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Getting the most bang for you buck: What is an ROI? And how can it help you with making the best education choices?

Sorry for the long wait with this article… I was back in the US for a bit and traveling a bit , so I was not very good at updating this website. So I apologize completely for that. This won’t happen again. That being said, I am back.

Today’s article is inspired by an article from World Education News and Review  titled “ROI and More: International Recruitment Metrics That Matter to University Leaders” by Steve Literati (not me; my father) who works at World Education Services, which publishes World Education and News Review.

This article has a lot of detail that is focused on the latest things happening in world education. If you are not familiar with this subject, don’t worry: we will not be delving too much in depth. We will be looking at this article and looking at some key business terms that you can use in all sorts of English language settings.

We are here to talk about ROI and getting more bang for you buck. “To get more bang for you buck” means you get more value for your money by choosing one product or service or another. So for example, we can say that because you read this article, you will be better at making decisions about your money (than not by reading this article).

So, what’s an ROI?

ROI (or R.O.I) means “return on investment,” which measures the amount of x, or “return” an investment gives you versus the cost of the investment. It is an acronym, meaning that its a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a set phrase and pronounced as a separate word, such as U.N., FIFA, and RSVP.

ROI is most often used when talking about financial matters. So how do we calculate ROI? Here is an example from the article

“At its most basic, [ROI] measures the profit or loss that results from an investing activity. For instance, if you purchased $100 of Apple stock on January 1st, and you sold that stock for $115 on December 31st [at the end of the year], your profit on that investment would be $15 (before taxes). If you divided your profit of $15 by the amount you originally invested ($100), the ROI on your investment would be 15 percent. If you sold the Apple stock for $90 at the end of the year, your loss would be $10, and the ROI would be negative 10 percent.”

As you can see, we usually talk about “the” ROI rather than “a” ROI.

Below is a useful image that can help visualize, or explain through pictures, how to calculate ROI:

SOURCE: investipedia.com

You sometimes might see ROI outside of talking finance; for instance, what is the ROI for learning English vs. Chinese? Here you can think of the what you get for learning those languages (job promotion, satisfying an interest, etc) versus the cost of learning that language (time, stress, etc). It can be a useful tool for thinking about making an important decision, but more on that a little later.

Thinking about the ROI of something is very important for understanding the possible pros and cons of a decision. How much does something cost? What is the reward of doing something?

This all sounds simple enough, right? Well. It’s a bit more complicated than that.

Scarcity and Risk

Here are two other key terms that we need to think about.

The first one is scarcity. Everyone and everything experiences scarcity. Scarcity occurs because there is not enough of something that you need; you do not have enough time to finish a project, you do not have enough money to save for a big trip, go out on a Friday night, and pay your bills, and so on.

The second thing to remember is risk. Risk is the likelihood of a possible bad thing occurring. However, because it is a likelihood it is easy to guess what that may be avoided through decisions and actions beforehand.

Putting it all together; using ROI to make the best decision possible:

So how does this all work? Well, let’s break it down below:

  1. What is the ultimate goal for doing an action vs. what does it cost to reach that goal? This is your ROI. What do you receive for doing something? What does it cost for doing something?

    Going back to our Chinese vs. English example; if you are deciding whether to learn Chinese or English, you should think to yourself what you want to do with those languages. And it’s best to be specific with your goals as discussed in other posts. Is it because you are interested in the culture of Chinese and English speaking countries? Additionally, how much time and energy do you have to put into making your goals come true?

  2. By working towards your ultimate goal, what do you have to cut out? As mentioned before, you will have to put in time and energy into making your goals come true. Related to this is what do you need to take out because they compete with your goals? 

    Nowadays people like to talk about mental bandwidth. Originally from psychologist Eldar Shafir, this is a relatively new term in English. It means the amount of different and various forms of information your brain can pay attention to and be aware of before it starts forgetting things and making mistakes. If you are concentrating on too many things, it is hard to concentrate on your goals. Your brain just won’t be able to handle it. Science is full of references to the fact that if you tax your brain’s attention, you will be less capable at making rational decisions or makes it harder to learn new skills that might involve a lot of thinking and decision making. Hence; clear the clutter of your brain. Remove the things you do not need; maybe you can delete your instagram so you spend less time on that and instead spend more time on practicing. Or it may be that instagram is an important part of recovering after a long day. Whatever it is, you need to think about what is preventing you from reaching your goals. Less is more.

  3. Calculate what you do not want to happen: This is risk; what are all the likely dangers that you might experience when trying to achieve your goals?

    Now, it might be weird to hear “risk” in learning another language – I mean, will someone seriously try and prevent you, or worse harm you, for trying to learn English instead of Chinese? I doubt it. But, what is the likelihood that you are not able to achieve your goal of learning Chinese or English? What is the likelihood that you might lose interest in learning, and you are not able to achieve your goal? What is the likelihood of being distracted from studying English due to a new project at your company that demands your complete attention? Once you thoroughly consider what might prevent you from your language learning goals you can more effectively achieve them.


ROI – (acronym) return on investment,
acronym – (noun) a word formed from
to get the most bang for your buck – (idiom) means you get more value for your money by choosing one product or service or another
visualize – (verb) to form a picture of something
scarcity – (noun) a lack of something, a shortness of supply
risk – (noun) the possibility of danger occuring
mental bandwith
 – (noun) the ability to concentrate on multiple points of focus
to tax
– (verb) to charge, often in a negative way.

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