The value of an education wasn’t often figured so literally, even in the pages of Robert Merry’s Museum.
“Who Wants $4 a Day?” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, March 1862; pp. 83-84)

“I do,” comes with a shout from thousands of Merry boys and girls.

No doubt you do; but will you earn it, if we tell you how?

You do not all answer quite so readily as before. You are thinking, “I should have to work very hard to earn so much money.” Perhaps not so hard as you imagine. Let us see:

p. 84

How many working days in a year?

“Three hundred and thirteen,” say you.

How much can an uneducated man earn in that time, by manual labor?

“About a dollar a day, or $313.”

What salary per year can a man of good education earn?

We will answer for you—about $1,000 per year. Many receive much more than that, but it is a fair average. You can plainly see, then, that an education is worth in cash every year the difference between $1,000 and $313, or $687. Now, then, how much money must be put at interest at six per cent. to yield $687 a year?

You answer, “$11,450.”

Then, to have a good education is equal to having $11,450 in the savings bank, drawing six per cent. interest.

How many days’ study will it take to get a good education? It will depend somewhat upon circumstances; but a boy attending school eleven years, commencing, say at eight years old and leaving at nineteen, can be well educated. Suppose he goes to school five days in a week for eleven years, he will have spent 2,860 days in getting an education worth $11,450, and he will thus have actually earned for himself a little over four dollars a day, while attending school.

“Oho!” say you, “we must study for our money.”

That’s it, exactly. The calculation is a fair one, and you can cipher it out for yourself. Think of it the next time you are tempted to ask to stay at home because it rains, or because it is pleasant and you want to go fishing, or, in short, because you would rather do something else than study. Ask yourself the question, “Can I earn four dollars a day in any other way?”

Remember, too, that learning not only brings money, but it may give a good position in society; and better still, it may always afford pleasure to him who possesses it. “Wisdom is better than much fine gold.”

Copyright 1999-2024, Pat Pflieger
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