Travis Reed chose to study computer engineering at Iowa State University in part because while growing up, he saw his dad work multiple jobs.
When it came time for Reed, 20, to decide what to study in college, he made earning a good salary after graduation his top priority.
Reed researched the financial benefits of a computer engineering degree. He visited the websites of all the top programs in the country. He knew that ISU graduates could expect to earn a starting salary of about $62,000, and that Illinois graduates earned about $68,000.
But as a native Iowan attending school in neighboring Illinois, he would pay pricey out-of-state tuition. So he crossed the school off his list despite its good academic reputation.
“In my mind, the extra $100,000 in debt didn’t add up when you’re talking about an extra $5,000 per year,” he said.
Reed said he’s fortunate to have an interest in computers, because that aligns with his most important goal: to earn a comfortable living.
Reed said he would not build a career around his natural interest if the pay was low.
“If, for example, I wasn’t interested in engineering and I had a passion for politics, I would not pursue a career in a field where I wouldn’t make a good amount of money even if it interested me,” he said. “If you’re not able to provide for yourself, you have less free time and more stress.”
The story first appeared here.