From a very young age, people are taught that the right thing to do after high school is to apply for college and get that diploma! However, with America’s college debt at an all-time high, higher education can often seem like nothing more than a dream.
But does that mean that we should give up on that dream altogether? It might surprise you to know that a college education can actually be inexpensive, despite what everyone is saying.
There are plenty of ways to cut costs, and despite all those rags-to-riches success stories you read online, having a college degree is still the best way to ensure a fruitful career.
Keep reading to check out our seven reasons why college is worth it, even now.
1. College Can Be Inexpensive
You know college costs money. A lot of money. However, covering tuition doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems.
Smaller universities can cost far less than their more prestigious competitors, and community colleges offer the same courses as four-year universities at a fraction of the cost. If your goal is to get a Bachelor’s degree, talk to a counselor to find out which courses from your local community college can be transferred. Never pay full price for something if you don’t have to.
Things like on-campus housing and meal plans can also play a large role in high tuition costs.
Instead of living in a dorm, try finding communal housing off campus. While it certainly isn’t as glamorous, finding cheaper alternatives will help you put every spare penny toward tuition and textbooks.
Cutting costs doesn’t sound like the fastest way to getting that “college experience”, and it’s true. Cutting costs will mean that you won’t get to pull all-nighters with your dormmates or go on spring break trips to Florida.
And you know what? That’s fine! At the end of the day, you signed up for college to get a degree and set yourself up for success. Then, once you get that amazing job after graduation, you can send yourself somewhere even BETTER than Florida!
Can you say Cancun?
2. Associate’s Degrees
Cheaper tuition isn’t the only good reason to opt out for a community college experience.
Hollywood has romanticized the college experience and made it out as the only responsible option, but a four-year degree isn’t your only option.
A two-year degree, or Associate’s Degree, allows you to begin your journey to a full college education without forcing you to choose a major you might not be sure of.
Many community colleges even have fast-track programs to get you started in the medical, scientific, and engineering fields right away. Nurses and radiologists begin working in their field after 2 years of college, and their employers will often pay for any further schooling.
An Associate’s Degree might not give you an advantage over someone with a very specific four-year degree, but it still shows potential employers that you’re responsible and willing to work hard.
Everyone has to start somewhere.
Even if you decide to only go to a commuter college, tuition can still add up. It’s important to know at the beginning where all that money will be coming from. This makes scholarships an invaluable resource.
Scholarships may not completely eliminate your debt, but they can significantly lessen it. Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for anything, applying for FAFSA is always a good idea. New government scholarships are being created every day, and there are a lot more than people think.
That being said, what if you aren’t exactly… exemplary? A lot of people think that, because they weren’t in the top percent of their class or on a sports team, they won’t qualify for any scholarships. Maybe you’re older and going back to college, and what you did back in high school just doesn’t matter anymore.
Don’t worry! There is still hope!
While there are plenty of scholarships for grades, sports, and other standard achievements, local and online businesses may also offer awards for more abnormal achievements or qualities.
Something as simple as being bilingual, being below or above a certain height, or having a rare eye color has the potential to win you a slice of that tuition.
There are even scholarships on the more wacky side. Have a decent duck call? Like creating new candies? Love making dresses out of duct tape? All of these things and more could get your closer to paying for that degree.
4. The Acronym Doesn’t Matter
Harvard. Yale. Columbia. Berkley. Brown.
Many people think that, in order to be recognized for your degree, you need to study at a popular school. This simply isn’t the case.
Nowadays, employers will be impressed that you even have a degree. Unless your field is something very specific like law or medicine, a Bachelor’s Degree can oftentimes only serve to prove that you have the skills and determination to earn one.
This will set you far above the high school graduate who is applying for the same job you are. In the employer’s eyes, your degree has already proved that you’re a harder worker than everyone else. Also, because you have more qualifications than a high school graduate, you can negotiate for a higher starting salary.
If two applicants with the exact same portfolio go in for an interview, but only one has a degree, that person is automatically worth more and can ask for more money. In fact, the average annual income of college graduates is about $18,000 more than that of high school graduates.
The simple truth is that no matter where your degree comes from, skills that are worth more earn more.
5. Career Flexibility
One of the main reasons why people hesitate when considering whether college is worth it is the fear of picking a major. Once you choose one, you’re stuck in that field for the rest of your life, right?
Having a four-year degree will open many doors for you after graduation, but it can also help you transition to a new career later on in life. For instance, any sort of Bachelor’s can lead to online MLS degrees, and getting a teaching certificate on top of your Bachelor’s Degree will allow you to teach any grade level in elementary school, middle school, or high school.
Even if you settle for an Associate’s Degree in the beginning, you’ll still be ahead of the game.
This decision will give you the opportunity to work for a couple of years, decide what your true passion is, and return to school later on to pursue that career. Plus, you’ll have had even more time to save up for your dreaded tuition.
There’s a lot of peace of mind that comes with knowing that you aren’t wasting money on something that you aren’t quite sure about.
6. Invaluable Life Lessons
There are plenty of financial reasons why going to college is worth it, but not many people consider the immaterial reasons. Setting apart 4 years of your life to research things you’ve never heard of, listen to professors you may not like, and study for exams you don’t want to take will completely transform who you are as a person.
After conquering finales week, everything else you do for the rest of your life will feel like a cake walk. Those FAFSA forms alone will test your willpower.
Earning a degree will not only teach you how to manage a business or solve for x. The focus and discipline it takes to pass your classes and make it to the end will carry you through the rest of your life. You’ll learn how to budget your time, work on your own, and even discover which style of learning works best for you.
Skills like these are hard to learn and are also implied characteristics of any college graduate.
An employer who sees that degree on your resume automatically knows that you have what it takes to work hard for them.
This is why, as mentioned earlier, having any sort of degree on your resume will set you apart from the competition.
7. Why College Is Worth It
As the saying goes, an education is the one thing no one can take from you. Once you have earned that degree, you will be “college educated” for the rest of your life, no matter how things turn out. You’ll know that, if you ever get a raise or get promoted, it’ll be because you earned it, not because you got lucky.
The world is full of entrepreneurs and freelancers who want to create something new and be their own boss. While their endeavors and noble and worthwhile, getting starting without credentials is tough.
Not only will having a degree force people to take you more seriously, but it will force you to take yourself more seriously as well. A college educated individual is a commodity, and new jobs are being created every day. Take the plunge, talk to an advisor, and give yourself a chance.
For more inspiration or questions, contact The Muse Box.