College has long been a respected and often pushed avenue for financial success. In many families it is simply an expected step in the educational lifecycle. In other families it is an unnecessary expense, with some preferring to pursue trade school or other employment opportunities. Have the attitudes regarding the importance of college changed? Has enrollment in postsecondary education changed in the past 20 years?
According to the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics, enrollment for both men and women increased steadily until around 2010, and has been in a slight decline since. There is a distinct difference in the number of men vs. women that are enrolled in postsecondary education. Do they value education differently?
According to recent Spectrem Group research, men and women think relatively similarly regarding the importance of a college education. When asked on a 0-100 point scale, with 0 being not important and 100 being very important, men ranked the importance of getting a college education at a 84.13, while women ranked it at a 85.95.
Parents often place a different importance on a college education than children. Among those wealthy investors who have children, 87 percent feel that getting a college education is very important. Among those who do not yet have children but plan to have children that percentage drops to 64 percent. That percentage is significantly different between men and woman, with only half of men who anticipate having children feeling that it is important, while 80 percent of women who expect to be parents feel that a college education is important.
Ninety percent of investors with a net worth of $5-$25 million and have children feel that getting a college education is very important for their children, while 82 percent of investors with a net worth of $100K-$1 million feel a college education is very important for their children. Those percentages are significantly different among those who have not yet had children. Seventy-one percent of those investors with a net worth of $100K-$1 million feel a college education is important. This is in stark contrast to only 33 percent of investors with a net worth of $5-$25 million who feel that a college education for their future children is very important.
Wealth also plays a role in what various types of higher education parents would consider for their children. Investors at lower wealth levels are more likely to consider a technical/trade school or junior college, while those investors are higher levels of wealth are more likely to consider a four-year public or private university.
Education carries various levels of importance based on many personal beliefs. It is important to discuss funding options with a financial professional for those investors who feel that postsecondary education is important. For those wanting to achieve higher levels of wealth in excess of $5 million, an advanced college degree may be worth pursuing, as those ultra-wealthy individuals are more likely to have an advanced college degree.