Not all college degrees or all college graduates are created equal. On average, the benefits of a college degree outweigh their costs. However, in “Should Everyone Go to College?” Brookings Senior Fellow Isabel Sawhill and Stephanie Owen argue that it is important to compare the return on investment by other variables, such as choice of major and college selectivity, in order to better assess whether or not a four-year degree will significantly improve an individual’s future earnings.


  1. Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney, "Where is the Best Place to Invest $102,000 – In Stocks, Bonds, or a College Degree?"
  2. (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, June 2011).
  3. Mark Schneider, "How Much Is That Bachelor’s Degree Really Worth? The Million Dollar Misunderstanding," (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, May 2009).
  4. Tiffany Julian, "Work-Life Earnings by Field of Degree and Occupation for People With a Bachelor’s Degree: 2011," (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, October 2012).
  5. Frederick M. Hess, Mark Schneider, Kevin Carey, and Andrew P. Kelly, "Diplomas and Dropouts: Which Colleges Actually Graduate Their Students (and Which Don’t)," (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, June 2009).