Monday, April 30, 2012

The cost of not going to college

What is the value of college, really? For many adult learners, earning a degree is not without sacrifice – the cost, the time investment, the challenge of balancing school with family. But the real question is, can you afford not to go?

I recently commented on an article that senior editor Derek Thompson wrote for The Atlantic about how the only thing more expensive than college is not going to college. The benefits of education are indisputable -- job opportunities and increased income to name just a few. But that doesn’t mean the cost isn’t a challenge for many students.

The article lays out some interesting facts and figures about how the cost of education compares to alternatives, such as not going to college or investing your money elsewhere. It also highlights some studies that support the argument that college is indeed worth the investment. This is all important to consider.  However, Derek made one particular point that really resonated with me.

“Does a four-year university make sense for every student? Probably not. Is the modern on-site college education necessarily the ideal means to deliver training after high school? Maybe not. Vocational training and community colleges deserve a place in this discussion. And we happen to be living through a quiet revolution in higher education.”

It’s not about college at any cost. It’s about going to college when, where, and in a format that is right for each individual student. Not every learning style works for every student. Not everyone is prepared to be a college student at the same point in life. And every student’s financial aid needs are different.

The lesson? Every student should take a close look at a variety of schools, degree programs, and learning formats. Consider what career you want to pursue and how a degree might help you succeed. Talk to financial aid counselors who can help make college affordable for you.

Education is an investment in your future, so don’t let the cost get in the way of achieving your dream of earning a degree.