This article examines the benefits of a university education, including increased earning power and the personal transformation that this educational experience brings. It goes on to compare the earning power of some disciplines but warns that one should not attend university and pursue a specific career solely based on the prospects of increased wealth.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Careers, business studies

Key Questions to Explore:

  • What does a university education have to offer?
  • Is it worth the price?
  • On what should I base my decision on what to study?

New Terminology:

Social sciences, humanities

Materials Needed:

Copies of the article for students

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

As the cost of a university education goes higher and higher more people are asking if the expense is worth it. Research shows that a university education increases the earning power of an individual and some degrees prove more financially beneficial than others. This comes as no surprise; these observations have generally been accepted as valid for a long time. On the whole, engineers make more than ocial scientists or humanities grads and fine arts students have the most difficult time. However, a university education offers more than financial potential. The experience can be personally transformational and can open doors to new horizons and interests. It is difficult, therefore, to determine the value of a university education based solely on potential earning power. It is also important to recognize that this experience is not for everyone and other avenues offer paths to personal growth and financial success. This lesson, therefore, will use the article to have the students reflect on these issues and to decide for themselves if they think the university route is for them.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Once in these groups have the students discuss the following two questions:
  • Divide the students into like groups based on their suggested post-secondary plans.
  • Make a list of the various routes that are suggested.
  • Begin the lesson by polling the class on their intended post-secondary educational plans.
    • How much is it going to cost to complete my studies?
    • What educational and personal growth opportunities will this give me?
  • Allow the groups time to discuss these two questions and prepare their response.
  • Once they have finished have the groups identify their chosen field of pursuit and what they believe the total cost will be to complete their program.
  • With all of the groups having responded, it should be apparent that a university education is the most expensive.
  • At this point, combine the class into two groups – the university-bound group and those who have chosen other avenues.
  • Have these new groups take a few minutes to review their smaller group responses to question two and prepare a more comprehensive response.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Conduct a full class discussion during which each of the larger groups explains what educational and personal growth their chosen path offers and compares it to the other group’s response.
  • Stress with the students that this is not a debate about which route is better but rather a discussion about what each path has to offer and the costs involved.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will be able to:

  • Explain the costs of certain chosen paths of post secondary education.
  • Outline the benefits of those paths.
  • Explain that a university education is not for everyone.
  • Offer an opinion as to whether or not a university education is worth the expense.

Confirming Activity:

  • Once the students have completed their large two-group discussion provide the students with a copy of the article and allow them time to read it.
  • Once they have read the article ask them if it changed or reaffirmed their ideas.
  • Conclude by surveying the class to see if there is any consensus that a university education is worth the costs for those considering that post-secondary route.