According to the Pew Research Center, mothers today have more schooling than ever before. But, as mom and author Kendra Tierney writes, considering the ultimate value of that schooling is important if you plan to have a family.

In 1960, just 18% of mothers with an infant had any college education. Today, that percentage stands at 67%, up from 66% in 2011. 

But, with the rising cost of a college education leading to significant debt for many students, women who may wish to stay at home with children in the future need to consider whether their higher education will be worth it for them in the long run.

Ultimately, Tierney advocates for the benefits of college-educated women, regardless of whether they choose to work or stay at home:

“But, really, an educated society benefits everyone in it. I use the research and study skills I learned in college every day in my role as a mother. Especially as a homeschooling mom, (but all parents do this, I’m sure) I have the opportunity to share the subjects about which I am passionate (like grammar) with my children. The more I cared about my own education, the more I have to share with them.”

But Tierney also recommends prudence with deciding what to study:

“On the other hand, looking back, I think I could have been more discerning in my career choice. I will encourage my own children to consider eventual marriage and parenthood when they are making education and career choices.”

The realities of educational debt are perhaps the most pressing when considering a path to follow. Tierney points out that “THE most important aspect of keeping your options open is to avoid debt as much as possible.” And that advice, she says, applies to both men and women. A husband’s debt can be just as crippling when deciding whether a family can have one parent stay at home with children.

She encourages women to study something that they love but to consider pursuing something that will be flexible enough to accommodate life changes.

Is this yet another facet to consider in the growing discussion of the cost versus reward of a college education? Should men who want families have similar concerns when evaluating their own educations?