Local Blogs

By Tim Hunt

Be a careful consumer when it comes to college

Uploaded: Dec 4, 2012

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Did you catch during last weekend's selection of football games that Dr. Pepper was running a toss the football competition with a $100,000 in tuition award to the winners? Very generous and, in historical terms, an amazing amount of money for tuition.
Two items:
1. $100K—that's merely the down payment at most of the absurdly priced universities in the United States. For instance, the average price to attend at your average private university is now well north of $200K.
2. Yes, college educations have been the traditional way to middle class or better for graduates particularly those raised in modest circumstances or worse. College debt, which cannot be discharged by going bankrupt, now is in excess of credit card debt in this country. That's frightening.
Has someone been sold a bill of goods? Yes, and yes and yes.
Certainly, a college degree can be a pathway to economic success—if it's in a field that is employable such as computer science, engineering, health sciences. History, women's studies, African studies, philosophy, psychology, sociology (my degree from 40 years ago)—good luck.
What you study at the university/college level correlates directly with what you will earn during your post-graduate career. If you are in a technical field or most professions (be careful about medicine, the economics are much better for dentists or vets), then borrowing significantly may pay off. Although, you may want to chat with newly graduated lawyers over the past few years for how they feel about their education vs. debt equation.
The scam of the higher education system is that you need an advanced degree—yes, it's true for educrats and bureaucrats—but meaningless in the private sector after five years.
For those thinking they have to attend a top-tier university as a freshman, please check your math. Where you finish matters for a few years—it is irrelevant after that. Consider the cost—several times.
Remember, other than you and your parents and maybe grandparents—nobody is looking out for you but you. The universities are in it for your tuition and your gifts once you graduate—remember that.
Consider carefully the costs of the higher education and the opportunities that come with it in the field you are studying. I know a few guys who plumb for a living—they take no worries home at night, earn six figures plus as much as they want on side work and are pretty relaxed and enjoying life.
The same is true for others in the trades.