How a College Education Increases Lifetime Earning Potential - J.T. Allen

In Chapter 16 of 17 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, education entrepreneur J.T. Allen answers "What Has Your Work in Education Taught You About the Value of a College Degree?"  Allen references a study detailing how a college bachelors degree, independent of major, creates significantly higher lifetime earnings than simply being a high school graduate.  J.T. Allen is the CEO and co-founder of myFootpath, a company that provides higher education online resources and call center services to help high school and adult learners choose academic programs in line with career goals.  Before myFootpath, Allen worked in strategy consulting for Ernst & Young.  He earned his BBA and graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.


Erik Michielsen:  What has your work in education taught you about the value of a college degree?

J.T. Allen:  A recent study just came out that a bachelors degree, you’ll earn in your lifetime 80% more than you will if it’s you know if you just have a high school diploma and it’s over a broad set of people, it’s – so the sample size is big enough where it’s really meaningful.  The study actually went further on to say, it doesn’t really matter what you major either, right?  It’s sort of all kind of plays out in that, it’s really either bachelors degree or not, right?  There are certainly pockets within that study where and you know how you can get to careers where you’re earning more and that type of thing but in general it doesn’t matter that much. 

So I’m a believer and I believe that study, there are probably six other ones that predate it, that say the same thing, you know in some form or another.  Bachelor’s degree equals more money and I think that that is a critical distinction that it is – that really accounts for the market, right?  Meaning you know the averages, right?  Sure there’s going to be people who will -- don’t need to go to college you know Bill Gates didn’t go to college, right?  You know he dropped out, guess what?  He’s exceptional.  Most people are average.  Face it and you know you want to give yourself the best odds, right?  So the way that you can kind of improve your odds in a known way is to go to college and get your degree.