Examining returns on education has been an important economics topic for at least 60 years (Rev Econ Stat 1959;41:24-8; Am Econ Rev 1960;50:346-54; Social Forces Influencing American Education. 1961). Investment in education and training, like investment in one's health, is considered an investment in human capital. Important economic questions can be addressed using a return on investment (ROI) framework, including:

ROI calculations are usually based solely on monetary considerations, the investment of education weighed against potential higher income (returns) of a chosen profession. Personal decisions regarding education and occupation, however, go well beyond the direct financial impact. The indirect economic considerations can be substantial, although difficult to measure and weight. They merit a brief discussion.

In addition to influencing one's choice of occupation and the related future financial rewards, education can impact major life outcomes such as marriage and family. Education can also change you as person,...

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