The Real ROI of a College Education

Z. Kelly Queijo, CEO
Smart College Visit 

Aliana_delgadoRecently, I had the opportunity to serve as a business coach to Iliana Delgado, a college student from Colombia, on how to improve her presentation for the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Competition. Her company, La Tosadora, was one of 12 others vying to win the $25,000 grand prize. Two second place winners would win $5,000 each. 

I felt like a proud parent as I watched Iliana pitch to the panel of judges made of up highly successful business executives. Her delivery was perfect. Her presentation was engaging and interesting. She handled the Q&A portion flawlessly. In fact, one of the judges complimented her as having one of the best pitch presentations he had ever seen. 

The mission of Iliana's company is to change the "culture of coffee in Colombia." One of the judges noted that changing a country's culture is a pretty big endeavor. 

As I sat there, watching Iliana's presentation and those of other student teams, I found myself thinking about the return on investment (ROI) these kids were getting from their education. The phrase "ROI of a college degree" gets a lot of buzz these days. In some circles, students are even advised to ask about the ROI of an education at each college they visit.

We don't include that piece of advice in our list of questions to ask on a college visit. In fact, this is the first time I've addressed the ROI topic on SmartCollegeVisit and here's why: the ROI of a college education is up to the individual student. You get out of college what you put in. You are responsible for creating your future. Period. 

The 13 teams of students who participated in the competition are proof of this. Likewise are the students who get involved in student organizations, study abroad programs, internships, voluteering, and other opportunities to network, connect and help others. 

Each one of the student teams who pitched their business concept during the competition wanted to change something. Perhaps that's the greast ROI on a college education there is–the opportunity to change the world or even just one small part of it.

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