Both early and seasoned professionals attend school for various reasons—personal development, intellectual curiosity, and even boredom. But with student loan debt on the rise, online degree ads perpetually displayed on TVs, social media, and billboards, and zero guarantee that another degree will give you an ROI, it's important to ask yourself these three questions before you jump on an educational bandwagon.
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Are you betting on higher education to secure you a better job or a higher salary? Think again.
1. College Doesn't Only Require Tuition<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjYzNTIwNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzIyM30.rHzhkyjG1t9EKuKIvxJCLqw3BS7-cwAhbFxtXVklm4I/img.jpg?width=980" id="1fba8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2c35b1da06031ee1882fd536db80c0b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Young woman realizes how much money it costs to get a college degree" /><p>Tuition is just one expense of attending a university. <strong>Transportation, supplies, and personal expenses all fall into the cost of attending school.</strong></p><ul><li>Where will you live?</li><li>Will you have funds to travel if out-of-state?</li><li>Will you choose to have a car on campus?</li><li>Books alone can cost up to $1,000/semester, are you prepared to cover this expense?</li></ul><p>In addition, think about the hard work and time you are personally investing to complete your degree.</p>
2. The Current Total U.S. Student Debt Is About $1.5 Trillion<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjYzNTI4MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5MzUzOTIyMX0.Y5r-t_IPYvHpC-KB5jR3M-PVvk8K99L4DUkF7Ch-jWk/img.jpg?width=980" id="0fa09" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cce7773dac3c71a75df8c3a02d209173" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Young man thinking about how much debt he'll be in after going to college" /><p>There are 45 million borrowers who collectively owe <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/02/25/student-loan-debt-statistics-2019/#5b44b24f133f" target="_blank">more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S.</a></p><p>Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category—behind only mortgage debt—and higher than both credit cards and auto loans.</p>
3. Your ROI Will Depend On Multiple Factors<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjYzNTM3OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMjQ0NTIyNH0.E_KXM9qUyR-o0axDN_4GJIFwpaYUR3BbaaQKBdpef78/img.jpg?width=980" id="01cbe" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1cfae7d5c868fe0811909a512707030b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Recent college graduate in debt from earning a degree" /><p>It's a common belief that Ivy League schools or more prestigious institutions will offer a higher ROI than public schools. But the <a href="https://www.bestcolleges.com/features/best-roi-colleges/" target="_blank">actual stats</a> may surprise you. More prestigious schools are often more expensive and, many times, disproportionately so.</p><p>Technical colleges, however, can offer a higher ROI like SUNY's Maritime College in the Bronx, which offers the highest ROI of any public U.S. school. Post-graduation, alumni have median salaries similar to those of an MIT grad—$1,586,000 compared to $1,606,000, respectively.</p>
4. Repayment Almost Always Equals More Than You Borrowed<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjYzNTM1OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzA0MzA4NH0.XXYmPBvY4odWGRACliL_RwIrPE9wlIt3JiCVZwyaEMc/img.jpg?width=980" id="e24c0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="96674025daf7def706ec666f52bafb63" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Recent college graduate gets her first loan repayment bill for student loans" /><p>What does this mean? Let's review the basics first:</p><p style="margin-left: 40px;">(A) Loan repayment terms simply means the amount of time you have to pay your loan back. For most federal loans, there's a 10-year period. But unfortunately for some, it can take up to 30 years. For private loans, the term varies depending on your loan agreement.</p><p style="margin-left: 40px;">(B) Interest rate is how much interest you'll be paying on the loan. Federal loan rates can vary per loan, but usually stay the same annually (i.e. are fixed). Private however, can vary A LOT, and can either be variable or fixed (also depending on your credit score).</p><p style="margin-left: 40px;"><span></span>(C) The principal is the base amount you owe for the loan, NOT including interest.</p><p><strong>Example:</strong> If you borrowed $35,000 in loans, that is your principle. By the way, that is also the average amount of debt each student loan borrower will graduate with!</p><p>Now, let's get to the math and put this example into perspective!</p><p><strong>Explained by <a href="https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/how-do-student-loans-work" target="_blank">Dave Ramsey</a>:</strong></p><p><em>"Let's take that $35,000 principal and say you have a 10-year loan repayment term with a fixed interest rate of 5%. (Typical interest rates can range from 4.53–7.08%, depending on the loan type.)</em></p><p><em>With those numbers, your monthly student loan payment would be just over $370, and the total amount of interest you'd pay during the loan term would be almost $9,550. So, you might've started out by borrowing $35,000, but in the end you'd really pay about $44,550."</em></p>
There are many people out there who are fortunate enough to go to school with a few career paths in mind.
However, there are also many people who aren't sure which path is best, and spend four or more years trying to make sense of the best route to a satisfying career.
Research Degree Outcomes<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDU2NjEzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjIzOTUwOH0.YWk9qxeyPldp73xtYS43M-0MqMHcZiewh69R33g_5F8/img.jpg?width=980" id="044cf" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="70fc7d15193ce578bfe3116d28eaf8b8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>This may seem obvious, but a little research could be the inspiration you need to help you sift through your career aspirations and goals. </p><p>It's normal to experience anxiety after receiving your college degree, especially when that degree seems very open-ended. These degrees usually include: marketing, criminal justice, education, English, computer science, or business administration. </p><p>The one thing they fail to mention in school is that there's no cookie cutter outline for your life or career trajectory. Just because you major in advertising doesn't mean you have to seek out a highly competitive ad agency to feel happy or to be successful. You could use your knowledge to build campaigns for hospitals or non-profits, or you could start your own business. </p><p>You might even desire to switch careers entirely at some point to a field not even remotely connected to your first degree. Having a degree in one field or industry doesn't limit you to that one field. The world is your oyster, and you're free to use your degree however you see fit!</p><p>If you're looking to change careers, but aren't sure where to start, you can <a href="https://www.workitdaily.com/st/quiz" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><strong>take this free quiz</strong></a> to see which careers you could thrive in.</p>
Tap Into The Potential Of General Studies<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDU2NjE0NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTIyNjU3M30.3iew45JZ6BGA-ObtJ-lU_ieCV--8srtV53Ow0AospuY/img.jpg?width=980" id="1b2b1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0bbd0bf5cc7ef2d2e54c2293b3d441f4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Sometimes there isn't a degree option available that perfectly aligns with a students goals and passions. The most common degree awarded in this situation is <em>General Studies</em>. </p><p>Contrary to popular belief, you can do a whole lot with a General Studies degree as you would've spent a few years testing the waters in many different subject areas. <a href="https://www.bls.gov/home.htm" target="_blank">Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics </a>to learn what careers await you!</p>
Go Back To School<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDU2NjE2Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNzc2NjAwNn0.sKgcqCkjYG49ctWc6Ncm30k2JAcarfeleBjUpzRCA0o/img.jpg?width=980" id="d227b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4d2f3796c986b15942e2a3c2f43542c4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>This may not be easy if you've already lined up a job after school or started a family but going back to school isn't impossible. In fact, it's actually easier to do today than it was a decade ago. </p><p>Tap into resources like <a href="https://www.coursera.com/" target="_blank">Coursera </a>or <a href="https://www.udemy.com/" target="_blank">Udemy</a> if you'd like to try your hand at new subjects or improve skills gained during your undergraduate education. Who knows, you could stumble upon something you're really passionate about or re-ignite a dull flame by pursuing additional education.</p>
Stop Overthinking It<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDU2NjE3Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMzQ4Nzk4N30.iF2h30Xi6OEitDPOnPD752x49Xn_GisWeewXrtun9wo/img.jpg?width=980" id="fb760" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="add14fae12a4bb43c9e6a9ebb3973f38" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>If you let the perplexities that follow post graduation get to you, they can stifle your job search or lead you to miss out on a great career opportunity. So stop overthinking your degree and start getting your foot in the door. </p><p>Network, seek out post-graduate internship opportunities, and create new ways to generate work experience. It's okay to be confused or feel like you may have wasted time during your undergraduate studies, but don't dwell on those feelings. </p><p>A degree is as useful as you make it out to be, and you have to remember that you are ultimately more than your education. It's okay to doubt your college degree's potential, but never doubt YOUR potential! </p>
We've got some bad news for you, college grads. That diploma you've worked so hard to get isn't worth as much as you might think. In fact, your college degree doesn't matter to employers (in a lot of cases). Here's why... While they are required in certain fields, college degrees have become sort of a prerequisite for jobs. That means, more people are attending college. As a result, there's a LOT of competition out there when it comes to finding your first job after college. So, your shiny college degree doesn't set you apart from the thousands of other graduates just like you. But what can? According to career expert J.T. O'Donnell, your aptitude and personality can really help to set you apart from all of these other recent grads. Your aptitude is your natural ability to do something. What unique strengths can you bring to an organization? How can they add value? Your personality is also an important factor here. How do you interact with people? How do you connect with them? Your personality can really set you apart from other candidates if you're a good culture fit at an organization, so don't be afraid to let the real you shine. "When you can display great attributes with your aptitude and your personality, you are going to stand out to employer because EVERYBODY has a college degree," said O'Donnell. Plus, most recent graduates don't have a ton of experience to offer employers. As a result, the only things they can differentiate you on are your aptitude and personality. Remember, in most cases, your college degree doesn't' matter to employers. Get clear on your strengths and character traits so you can show your value to employers.
What do Richard Branson, Alan Sugar, Philip Green, and Simon Cowell have in common? None of them went to university – indeed, none of them even have an A-Level. Related: Resumes When You Don’t Have A College Degree These are four exceptional figures who have a fierce drive for business, and lots of natural talent. It’s difficult to know what additional benefits a degree would have given them; indeed Sugar himself said in this interview with the Telegraph that university would have been a waste of time for him, particularly as he had already made £200,000 by then. Go to most job-hunting websites and you’ll find a section for graduates – there is no specific section for non-graduates. A degree offers a complete, over-arching study of a topic that a non-graduate will not possess. It encourages experimentation, collaboration, discussion and analysis, taught by experienced people, in an environment of people who are each passionate about that subject. But the curious aspect of university life is that the degree is sometimes less important than the additional factors which define student life. Once an employer has asked for a graduate, and received 100 CVs from graduates, then the subject and perhaps even the grade lessens in importance compared to the extra-curricular activities such as the clubs and societies an applicant joins. To take an example, which is most important in John Cleese’s student life – that he read law, or that he joined Cambridge Footlights? Universities provide a platform for a pupil to become an employee. A graduate learns to live independently, in new surroundings. They will be exposed to fresh views about life, from students from across the country and world, and will hope to gain improved confidence, communication, financial, and organization skills. The overall life package and people skills that university offers cannot be replicated. Life afterwards can be a massive hangover, in more ways than one. An average starting wage for a graduate of £18-24,000 cannot be sniffed at, but according to recent figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, which were analyzed in the Independent, 18,500 graduates from 2013 were still out of work six months after leaving university, and many more had taken manual jobs or roles in retail. The unemployment figure equates to one in 12 students, while another third (59,600) were in jobs that did not necessarily require degrees. But of course these statistics can be reversed – 11 out of 12 students finding jobs within six months sounds far healthier. For those who haven’t found the ‘right’ job, they can still apply for a far wider scope of job than those who do not have a degree. Sadly, the benefits of a degree for many will be outweighed by the costs. Student debt is now regularly in the tens of thousands rather than thousands, and you may need to look at loans to survive, but be careful of short-term fixes – click here for more. True, if you do not go to university you are likely to start on a lower wage, but the flip side is that you’ll be starting that working life three years earlier than students, and therefore gaining three years’ more wages. Some jobs just simply do not need a degree, and some students soon realize that their degree was wrong for them. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs both dropped out of university early, and didn’t do too badly in the end – here are Time Magazine’s top ten ‘dropouts.' At the end of university life you may not have the job you want, and snaring it might be a tough and frustrating journey. You might not be as financially happy as you expected. But your career options will be wider, your friendship circle will be more interesting, and your life will be richer, even if you are not. This post was originally published at an earlier date.