Is College Always the Right Choice?

Is College Always the Right Choice?

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  1. Courtesy of Bloomberg Business

    We all want what’s best for our kids, but is sending your child to a university always the best option? In case you haven’t been paying attention, universities are expensive! By some estimates, the cost of tuition has tripled in the last decade and a half; some sources say it has quadrupled. By any estimate, the price of attending a university is staggering, even if your kid wants to go to a state university.

    Junior college tuition has increased as well, but as it was considerably lower than university tuition to begin with, it is still relatively affordable. Years ago, those who graduated from trade schools were lucky to land a decent job and were largely considered something of a joke. In recent years, trade and vocational schools have earned far better reputations, as have online universities.

    So who should go to a physical (as opposed to virtual) university? If your child excelled in grades K-12 and has a clearly defined major and goal in life, he or she might be the right candidate for a university, provided that you have saved up a couple hundred thousand dollars—at least—to pay for the education, or your child is eligible for numerous scholarships and/or student loans, and will hopefully earn enough money upon graduating to pay off those loans.

    If your kid is even slightly wishy-washy about his or her goals—as in changing his/her mind even occasionally or voicing any doubts whatsoever about college—do not waste your money or their time by sending them to a university. A good option is to send them to a junior college to get the GED courses out of the way. During these two years, your child can investigate his/her options and finally make a firm decision on a major. Upon attaining the AA or AS degree, he/she can transfer to whatever university accepted them, along with all the credits they already earned. This way, he/she will, hopefully, be able to achieve a bachelor’s degree in two years instead of four.

    But universities are not for everyone. Overachievers should aim for higher education; those who would be happy making a decent living and don’t care about “leaving a mark” or becoming filthy rich may be better off in a trade school.

    Depending on the course of study, vocational school programs can be as short as six weeks, and trade school programs can last from six months to two years. Online (virtual) university degrees take nearly as long to achieve as on-campus (physical) university degrees, but the tuition price is considerably less. An online university may be a good choice if your kid continues to vacillate between prospective majors upon finishing junior college. Many different degree programs share certain required courses, and you won’t feel so bad about wasting money on classes your child doesn’t need when he or she changes majors after a year if you’re spending hundreds as opposed to thousands for those courses.

    Lastly, over the past several decades, universities have become gathering places for intellectuals with strong political agendas that they push onto their students. Sometimes classrooms are little more than centers for indoctrination for professors who live extremely isolated lives in academia with little or no experience in the “real” world. Theory becomes more important than experience for such ideologues, and if these professors don’t share your particular world views, you may not like what they teach your kids.

    The bottom line is that there are many options to universities. And while a university degree is definitely the first stepping stone to success in most cases, it is not necessarily the best choice for your child.

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