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UC San Diego was recently ranked fourth among 850 public universities for potential return on investment, comparing increased earnings expectations to the cost of education, a recent salary report from the website PayScale.com reports.

There are a few caveats, however. First, the report considers that a student pays the in-state resident cost of tuition. The university, however, has in recent years followed a trend among other schools in the University of California system to bring in more foreign and out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition rates.

There’s also consideration to be made for the availability of preferred majors. Although, for example, UCSD boasts a nationally-recognized biology department, a lack of funding has caused the campus to limit the number of students enrolling in the major.

Further, tuitions are on the rise at the school, and a popular “transfer admission guarantee” that allows local students to complete some of their undergraduate-level courses at the community college level is set to come to an end in 2014.

Still, the PayScale report shows that an average graduate can expect to earn $647,100 more than a comparable high school grad over a 30 year period, an annual rate of return of 10.8 percent on the degree.

According to the report nearly two-thirds of the undergraduate population receives need-based tuition assistance, and 45 percent of students receive federal Pell Grant funds for low-income students.

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Visduh Dec. 29, 2012 @ 11:35 a.m.

These studies are always just so interesting, and end up creating more questions than they answer. How anyone can claim to come up with a ranking of universities based on ROI for the money spent is even harder to understand. In this case, all types of students, and all majors are lumped together, and that just cannot work. Where the emphasis of the major is purely occupational, we all know that different occupations are rewarded differently, with some commanding far more prestige and compensation than others.

All this is against a background of assumption that if education is good, more education is better, occupationally speaking. There has always been reason to doubt that, and that doubt is growing. Flooding a shrinking job market with steadily increasing numbers of university grads cannot have a happy outcome. The job market is shrinking because we make far fewer things than ever, can outsource technical work to places like India, and are keeping the economy going with borrowing. The bitter truth is that many of these grads, whether they be from Harvard, UCSD or SDSU, will not find occupations that require their educations, and they will be most disappointed. Meanwhile those who eschewed that four-or-more years of classroom time and who started into occupations that we still need and cannot outsource may find themselves far better off. Oh, I know that turns the old paradigm on its head, but that's the current trend. A bright young person can find that working as a plumber, A/C service tech or installer, body and fender repairer, automotive technician, or a host of blue-collar occupations will lead to more job security, more job mobility when it is desired, and better pay, I feel sorry for all these bright and industrious young people who have qualified themselves for professional work and will not find it.

Let's just remember that past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into a prestige university degree--especially if you go in debt to get the funds--is no sort of guarantee of a good life to follow. It never was, but now more than ever, look before you leap.


Javajoe25 Dec. 30, 2012 @ 11:16 p.m.

I hear that. What we have here in the US now is the most educated unemployed people in the world. What burns me is how the cost of education in this country has increased and the programs to help students out have been reduced.

Even this concept, which I agree is pretty much nonsense, of ROI, as if the school is a private company and not an institution dedicated to educating the population for the benefit of society, is repugnant. I feel the more we view colleges as organizations to be measured by standards such as ROI, the further we stray from the original intent and purpose of education. I wonder how people would feel if we rated corporations by how well they educate their employees?


Visduh Jan. 1, 2013 @ 11:42 a.m.

Agreed in the main. Two things need to be remembered. The first is that most students head off to college for occupational reasons--few would do it if they knew they would just end up better educated, but not more employable. So, education for the sake of being educated is not a concept that is widely embraced in the US. The second is that most of these universities that have some prestige have it, not because of the educations they provide, but because of their research, their "distinguished" faculties, and their leading positions in the world. The students, especially the undergrads, are a necessary evil and a distraction from their real mission. (That's odd because many of those universities in the US are state-supported and the taxpayers are willing to provide the support so that their young people can get educated. The UC is a perfect example of that.)

As long as the public thinks that better employment and thus better lives come from getting a degree (or multiple degrees) students will continue to flock to places like UCSD, go into debt to pay the fees and for books and for a place to live, and not complain. Is that era coming to an end? I'd say so, but I've been wrong before, and maybe the current faith in education as the way to occupation will continue unchallenged.


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