The Value of Our Degree

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, 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.

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8 Responses to The Value of Our Degree

  1. kristenih says:

    With only 2 months left before graduation, I have often thought about this same subject. It’s scary after being in school since I was 3 ( almost 20 years), to have to step into the real world and build a career out of my degree. Especially in the times we are living in! I agree with you that the value of our degree will pay off. I have no doubt that my degree will offer many opportunities, but how long will it take and what will a “rookie” be offered? I just hope that my student loans will not eat up my income.

  2. allund says:

    I have wondered about this as well. School just seems so natural now. What will it be like to not have homework? haha but seroiusly it is a scary real world out there and thanks for the optimism in the post it is greatly appreciated.

  3. cconeder says:

    I think about this all the time, and as I get closer to graduation it’s only becoming more scary. I feel I have learned a lot, not just classroom materials, but in general about the real world and how to deal with actual important situations. It will be so weird to not go back to school in the fall, and I hope I can find a job that I like which relates to what I have been studying all these years….but don’t we all? Also, thanks for the optimism, it helps to hear we’re not alone!

  4. sekane says:

    I have figured out one of the really special things about PR and our degree is that we learn real world, relavant, everyday things. I walk around all day thinking about whether or not a sign attracts my attention. I think about slogans for everything. I think about media effects and I find myself loving what I’ve learned. In contrast with history, which I dislike very much, I value our degree in that we make PR what it is and that everyday it is a useful tool in our lives. We are going to get jobs, somehow, someway, and I am sure our degree will help us out.

  5. jejepson says:

    Since I am graduating in May, I am constantly thinking about the future. I have begun to wonder if my degree will be worth anything after graduation. Have I worked so hard for the last four years to just move back in with my parents? Given the current state of the economy, I also seriously question where my future is going to take me. I am glad to know that there is some glimmer of hope for finding jobs with my degree!

  6. sbushaw says:

    I feel like having a degree will give me some type of base to build upon…but as graduation approaches I’m probably more freaked out about my loans. I have so much debt from college it’s insanity…I just keep reminding myself that I’ll get paid for something that I enjoy doing, which is much better then being stuck doing something that makes me feel miserable.

  7. haleypetersonasu says:

    VERY IMPORTANT TOPIC! It is very unfortunate that many of us are graduating as such a tough economic period. It is also is even more disheartining that PR starting salaries aren’t exactly the greatest.

    I will agree with you in that PR is fairly broad field and could probably help many of us graduating seniors out in finding a job in many fields. I personally do not believe I will stay in PR..who knows.

    You always have to remember, what comes up must comes down and the OPPOSITE also applies…the economy is almost as bad as it can get. Hopefully we will see a turn around in the next couple years. By the time I’m 25 maybe our economy will be thriving? Positive thoughts…positive thoughts…

  8. kparma says:

    You make a lot of valid points. Graduates with degrees in journalism don’t make a whole lot starting out. However, I think it also depends on what kind of company you’re working at, location of your job and the kinds of responsibilities you have. I have also been told that after five or so years in the PR profession, professionals make way more money. I also think our degree in journalism and mass communication will allow us to get other jobs, such as advertising, if PR isn’t something we don’t want to do down the road. It’s hard to be optimistic about what’s going to happen after graduation considering the economy but hopefully the future will be much brighter.

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