College = High ROI for the Industrious

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There’s much talk about the value of a college education today.

NBC News has an article on YouTube titled “Growing Number of Americans Questioning the Value of College Education” posted July 31, 2022.
This NBC News article is interesting, but it plays into the rhetoric about college without going into the details. It makes generalizations, ignoring the fact that there are “segments” of college graduates.

When you separate college graduates into two groups: Industrious and non-industrious, you will see vastly different opinions about whether their college degree was valuable or not.


As one who holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from SDSU and a Masters degree from California State University, I will tell you right away, college IS a good investment!

As a municipal recruiter at MuniTemps, I have interviewed thousands of college graduates who have not realized the ROI (return on investment) they expected from going to college.

Some of them may even be angry that they are still paying off student loans (hopefully they’re not counting on Uncle Same to pay their college debts!).
Bottom line: IF YOU ARE INDUSTRIOUS, your college degree is worth GOLD!

The ROI from a college degree is worth $1 million (or much more!) for industrious, hard-working people. This is well documented in the literature.


Don’t be misled by the rhetoric and fallacious statements of people who use statistics incorrectly.

By the way, in college, statistics and quantitative methods are a fundamental discipline you learn to avoid being misled into accepting statements that are generalizations and misstatements of fact.

In learning statistics, you learn to “throw out the outliers”, like the super-rich college flunkies who are used to prove to you that you don’t need college to make it in life, and even become rich!

People like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg, and many other well known college flunkies DO NOT MATTER in the lives of the rest of use “average”, or rather “above average” people who are industrious men and women who CAN realize great benefits from earning our college degree!
I’m not blasting these super-rich guys who made it without a college degree. I’m just highlighting that they are what we call “outliers” in the “bell curve” of statistical significance. They should be removed from our statistical reality and should not influence our decision to earn a college degree.

These outliers are NOT “relevant” to the discussion about the value of going to college. These super-rich outliers create what I call the “lottery winner” fallacy that “get rich quick” people use to buy lottery tickets, gambling their family’s limited resources.

When you tell them to invest their money wisely with a long-term reward focus, they say they prefer to buy lottery tickets.

When you tell them “you’ll never win the lotter”, they say “that’s not true, people win every day”! When you tell them, “yes, but you’re not going to win”. But they reason, “that’s not true, look at the guy who just won a $1 billion dollars in the super lotto”.

That’s what the super-rich college dropouts like Zuckerberg, Spieldberg, and Jobs do to mislead those who think they don’t need a college degree to improve their lot in life.

It’s the lottery winner fallacy that gets people into trouble. There’s just no substitute for hard work and industriousness!


As I said, if you earn a relevant college degree, you will earn $1 million (and likely a lot more) during your working life. However, there are other benefits that are not financial. These non-financial benefits of a college degree can improve the quality of your life:

a. You get to work for a living doing what you “love to do”.
b. You learn to think independently, filtering out fallacious statements and propaganda.
c. You learn to be resourceful, with skills to do it yourself.
d. You learn how to live a healthier, happier life, and to help others too.


Now back to the financial benefits of a college degree. Whatever you time and money you invest to earn your college degree will provide you a positive ROI that could blow your mind!

By age 60, our “average” net worth is about $200,000. But for the “above average” 60-year old, their net worth is over $2 million. For you Finance majors, please forgive me, I know I’m ignoring the “time value of money” analysis in this article, but that’s to keep it straightforward.

I suppose this is a good reason to shoot for “above average”, which is a B grade in college and “exceed expectations” performance evaluation at work! 😊

Actually, I have found during my life that when we set “above average” standards of work, or even pursuing “excellence” in everything we do, our net worth will easily reach (or exceed) the $2 million net worth when you reach age 60.

To put it into more measurable terms, think of how many hours you invest during your 4 or 5 years of college pursuing a bachelor’s degree:

a. 15 units of classes per semester = 45 hours of class/study time per week.
b. 2 semesters per year = 1,400 hours of class/study time invested each year.
c. If you finish your bachelor’s degree in 4 years, that’s 5,600 hours total invested.
d. If you achieve a $2 million “net worth” by age 60, that means you’re paid $357/hour in college.
e. If you achieve $6 million net worth by age 60, this means you were paid $1,071/hour to study.
f. This excludes the higher standard of living you likely enjoyed throughout your life.

My dear professional LinkedIn colleagues, if you haven’t already earned your college degree, go for it! Just keep in mind that your college degree is just a piece of paper that will only provide you the ROI you want and deserve if you are INDUSTRIOUS and you pursue excellence and above-average accomplishments in any task, project, or goal pursue!

John Herrera, CPA, MPA

President / CEO

MuniTemps / Municipal Staffing Solutions

CitySpeak blog podcast

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