A recent study conducted by PayScale is taking the nation by storm. After interviewing 248,000 college graduates across three generations (Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers), results were conclusive — two-thirds of graduates have regrets about their college experience with the most common by far being their amount of college debt. With the collective outstanding student loan debt now over $1.5 trillion dollars, this isn’t much of a surprise.
Nearly as many respondents regret their student loan debt (27.1%) as those who have no regrets at all (33.9%). Student loan regrets are highest among graduates who majored in Health Sciences.
It’s Not All About the Money
Two other areas combined accounted for about the same amount of regrets as student loan debt — area of study (major, minor, concentration) and poor networking (failing to network with peers, faculty and alumni) across all subsets.
Interestingly, with the exception of the private vs. public school subset, there was a direct correlation across the board between regrets networking and having no regrets whatsoever. For example, Boomers had the highest percentage of “no regrets” (51.3%) and also had a below-average percentage of regrets regarding networking (8.5%). Similarly, folks who majored in education reported the lowest percentage of regrets regarding networking (5.4%) and an above-average percentage of no regrets (37.3%).
Not surprisingly, the higher the level of education, the fewer regrets when it came to areas of study. Additionally, majors that fall within the STEM fields (computer science, engineering, health sciences, math) proved to come with very few regrets (as low as 4.3% for computer science majors). The groups with the highest percentages of regrets about their chosen major? Humanities (21%), Physical & Life Sciences (17.9%) and Social Sciences (17.6%).
So What Does This Mean for My Kids?
If your child is starting to consider college, deciding on a major, or thinking about graduate studies, asking a few key questions could be the difference between ending up in the lucky one-third of college grads with no regrets and the two-thirds with at least one.
“A person should really ask themselves, ‘why am I going to school?’ If the answer is to obtain a job, I would ask, ‘Is the job you are attempting to get worth the cost of the degree?’,” Certified Financial Planner Mitchell C. Hockenbury of 1440 Financial Partners in Kansas City, Mo tells Parentology. “You ought to think about how much you will make versus the cost of paying for the education.”
*Jennifer Perrow is the founder of JRP Leadership Coaching, which helps business owners and their management teams eliminate overwhelm, manage priorities and create the infrastructure to achieve their goals.