College graduates' 'number one regret' revealed in new survey

Were those student loans worth it?

About two-thirds of college graduates said they regretted something about their education — and student loans were the most common issue, according to a new survey by PayScale, which analyzes pay data. The company’s researchers surveyed 248,000 people this spring.

About 27 percent of graduates said they regretted their student loans, according to PayScale.

“No matter how we cut the data, student loans was the number one regret reported,” PayScale’s researchers said.

Younger people were more likely to regret their loans. Roughly 28.8 percent of millennials, 26.2 percent of gen Xers said they regretted taking out student loans, compared to only 13.4 percent of baby boomers, according to the report. That probably won’t change any time soon as student loan debt has soared to $1.6 trillion this year, according to Federal Reserve data.

Baby boomers were also less likely to regret anything at all about their education, the survey found. More than half said they had no regrets, compared to about a third of respondents overall.

Graduates who majored in health sciences, art and social sciences were the most likely to regret their student loans. Graduates with math, engineering or communications degrees were the least likely to regret their loans.

Those who graduated from private colleges were more likely to regret their loans than those who graduated from public colleges.

Area of study was the next most common issue, with 12 percent of survey respondents listing it as a regret. About 21 percent of humanities majors said they regretted their choice, making it the most commonly regretted. Fewer than 10 percent of people who majored in health sciences, math, engineering or computer science said they regretted their choice.


After that, the most common regret was poor networking, with about 11 percent of respondents picking it. Graduates from public universities were more likely to regret their college networking. Thirteen percent of public college graduates said they regretted it, compared to about 10 percent of private college graduates.

So how can someone preparing to start college avoid these regrets? PayScale found that graduates were less likely to have regrets if they had higher levels of education and studied STEM majors.

Overall, here are college graduates most common regrets about their education, according to PayScale:

  • I have no regrets: 33.9 percent
  • Student loans: 27.1 percent
  • Area of study:12.2 percent
  • Poor networking: 11.2 percent
  • Time to complete: 5.8 percent
  • Academic underachievement:5.2 percent
  • School/institution choice: 3.4 percent
  • Too many degrees: 1.2 percent