College Or College?

by Steve Wyckoff on January 21, 2010

This post is cross posted with Kansas Career website.

Regardless of how old you are you’ve heard for most of your life that you need to go to college. You’ve heard it from your mom and dad, grandmother and grandfather, and even the President of the United States. In fact, from many presidents of the United States. And when you go to school you are constantly reminded that what you’re learning is preparing you to go to college.

You need to understand, however that going to college today can have different meanings. In the past it meant that you were going to go to a four-year college. Plain and simple. And in the past that was good advice. For decades and decades having a college degree was the ticket to a good job. That is simply no longer true. A college degree in the wrong area isn’t much better than no college degree. While many employers still see the college degree as a sorting mechanism, what you learn in college, and more importantly what you learn to do in college, is more important

Today there are important factors to consider before you decide what “college education” means to you. Today more than ever you need to consider the path that you’re going to take to a four year degree. The first level of education in post secondary education that may be the best way for you to proceed is to obtain an industry accepted certificate in a community or technical college. Many certificates can be obtained in less than two years and yet open many doors to high-paying careers.

The second level that you may consider it a two-year, or associate degree. Often times after completing your certification program the completion of required gen ed courses will complete your associate degree. Both the certification program and the associate degree will enable you to acquire a well-paying job and a career.

The third level of education would be the pursuit of a bachelors degree. By pursuing these three levels in order, your bachelor’s degree will be much more meaningful and engaging. Typically students pursue their bachelors degree, associate degree, and industry certification in the same field. This enables the individual to learn not only in the classroom, but in their field of their choosing as they pursue more advanced degrees.

By pursuing the ultimate goal of a four-year college degree following this path, the students will have a better education and typically can leave school without any accumulated debt. It isn’t at all uncommon for a student to graduate from college today with debt exceeding $40,000. While students who follow the industry certification, associate degree, bachelors degree path leave with little or no debt, and in many cases have had employers pay for their education beyond the industry certification.

So while you contemplate your options, and everybody is telling you you have to go to college, remember there is a path other than going directly to a four-year institution a better suit your needs.

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