The next logical step after graduating high school these days is going to a college or a university to earn a degree in whatever field a student happens to be interested in. But is it worth the thousands of dollars of loans which need to be repaid afterward? There are several issues to be considered before making that next big leap, even though it has become the norm in society to do so.
Can I Afford the Day to Day Expense? Money is the most obvious and most important thing to consider, especially in the most recent years. It used to be that a private university was a far more expensive investment than the local 4 year college, but this is no longer the case. The average price of a state education can be nearly the same now as the price of a private education, although some private universities still maintain an outrageous fee for courses. Grants and financial aid can, of course, cut these costs, but if the financial aid is in the form of a loan, one will actually wind up paying more than the initial cost. Then there are books and housing and essentials such as food to take into account. A job will most likely be required while attending, especially if one chooses to live off campus, or eat away from the cafeteria. And amid all the studying and going to classes, working a full time job can be difficult. Unless a student is living at home while attending, he will be paying for life expenses and funding an education at the same time.
Will My Career of Choice Become Obsolete? In this fast-paced world, jobs requirements and job availability can change quickly. In four years, or longer, if Grad School or a Masters or Doctorate degree is in the plans, will your education still be valid? Computer degrees, for example, may be almost useless given the rapid speed at which the systems and programs advance. Paper books are also falling by the wayside now. Would it be a wise choice to be a Librarian or Literature expert? A large percentage of adults do not even use their degrees in their current job, though some are paid an extra amount just for having the degree.
Will My Career of Choice Pay for My Education? Many colleges loans allow a set amount of time after graduating college before repayment of their loan is required. However, the loans may still be accruing interest, and either way, the repayment of thousands of dollars will take a long time to alleviate. It is important to weigh how much you enjoy your career choice against how much money you will actually make doing the job once it is time to pay for your education. Obviously, most students fresh out of High School are not aware of the impact of self sufficiency on a budget, from children, to car payments, to house payments and more. But they need to be made aware of all of the variable expenses of living day to day life as an adult. You may love your job, but love doesn’t pay the bills plus the student loans. And Federal loans such as these go on credit reports, affecting every other financial decision that will afterward present itself. After having a family, or getting in an accident, or falling ill, repayment of a student loan may be all but impossible unless a student has chosen a field which pays highly.
Am I Sure I Will See This Through? I remember going to college with more than one friend who spent the first several years not even knowing what field they wanted to major in. If a student is not prepared, perhaps he should not begin the process. Peer pressure or society’s expectations is not a good enough reason to attend college. Every class taken unnecessarily costs money which will have to be repaid whether or not you actually use it. And if a student drops out, either because he can no longer afford it, or does not enjoy it, or a life situation forces it, student loans become immediately due – with or without a good job. College often becomes a time for freedom and parties and fun instead of for the initial purpose of furthering oneself in a career. A job at the local grocery store may not bode well for the repayment of a few years of fun and socializing.