Should You Go To College?

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Is student loan debt really "good debt"? That's a question facing many young people as an increasing number of college graduates default on those loans, unable to get jobs after getting their degree. Meanwhile, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting a growing need for skilled workers over the next ten years. Many of those jobs require on-the-job training instead of a degree.

Among the growing job fields projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are home health workers, brick and stone masons, and event planners. The average annual income for these jobs is around $30,000. Getting into their job field faster is an inviting proposition for new graduates leery of taking on too much debt.

According to the Institute for College Access & Success, a non-profit organization, in 2012 71% college seniors had taken out student loans. The average amount of money borrowed for a bachelor's degree is $29,400. Between 2010- 2012, approximately 15% of borrowers defaulted within three years of entering repayment. Still, investing in a 4 year degree can lead you to greater earning potential.

“Anyone who says there's not a job today, don't get an education, I say that's very short run thinking,” says Marc Johnson, President, University of Nevada Reno. He points to BLS statistics, illustrating earning potential based education level. In 2012 a person with less than a high school degree could expect to earn less than $500 per week. Those with an Associates Degree were earning, on average $785 per week. Meanwhile, workers with a Bachelors Degree were paid more than $1,000 each week. In addition, statistics show the greater your education; the less likely you are to be unemployed.

With an estimated annual tuition of $18,000 per year to get a university degree in Nevada, Some students feel the price is too high. But experts say it's ok to finance your future. “Just as we don't expect to run out and buy a house out of our monthly paycheck, we have to take out a mortgage,” explains Johnson. “We have to invest in a long period of time to put shelter over our heads. Similarly it's valuable to invest in your capabilities when those capabilities are going to pay off over the next 50 years.”

But even President Johnson admits that not everyone is cut out for the classroom. In that case, he and others say it still benefits you to seek out training that will help you into those expanding career fields in like medical and construction. “You can make a living coming out of high school, but it's a living that doesn't provide the mobility and the choice that you would have if you are highly skilled,” says TMCC Dean of Sciences, Ted Plaggemeyer. “And that's why it's so important to take those math and science classes, because it opens doors instead of closing doors because you don't have them.”

Marc Johnson has more good news for future job seekers. He tells us the trend of exporting jobs overseas in order to find cheaper labor is beginning to turn around. He says many manufactures are having trouble finding skilled laborers in other countries and are bringing their production facilities back to American soil.
For a closer look at the projected fields of job growth and earning potential - check out the links below.