Expenses & Debt
In recent years, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in costs associated with attending a traditional college or university for education. Goldman Sachs says many students are better off not going to college, if it’s a mediocre one. They report that even college graduates of mediocre schools earn less, on average, than high school graduates. They even warn those who are considering mid-tier colleges as well due to the cost and opportunity the education may or may not provide in the future. “The average on going to college is falling,” Goldman Sachs researchers wrote. In 2010, the typical college student had to work 8 years to break even on their bachelor degree investment, Goldman found. And it’s only getting worse. Future traditional education will still require the same credit hours be achieved, but the price tag for credit hour will increase causing an imbalance. The current student debt is over $1 trillion now and employers are frustrated that they can’t find graduates with the right skills – they’d prefer to hire, based on experience and professional achievements. Simply put, tuition is rising quicker than the average income potential (1).
A separate study shows 71% of all college graduates carry student loans with an average of $29,400. It’s only worth going into debt with education if the earnings are there, based on your plan and objectives. Both the amount of debt and your ability to pay it o in a reasonable amount of time are determined greatly on the school you attend and the field of study or degree you earn. Do your research and plan according to your earnings potential (both dollar and time) and what your passion be (2).
Time a typical college student spent working to break even on bachelor degree investment in 2010
Current Student Debt in U.S. for Traditional education
of all college students carry student loans with an average of $29,400
Quality of Education
Although not always the case, there are many experts who say going to college is not as much about gaining an education and learning skills, it’s more about simply paying to have a degree. Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses found that 36% of college students “did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning” during their college educations. While it appears that a traditional education provides an environment and resources for a student to gain a proper education, there are far too many right now who simply aren’t learning the valuable skills necessary to build a successful career (3).
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the 30 fastest growing jobs between 2010 and 2020, five do not require high school diplomas, nine require high school diplomas, four require associate degrees, six require bachelor degrees, and six require graduate degrees.
Many students now are graduating from college with little understanding of math, reading, civics, or economics. In 2011, 35% of students enrolled in college reported they studied 5 hours or less per week and there was a 50% decline in the number of hours a student studied and prepared for classes compared to a few decades ago. In 2013, 56% of employers thought half or fewer of graduates had the skills or knowledge to advance within their companies. 30% of college students felt that college did not prepare them well for employment, specifically in areas of technical and quantitative reasoning skills. A 2011 Pew Research survey found that 57% of Americans felt higher, or traditional education, did not provide students with good value compared to the money spent (4).
This isn’t to say that there are not great colleges and universities who provide an extremely high level of learning, but we’re seeing a major shift in light of the internet age and various economic factors.
of college students “did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning” during college education
employers thought half or fewer of graduates had the skills or knowledge to advance within their companies.
of college students felt that college did not prepare them well for employment
of Americans felt higher, or traditional education, did not provide students with good value compared to the money spent
A traditional education provides an opportunity for interpersonal relationships and skills, and exposes students to a wide array of culture and diversity. Many lifelong friendships are found and a network of likeminded individuals is created. It’s difficult to put a price tag on these relationships but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone willing to pay close to $20,000/yr just for the relationships. With the cost of traditional education going up each year, it’s causing more and more students to live at home with their parents. These relationships may not be the ones you’re looking to develop. Consider this key aspect when evaluating your learning method.
Why are some people successful in reaching their career path, while others are not?
Many people who go to a college or university go on to live a perfectly happy life, obtaining everything they set out to accomplish. There are far too many, however, who go through years of college only to end up with a degree in a field unrelated to their career. We all know someone with a college degree from a good school but who don’t like their job or don’t have the pay they expected to receive when meeting with college and university counselors. And, there are some who never obtain a degree at all but go on to build wildly successful careers.
The key to “success” is not just obtaining a degree – it’s obtaining an education and doing something with that education. Some of the most accomplished people in the world are self-educated. These are the people who are really engaged, focused and driven and you’ll find these people from all walks of life and with varying degrees of education. These are the people who learn so that they can make a difference in the world – not to necessarily pad their resumes with degrees and credentials. These are people who learn when they’re not on a deadline or budget – they learn because they want to.