With the money you invest, the loans you take out, academic inflation and high unemployment, the question keeps presenting itself: is your degree really worth it. Well, it depends on the individual. College absolutely isn’t for everyone and the sooner alternatives to traditional higher education are viewed with the respect they deserve, the better. But that doesn’t mean everybody’s better off without college; not by a long shot. For many of us a college degree, despite the expense, is absolutely worth every penny. Here’s why…
1. Compelling Unemployment Stats
It’s not like unemployment stats are all that encouraging no matter how much schooling you’ve undergone, but statistically, you’re much more likely to find a job if you have a degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate at the end of 2012 for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 3.9%. For those with some college or an associate degree that number is 6.9%. And for those with a high school diploma it’s 8%.
2. Statistically, Graduates Earn More
On average college graduates make about 84% more over the course of a lifetime than those with only a high school diploma. While there are certainly more and more genius tech wizards who’ve dropped out of college and made billions of dollars, that kind of mind, direction and drive aren’t the average. Most of us are likely to fit the statistic.
3. You’re Lured Toward A Field That Requires A Degree
While there are great alternatives to traditional college, at present, students committed to becoming doctors and lawyers and engineers absolutely need a degree to get into the field. Maybe someday we’ll have conservatory style medical schools like we have for our artists, but until then, traditional college is the one road to traditional doctordom.
4. There Are A Lot Of Ways To Get A Degree
Just like skinning cats, there’s more than one way to go about getting a degree and there are certainly ways to do it cost effectively. For starters you can easily knock off a solid year of college by taking AP or IB courses while you’re still in high school. Community college is a great option too; take all of your general education requirements there and then transfer into a four-year college for your final two years of school. Also, paying close attention to your personal finances and knowing what kind of loans you’re taking out, what the repayment requirements are and what repayment plans and options will be available to you can do wonders for keeping you out of debt.
5. The Alternatives To College Might Not Be For You
Online courses have gotten pretty great, but maybe you crave more structure in your life. Same thing with college alternatives like UnCollege. There are lots of different ways to explore the world. Some have always known that academia isn’t the right place for them, while others are fascinated by that style of learning. Only you can figure out what’s the best fit for you.
One thing’s for sure, you shouldn’t let student loans scare you away from whatever you’re drawn to: there are plenty of ways to borrow wisely and for those who need some assistance figuring that out, there are student loan experts available to help you manage your debt.