The average price of getting a college degree is getting close to $50,000 each year. That’s an increase of about three times in the last three decades and for most people, it’s more than their yearly income. Paying for it is a struggle and it either means making some large sacrifices and saving all of the money, or you’re going to have to take out large loans that you’ll be paying back for a long while. It’s a little cheaper to go to a state college but it’ll cost you a massive $20,000 a year which is still unaffordable for most average households.
The growth of wages has slowed and hasn’t increased anywhere nearly as much as the price of college so it seems like it’s becoming far more difficult to afford for normal families. You’ve also got to factor in the four years that you could have been in work earning a wage. If you factor that in, the total cost is somewhere near £250,000. That’s a debt that’ll be hanging over you for a long time.
It’s no surprise then, that a lot of people are starting to wonder whether it’s all worth it.
On paper, the answer is still yes. In terms of earnings, a college graduate will earn an extra million dollars over their lifetime compared with somebody that doesn’t have a degree. On the other hand, the rising cost of college tuition is eating into those increased salaries later on. It’s estimated that most people will be around 40 when they’ve finally paid off their college debt so even if you’re earning more, a lot of that is going straight back into debt repayments.
You’ve also got to remember that you’ll only get that higher salary if you get a good graduate job in the first place. Ten years ago, that wouldn’t be as difficult because not as many people had degrees. If employers were looking for somebody with that level of qualifications, they were limited in choice. However, over the last decade, the idea of going to college is being pushed on people and applications are shooting up. As more people are getting degrees the competition is getting fiercer and it’s getting harder and harder for graduates to find jobs.
Employers are starting to rethink the way that they hire as well, and often they’re not putting as much weight on qualifications. Instead, they’re increasingly starting to look for job experience over a degree. They would rather somebody had practical experience of working in the industry than a degree that gives them the theoretical knowledge. That means when students are graduating and looking for work, they’re often at a disadvantage and get overlooked by peers who have four years job experience instead of a college degree.
So, as you can see, it’s not so black and white. Deciding whether to go to college means weighing up a few different factors. As a general rule, you should look at what you want your future career to be when you finish. If it’s a job that you simply can’t get without a degree then you’ll have to go to college. But if there is a clear path to that career through an entry level position and promotions, that’s usually the cheaper and better option because you’re earning, you don’t have to pay tuition, and you’re getting valuable job experience.
A lot of young people end up going to college because, even though it’s not the right fit for them, they’re worried about what to do. That’s not the way to go because you’ll waste four years and a whole lot of money getting a degree that you aren’t going to use. Try one of these alternatives instead.
The internet is changing the way we learn and making college more accessible to everybody. One of the major hurdles that normal people face is the sheer cost of college. It would be far more affordable if you could continue to work while doing your degree but the schedule of a traditional four year college degree doesn’t always allow that.
Doing an online degree gives you the freedom to complete work whenever it suits your schedule so you can carry on working at the same time. It’s also good for people that are already in a job but need an extra qualification to progress, like nurses for example. They can do a 100% Online RN to BSN Program to get the bachelor’s degree that they need without having to leave work and put themselves in financial trouble.
If can’t afford to go to college at all, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn the same stuff. There are sites that offer a lot of the same programs online for completely free. You won’t get the same piece of paper at the end so some employers won’t consider you college educated but you will have the same knowledge. There are some that will give you a certificate for a small charge but that’ll be less than $100.
Community college gets a bit of a bad name but it’s a great alternative to four year college for a few reasons. The main one is price. While community college prices are increasing a bit, they aren’t going up anywhere nearly as quickly as traditional colleges and they’re still around 5 times cheaper. There are also plenty of community colleges that will cover the entire cost of tuition for students that graduated high school with a high GPA. Most people that go to community college live at home as well which saves you a huge amount of money in living costs. Those reduced costs give you more freedom to explore different classes and work out what you want to do as a major. At a normal college, you’ve only got two years to do that and every year you extend it is going to cost you a huge amount of money. Not having those financial restraints at community college makes life so much easier.
College is still a viable option for some people, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the only way to be successful.