ROI on a college degree

From SRQ Magazine . com February 9, 2019

What is the return to students of their investment of time, money and energy in a college degree?

A lot. On average, the lifetime earnings of a college graduate are at least double those of graduates with only a high school education. This financial advantage, however, accumulates over multiple decades, and many recent college graduates find themselves stymied by high levels of student debt.

In this context, we are pleased most New College students graduate with no debt, and those who graduate with debt have less on average than graduates of any other state university in Florida. We were especially thrilled The Princeton Review just named New College of Florida to its 2019 list of “Best Value Colleges,” ranking us among the top 200 schools in the nation that provide students with exceptional ROI (return on investment).

While ROI is a term more often associated with business investments than with educational institutions, The Princeton Review assigns a high ROI rating to schools that offer stellar academics, affordable cost and strong career prospects for graduates.

As a public institution in the State University System of Florida, we are able to offer in-state tuition and guaranteed scholarships. Our students receive an outstanding education that prepares them not just for their first job, but for jobs they will hold that do not yet exist. We have alumni whose job titles include: User Experience Researcher, Content Strategist, Interactive Designer, and Social Media Manager. These jobs came into existence in the past three decades, thanks to advances in technology.

Nor did these graduates study engineering, technology or business when they were students at New College. They pursued liberal arts majors in the natural sciences, in the social sciences, and in the humanities and arts. In their theses, they explored a breadth of topics, including theology in the literary works of C.S. Lewis, fragmentation and tension in abstract art, comparative methylation rates of nucleic acids, and government instability in Haiti.

At New College, we prepare intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement. By cultivating young people’s natural curiosity, we help them achieve their potential. Ultimately, that’s what a college education should do and it is the true measure of ROI. But it is especially sweet when the investment does not involve taking on debt that will limit career and educational choices after graduation.

Donal O’Shea is president of New College of Florida.

Photo: New College Commencement


Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 800 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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