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how come you have to take years of college just to be in debt and most likely can't get a job because u aren't familiar with the work like others ?

how come you have to take years of college just to be in debt and most likely can't get a job because u aren't familiar with the work like others ?

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Subject: Career question for you

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Deirdre’s Answer

The reason many people take on the student debt is the potential ability to earn more income over their lifetime. According to the Social Security Administration's website, “There are substantial differences in lifetime earnings by educational attainment. Men with bachelor's degrees earn approximately $900,000 more in median lifetime earnings than high school graduates. Women with bachelor's degrees earn $630,000 more. Men with graduate degrees earn $1.5 million more in median lifetime earnings than high school graduates. Women with graduate degrees earn $1.1 million more."

https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/research-summaries/education-earnings.html, Accessed 04 March 2024
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Shandy’s Answer

Well, remember that with many things in life, you only get out of it what you put in it. I'm a big supporter of students going to colleges/universities only where they get the biggest financial support. You are right, many go into debt pursing a degree and sometimes can't get ahead trying to pay it back. You may have a school that you really want to go to but if the funds aren't there, you may have to go to another choice. Notice I didn't say "lesser" choice. A ton of colleges and universities exist and you can get great life experience and education wherever you put in the work. Once you graduate, no matter where you get your degree, it is also important to live within or even below your means. It doesn't mean you can't enjoy life, but you don't have to go out and get an expensive car or home/apartment when you graduate. Save, give/tithe, and live a simple lifestyle where you can plan for a solid future financially regardless of the economy ups and downs. It can be done!
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Dennis’s Answer

Hello Kai,
Let's turn your question around a little bit......How much do you want to invest in your future? I assume that soon, you will graduate from high school. Great! How do you expect to earn a living? Do you like working with your hands? Do you like solving problems? What kinds of activities are you good at; which ones do you like to do?
So, think about what kind of job(s) you think will keep you engaged and allow you to be creative and useful. You don't have to choose the "right" vocation at the outset. You have lots of opportunities to try different things.
A part-time or summer job can give you some work experience and/or funds to use as you further your education, whether it isfor college or a vocational school.
When you are looking for that part-time or summer job - pay attention to the kinds of jobs that exist. What skills do employers need that you have or want to learn. If you do that, you will have a better idea what training or education you want to pursue.
As to either kind of post-high school education, you will have to pay tuition or earn scholarships. With either path, you will probably accrue some debt. Think of that debt as an IOU against your future earning power. If you don't make that investment, that's OK, too, but, very likely, your earning power will be less. And, you might not get the opportunity to do the kind of work you would prefer to do.
Another investment that is open to you is to join one of the military services. You can learn useful skills and also earn money for future education options at the same time.
With either military service or vocational school or college - you have to commit yourself to some time period. You might view that as unproductive time, because you won't be earning as much money while you are attending school or serving. That's part of the process and part of the investment. But, if you are successful at earning credentials for a future job doing something you like, you call that SUCCESS!

Good luck to you, Kai!
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Karen’s Answer

At first, it might appear challenging, but it's important to recall that you're putting your resources into your learning. This might feel like a 'temporary hardship for a long-lasting benefit'. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide how you want to allocate your money. However, investing in education is incredibly crucial as it can catapult your future prospects.
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Gil’s Answer

Shandy and Dennis have provided fantastic responses that may cover everything you were looking for.

To offer another perspective, I bring over four decades of experience from the Information Technology sector. I've had the opportunity to interview numerous fresh graduates, and one particular aspect I pay attention to is their ability to handle questions or situations not covered in their resume. AT&T, for instance, wasn't primarily seeking individuals with pre-existing job skills. Instead, they valued those who could learn while working and become efficient contributors within a year or two.

Certain companies prefer to hire novices, intending to train them. This is particularly true for industries like telecommunications, which require years of learning. Moreover, newcomers usually command lower salaries than their experienced counterparts.

The secret to success lies in diligent work, smart strategies, and a proactive approach to assisting your colleagues. Remember, everyone begins their career knowing less than most others in their field. On-the-job learning is a universal experience. Embrace this process and heed the financial counsel from Shandy.
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James Constantine’s Answer

Dear Kai,

Navigating College and Debt

The escalating cost of higher education in the United States has led to a surge in student debt over the past several years. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that the average annual tuition and fees for a four-year public institution were $21,184 for the 2019-2020 academic year. This cost is even steeper for private institutions, averaging $46,950 per year.

Consequently, many students are burdened with significant debt upon graduation. Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reveals that as of 2021, the total student loan debt in the United States is a staggering $1.7 trillion, affecting over 44 million borrowers. This amount has more than doubled since 2009, presenting a major challenge for numerous Americans.

Navigating College and Job Readiness

Although college can equip students with crucial skills and knowledge that can aid in securing employment, it doesn't always guarantee a job. Some students may discover that they lack familiarity with the workplace or specific job requirements after obtaining their degree.

Data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows that as of 2020, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates is approximately 5%. While this rate is lower than the national average, it still signifies that landing a job post-graduation can be a tough task.

Moreover, some employers may favor candidates with relevant work experience over those who have only completed a degree program. A survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers in 2021 indicates that employers seek candidates with relevant work experience in addition to a degree when hiring recent graduates.

Reliable Reference Titles

“Tuition costs of colleges and universities.” National Center for Education Statistics. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=76
“Student Loan Debt Climbs to $1.7 Trillion.” Federal Reserve Bank of New York. https://www.newyorkfed.org/microeconomics/housing-credit-access-files/student-loan-data-and-papers/student-loan-debt-climbs-to-17-trillion
“The Class of 2020: A Profile of Recent College Graduates.” National Association of Colleges and Employers. https://www.naceweb.org/career-development/trends-and-research/the-class-of-2020/

May God Bless You!
James Constantine Frangos.
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Mary’s Answer

You don't have to. I went to college for years (I think 6 in total,) and all I achieved was a two year AA and I never accumulated debt. I also still don't work in any of the industries I studied for. I'm trying to do freelance work in the areas that I know, but it's far between and few.

There are certain fields, like the medical field, which, understandably, require many years of study. They don't want some random dude off the street walking into a hospital and becoming a doctor. But there are other fields that can afford to hire people with basic knowledge and let you learn as you go.

If you're limited on money, and don't want to go into debt, look into a community college. Many of the teachers there are only teaching part time, and they work full time in an actual industry. My dad was a mechanic at Toyota and taught two nights a week at the college. Community college is more affordable, and usually closer to home. You can take some classes there to get a basic understanding of the field while developing a working relationship with the teachers, who can probably point you in the right direction. They know of available positions at their businesses, or know of other business owners who are looking for an apprentice.

You are absolutely right, and I'm so glad that the younger generation is aware that the student debt crisis is a problem. College is a wonderful tool and an amazing opportunity to learn and get connected with people outside your own sphere. But it doesn't have to be used the conventional way. It's also not the only tool available.

Mary recommends the following next steps:

First of all, recognize that you're still young and you have time. This isn't me trying to dismiss you because your youth, this is my desperate plea that you don't burn yourself out trying to achieve something. If the thought of going to college and taking out loans is overwhelming, allow yourself the option of not doing it.
Talk to your family. Mentors are important. If your parents aren't available then your grandparents or aunts or uncles or teachers or older siblings. You're entering into the world of adult work, and they're guidance and support will be helpful. Ask what they're willing to help you with. Are they willing to let you live at home for free while you take courses at the community college, or will they help pay your rent if you go away to a university. Loans can be manageable, but it helps to have financially stable adults in your corner.
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Norman’s Answer

Firstly -
You certainly don't need to get in debt to a private college.
Find out the best state school for your state - and go there (or even city school in some places).

Now - why?

Let's put it this way - there are certainly geniuses who can easily grasp all relevant concepts on their own and train the relevant methodologies on their own.
But, for us normal folks - college provides education in methodologies, mental framing ...and really gives significantly more depth on anything that you are undertaking than any sort of private training class will usually provide
(moreover - colleges tend to be "not for profit" while training schools are hustling for cash, or you have trainings provided by tool vendors which are focused on getting you invested in the tool - which means that the college process has more honesty and more of a deep exploration of the topic).

Further - college provides very valuable "relationship building opportunities" which may make it easier to find jobs later (also an important reason to join professional groups, attend conventions, etc)

Finally - it is quite common in the US for people to shift career interests. Having a broad "Liberal Arts" education gives some ideas of what else is out there and the general mental skills to shift if needed.
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Zoran’s Answer

Education is crucial, not only for building a career but also for personal growth. It's a treasure that once acquired, can never be lost. Moreover, college life is an enjoyable experience!

After college, don't be disheartened. You might start as a junior, but the knowledge and skills you've gained in college can boost your career growth swiftly, especially if you're working in a conducive environment and pursuing your passion.
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Patrick’s Answer

Kai, it's natural to feel overwhelmed by the financial stress and unpredictability that comes with pursuing higher education. It's common to wonder if spending years and a lot of money on college is the right choice, particularly when there's a risk of hefty student debt and no job assurance after graduation.

But Kai, it's important to remember that despite the challenges and expenses, a college degree also brings valuable benefits and opportunities. Higher education not only gives you academic knowledge but also equips you with critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and chances for personal growth that can enhance your life and career in the long term.

Yes, some graduates may find it hard to land a job right after graduation, but having a college degree significantly boosts your chances of getting a job and earning a higher salary throughout your career. Research consistently proves that people with a bachelor's degree or higher generally have lower unemployment rates and higher earning potential compared to those with just a high school diploma.

Also, the worth of a college education goes beyond landing a job in a specific field. Employers often prefer candidates with strong communication skills, flexibility, and teamwork—traits that are developed during college, regardless of your major. Plus, college offers chances for networking, internships, and hands-on learning that can help you gain practical experience and build connections in your chosen field.

With this in mind, it's vital to approach higher education with a strategic and thoughtful plan to make the most of its benefits while reducing the potential downsides. Researching possible career paths, looking into internship opportunities, and gaining practical experience through part-time work or extracurricular activities can help you build the skills and knowledge needed to stand out in the job market after graduation.

Also, it's crucial to manage your finances wisely and look for ways to reduce student debt, like applying for scholarships, grants, or financial aid, or considering more affordable options like community college or online courses. Investing in your education requires a significant commitment, but with careful planning and determination, it can also be a rewarding investment in your future success and satisfaction.
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Angie’s Answer

Years of college will definitely pay off if you stick with it and soar as high as you can; determination, dedicated, proficient, focused, etc. It is good to research the path you are intending to take: jobs, salary, location, etc. In school/college teaches the fundamentals required to enter the workforce. As far as the experience, one gains that from training and actually doing the work. Please do not be discouraged in putting your foot forward to accomplishing your goals. The sky is the limit!
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Seng’s Answer

There's no obligation on your part. While I was pursuing my engineering degree, I took up a part-time job at the University Computing Center. This way, the college was essentially paying me to study there. By the time I graduated, I not only had valuable work experience under my belt, but I was also free from the burden of student loan debt. It's a rewarding path that you too can follow!
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Jocelyn’s Answer

Hello Kai,

Don't let the fear of accumulating debt stop you from chasing your dream of earning a degree. Your local community college is a treasure trove of affordable courses that can help you get started. If I could turn back time, I'd spend my first two years at a community college before transferring to finish my bachelor's degree. Even though I ended up in debt, I have no regrets because my education was absolutely worth it.
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James’s Answer

Hello Kai, I see where you come from but try think about it differently.

You are investing in yourself and how you 'show up', to whatever job you take is what really counts. Experience is earned over time, you can't pay for that (!), but what you can do is prepare yourself through your studies in as broad a range of skills as possible - including life skills.

What I mean, is when you show up to a job interview, the recruiter is not just looking if you have the base relevant academic skills, but looking at who you are as a person, the range of things you have taken the time to achieve, how you achieved those things and how you are as a person - remember they want you as much as you want them, and they have to figure out 'can I see this person in this role, can I work with this person and get on with them day to day?'

Your student or collage debt is a means to an end, it is paying for that elevator which shows prospective employers how capable you are across basic and advanced topics, but putting those things on a resume just gets you through the door, the interview and impression you leave at that meeting is what will decide if you progress or not.

Personally, I left school and apprenticed into my IT role and have been at it 28+ years, and am relatively successful, but it was how I showed up to my first interview and the jobs and efforts I went to in topical and non-topical (e.g. hobbies) things that showed a rounded, ambitious and capable person whom I assume my then employer saw potential in and was willing to invest their means in making me what they wanted, which in turn gives me what I wanted (money, prospects), which after a few years you get to call 'a career'.

Look at your debt as a gift to yourself that you just have to pay back, at some point, but remember in life nothing comes for free - you are not born with an entitlement so you have to work for it from day 1! Your investment in yourself should attract a higher starting salary, where if not you might have to work harder, and longer to achieve the same from a lower starting point. The idea is the net benefit to you is greater if you come in at a higher level.

Hope this helps and good luck :-)
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Tasha’s Answer

Kai, you've received some great answers so far. Some people go to college, some go to vocational school, some get experience elsewhere. You asked specifically about the value of college, and here are the top things that some to mind for me. I studied chemical engineering in undergrad and graduate school, and I've never practices as a chemical engineer but my education was still very valuable. Here are my thoughts:
1. Choose the right school. I had high grades and test scores, but my family didn't have a lot of money. If I had attended "big name" schools, I would have gone into debt. Instead, I attended a state school and never took out a single student loan. I know someone who planned to be a social worker, and she attended a "big name" school for her degree. She took out loans equal to 3x what her likely starting salary would be, so she took a long time to pay off those loans. I don't recommend that.
2. Critical thinking. One of the key things you learn in college is how to think critically and how to learn. This is important in nearly any career you pursue. Regardless of your career choice, you will need to learn on-the-job. I've been at the same company for 24 years and every day I am learning something new, so learning how to learn (and how to retain what you've learned) is a really important skill to have. Moreover, college helps you build other skills like organizational skills and prioritization that will serve you well in life and in work.
3. Network. Another value of college is meeting people. You can build a network of people who are investing in improving themselves.

I am not someone who advocates that college is the right choice for everyone, but those are three things to consider. Good luck!
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