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Infographic on the Cost of College

How students finance and view their education in visual form.

Photo of Kaye Han

Written by

Full Infographic Here.

This infographic created by Citigroup and Seventeen magazine surveyed 1000 students to get their take on everything related to their finances and college life. You can read the full article on Huffington Post here

80% of students learn about money from their parents. A good question is, are they learning the right things from their parents?

34% of students learn about money from schools. This is shockingly low considering that high-schools constantly prepare kids for college, yet they don't teach a big part of it - how do you pay for it?

Roughly 40% of students don't use any kind of budget for their finances. 

An interesting take away is that although 61% of students feel that college is more expensive than they expected, 94% still feel that it is a worthwhile investment for their future. 

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Do students currently studying have an accurate perception of their situation? 83% of students believe they're well prepared for the workplace for success; do companies and employers feel the same way about graduates? Where else are there areas where students have a misconception about their situation compared to reality?


Join the conversation:

Photo of Wasim Khawja

Another thing to look at regarding the satisfaction students get from going to college is what they studied. A lot of college graduates look back and regret the major they ended up with. Here's an article on Regrets About College :

Photo of Deepak Patel

Hi Rob,

I was also interested in the rising cost of education as related to aid and inflation, and the need for many to work while attending. I discovered this calculator provided by the US Department of Labor to use as a reference:

It allows the conversion of the value of the American dollar based on time. I found it very interesting when comparing past costs to current value of education.

Here are some statistics posted by the US Department of Education:

As you can see, a 4-year institution had an average cost of $4,406 in 1982, historical dollar value. That converts to $10,864 in 2015 dollars. In contrast, the US minimum wage in 1982 was $3.35. That is $8.26 in 2015 dollars.

When my parent's tell me they were able to afford college while working part-time, I now am able to comprehend how they accomplished it.

I hope my insight was informational and interesting to you!

Photo of Kaye Han

Hi Deepak, thanks for sharing those statistics. Yes, the times have certainly changed. What I would like to emphasize is that the U.S.'s education system, and its problems, are not shared by other places around the world. Tertiary education is definitely affordable in Australia and in other places it's practically free. So this problem is certainly solvable.

I believe you could actually post your findings as your own post rather than just in the comments of this post. But

Photo of Kaitlin Strange

Wow, these numbers really do tell a story. Like Christopher, I never really had a chance to learn about finances until I was out of my undergraduate degree. Most colleges will have mandatory classes on Western Civ., Humanities, Science requirements, or Communications. I wish students were required to take courses on some of the more real-life (sometimes mundane but extremely helpful) challenges like personal finances, saving for the future, paying off credit cards, filing taxes, applying for jobs, and navigating the health care system. I'm all for education being a place to explore and grow and at the same time prepare individuals for responsible and sustainable adult lives.

Photo of Kaye Han

That's some great points, Katie. I think I was an idiot back in school because for the most people I didn't see these things as important. It's funny how we over-value things like specific theory taught in one of our classes rather than general life perspectives and skills. There's an obsession with learning things that improve us on the surface with immediate short returns, rather than focusing on the stuff that improves us fundamentally with limitless returns over the long run.

I guess this issue is, how do we first get people to start caring about it? Haha, but maybe that's a bit off challenge topic.

Photo of Jennifer

I am currently pursuing my undergraduate degree and do not feel fully prepared for the real world. Of the many mandatory courses I've taken, one of the most useful was BA 101, a mandatory business class (only 1 credit hour). It has been extremely helpful in terms of job hunting preparation. It teaches you how to create a resume and cover letter, correspond professionally with recruiters, and how to network and attend career fairs. You also learn how to prepare for interviews and even complete a mock interview with constructive feedback.

Many of my non-business major friends have expressed interest in completing a similar course. They feel they have a lack of knowledge and are not prepared for the job search because they have not had the same experience.

I would love to see more mandatory courses offered like BA 101 that prepare you for the real world and address issues like you mentioned (personal finances, saving for retirement, filing taxes, etc.) in detail. The long term value will outweigh the small time commitment and ensure everyone is ready for the real world.

Photo of Kaye Han

Hi Jennifer, thanks so much for sharing your story. That definitely sounds like an interesting class that would provide benefit to a lot of students. Even the most prepared students will learn a thing or two in a class like that. I think another issue is that students very rarely have clear idea of how the business/real world works. This really makes it hard for them to succeed in job interviews because they don't have the capability of seeing the situation from the other side of the table.

What was the biggest learning you had from the BA 101 class?

Photo of Jennifer

Hi Rob. My biggest takeaway from BA 101 was how to properly interview, a skill that will be valuable throughout my career. This included tips on dressing professional, being prepared with company research and questions and tailoring your responses to the specific position you applied for to best show your results from past experiences and future value if they were to hire you.

At the end, we had a mock interview with an alumni that closely simulated a real interview for additional practice. Afterwards, we received feedback on what areas we could improve in. The set up mirrored a real interview, but gave students a chance to fix mistakes in a low risk environment.

Photo of Kaye Han

That definitely sounds like a practical and applicable learning experience. I wish I had that in my university time, but I suspect that I would have blown it off as 'useless' as I did with most things. Looking back, it'd be good to have known what really was useless and what is vastly important. On reflection, I feel I had it back to front on almost all situations lol. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jennifer!

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Great post Robert!

I think your point about perception is very well-taken and from many posts this idea of figuring what are the "objective facts" (assuming something like this exists) vs. what are the perceptions.

On your questions about the perception of the employers, a few insights emerged at our NY openIDEO meetup:

Photo of Kaye Han

Thanks, those are some interesting contributions you posted as well. It's good to get insight from ground-zero - the students themselves! :)

Photo of Christopher

This lack of financial awareness was definitely me during my undergraduate years. I could have been much better with my money so I can see how this would be helpful.

Photo of Kaye Han

I think this is the case for most people, not even just in university haha. To this day I'm sure I'm still very bad with my money hahaha.