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The College Decision

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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.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.