New website gives first-year earnings of state college grads

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Earning a college degree is supposed to increase your earning potential. Location and available majors are factors which can help high school seniors choose which college they want to attend, but what about how much you'll earn after graduation?

The College Measures website is capable of calculating earning power, and it takes a look at how these numbers could affect where students pursue a higher education.

This new site was released by the Colorado Department of Higher Education. In it, parents and students can see the median first year earnings of recent grads across the state who stay and work in Colorado. State officials hope the site makes it clear college is an investment which will pay off when it comes to future earnings.

From science to journalism, engineering to business, choosing a major can be overwhelming.

"For me personally, I still don't have it quite figured out," Colorado Mesa University freshman April Nelson said. "I still have five options that I’m looking into."

For some, selecting a degree is more about passion.

"[Writing is] a way to impact a lot of people in a short amount of time," CMU freshman Seth Buist said of his degree.

No matter how you ultimately choose, however, your paycheck after graduation is something to consider.

“With where we're at as far as the economy right now, everyone looks at what's going to pay," Buist said.

"If you have two bigger dreams, you're probably going to choose the dream where you're going to get paid the most," Nelson added.

The College Measures website was introduced for students to evaluate career earnings potential for a variety of degrees across state colleges.

"[The site has] not only the career opportunities, but the earning potential that is related to those careers," Central High School counselor Misty Sellden said.

For high school counselors like her, the site can be used as a tool to help students have a more realistic idea of what to expect with certain careers. Sellden says post-graduation life and salary is something they push students to think about when choosing a career path.

"Are you going to have some student loans, are you going to have some debt from college and then when you graduate, what does that look like?" Sellen said.

Schools say the site can also encourage a second look at different types of degrees. For example, Associate of Applied Sciences degrees earn about $7,000 more than bachelor's degree programs in state.

Colorado Universities varied when it came to first-year earnings medians and Bachelor’s degrees, with the University of Colorado Boulder leading both Colorado State and Colorado Mesa.

Even still, some students say the website would have influenced them less on which college to attend, and more on which major to study.

"I’d rather do something that pays less than do something that pays more that I hate," Buist said.

Ultimately, the site gives students something else to think about when deciding where to go with their futures, and state officials hope the site reiterates that an investment in a college degree is one that pays off.

"As long as I have a college degree, I’d feel pretty comfortable with wherever I’m at in the future," Nelson said.

Overall, the site also found across the state median first-year earnings of bachelor's degree recipients was about $39,000. Bachelor's degrees in health and business earned more than liberal arts degrees.

For more information about the report or to look up a specific state college, you can click on the link below.

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