Your life choices matter, and the first major life choice people make largely for themselves is the choice between going to college or entering the workforce. It’s the choice than will financially decide their future more often than not. And, frankly, a lot of young people have been indoctrinated into making that choice without any real thought.
4-Year Degree vs. Skilled Trades
OK, to start with, this chart seems off to me in its details, though the premise is sound. The average debt accrued for a baccalaureate is $32,000 – $59,000, not $90,000. I also, if we’re going for numbers which are both more conservative and, IMHO, much closely matching “Blue Collar” salaries across the US, I’d set the starting salaries in the $12 – $18/hour range.
As I said though, the premise is still sound. Having earned $117,060 – $150,500 over 4 years is a lot better than having earned nothing and having accrued $32,000 – $59,000 that you will, presumably, have to repay at some point. The tradesman, after 4 years is $149,060 – $209,500 ahead of the college graduate in total earnings and on his or her to establishing a life.
And, BTW, that college graduate most likely won’t catch up anytime soon. The average salary for someone with a 4-year degree is $69,368 compared to the tradesman’s $64,770, but for an average of 20 years that graduate will be loosing on average $2,880/year in loan payments, bringing his or her effective income to $66,490, a meager $1720 more than the tradesman. That means it will take well over 50 years before the graduate “catches up” to the total earnings of the tradesman. This is literally more than the span of time – 40 – 50 years – most Americans work.
And remember, these numbers and predictions are based upon my believed-to-be-corrected and lowered numbers. If the chart is closer to being correct than I am, for either debt accrued or salaries, it’s even worse for the college graduate, who could be almost $315,000 in total earnings behind the tradesman.
Honestly, people need to make informed life choices instead of blindly following the government’s propaganda that has pushed getting a college degree as the primary and preferred, if not only, means of being successful since at least as far back as the early 1960s.