Recently, the Wall Street Journal looked into new research that brings into question the idea of attending any college for the sake of just trying to earn a degree. The research looked into the question from the perspective of taking on student loans to fund this adventure.
The article is correct in pointing out that it is no longer a good idea to just attend college, paying for it with student loans, and not having an end in mind. This concept is just too expensive given the costs of college.
In past years, some students would attend college part-time while working using student loans to fund not only their education, but also some of their living expenses. If they did not graduate it was alright since they did learn something and had a chance to try.
I remember some families telling me that it was alright for their daughter or son to just try going to college. After all, they will grow up a bit and stay out of trouble. Well, that theory does not play out today given the increase in the costs of the education. More than not this plan simply leaves many such students with little more than a heavy debt burden.
One area the article cautioned about were students considering for-profit universities with low graduation rates. These schools traditionally have very low barriers to entry, so just about anyone can enroll. However, completing the program of study and graduating is a whole different thing.
These schools are quick to offer student loans as a way for students to pay for their programs. We have all seen the commercials on television depicting a working parent studying late at night, or a career oriented person walking into a graduation.
What is not mentioned is that as these programs advance many of the students begin to drop out. Sometimes, it is a result of not having the necessary educational foundations to handle the real college courses. Other times, it is the lack of time and commitment that any educational pursuit will demand. In the end, nine months after these students drop out they will have to begin making student loan payments despite not having finished their education.
So what does this all mean?
The fact is every student and their family’s need to have a plan, and not leave attending college to chance. When I work with students and their parents we look into several key areas in order to determine the best options.
We look at the major the student is considering and review the current information regarding employment prospects. Together we examine the motivation of the student and find the best fit in a university to increase their success of graduating. Believe it or not, even an Ivy League school can be the wrong fit for some students.
Finally, we look at strategic ways to minimize or eliminate the need for taking on student loans. Sadly, many people believe that financial planning only involves student loans. When my office works with you we look at various tools and techniques available. Many times, parents are floored to realize they got their child into a prestigious college for less than it would cost to attend a state school.
So, I do agree with this article’s main point, attending college for the sake of attending is a waste of money. There is a lot more that I can share on this issue and I welcome you to attend one of my workshops or call my office for more information.