I have read so many articles recently about the Higher Education divide, between those that can afford education and those that cannot, growing larger and larger. Every time I read those articles I become a bit put off at their tones and lack of information. As a current student or a potential student it is important to understand that if getting your college degree is your goal you cannot be deterred by what you are seeing without first investigating all of your options. For example, many new students begin to look around at colleges and the first thing they notice is the price tag; and they immediately add up the cost of that school and feel as if a door is slammed in their face. These students begin to tell themselves that they could never afford ‘that sort of cost’ and that maybe a college degree isn’t right for them.
I have and will always feel as if everyone should have the opportunity to earn a college degree, if they so desire; it may just take bit of creativity and the ability to look at the bigger picture in order to get there. One thing that unsettles me is the lack of knowledge students are given about their options when earning their degree. They automatically think the only road to college is through one University and the cost of that school is their only option. The truth is college credits are college credits no matter where you begin to earn them from (keep in mind to always check accreditations). Yes, there are residency requirements from schools, where you will ultimately earn your degree, but some schools have generous transfer policies that allow students to transfer in a large amount of elective or ‘lower division’ credits. Here are some options for earning college credits that may be a bit more affordable for students out there worried about the overall price:
1.) Local Community Colleges are a great place to begin your college career. There is nothing wrong with starting off at a small, accredited, Community College within your neighborhood. I think many new students would be shocked at the amount of graduates who actually began their college career here, and why wouldn’t they? They can earn a large amount of credits for half the price of a private or state school.
2.) Taking classes for college credit in high school. Wait what did you say? Yes, many (not all) but many high schools offer the option of earning college credit while you are still in high school. This is a great way to get started, and again at a much cheaper rate than that of a state school. If your school offers this option I would suggest taking advantage it.
3.) Testing out of credits (and I thought everyone had heard of CLEP or DSST, boy was I wrong). Okay this may not be for everyone but if you could earn 3 credits for around $100 wouldn’t this be something you would take some time to consider? Well if you are worried about the overall price tag of a college education, I think you should. This option allows a student to test out of specific areas and earn college credit for doing it. It does take some studying and will power to make yourself do the work, but the end cost of the credits is well worth the effort.
4.) Scholarships, Scholarships, and more scholarships. The internet is your best friend when searching and applying for college scholarships. Many online schools will not offer scholarships but that does not mean you cannot apply for one through other venues. Students are shocked when they begin searching at how many different opportunities there are to earn college scholarships, and all they had to do to find them was Google it, (okay and apply)! Keep in mind some search services may charge a small fee but there are some that will be free of charge.
5.) Last but not least, tuition reimbursement. Yes, I know this does not typically cover the entire cost of a college degree but some companies out there do offer reimbursement for employees going back to school. Maybe it is less than $1,000 but trust me that $1,000 sure can cover the cost of quite a few books.
A college degree is difficult, and yes it can be expensive but do not let anyone tell you that it isn’t for you. Do not look at Higher Education as a price tag because if you do then you will become discouraged. There are many options out there and some of those options are not the quickest and easiest but they are doable. If you want it bad enough then do your research, and find out how to make a college degree affordable for you.