There is so much talk these days about student loan debt and the cost of higher education, and rightfully so. In my humble opinion, I think these costs are outrageous! I could go on and on about “when I went to college…..” but I won’t. Frankly my kids don’t want to hear that (probably no one does!) and it doesn’t help them in their quest for higher education! So how does a kid keep costs down while getting a great education?
Answer: COMMUNITY COLLEGE!
I did some research in my home state of Colorado. I compared the cost of our local community college and a state college nearby. Obviously your mileage may vary depending on where you live. You can only earn an associate’s degree at a community college, so eventually you have to transfer to a university to earn a bachelor’s degree. But the amount of money saved, at least through my middle-class-with-three-kids-eyes, is incredible!
Based on in-state tuition with 15 credits per semester (does not include books):
Community College: $2,294.83 x 2 = $4,589.66/year
State University: $5,526.14 x 2 = 11,052.28/year
State University with tuition, room and board = Over $25,000/year
My family is fortunate to live within a close proximity to both of these colleges. Dreamer boy 16 thinks he wants to earn a bachelor’s degree, but has no clue in what. So our plan is the community college route. Based on the above prices, in his first two years he will save $12,925.24. Hopefully in two years he will figure out what he wants to do while taking general education courses. Of course, with going to community college and commuting to the university he won’t get that “college experience”, but maybe with his first paycheck out of college he can take his parents to Hawaii instead of paying Sallie Mae!! Ha!
I have learned recently there is a new trend with many universities and they now require a student live on campus their first year, sometimes two years. What? Why? I have my opinions, but I will just say this is wrong in so many ways. So, in order to bypass this, go to COMMUNITY COLLEGE and save yourself roughly $14,000 per year!
Many school districts also have programs where kids can earn their high school diploma as well as an associate’s degree – with no out-of-pocket costs (possibly books, but what the heck!). Kids can also earn college credits for classes they take in high school such as English or different types of electives
What about the kid who has no interest in a bachelor’s degree? Answer: COMMUNITY COLLEGE!
There are so many trade options for kids to explore at a community college as well. Dreamer Boy 19 has just finished up his first year at our local community college. My opinion so far? AWESOME!! He has taken a vocational career path which is now known as “career and technical education” (CTE) and I am so proud of him! His future is looking bright. The cost of this program for one year was roughly $4,000. Are you wondering why I don’t know what the exact cost of his program was? Well, that’s because I didn’t pay the bill! My overachieving, side-hustling boy got himself an internship/volunteer gig that has paid for all of it! As an added bonus, he now has a huge network of professionals in that field to help him improve his skills in order to prepare him for an awesome career.
His career path is firefighter/EMT. His goal now is to obtain gainful employment with a local fire department which is very competitive. So until he gets one of those awesome jobs (and I know he will!) he has learned some great skills and earned certifications to get a great part-time/full-time job. Most important of all – MY KID HAS FOUND HIS PASSION! He loves going to work even though he isn’t getting paid. We should all be so lucky.
When Dreamer Boy 19 was in high school he thought he wanted to be an automotive technician (i.e. mechanic!) He looked into a private school program that was going to cost upwards of $60,000! And they wanted Mr. Dreamer and I to co-sign for him! NO THANKS! Not loaning money and not co-signing for your kids is another story for another day altogether. However, this really made him think twice about what he really wanted to do, and it made him a bit more resourceful when he knew we were not co-signing. Our awesome local community college has a great automotive program as well, but he decided to go a different route altogether.
I wouldn’t wish any specific thing for any specific person – it’s none of my business. But the idea that a four-year degree is the only path to worthwhile knowledge is insane. It’s insane. We are lending money we don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back to train them for jobs that no longer exist. That’s nuts. ~ Mike Rowe
Not every kid wants to earn a bachelor’s degree, and I don’t think they all should. However, I believe if kids do not go to college they need to either go down the career and technical education road or join the military (just my humble opinion folks!). Dreamer Boy 19 almost joined the military at one point, but he decided Colorado was too awesome to leave!
There are many, many vocational careers out there that not only pay really well, but are really important. I know when I take my car to the mechanic I want it fixed right, or if my HVAC system goes haywire, I want a qualified person there to fix it
yesterday ASAP (I lived in Las Vegas for 25 years!). These career choices can provide a very comfortable living as well.
Have I missed anything? I would love to hear your comments!
photo credit: Canadian Pacific <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/18378305@N00/20412983321″>Otterbein University</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a>