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Specifically, senior editor Derek Thompson was looking at the schools with 20-year net ROI of worse than negative-$30,000. (In other words, not going to school at all would be $30,000 more valuable than attending these colleges.) The top three on the list:
1. Shaw University: -$121,000
2. Fayetteville State (Out-of-State): -$95,7000
3. Savannah State University (Out-of-State): -$82,300
And then there are the specific degrees with the lowest ROI:
1. Arts, at Murray State University: -$197,000
2. Humanities and English, at Florida International University: -$192,000
3. Arts, at Eastern Michigan University: -$187,000
Thompson includes several caveats with this data. For one thing, as he points out, the data comes from self-reported income, which could skew high.
"...[H]umans are a proud species, and we care more about our feelings than strict honesty with anonymous pollsters," he writes.
Also, figuring out 20-year ROI is a tricky business, because it's impossible to predict where the market will go and how schools will develop their programs in the future. In other words, if your major becomes the next hot thing or your school sinks some serious cash into developing programs that raise the value of your degree, you might see more of a return than today's numbers would indicate.
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