Is an Associate’s Degree the Best Path to a Lucrative Career?

The romantic ideal of going to college to study what you love and to learn how to be a learner, so to speak, is rapidly falling by the wayside. 

As college costs soar and new graduates struggle to find a job as well as pay off student loans that average $25,000 per student, many people are arguing whether going to a four year university is even worthwhile.

Another option that many don’t think about is pursuing a two year associate’s degree. 

A community college is often seen as a lesser quality, less expensive option to a four year college.  Many see it as a stepping stone for a mediocre high school student to improve his academic record to transfer into a four year college.

However, this thinking denies the student another important, cheaper, option–attending a community college to earn a practical degree and begin working right away.

How An Associate’s Degree Can Be Better Than a Four-Year Degree

All the Benefits without the Debt

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The Perils of Private Student Loans

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The cost of college is growing faster than inflation, and now many students find it difficult to go to college without some type of loan financing. 

To illustrate this, Heather Boushey, economist for the Center for Economic and Policy Research explains, “In 1981, a student could work full time all summer at minimum wage and earn about two-thirds of annual college costs.  Today, a student earning minimum wage would have to work full time for a year to afford one year of education at a four-year public university–and that assumes she saves every penny” (USA Today).

According to FinAid.org, “Two-thirds (65.6%) of 4-year undergraduate students graduated with a Bachelor’s degree and some debt in 2007-08.”

While the vast majority of those student loans are federal student loans, a small portion of them are private student loans.

Getting in student loan debt too deeply is a risk for all students, but private loans in particular come with inherent risks.

Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.

The Benefits of Private Student Loans

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Alternatives to Attending PayScale’s Top Universities and Still Earning a Commanding Salary

Getting ready to choose a college? 

Depending on your children and their interests, they may be looking at a report to determine the top party schools or the schools that rank highest for their chosen field.

Or, they may just care about the bottom line.

In that case, the annual PayScale report probably attracts their interest.

PayScale offers an annual college salary report that shows which colleges produce graduates that make the highest annual income.  The report breaks this down by starting salary and mid-career salary.  They also report how satisfied respondents are with their jobs.  All the data is collected by those who self-report.

This year, schools in the top 10 are composed primarily of Ivy League schools, private schools, and schools that specialize in a field such as engineering.  They are in order of ranking: Continue Reading

Should Students Get Paid for Good Grades?

Theoretically, students should go to school and learn simply for the sheer love of learning and the knowledge that studying hard will eventually land them a good paying job (though that assumption is getting harder and harder to prove in these current economic times). 

But is learning for the love of learning and a promise of a brighter future enough?

Or, should we pay our students to learn?

Isn’t Paying Them Just a Form of Bribery?

Some may argue that paying students to get good grades, whether they are elementary, middle school, high school or even college students, is akin to bribery.  These people worry that students will always expect a reward for every good action and test and that they won’t be intrinsically motivated to study just for the sake of learning.

While there is some truth to this concern, the simple fact is that not everyone is a good student.
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Would You Sell Yourself to Pay for College (or Anything Else)?

During my freshman year in college, while visiting another college campus, I grabbed one of the school newspapers.  While looking through the pages, I noticed an ad, asking for women to allow their eggs to be harvested.

Women of average height, in good health, and possessing a good GPA were encouraged to basically sell their eggs.  Not only would the medical procedure be covered, but there was also a stipend involved.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine points out that egg donors can receive between $5,000 and $10,000, depending on what is involved.

I was briefly tempted to participate.

I met the requirements listed in the ad.  I cut out the ad and took it back to my own school.  Then I did the research on what donating entails.  There are risks involved with becoming an egg donor, from health issues, to medical screening, to injections.

I decided that, between the scholarship and the student loans, not to mention the part-time job, I would be just fine.

But that experience has stuck with me, and I know that many others find that they can do reasonably well if they are willing to sell a little bit of themselves to help pay for college (and other things).

What Can You Sell of Yourself to Pay for College?

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Are Online College Classes Right for You?

Universities and colleges have offered online courses for several years now as a way to offer students a more flexible schedule. 

A nice bonus is that online courses often cost less than courses in the traditional classroom, and you also save on transportation costs because you do not have to drive to campus.

In light of the financial benefits and the flexibility online courses offer, these types of courses seem like they should be a great fit for most students, but often they are not.

If you are considering taking an online course, there are several things you must know.

Reasons You Should Not Take an Online Course

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What is the Student Loan Forgiveness Act and Is It a Good Idea?

Earlier this year a new bill was introduced to Congress called the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012.

The potential legislation has some massive changes for the student loan industry.  Is this new student debt legislation a good idea or something that should be shelved by Congress?

What is the Student Loan Forgiveness Act?

The Act would make wide changes to the massive student debt load in the country.

In 2010 total student loan debt exceeded total credit card debt for the first time.  The Act is also in response to a poor economy: the idea is that former students are too cash strapped from paying their loans to spend any money in the economy and relieving them of this debt would greatly improve the consumer economy.

10/10 Payment and Forgiveness

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