A number of important factors are prominent in the decision to attend college. This article will explore the major decision points so that an aspiring college student can make a fully informed decision before beginning the lengthy college process.
Students must make certain that they are fully prepared for the commitment. College requires a layout of money for tuition and books, as well as a continuous commitment of approximately 15 hours of class per week and 30 hours of study.
The commitment of 45 hours a week to class and study is greater than a 40-hour work week. So the costs also involve forgoing work opportunities in order to study. Students might wonder about the overall benefit of having a college degree over going to work straight out of high school.
The hourly wage of a college graduate approximates $28 or more per hour, as opposed to the minimum wage of $7 or $8 per hour. That’s a $20 or more per hour wage differential.
Next, a student must weigh the benefits of working at a trade, such as a welder, electrician, plumber, solar energy installation services provider, or construction worker. Those jobs pay much more than an entry level wage; however, there is a long apprenticeship involving on-the-job training and some formal classroom training. In addition, trade schools can be costly too. A year or two at a trade school can be comparable to a full year or more of tuition at a local private college.
Once a student makes an affirmative decision to go to college, the next issue is deciding what to study and how to pay for it. Tuition at a public college can be as low as 25% of tuition at a private institution. Traditionally, college costs are calculated based on need, taking the family income into account.
Once a student can establish need due to a low family income, then a much higher proportion of college costs can be covered through programs such as Federal Work Study or Pell Grants. Full or partial scholarships may be awarded in accordance with need, superior academic performance in high school, a very high SAT score or ACT score, or a combination of factors. Scholarships may be awarded based upon superior athletic performance or potential demonstrated in a high school sport such as, football, soccer, hockey, or baseball.
The National Guard can pay up to 100% of your college tuition and general fees, up to $4,500 per year. This adds up to $18,000 over four years. The exact amount is based on in-state public institution tuition rates.
Once in college, a student will be faced with choosing a major course of study prior to the sophomore year. A reasonably robust college education in the liberal arts should consist of courses in English literature, writing, public speaking, higher mathematics, world history, psychology, philosophy, a major course of study, and a body of electives.
Professional programs are governed by the requirements of state law and the respective licensing professions. The college administration has little room to impact the design of the curriculum because state law or professional licensing bodies set forth the minimum requirements for obtaining a license in the area of specialization.
The professional license route requires satisfying the educational requirements specific to each profession. Examples of college preparation for professional licensure include formal programs in accounting, engineering, law, medicine, actuarial sciences, nursing, and the computer sciences. Teacher preparation is another popular option as are physical education and physical therapy.
If a student is not interested in one of the many professional collegiate courses of study, then a general college degree sequence of liberal arts is the option. A general college degree can qualify a student for a career in government, white collar positions in major companies, journalism, running a small business, general management, internet services, or the Federal Civil Service Examination.
These are just a few of the options. Becoming a commissioned officer in the military is another possibility that should never be overlooked. Increasingly, municipal police and fire departments are hiring college-trained employees from community colleges and full four-year colleges and universities.
In closing, aspirants to a college education should do some basic research before making such an extensive commitment. Students and parents should review the costs, benefits, and alternative uses of the projected college funds so that an intelligent decision can come out of this extensive deliberative process.
Many macroeconomic changes will be coming this decade. The United States population is growing at nearly a million people a year over the death rate. In addition, the baby boom generation is retiring in record numbers. Exports to foreign countries are projected to increase dramatically within just a few years.
Professionals in each of the major areas of practice will be retiring and replacements will be needed. The world population could be as high as nine billion by 2050. The sum total of all of these trends will result in increased demand for highly trained professionals at some point in the not-too-distant future.