An investment is something that we hope will yield a profit in the long term. It is something that we expect to increase in value and deliver to us greater returns than we initially put in. An obvious example is with regards to finance, were we invest in a pension, or stocks/shares, and whatever amount of money we initially invest, we hope will return a larger sum of money later.
But our investments often go far deeper than a purely financial return. For example, we may be interested in improved social benefits, security, health, or happiness. By investing wisely in certain aspects of our lives, we can hope to attain some of these benefits. Indeed, investment is a common feature of human activity. Whereas most animals consume calories in rough proportion to their production, humans are different. By the age of 15, chimpanzees have produced about 40% and consumed about 40% of the calories they will need during their entire lives. In comparison, humans at the same age will have consumed about 20% of their lifetime calories but produced just 4%.
Education is one of these examples of investment, where the knowledge gained early in life can be applied and implemented into many scenarios, resulting in numerous future rewards and benefits. On a large scale, it has been shown that education and economic growth are highly correlated, with each additional year of enrollment in school showing increases in per capita GDP.
And for our generation, the opportunities for education are greater than ever. At our fingertips, on our mobile devices, we have access to every book ever written, every piece of research ever produced, and countless podcasts, tutorials, and seminars by world leading experts. Much of this can be accessed for free, or for just a small price. It simply requires our time and effort.
A more traditional form of education is perhaps the university. Here, a good course will have been designed for
you, leading you on a path to greater understanding and expertise in your chosen subject. You will also have access to hands-on learning opportunities in laboratories and be able to utilise a variety of equipment and technology. Good degree programs will also offer work placements and internships, which may in turn open other doors and avenues.
Despite the upfront cost of university education, the statistics speak for themselves. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2017 shows that, on average, a university graduate earns 64% more per week than someone with just a high school diploma. Someone with a master’s degree earns over 90% more.
There is of course no guarantee of employment when completing a degree, but a good course should give you the knowledge, tools, and experience to put you in a strong position to compete for a desirable job. Accreditation's and certifications are further benchmarks to achieve to aid in this process, and good degrees may have these embedded within their frameworks. In this regard, good universities offer the best opportunity to obtain the knowledge, experience, and certification required to succeed in a given profession.
Of course, certain degrees will yield greater returns, and it is prudent to do your research and to choose wisely when it comes to selecting a course and a university. But investment in education is one of the wisest investments you can make.
 Ridley, M. (2010). The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves. United Kingdom: Fourth Estate.  http://www.oecd.org/education/innovation-education/1825455.pdf  https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2018/data-on-display/education-pays.htm?view_full