Is College Worth it?
What Does a College Education Mean Today?
A college education is worth far less than it was a couple of generations ago for Baby Boomers. Many of the upper level business and management positions are held by older generations, who have a degree and 20+ years experience. Recent college grads can't compete with education and experience.
In fact, during rough economic times, skilled trades are coming out ahead. Business positions, mostly held by college degree holders, are at an all-time low with a downward spiral of hiring and a dramatic increase in lay-offs. Who is still thriving? The mechanic who fixes your car and the medical assistant who takes your temperature. Yes, these two professions require some schooling, but of a different nature; Technical or vocational schooling, which is typically a two-year program and a lot easier on the pocket book than a four-year Bachelor's Degree.
What's the Word on College?
Influential financial guru, Suzie Orman, states 'college is only worth it if you plan on being a doctor or lawyer. Technical or vocational programs give you a better return on investment.' Additional statements made by other financial professionals suggest if you are in the bottom 40% of your high school graduating class, then forget about college, you probably won't graduate or you won't do well anyway.
There's a theory that people who are going to do well in life, are going to do it whether they attend college or not.
In today's market, the idea of college is almost a joke- little more than having a certificate in woodworking- worthless. College graduates are feeling betrayed. Didn't we all hear the constant mantra of 'Go to college' from teachers, parents, and employers? And now our president has made the progressive statement about making college possible for everyone.That doesn't seem like it will improve the value of college if everyone can get a degree. What about those of us with student loan debt- we paid big bucks for something that will be near free soon. We're already seeing the backlash of too many grads.
A recent tv program had some college graduate guests on to say their degree only got them an impossible amount of debt. One graduate, with a Master's Degree was working at a call center making $10 an hour. With today's economy people are better off staying in college, hiding there away from the ugly real world of lay-offs and debt. Actually, a student spends an average of 5 years in school and 5 minutes on the application for a student loan. Instead of college prep courses or college success courses, there should be debt advice or debt management courses because it's a 50/50 chance you will be successful, but it's almost a 90% chance you will be in debt after school.
College and education statistics argue that those who attend and graduate college will make more money (up to 1 million dollars) in their lifetime than those who do not have degrees. However, the statistics are skewed by million/billion dollar college grads like Donald Trump and Bill Gates.And then we're back to the argument that the super successful people would have made it anyway, degree or not.
What do Different Types of Colleges Offer?
Technical and vocational schools are gaining popularity. These schools educate for less money than a typical university, and students end up making more money than university grads upon entering the job market- a great return on investment. The caveat is these positions usually require some manual labor, which can be hard on the body after years of this profession and sometimes they have a cap on earnings or position level.
I got my degree because I didn't want to be a waitress anymore, it was hard on my body, even during my twenties. I was shocked to learn that upon graduating from college, I was only eligible for full-time jobs that paid far less than my part-time waitress gig.That's when it hit me that my degree was worth hardly mroe than the frame it resides in.
Ivy league colleges are great for the rich, who will attend college regardless of it's worth. Those colleges offer excellent networking with future employers and other wealthy influential individuals.
If you are going to attend the traditional university:
- Make the most of your schooling experience, no not beer drinking, but gaining skills and contacts.
- Don't concentrate on the ultimate goal of claiming your piece of paper on graduation day- the degree doesn't mean anything to anybody anymore. Take it from an unemployed 4.0 college grad starting my own business.
- Get creative to get a leg up on your competition. Have professors write recommendation letters for you, etc.
- The skills you acquire from college are worth something to future employers. Having a degree may get you in the door, but sell your own skills beyond that point.
Some excellent skills you can pick up at universities are:
- Public speaking, writing, researching, team dynamics and projects, time management, and working independently to reach personal goals and assignment deadlines.
- Take advantage of internships for experience.
- Instead of taking extra courses to achieve a minor, get certified in something else that offers some hands-on training. Many universities have certification programs.
Visit a career counselor regularly to stay on track and make sure the field you are seeking is something you want very badly, enough to be in debt over.
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