Does a College Degree Equal Greater Pay? Answer: It’s Complicated.

Like most of my friends, I went to college for two things: (1) to learn and (2) to gain a more fruitful future. But (1) was my primary motive. I loved learning. I still do. It’s a pleasure in itself.

But the question of whether a college degree equals greater pay came to my attention recently. Don’t look at me. And do look at you. Look to the numbers. They tell a complex story about income and education.

Does attending college equal a greater increase in pay? It depends. There are several things in play, such as what you major in, where you attend college and, interestingly, your background. Yes, your socioeconomic background.

Turns out, where you start in life does impact where you will end up the majority of the time. If you come from a wealthier family and attend college, you will more than likely end up making more money than the person who sat next to you in English 101 who came from a poor background.

There’s also the racial gap. People with darker skin tend to make less than people with lighter skin.

And, of course, women tend to make less than men.

All this means that you can work hard, go to college, succeed in college and still not end up making as much money as someone who was born to privilege. The cards are simply stacked against people who are darker skinned and who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

Does this mean college is worthless? No. Not at all. There is a pay increase in getting a college degree. Plus, if you’re like me, you get to learn and love it.


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