is one of the greatest benefits you receive in college. In writing an essay, you acquire the habit of evaluating evidence and contributing your perspective. In a science class, you learn how to collect and organize data and other tools of the scientific method. These skills protect you from being taken in by people who play fast and loose with the facts. Developing effective critical thinking skills is a life long activity, get started now with 9 Ways to Train Your Mind to Think Critically.

    6. Prepare For Life As An Active Citizen

    The freedom to vote and participate in politics is a great responsibility. The broad perspective you earn from college studies – especially those in the liberal arts and social sciences – make you into a better citizen. Richard Sigurdson, former Acting Dean of Arts at The University College of the Cariboo, emphasizes the broad social and personal benefits of studying the liberal arts in his essay Why Study Liberal Arts?

    A liberal arts education will enhance your knowledge and improve your understanding of the world and its people. Many say that knowledge leads to wise action, perhaps even to goodness. Thus, an Arts education may help you to perceive and to understand your shortcomings, allowing you to become a better citizen, friend, spouse, parent, human being. Arts courses often enable students to reach beyond their own experiences and imagine worlds far distant in time and space. By opening your eyes, ears and mind, a good Arts education can strengthen in you the virtues of tolerance, sympathy, and respect for others.

    7. College Graduates, Regardless of Major, Earn More Than High School Graduates

    On average, earning a four year college degree significantly increases your income over the course of your life. This finding has been proven again and again by numerous researchers. Additional higher education tends to result in higher incomes. The chart below comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

    Earnings and unemployment rates by educational attainment, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

      Featured photo credit: Trinity College Dublin/Gigglekid via pixabay.com

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      Bruce Harpham

      Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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      Last Updated on July 10, 2020

      The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

      The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

      Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

      Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

      Identifying All of Your Debts

      The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

      Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

      1. Own Your Debt

      Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

      Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

      2. Make a Debt Tracker

      It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

      Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

      3. Get Your Debt Number

      Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

      Prioritizing Your Debts

      All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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      1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

      Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

      There are three main types of bad debt:

      • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
      • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
      • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

      Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

      • Student Loan Debt
      • Mortgage Loan
      • Business Loans

      2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

      Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

      Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

      If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

      3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

      Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

      Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

      Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

      1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

      “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

      It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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      Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

      Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

      2. Hide Your Credit Cards

      If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

      Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

      3. Automate Everything

      Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

      4. Plan Ahead

      Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

      For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

      5. Live Cheaply

      The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

      • Live with roommates
      • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
      • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
      • Take public transit or bike to work

      Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

      The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

      If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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      1. Maintain a High Credit Score

      Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

      • Never miss a payment
      • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
      • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
      • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
      • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

      2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

      Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

      Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

      If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

      How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

      Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

      1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

      Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

      Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

      2. Earn More Money

      There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

      Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

      Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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      Talk to Your Boss

      Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

      Start a Side Hustle

      This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

      Build an Online Business

      There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

      3. Celebrate Your Wins

      As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

      While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

      4. Set New Financial Goals

      Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

      Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

      These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

      Conclusion

      Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

      Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

      More Tips on Getting out of Debt

      Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

      Reference

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