Print

Three quotients to measure an education's return on investment

By Catherine Mueller

February 01, 2017

Hint: It's not about making more money in your lifetime

The amount of money we make in our lifetime is just one way, albeit an important one to many people, to measure how well we've done in our careers. For some people, the return on investment (ROI) from higher education is measured in ways other than looking at earnings.


Having trouble viewing the image? Click for a larger image

This might be where you have to decide what you consider important. What are your personal values? If money is one of the things you highly value – and don't get me wrong, there are a lot of good reasons why people want to make a lot of money – then the money measurement can be a good way to determine if your education was worth it.

However, there are other ways to determine if your education was worth it, including:

  • Cultural Quotient – What cultural events – theatre performances, historical sites, art exhibits, poetry readings – have you enjoyed because of your education? There are probably some perspectives or insights gained through some of the courses you took that help you understand and appreciate cultural events. You may even find yourself seeking out cultural events in your community to learn more because of the appreciation you gained of the arts while in college.
  • Social Quotient – What people have you met as a result of your education? Your fellow students, professors, administrators, and other contacts you made through college enrich your life in countless ways. Many of those contacts cold help your career but others may become lifelong friends.
  • Logic Quotient – What problems or situations have you been able to manage because of your ability to think clearly? Some might say that your ability to reason is one of the most important benefits of higher education. In any case, education teaches you to analyze, to think critically, and to question (or to not question) the world around you.

These ways are somewhat difficult to measure (some might say they are priceless). Nonetheless you may want to consider them, along with your salary, when deciding if your education was worth it.