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2/3rds going to four-year college straight from high school shouldn’t

A friend of mine wrote an article for an investment newsletter about whether college was still worth it. He quoted former U.S. Secretary of Education, William J. Bennett, who said, “Two-thirds of people who go to four-year colleges right out of high school should do something else.” I agree.

In my book, “Say No! To College Debt”, I urged future and current college students to try personality and vocational aptitude testing. Bennett went on to say that “more students need to make realistic assessments of their abilities and finances and then decide the best path for themselves.” That’s difficult for a college junior or senior, never mind a high school senior or new college student.

If every college cost the same for classes, books, room and board, and fees, this would be a moot point. But the fact is that too many early college students just take classes to take classes without making any real progress towards a future vocation. They spend a lot of money (mostly by taking on debt) to not achieve traction towards their future lives. Spending that time and effort at a community college is much more cost-effective. After two years at greatly reduced tuition rates, students should have a much better handle on their direction as they move to a four-year school. I cover that in my book, as well.

And is a four-year degree worth it?  For some, no. They have craft skills that can provide them with handsome earnings through an entire career. Journeymen electricians or tile workers are good examples of skilled crafts in demand that can command good money. They do hard work, but honest work.

For others, the four-year degree is worth it. A JP Morgan survey showed that workers 18 and older who had a high school diploma made an average of $38,145 per year. With a bachelor’s degree, the same demographic made $67,763. With proper budgeting and no debt, you can live on either. If you take on college debt, you could wind up with payments that net you out below what you would earn with the high school diploma.

Think many times over before signing on the dotted line for that easy debt. There are many consequences of heavy debt that I just don’t have space to cover today.

Thanks for reading.

Source: Sound Mind Investing newsletter, May 29, 2019, “Is College Worth It” by Joseph Slife

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