Student loans may be an economic crisis waiting to happen in the USA (and some other countries, too), however for many people, the struggle is already real. With many middle income families failing to be able to put enough money away for their children to be able to go to a private College, students generally have to incur debts as well as possibly working part time jobs while they work towards their degrees. For students who want to do more than a bachelor's Degree to gain access to the career path they want, this can end up leading to intensive debt that even with a good income, can take decades to pay off.
Add to this the fact that the job market is not as welcoming for new graduates as it once was, and there are many people leaving college with qualifications that don't immediately gain them a salary that enables them to make repayments comfortably.
However, a lot of this could be avoided if not for one major misconception in education – that private university degrees are deemed better by employers than those from cheaper routes, such as online degrees and community colleges.
The Rise in Online Education
Online education can be a lot, lot cheaper than attending a college, and many online degrees are operated by the same respected universities who offer on campus courses of study. The misconception is that 'you get what you pay for', and that paying a lot of money and incurring a lot of debt is part and parcel of getting a qualification that will appeal to employers. However, a 2014 Gallup study showed only 9% of employers believe a candidate's choice of university made any difference at all, and other similar studies from the past decade have reached the same conclusion. This is not just for bachelor's degrees, either – an AACSB online MBA is just as highly sought after as any other MBA by employers. After all, most people undertake an MBA several years into their careers, when an online MBA may not only be cheaper but also easier to fit around their family lives.
Community colleges can offer a way to get a degree without paying the tuition costs of a private college, and without having to relocate. Once again, the misconception that where you got your degree matters so much to employers puts many people off, but for both 18 year olds and mature students, it can be a more prudent choice.
Times Are Changing
Employers don't care whether you come from a wealthy family or risked a lifetime of debt to go to a high profile school. They care about your knowledge and skills. In fact, once you have racked up some experience, employers don't really care about your degree at all, as it is what you have done in your industry that will get you further jobs and promotions.
If you are going to struggle to pay for college, or fear further student debt if you do your masters, then do consider the cheaper options.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.
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