One Size Fits All...NOT!
Times are changing...and that includes the job market as well as how one goes about getting his or her college diploma. We are so used to thinking that a student goes to high school and then the next automatic step is college. Not only that, we don't seem to think anything about filling out those student loan forms, because it's "normal" for a student to do so... right? I mean, everyone has to nowadays. Who can afford college? It's "what you do". Plus, you "need" that piece of paper to get a "good job". And you can't live life without some form of debt, right? WRONG!
With plenty of articles and You Tube video segments on "The College Scam" or "Is a College Degree Still Worth It?", and with $1.48 trillion in student loan debt (about $620 billion more than the total U.S. credit card debt), many people are starting to rethink the "traditional" route to getting a degree.
And it's a good thing, too. Especially when there are so many other options available to you. I mean, you may be able to get what you need by going to a trade or vocational school or perhaps get your certification in whatever field interests you. Or maybe start your own business or get involved in an internship or entrepreneurial program. What about that "free internet degree" we always hear about- you can learn pretty much anything off the internet, and with MOOC classes (Massive Open Online courses) you can be learning from the best professors IN THE WORLD (and NOT have to pay for it!)
Just by "thinking outside the box" a little bit, you can probably figure out a way to reach your goal and not have to go into debt for it either. Did you know that there are tuition-free colleges (https://thebestschools.org/magazine/tuition-free-colleges/) or that there are some countries where students can study for free (https://www.student.com/articles/countries-american-students-study-free-europe/)? Plus from Military Service Academies, to Military Colleges, the ROTC, Credit and Tuition Support Programs, there are many options available to young people today who may be interested in serving their country as well as earning their degree. Besides the push for earning scholarships, there are work-study programs, tuition waivers, sponsors, employment benefits and educational assistance, and even "work colleges" (http://www.workcolleges.org/) which all help lower the costs of college. My son started entering any and all contests to earn cash he could put toward his college expenses, and these are available for students of any age (even elementary school). And, for those who want to focus on a certain subject, schools such as the Webb Institute and the Curtis Institute of Music offer a select range of academic programs and pick up the tuition cost for every student.
Plus, the traditional 4-year brick and mortar schools aren't living up to their reputation anymore. The system is broken and people are starting to take more notice of it. Many "claim that our country’s current educational model is simply not sustainable for the vast majority of students and families who want to engage in it, now and in the future" (see article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2017/04/03/if-our-higher-education-system-is-broken-how-can-we-fix-it/#4fac6da77caf.) Chegg found that over half of recent graduates regret their choice of school or major, and studies show that nearly half of college graduates are in jobs that don't require their 4-year degree (and most of these students took more than 4 years to get those degrees!) (https://www.businessinsider.com/americas-broken-college-system-2013-5)
So, with that being said, check out your other options. Perhaps attend your local community college to cut the costs, and then transfer into the school of your choice later while applying for transfer scholarships (http://time.com/money/4022146/scholarships-community-college-transfer-students/?iid=sr-link3 ) Maybe you could start to work for a company that gives their employees unlimited tuition reimbursement ( http://fortune.com/2016/03/04/companies-employees-tuition-reimbursement/ ) Or start earning credits on your own through the variety of ways (AP, CLEP, DSST, dual credit, online courses, portfolio reviews, summer programs, etc...) to then transfer into the college of your choice. This alone could save you semesters, if not years, of time and tuition! Or, go ahead and do it the way my son did it. He earned almost all of his credits on his own and then transferred those into one of the Big Three schools (Thomas Edison State University, Charter Oak State college, or Excesior) and finished out his degree through them. A variety of ways- the same goal- to get your college degree without any student loan debt. Weigh out your options. Figure out the best way to reach your goal and figure out the methods to do it WITHOUT going into debt.