Is College Worth The Cost?

Is College Worth The Cost?

It’s no secret that college is expensive. Even a local college or an online degree comes with a high price tag. Before you start paying for an education, you should take some time to think about whether college is actually worth the cost.

What is the Cost of College?

Before you start analyzing this question, you should stop and think about the actual cost of college. On average, the cost of public college for an in-state student is $27,330 each year. If you wanted a four-year degree, that cost would be over $100,000. Private schools are almost double the cost.

There’s also the issue of additional costs. Even if you have a scholarship, there are book fees, living expenses, and supply bills. The costs really add up.

Another cost comes in the form of your time. For the four years that you’re a student, you may not have time to actually work. This means you’re not gaining any direct experience in your career.

When is College Worth It?

For some people, college is worth the expense. In some industries, individuals with degrees earn much more than those with no degrees. The median salary of someone with only a high school diploma is just under $39,000. Meanwhile, the median salary of someone with a bachelor’s degree is just under $65,000. The unemployment rate is also lower.

Despite some employers not requiring degrees, there are still some jobs that demand higher education degrees. You should research your industry and find out if a bachelor’s or master’s degree is a necessity. If it is, your choice is clear. Unless it’s common for employers to allow experience to substitute for a degree, you may not have an option.

Finally, college may be worth it for those who can manage to go through it without any debt. If you receive a full scholarship or have been given money to pay for your education in full, you don’t need to worry about the biggest disadvantage of going to college - the debt.

When is College Not Worth It?

There are some advantages to having a college degree, but it may not be worth the time or money. This is often the case for those who are entering careers that don’t pay well. Student loan debt is significantly more than the actual cost of an education. Over the years, the interest adds up. If you’re not in a lucrative career, you may find it nearly impossible to pay off your debt.

People are often in debt for 10 to 30 years after they graduate.

This brings up another valid point. If you have a degree, you’re not guaranteed a higher or better-paying job. Just look at what happened during the pandemic. Whether or not an employee had a degree, they had a high chance of being laid off. Furthermore, some employers truly don’t care if their employees have degrees.

In some industries, you can’t get a job without experience. If you spend four years in college rather than four years working, you could be at a disadvantage. This is very industry-dependent. To find out if your desired career requires a degree, research the requirements. Do most employers seem to favor experience over degrees? Do they allow job applicants to apply based on their experience alone?

Finally, it’s important to think about the time factor. You could spend over four years obtaining a degree. If you want to jump right into a career, you may want to skip college and start working right away.

How to Decide If College is Right for You

To find out if college is a smart financial decision, you need to consider several factors. Start off by deciding your career path. If you don’t know what career path you want to follow, don’t apply to college just yet. You need to know your desired career so you can research the requirements.

Once you know your career path, find out the basic requirements for an entry-level position. Look at current job listings and pay close attention to the requirements. If most listings allow applicants to substitute experience for a degree, you should consider skipping the degree. But if you want to be in a field that requires a bachelor’s or advanced degree, there’s no getting around it. Lawyers, doctors, and psychologists all need advanced degrees, and there’s no way to substitute for the degree.

Plan for the Future

While looking at an entry-level position is a good start, you should also think about the future. If you want to advance in your career, you might need a degree. Consider the career path you want to take. If you would need a degree in a year or two, it might be worth getting your degree first.

Come up with a career plan. Then, think about when you would need to get a degree. Keep in mind that it’s challenging to work full-time and study at the same time. In some cases, it’s not realistic to think that you can pursue an advanced degree while you progress in your career.

If you’re not sure what your desired career requires, seek out a mentor. Ask them for their input and see what they think about getting a degree. Everyone has their own opinion on college education, so it might be worth talking to multiple people about this.

Assess Your Finances

Not everyone can afford college. If you don’t have anyone to help you pay for college or cosign your loan, you may not be able to afford a four-year degree. If your career path requires one, your only option could be to change career plans and save up money.

Waiting for College

You don’t need to make up your mind about college right now. If you’re not sure about your career or you can’t afford a degree, it’s OK to wait. After working for a few years, you can reassess the situation and go back for a degree if it’s right for you.

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