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When I was in high school, the people around me from school administration to my parents had me believing that if I did not go to college my career opportunities would be slim to none. It was made out to me and many of my peers that it would literally be the end of the world without college. After I graduated I found out, that was so far off from being true.
In fact there are many people who never even set foot on a college campus, are making more money than people without degrees and most importantly they have NO DEBT.
This is not a post meant to discourage you from going to college, it is a post meant to help you decide if you actually will need it and if you do decide that it is the best choice how not to financially ruin your future.
Certain careers absolutely require a college degree. If you are aspiring to be in the medical, legal, educational, or scientific fields at minimum you NEED a Bachelor’s Degree.
Now fields like fashion and the creative arts fields….I highly suggest you think twice before investing in a Bachelor’s Degree. There are so many courses online that are free or low cost that will help you attain the knowledge that you need. You also could opt to go to community college or trade school and the outcome will be just as good as any other university. These fields in particular value EXPERIENCE, in many cases I have seen that they care very little about what school you went to. That is why many have come out of college with little opportunities opening up for them, as many of these companies do not want to spend time teaching you anything they want you to hit the ground running as soon as they hire you. You could even try your hand at interning for places that are of interest to you or finding an entry level job and working your way up, before you think about overspending on a highly priced university.
Rule #1 – Don’t get too caught up in the University’s name or prestige – Just like clothing it’s not always about the brand name, you can find quality in any brand even if it isn’t as well known. Of course you want to make sure you are choosing a legitimate institution so make sure it is accredited and has all the necessary certifications before you think about enrolling.
Rule #2 – Avoid debt like the plague. You will thank me for this later. If you can, do not get any loans or if you do, only get a minimal amount that you know for certain you will have no problem paying back. Research how much you are likely to be making once you graduate school and compare this to the loan amount. For example, if you are going to start off making $40,000 a year, if you have $80,000 in student loans or higher this is going to murder your finances once you graduate. Even if you go bankrupt you cannot get rid of student loan debt and if you try to avoid paying they just might send SWAT to your door to come get you (yes, this really happened).
Rule #3 – Research all options that are going to help you save. Staying in state in most cases will save you some coins and sometimes they will even give you money for staying in your home state. Check what kinds of programs your local community colleges are offering. In my town, Rowan college programs are offered at my local community college so even though students are not actually going to a Rowan campus the end degree that they will receive will say Rowan on it, yet they won’t be paying the Rowan University price tag. Look into the Common Black College app, it is said to make the application process much easier and one student was reported to rack in $300,000 in scholarship funds.
As a young 18 year old, I had no clue what I wanted to do career wise and although I knew that I would have to pay student loans back, the reality did not hit me until it actually happened. Luckily it did not prevent me from getting a home, but it did put limitations on the kind of home me and my husband could get. It’s really hitting me hard more so now, because now that I am married they view me and my husband as one income, so income based repayment plans are not helpful to me in the slightest. For a family of three they told me my loan repayment would be $900 a month and that’s just my federal loan. I have a private loan that I am currently paying $430 for. So yeah, I am looking at over $1000 in student loans to repay each month. It has crippled me so bad, what would have been money for day care for my daughter is not even a viable option.
The money is usually fine for most when they receive it, but eventually you will have to pay. So please make your decisions wisely.