It’s pretty frustrating to be a college senior right now. Despite the fact that we have worked for the last four years to earn our degree, and we have done the same amount of work as people who graduated from the Cronkite school last year, the odds are we are going to have a harder time finding a job than they did. The fact is, we are probably graduating at the worst possible time to find a job in the last 75 years; and with the economy tanking, everyone is putting more thought into how their money is being spent, including myself. With that in mind, I’ve been thinking alot about my biggest expense (college), and if it truly is worth the cost.
As an out-of-state student here at ASU, the cost of tuition for the 2008-2009 school year is just under $18,000 (it is a little different for in-state students). Even though that is under the national average for four-year private schools (which is just over $25,000, according to collegeboard.com), it is still a pretty high price to pay for a state school. Because I have accumulated a fair amount of debt for student loans over the last few years (like many other students at ASU), I am going to have to get a decent paying job in order to support myself and pay back those debts. So what is the entry-level salary like for a college graduate with a degree in Public Relations?
Well, according to an article released by CNN, it’s not very good. As a matter of fact, it’s horrible. Accroding the article, the salary for an entry-level PR professional is lower than any other major, with $30,667 annually. In contrast, economics majors top the list with an average of $52,926, and nursing majors comes in second with $52,129. If that article tells me anything, it’s that the education that I’m getting isn’t worth it.
However, I think that there are a few things about those statistics that are misleading. First of all, I think that there are a lot of different fields for people with PR degrees to go into that have vastly different salaries, so I think that it is hard to say an accurate average salary for that degree. An entry-level position at a non-profit organization is most likely going to be making a lot less money than someone working at a large PR agency. Also, we are fortunate to be in one of the best journalism schools in the country. Although it seems like I hear that all of the time and I have not had much to compare it to, it’s hard to imagine a student in a different journalism school getting a better education in media than we are getting. I honestly feel that I am going to be qualified to take on a number of different jobs, and I think that the skills I’ve learned at this school will allow me to contribute to anyone who hires me in a number of different ways.
On top of the specific skills that we are learning in the journalism school, there are a number of other benefits to a college education. According to a blog I was reading on MSN, the average person with a college degree makes almost $23,000 a year more than the average person without one. Over the course of a lifetime, that adds up to more than a million dollars, the author said. Plus, there are a bunch of other benefits of a college degree that don’t even focus on money, including:
· A longer life span.
· Greater economic stability and security.
· More prestigious employment and greater job satisfaction.
· Less dependency on government assistance.
· Greater participation in leisure and artistic activities.
· Greater community service and leadership.
· More self-confidence.
So, in the end, while it may be a lot of time and money right now, the money we are paying for our education today is an investment that will pay for itself over the course of our entire lives.