College Pay Backs: How to Earn a Return on Your Educational Investment Reply

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).


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Your “After College” Survival Guide: How to Survive as a Fresh College Graduate Reply

Saving for educationBeth Bowman graduated college bubbling with excitement. She had accrued over $25,000 in student debts, but it didn’t matter because she felt she was pursuing a degree that will help her land her dream job of being a cultural consultant for a non-governmental organization. Now out of college, she was excited about her prospects.

However, Bowman soon realized the hard way that we don’t live in a perfect world. After sending about 500 job applications — to which she got no response — she now manages at a job as a policy administration specialist, a job that does not require a college degree.

Bowman’s story isn’t an isolated example.

Statistics from Pew Research Center show that it is becoming increasingly harder for college graduates to find good jobs: a whopping 44 percent of college graduates work at jobs that don’t require a college degree, and 20 percent of college graduates work in low-wage jobs that pay below $25,000. That obviously doesn’t justify today’s average student debt of $37,172.

Here are some survival tips to help you cope as a fresh college graduate:

  1. Make Preparations before Graduating College: Considering the difficulties in getting quality jobs faced by college graduates today, it is best to start making preparations before graduating college. Research shows that employers still value job experience — and having experience as a paid intern makes things even better.

The good news is that you don’t have to be out of college to get relevant job experience. You can still intern while in college; look for relevant organizations that have internship organizations for you while you’re still in college, and slowly build up your work experience. By the time you graduate, you don’t have to be disadvantaged due to lack of work experience.

  1. Get Creative About Job Applications: As a fresh graduate, don’t assume that you can get hired by applying to advertised jobs. Some sources show that up to 80 percent of jobs are unadvertised.

Instead:

  • Regularly reach out to family and friends to inquire about unadvertised job openings they know of.
  • Avoid having your life story on your cover letter. Research shows that recruiters spend less than 10 seconds going through it. Keep your cover letter short and simple.
  • Don’t ignore the internet in your job search. Apparently, 80 percent of recruiters have hired people through LinkedIn. Create and polish your LinkedIn profile.
  • Don’t just wait while you try to get hired. Take advantage of technology to accelerate your prospect of getting hired: you can start a blog or create a simple website. Case studies abound of people who got hired through their blog/website, and many said employers were wowed more by their blogs than by their degree.
  1. Pursue Side Jobs and Alternate Career Options: Many college graduates wait for years, sending hundreds of job applications, without getting their dream job and spending all that time doing nothing. This eventually leads to depression.

Get creative about other ways to earn while looking for your dream job. You can easily find side jobs that will help you sustain yourself while pursuing desirable job opportunities; income from these side jobs reduce pressure on you and help cater to some of your day to day responsibilities.


About John Stevens

John Stevens is an entrepreneur and founder of HostingFacts.com, an online portal that reviews web hosts. He is a regular contributor to Standford’s blog, Business Insider, Entrepreneur.com and other major publications. Follow him on Twitter @hostingfactsj.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.