Wednesday, March 16, 2011

College Education not Always Worth it

In today's economy there is no guarantee college graduates will come close to getting a job in their field. They get the hype if you go to school for a certain field you can make a certain amount of money, but if 15,000 kids take the classes for a certain field, there may only be 1,500 jobs throughout the country that are hiring and not everyone will get the job, leaving them to pursue other fields at lower pay and still have a huge debt to carry.

As of February 2011 those with some college or associate degree were at 7.8 percent unemployed, while those with a bachelor's degree rated somewhat better percentage at 4.3 percent.

More than 17 million Americans with college degrees are doing jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says require less than the skill levels associated with a bachelor's degree giving us a higher educated, lowering paying workforce. In the United States today, there are 317,000 restaurant wait staff, 365,000 cashiers, 18,000 parking lot attendants and 24.5 percent of retail salespersons, all who have college degrees.

Many leave college either for health or financial reasons, but that does not wipe out the debt occurred while they were going.

Thousands go into areas they love but do not consider the possible scarcity of jobs, without calculating whether, if they do get a job, what they will earn will be enough to comfortably pay on what they will owe.

Many unemployed college grads face the additional burden of student loan payments. Thousands upon thousands of others owe more than they earn in a year and have yet to see the value of their education. Those with graduate or professional degrees owe student debt ranging from $30,000 to $120,000.

There are some forgiveness possibilities that include service in volunteer, non-profit organizations, working as a teacher for low-income schools and a wide variety of other put-your-life-on-hold jobs, but may be outside a student's field of study.

Few would argue that college is a bad investment, but the economic downturn could diminish the value of that investment.

Those who graduate during a recession tend to start at smaller and lower-paying companies or firms, which forces them to change jobs more frequently than those who graduated during better times.

College financial aid specialists recommend students should take a long and hard look at the average salaries in their chosen profession before taking out student loans.

Currently, our economy is facing the biggest student loan debt bubble in the history of the world, and when new college graduates enter the "real world" they are finding out that the good jobs they were promised are few and far between.

There was a commercial that showed a man with a great family, a four-bedroom house in a great community, a new car, who belonged to the local golf club, and he says, "How do I do it? I'm in debt up to my eyeballs."

College should be worth the price of an education, but in today's market it should be approached like any other investment - with caution.

~ Joe Sinagra

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