The Biggest Bang for Your Education Bucks

The process of deciding on a college or university is a time consuming and daunting task.  From the time you begin the search to the time you walk on the campus as a freshman, the process is enormous.  But so is the responsibility of paying for college.

Students across the country are receiving their acceptance letters and making decisions on where they believe they want to spend the next 4-6 years of their lives.  That time frame is based on acquiring a bachelor degree and the national average to complete that four year degree.   But the national statistics indicate that less than forty percent will complete their degree in four years.  The average is 5.8 years.  Did you create a college savings plan that accommodates six years of tuition, room and board for that bachelor degree?

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article wherein they addressed the issues of financing college.  In five perspectives of advice to parents from five financial advisers, the first recommendation was, “Encourage your child to select a career first, and then a school.”  One of the advisers interviewed, Greg Gilbert, a financial adviser based in Atlanta, went on to make a statement so similar to what I have blogged about over the last month when I encouraged students to seek out internships and volunteer opportunities.  He said, “The key is not just saying ‘Oh, I want to do this,’ but instead, really actively vetting out the [career] idea to see if it’s the right choice.” 

Funding a college degree is an enormous commitment.  It can become bigger than expected if it is not managed effectively.  Investing in a career professional may mean spending a little up-front, but it will be a fraction compared to the extended tuition payments made when a four year bachelor degree becomes a 6 year bachelor degree  as a result of a student trying to “find himself” in the process.  Even students who believe they know the direction they want to take can be blindsided when the courses or internships turn out to be vastly different than they expected.

The business of running colleges and universities is big business.  Part of that business is your tuition dollars.  You can choose to make it a four year plan or an extended plan.  So, before you choose that college, make sure you have a career plan and that the college you choose will provide the biggest bang for your buck!