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Cool new tool enables students to compare degrees, salaries across Georgia colleges


The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement has rolled out a very cool tool that every high school student should check out. And their teachers and parents.

The nifty career calculator allows students to see earnings by degree type, program of study and public postsecondary educational institution. The official name of the computer program is the Georgia Higher Learning and Earnings dashboard.

Among the takeaways that GOSA notes in a companion research report:

  • As students increase their level of education, their wages tend to increase. These differences become more pronounced as more time passes after graduation.
  • Earnings vary dramatically by program of study and college.
  • Within program of study and college, wages tend to increase after five years but at varying rates.
  • Among the most popular programs of study, fields relating to medicine are consistently amongst the top earners relative to other popular degree categories.
  • Business-related bachelor’s and master’s degrees have higher earnings relative to other popular programs of study.

Let me add another takeaway: If you get into a prestigious public college in Georgia, go.

Gaps in earnings exist not only by degree, but by campus. More academically competitive colleges yield higher wages for their graduates. I've had teens tell me they don't want to attend Georgia Tech because they don't want to work that hard. They ought to compare earnings from a Tech degree with other schools in the state.

In playing around with the dashboard, I selected a bachelor’s as my degree and business, management and marketing as my field of study.

Here is what the GOSA dashboard advises me about my earnings prospects:

Bachelor's Degree in Business, Management, & Marketing (Statewide)

* Median earnings are $33,636 one year after graduation and $46,442 five years after graduation.

* There is a $12,806 increase in median earnings from the first to fifth year.

* One year after graduation, earnings are $4,767 higher than the statewide median for Bachelor's degrees.

* Five years after graduation, earnings are $5,608 higher than the statewide median for Bachelor's degrees.

Note the increase in earnings when I drill down from graduates statewide to those who graduated the University of Georgia:

* Median earnings are $39,786 one year after graduation and $60,050 five years after graduation.

* There is a $20,264 increase in median earnings from the first to fifth year.

* One year after graduation, earnings are $10,917 higher than the statewide median for Bachelor's degrees.

* Five years after graduation, earnings are $19,216 higher than the statewide median for Bachelor's degrees.

And see the even higher return when that degree comes from Georgia Tech:

* Median earnings are $44,694 one year after graduation and $61,913 five years after graduation.

* There is a $17,219 increase in median earnings from the first to fifth year.

* One year after graduation, earnings are $15,825 higher than the statewide median for Bachelor's degrees.

* Five years after graduation, earnings are $21,079 higher than the statewide median for Bachelor's degrees.

However, the salary seesaw goes the other way, too. A business, management and marketing degree from Fort Valley State University earns less than a comparable UGA or Tech degree.

* Median earnings are $20,187 one year after graduation and $25,725 five years after graduation.

* There is a $5,538 increase in median earnings from the first to fifth year.

* One year after graduation, earnings are $8,682 less than the statewide median for Bachelor's degrees.

* Five years after graduation, earnings are $15,109 less than the statewide median for Bachelor's degrees.

Among the majors with the least earning potential in Georgia:

Bachelor's Degree in Visual & Performing Arts (Statewide)

* Median earnings are $16,552 one year after graduation and $30,759 five years after graduation.

* There is a $14,207 increase in median earnings from the first to fifth year.

* One year after graduation, earnings are $12,317 less than the statewide median for Bachelor's degrees.

* Five years after graduation, earnings are $10,075 less than the statewide median for Bachelor's degrees.

Bachelor's Degree in Area, Ethnic, & Cultural Studies (Statewide)

* Median earnings are $18,053 one year after graduation and $29,301 five years after graduation.

* There is a $11,248 increase in median earnings from the first to fifth year.

* One year after graduation, earnings are $10,816 less than the statewide median for Bachelor's degrees.

* Five years after graduation, earnings are $11,533 less than the statewide median for Bachelor's degrees.

I looked at earnings from certificate and technical programs and found the science, computing, construction and engineering-oriented credentials pay well; some others do not. So, make sure your kids opting for technical schools consider the salary potential.

Play around with the dashboard and let me know what you think. It is straightforward and easy to use.

 


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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.