Top 5 myths about college: Why aren't you getting an education?
We know, we know. You've been thinking about enrolling at your local university, a community college or a vocational program, but there's so much standing in the way. Or is there? We're going to bust some of the top myths about obstacles to getting a college education.
- I don't have the time. It's time to rethink the traditional college student model. You don't have to be a full-time student who lives on campus. The last several decades have opened up the college experience to working adults, parents and other busy folks. They even have online elementary schools now. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2006-07, there were approximately 11,200 college-level programs that were designed to be completed entirely through distance education, typically online. You could even combine on-campus and online classes through a hybrid education program. There are also classes that are offered in longer blocks only once a week or on Saturdays. There are even universities and colleges that offer midnight classes. No more excuses: What else are you doing at midnight?
- It's too expensive. It's true that post-secondary public education in the U.S. is not free, unlike some other countries. That doesn't mean that financial aid isn't available--plenty of people take advantage of it. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 66 percent of all undergraduates received some type of financial aid during the 2007-08 academic year. The total average amount received was $9,100. The annual cost for undergraduate tuition, room, and board for 2008-2009 was estimated to be $12,283 at four-year public institutions, as reported by the NCES. To keep costs down, you can choose a local community college for your general requirements classes and then transfer to an affordable public university. Be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid document online to see if you qualify for help from the federal government. Contact the institution of your choice about school-specific scholarships, grants and work-study opportunities. The U.S. Department of Education, through its direct loan program, offers student loans at affordable interest rates.
- I already have a job and don't need a college degree. If you are in your late teens or early 20s and doing something fun, such as bartending, you might think you have plenty of cash. However, over a lifetime, college graduates earn 75 per cent more than non-college graduates, according to data from the National Governors Association. Plus, finding professional employment is essential to your long-term earning potential--you probably won't want to be tending bar when you're 50. According to data from the NCES, median annual earnings for those with a college degree was $45,000 in 2008 while those with a high school degree earned $25,000. That's a $20,000 difference a year.
- There are no jobs for college graduates. President Obama begs to differ. According to an article in Forbes magazine, the President addressed the graduating class at the University of Virginia in 2010 and pointed out that "the unemployment rate for folks who've never gone to college is twice as high as it is for folks with a college degree." The same Forbes article identified 14 hot jobs for college graduates, including data mining, online feature writing, risk management, scientific research and information technology. And yes, all these jobs require college degrees. Actually, according to a 2009 report from the NGA, by 2014, nearly 75 percent of jobs will require a postsecondary degree or certificate.
- My family isn't college material. College is a real possibility for every high school graduate, even for those students whose parents might not have attended college. Wouldn't you want to be the first person in your family to graduate from college? It will likely make your relatives quite proud. If you have not received guidance at home because your parents haven't had the college experience themselves, reach out to your high school counselor, a mentor or visit a local community college or university to get information. Don't know what to study? Take a college class or two while in high school or a summer program. If you think you're not a strong enough student, think again. Many students are average in high school, but really excel in college once they have the freedom to choose their own classes and have the chance to study what they really enjoy.
We hope we've busted enough college myths to show you that getting an education is one of the best things you can do and that nothing should hold you back. In a few years, you just might be walking across that stage, ready to receive your diploma and toss your cap into the air.