There’s a lot of debate going on right now about whether or not college is worth the cost. The fact that student loan debt has surpassed $1 trillion, and that there is now more outstanding student loan debt than outstanding credit card debt, has many people wondering about the viability of going to college.
Of course, what it really comes down to is whether or not a college degree is right for you.
What Do You Plan to Do?
This is a hard one. Recently, I had someone say, “Who knows what they really want to be in high school?”
I replied, “I did. I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I was in high school. Of course, all that changed.”
One of the reasons that many students go to college is because it can help you keep your options open, as well as expose you to new ideas and career paths.
I went from being absolutely certain that I was going to get an advanced degree in Physics and work as an astrophysicist to changing majors and getting a Communications degree. Now I have a M.A. in Journalism.
I make a good living and my schooling has been worth it — even if I didn’t go all STEM-y with my education, as was my original plan.
But that doesn’t always do it for some people. There are some who know, even in high school, that going through that much more schooling just isn’t their style. There’s nothing wrong with that — and no reason to make them feel like they need to rack up tens of thousands of dollars in student debt just to get a four-year degree.
There are those who have good careers that they enjoy with associate degrees or with specific training. For example, my plumber loves his job. And he makes $90 an hour. He had to go through an apprenticeship, and receive proper certification, but he doesn’t have a college degree.
Think about what you want to do, and what it takes to get there. Here are some things to consider as you try to decide whether or not college (or going on for an advanced degree) is worth it for you:
- What would you major in? What job prospects are available in that field?
- Are you more interested in working in a skilled trade? Would you feel more comfortable advancing your skills?
- How much will it cost you to complete school vs. how much you can make over your lifetime?
- Are you still exploring your options? If so, starting at a small, less expensive school might be able to help you find your passion. A community college might even have trade-type career training for you to explore.
Whether or not you want to go to college is up to you. The really important thing, if you want to find a good career, is to make sure that you develop marketable skills.
I know someone who received training as a mechanic while getting an associate degree in business administration. Now, he runs his own mechanic business, using his vocational skill plus some of his college education.
Is college worth it for you? What are the things you consider to be essential to the equation?