You Can Keep Your Fancy Degree: It’s OK To Reject The Top Colleges In Favor Of An Affordable Option

August 13, 2013  |  

Forget the rent being too damn high. The price of college is so ridiculous nowadays, the price per year can easily be the equivalent to a year’s salary. And to make matters worse, there’s practically no leg up on the competition for employment as everyone seems to be in the unemployment line.

All my life I heard my folks discuss the importance of attending a four year college. “It will open so many doors and give you great opportunities,” they said. In many ways, this remains true as there are many jobs that require a two- or four-year degree. While I am happy with my time in school, it’s interesting to see a shift in mindsets regarding higher education – and which school is “ideal.”

The thought of matriculating at a prestigious Ivy League school stirs up images of a successful and lucrative career, but that’s not always the case anymore. In fact, a recent study by Sallie Mae shows that more families are turning up their noses at America’s top colleges. And these aren’t just your average families but also those who make upwards of six figures a year.

So what’s up with this “reverse discrimination?” I’ll take “Out-of -Pocket Costs” for $200 Alex.

I graduated from a state university and that was by choice. Sure I knew of people who targeted certain private institutions for their name, but I wanted to focus on affordability as I didn’t want to put myself in debt just to say I graduated from a fancy school. Sure all colleges are not necessarily created equal. Some out-rank others in different categories. But that does not make them bad.

Especially given today’s economy, it’s important for families to weigh all factors before signing on the dotted line and enrolling in a program. Would it have been awesome to say I graduated from such-and-such school? Sure. But the truth of the matter is I am very happy with my degree, and even happier I am not paying back expensive, school-related debts that many pedigree schools carry.

The bottom line is this: You should enroll in a school that makes you happy, offers the extracurriculars you’re looking for, and excels in the areas you’re most interested in. Hopefully, you can make this as cost-effective to your family as possible. The money saved can definitely be used down the road (home ownership, etc.). Today’s times are not like they were years ago when students limited their student loan debt. That expense is now out of control. There are scholarships to be had, and state schools, community colleges, and alternative programs are gaining in popularity.

In addition, not all professions require a bachelor’s degree. There are even those making moves who purposely said no to college because of the debt and are doing just fine.

Perhaps the continuing rise in tuition and the cost of living will make more college-bound applicants take a harder look at their options, and not just the ones they assume will get them a leg up on life. Tons of local and in-state colleges offer nice packages at a cost that’s more cost-effective. If you are honestly thinking about your future, it should include any potential debt you will owe after your days in school.

I’d like to think it’s more about how you work a degree (and your grind), and not so much about an alma mater seal.

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