Survey: 66 percent of American employees regret their college degrees

If you've ever wondered if your college degree was worth the student debt, you're not alone. In an online salary survey conducted by PayScale involving 248,000 respondents, two-thirds of employees reported having educational regrets.

The participants were asked to select their biggest educational regret out of the given choices: student loans, area of study, institution choice, too many degrees, time to complete, academic underachievement, not making the right connections, and I have no regrets.

And while the "no regrets" category statistically held the most votes at 33.9 percent, an overwhelming 66 percent of the survey respondents were able to identify an educational regret.

The majority of those who could identify their regrets selected the choices "student loans" and "area of study."

With student loan debt reaching a whopping $1.6 trillion nationwide in 2019, it's not surprising that debt is the number one regret among workers with college degrees. According to PayScale's survey, about 27 percent of survey respondents listed student loans as their biggest educational regret.

"In a 2019 study, the Federal Reserve found average student loan debt between 2005 and 2014 doubled among individuals ages 24 to 32," PayScale writes in an analysis of its survey. "The study also found that student loan debt was an important factor in the stark decline of home ownership and wealth accumulation among young adults."

These bleak statistics only serve to fan the fiery debate around the true worth of higher education. In 2019, the majority of workers with degrees said they work to pay off their education debts, and may spend a significant part of their careers doing so.

Another high-ranking educational regret according to the study is "area of study". One of the most important decisions of a college career is what you will be studying at your selected school.

"This choice shapes the skills you learn, the professions you qualify for and your earnings potential," reports PayScale. "Given this, it is not surprising that what people regret varies by what they studied."

Among 11 major groups, engineering, education and computer science majors saw the highest rates of workers with "no regret" responses. On the other hand, 21.2 percent of the humanities majors surveyed stated that they regretted their major.

With engineering and computer science majors earning significantly much more than humanities majors, it makes sense that the level of satisfaction with their college degrees reflects similar statistics. If college education is supposed to secure people higher lifetime earnings, and students commit a hefty sum to achieve that education, regrets will undoubtedly soar for those earning relatively little compared to others.

The PayScale survey investigates a variety of different factors in the levels of satisfaction with college degrees. Between public and private schools, those with bachelor's degrees and those with higher degrees. and those with different college majors, the survey highlights statistical differences that ultimately point to one question: is higher education really the great equalizer?

The survey, to some, might suggest otherwise.

"While we can only ever hope to cherish our college experience, the outcome of our education is dictated by what we study, the connections we make, where we go to school and the financial resources it costs us," concludes the survey.