Of course a college education is expensive, but the jobs that provide a good salary and stable employment usually require a college degree. Like any investment, college education is an investment that can never be guaranteed to pay off. Nevertheless, there are ways you can maximize your return on investment when you pursue a college education.
Go Online to Cut Costs
Adult learners have tended to gravitate to a physical campus. That is no longer the best, or the only choice. Online schools and online education programs can be cheaper because of the lower overhead. Even if you hate the idea of an online-only degree program, the potential cost savings can’t be ignored. Add the likely cost savings to the convenience of studying online, and these programs make perfect sense for most students.
Tap into Long-Term Trends
What buzzwords are making the rounds these days? It doesn’t really matter. If you want to earn a degree that pays back your investment, focus on something that ties in with megatrends like sustainability and the aging of the American population. Whatever major appeals to you, try to focus on coursework that is practical.
Focus on Something Practical
Major in something interesting, if you can, but always consider the likely market for the skills you can learn. Degrees where demand is likely to remain strong are excellent candidates for distance education. Earning a master’s of finance online degree or a masters of business administration online degree is likely to pay off.
Trendy degrees are a bad option unless you are sure the trend will last. Why? Everyone who cares about sustainability, or gender equity, or whatever is trending is looking to earn those degrees. By the time you enroll in a degree program and complete the degree, as much as three years from today, the market may well be saturated.
If you want to work in business to promote sustainability, a finance degree may actually be useful. You would know how to make the business case for reducing the company’s waste, or energy use, or both. American companies only recover 20% of the aluminum and 15% of the textiles the country uses for example. A person with a solid training in business and finance could figure out how to make money by increasing those numbers.
If you want to earn a valuable graduate or undergraduate degree, it pays to be realistic, avoid trends, and look for an online degree option.
Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball. Connect with her on Google+and (@LizzieWeakley).
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