Is college worth it?

In 2010, in the middle of the Great Recession,
when many college grads were selling shoes or delivering pizza,
some people asked:

Is College Worth It?

The answer is


Consider these differences:
Median earnings 2008*
H.S. graduate: $33,800
4-year degree: $55,700
*Median earnings means that half of each group earned more than this amount, half earned less. Source: College Board

Unemployment rate in 2009, people 25 and over
H.S. graduate: 9.7 percent
4-year college degree: 4.6 percent


to make college pay, you must be smart about:

  • Money

  • High school preparation
  • College choices

In this special collection of articles and essays, ThreeSixty Journalism gives teens important facts, stories and tips to help you navigate through the important choices ahead.

College's biggest challenge can be paying the bills

Congrats on getting in to college! Now send money

“Study hard. Go to college,” is the mantra of many parents to their children. Although some teens worry about getting in, many don’t realize that the biggest challenge of college isn’t always admission or academics, but simply being able to pay for it.

Emily Samano

Paying for college – my parents helped

My parents agreed to pay for four years of my college. They did not want me to be in debt after college.

Mary Durden

College leads to unexpected paths

Mary knew college would expose her to new ideas and opportunities, but the future she chose there surprised her.

Why teens give up on college

A teen gives up on college

A comic strip by Anna LaFavor sketches the moment a teen can lose hope of going to college.

Dymanh Chhoun

Not an academic superstar? College still an option

Dymanh Chhoun wasn’t an academic superstar in high school, and he also didn’t borrow a lot of money for college, but he’ll accomplish his dream this spring of graduating with a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Minnesota.

Jessica Kue

Mistakes were made, but Jessica returned to college

My senior year in high school was basically just a party. Honestly, I skipped a lot, thinking it wouldn’t affect my college future. I would give anything to start over.

Solomon Anderson

Paying the bills -- scholarships and pinching pennies

Solomon Anderson, a computer science major at St. Thomas, thought managing his money in college would be tougher than it’s turned out to be. He shares his secrets about making paying his bills easy.

Girl overrun with input about her college decision

Not sure what you want to be? Research can help you decide.

Through research, Sinthia discovers a career choice she thought was the right one might not be for her.

Maya Parker artwork

Borrowing money for school? Know what it costs you

For every person who dreams of going to college, there is the reality check of how much it’s going to cost.

Mariah Davis

Need money for college? Fill out the FAFSA.

Intimidated about filling out the form for college financial aid? Reporter Mariah Davis breaks it all down.

Decrease cost of college by earning post-secondary credits in high school

Four programs available in many Minnesota high schools can help you earn college credits before you even know what college you’re going to. The challenge is figuring out what the programs are and which one is best for you.

Break down of a financial aid award letter

Probably the most important letter your college will send you to will be the financial aid award letter.

Lisa Fan

Where to find scholarships for college

Lisa used four popular websites that other teens had recommended: Fastweb, Cappex, Collegeboard and

Maya Parker artwork

How to get as many scholarships for college as possible

With college tuition rising each year, high school students everywhere are looking for ways to pay for college without building a huge pile of debt.

College grants are free money

Like scholarships, grants are “free money” because you don’t have to pay them back.

Working at college can help pay for school

If you are a student looking for ways to fund your college education without taking out loans, a good financial aid option to consider is work-study.

Ruby Thompson

Meet the teen artists who illustrated ThreeSixty's Feb/March magazine

Five teen artists from the Twin Cities lent their artistic talents to ThreeSixty’s third quarterly magazine and online package of stories about college Is college worth it?