Schafer: Gender still plays major role in value of a degree

  • Article by: LEE SCHAFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 29, 2013 - 10:15 AM

It only took a glance to know that a ranking of return on investment for degrees from 22 Minnesota colleges and universities was wrongheaded. That’s because it had St. John’s University on top.

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elynn1Aug. 25, 13 4:52 AM

So the two populations have different earning power for "the same degree, eh?" Since when is "global business leadership" the "same degree" as psychology or communications? Of course the two populations have different earning power. They aren't taking the same majors. Now, you can ask why that is, but calling it "the same degree" is what's wrongheaded. You think employers don't notice the difference between "B. A., communications" and "B. A., global business leadership" on a resume? You're stuck in the days when any college degree at all would do for entry into the good life. Those days are over. Which major you take on matters.

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TobsterAug. 25, 13 8:37 AM

Agree with elynm1. I would also point out that there's a trend of women outearning men now. Right now, it's mostly college-educated, single, childfree women. But that could, and probably will, change to a wider female demographic as time goes on. In other words, society isn't the big, bad, wolf that feminists (and apologetic journalists) would have you think it is when it comes to financial compensation.

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mn2niceAug. 25, 13 8:38 AM

I wonder if it isn't also true that some of the reasons why an individual chooses one major over another may have to do with personal choices based on that individual's likes and dislikes, scores on various career aptitude or assessment tests, and so on. Also, people's interests change during life, sometimes resulting in a return to school to earn another degree, which may or may not be in line with one's first degree. But this article raises some very interesting issues and I dare say merits more investigation.

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teguzcoAug. 25, 13 7:46 PM

Odd that what should stand out for you is the difference between lifetime earnings for Johnnies and Bennies. What jummped out at me was the fact that the article wasn't truly reporting return on investment, but simply lifetime earnings. No deduction was made, even for the investment. When I used the standard formula for ROI (return-investment/investment)I got an ROI of about 5.4 for St. Johns and 14.3, as I recall. Clearly, a U of M was a better investment. That held true even when one simply subtracted 4 years of tuition and books from lifetime earnings.

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jgmanciniAug. 26, 1311:03 AM

"What jummped out at me was the fact that the article wasn't truly reporting return on investment, but simply lifetime earnings. No deduction was made, even for the investment."-----------The article does make a deduction for the investment. Here's what it says in the article: "The investment return for a degree...meaning the lifelong earnings premium of a college degree less the cost of attendance..." You are correct that they should have used the standard ROI calculation to end up with a rate of return, not a dollar total. But, to be fair, they did take the investment into consideration.

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lowcrawlerAug. 27, 13 1:54 PM

While I think the difference is simply gender and society based.... I think they are overstating something: that the _only_ difference between the graduates and schools is gender. That's simply not true. The schools might have the same academic programs, but balance of the school experience for the two is considerably different (though as the years move on, has become increasingly similar). Further, the personality of a female that chooses St. Ben's is very different than the personality of a male that chooses St. John's. There are only, what, 4 all-male schools in the country... whereas all-female schools are relatively common. St. John's and St. Ben's are different institutions, offer very different experiences, and appeal to very different personality types. It makes sense that the graduates would earn differently.

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