Cheaper health insurance, the option to travel and diversifying your skill set are all incentives to stay in school.
You might have heard someone say, “College is the best place to hide from an economic depression.” While it sounds a bit silly, it may be more true than you think, and here’s why:
1. Job training for under-qualified workers
Let’s face it, a high school diploma qualifies you for little more than folding towels at someplace ending in -mart. According to a 2006 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, most jobs available to high school grads pay from $14,000 a year as a food service worker to $34,970 as a secretary. By comparison, the BLS report for college grads shows that salaries range from around $43,000 per year for teachers to the six-digit range for managers and computer engineers.
2. Fee waivers = discounted degrees
Some schools and states offer low-income community college students the ability to waive per-unit fees. This doesn’t pay for books or supplies, but Californian students who qualify for the California Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver can take 20 units per quarter and satisfy general-education requirements for about the cost of a single textbook.
3. Better than retirement
College can also be a great way to spend retirement. Learning new skills, making friends and goading grandkids with your grades can be fun. Additionally, colleges and universities across the country offer discounts, waivers and scholarships for senior citizens who want to become students.
4. Free or low-cost travel
There’s no guarantee, but as someone who just spent a semester in Paris without taking out any additional student loans, I can tell you that college can literally take you places. If your school’s study-abroad options are limited, you may also want to check out the Center for Study Abroad’s options for travel.
5. Move to a better neighborhood
Many of America’s major urban areas lost jobs during the recent recession and getting into a better area might be the only way to find work. If you’re desperate to escape life in a “bad part of town,” going to college somewhere remote and gorgeous for a few years might be just the ticket.
6. Get away from home
A 2011 U.S. Census Bureau report found that the number of traditionally post-college-aged people (25- to 34-year-olds) living with their parents rose by 5% for males and 2% for females over the previous six years. Assuming you’re not planning to bring laundry back home for your mom to wash every weekend, taking advantage of the college housing experience is an excellent way to subvert the current recession and avoid being trapped at home.
7. Re-training and access to employers
What if your job is one of those that disappeared during the recession? You’ll need re-training for the kinds of jobs that are now contributing to the economic recovery. If money is an issue, look to government financial aid to help you get your degree.
8. Gain perspective about the recession
Taking classes about the current economic and political climate will make you a more civic-minded and active citizen. If enough people have an informed point of view, it could prevent another recession.
9. Find connections
College is about much more than just getting a degree. Being in college gives you the ability to find internships and utilize the career-services department. Another interesting thing most people don’t consider about the college environment is how easy it is to meet people whose work is in your field of study. Your teachers might even be able to hook you up with an opportunity.
In the end, the decision to go to college shouldn’t be dictated entirely by the current economic climate. There are many factors to consider, and since every college, state and student is different, you’ll need to do your own research before deciding to pursue higher education.
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