Higher education without a higher price tag

Written by Nicholas Serrano. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on September 28, 2011 with No Comments

Neal F. Litherland

If you want a good job you have to get a good education.

Students who earn higher grades and earn a diploma past high school are more marketable when it comes to finding a job above the minimum wage, starter jobs.

Many think this means you need to have a baccalaureate degree or, even better, a master’s or doctoral degree.

There are a lot of hidden fees and unknown costs that come with a traditional, four-year degree program.

According to authors Claudia Dreifus and Andrew Hacker, the tuition rates nationwide since 1982 have risen at twice the rate of inflation.

This makes an investment in a four-year bachelor’s program one of the largest purchases you’ll make in life, especially if you get student loans.

If you go to school full-time and graduate on time, then you’ve spent several years fully committed. If you can only go part-time, it’s going to stretch out your time as a student and make your graduation date that much further away.

Many students and potential students might ask what they’re supposed to do, especially if they have real life commitments like family and a job; they can’t just take time away from to get the sought-after education.

In that case, what you need to do is re-evaluate your definitions, as there are other options available.

The options: Diploma- degree, certificate- degree and associate-degree programs that you can get at technical and community colleges.

All of these are viable higher education options that may lack some of the features of a bachelor’s degree, but they have advantages that shouldn’t be dismissed.

“Roughly 20 percent of the jobs on the market require a bachelor’s degree,” said Margaret Semmer the Vice Chancellor of Academics for Ivy Tech Community Colleges’ Northwest Indiana Region. “Roughly 70 percent of the jobs in the market require some form of post-high school education, which many times is an associate’s degree.”

According to Semmer, students shouldn’t think of technical colleges and community colleges as the second-class citizens of education.

An associate’s degree is roughly half the cost of a bachelor’s degree at a public school (less than half compared to many private schools) and it takes half the time to complete (two years, full-time).

The reason for this is, of course, because associate’s degrees only require half the number of the credit hours, 64-65, when compared to the 120-plus you’d need for a bachelor’s degree.

A diploma program seldom takes longer than a year. A certification course can sometimes be done in a single semester.

While you save both time and money with these other education options, you are giving up the greater variety of a bachelor’s degree.

Students who get a four-year degree will have a larger scope of  opportunity to invest more time in academics to round out their education.

Those with the shorter degrees will miss out on some of the course variety because the classes will function on the more hands-on applications of the education.

“There are all sorts of educational programs that students are involved in,” Semmer said. “Health care is a large field that includes both nursing and physical therapy, for instance. Hospitality is also a large field that includes both management and culinary programs.”

These less time-consuming degree options also provide the key ingredient that most people need for success after college; networking.

What you learn is rarely as important as who you meet and in what you get involved.

Students who attend and graduate from Ivy Tech, particularly the technical programs where the school forms partnerships with entities like NIPSCO and the steel mills, will have the ability to make connections and get into the work force quickly.

Of course that isn’t to say that it’s one or the other when it comes to your education.

For instance if you start out working on an associate’s degree at a community college and decide you want a bachelor’s degree, you can transfer your credits to attend a university.

Before you start picking and choosing your training and education it really pays to know what you intend to do with it once you have it.


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