Student loans have become a sad reality for many adults. While higher education is purportedly available to the masses in this day and age, there’s no denying that it can cost the average student an arm and a leg to earn a degree. Most end up taking out massive student loans to cover the cost.
Unfortunately, this leaves many young adults burdened by the yoke of debt as soon as they have their diploma in hand. This is a tough way to kick off one’s adult life, especially when just starting a new career.
Even with a degree, many young grads are forced to take entry-level jobs in a competitive marketplace, earning only minor ducats as they attempt to work their way into higher-paying positions. Such salaries may not be enough to cover living costs and the monthly bills for student loans.
What can students do? Deferral following graduation is a short-term solution, but a better option may be to look for ways to minimize student debt before you even start taking on loans. Here are some strategies to try.
Taking a year off between high school and college, the so-called “gap year” is a great idea for several reasons. First, you may be burned out after high school. By taking a break you can jump back into your education with vigor a year down the road and commit to working hard, earning good grades, and preparing for a career.
A gap year also allows students time to work and save money for anticipated college costs like tuition, books, and living expenses. Even more importantly, however, it provides time for reflection.
Choosing a major isn’t easy, which is why so many students end up changing majors mid-course and others simply choose undecided. Either way, you could be wasting time and money when you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to do with your life. A gap year could give you time to choose a major that you’ll stick with.
Job Market Research
Before you choose a major or start taking classes, it’s a good idea to reconcile your strengths, what you enjoy, and the current job market. You naturally want to choose a career that you like and that you’ll be good at, but you also need to be realistic about the job market.
Look for industries and professions that are slated to see growth in the coming years, as well as those that offer livable wages. Compare these opportunities to your particular likes and aptitudes and you should be able to come up with a suitable major that will give you the tools and professional opportunities to pay off any student loan debt you accrue while earning a degree.
Just make sure you actually earn your degree. If you don’t make it all the way to graduation, then you won’t have the same job opportunities and it will be much harder to pay off student loans.
If you’re going to be a doctor or lawyer, paying beaucoup bucks to attend top-tier universities might be worthwhile. Everyone else can start smaller and pay less.
Consider beginning with community college, which is a lot more affordable than any other option. Take two years of general education courses and applicable prerequisites for your major at a fraction of the cost you’d pay at four-year schools.
With your pre-requisite courses completed, transfer to Washington State’s online MBA program. Not only will your junior status improve your chances for admission, but an impressive GPA in community college could increase scholarship opportunities. In addition, you will have significantly reduced your potential debt by paying, say, several hundred dollars a semester for your first two years, as opposed to several thousand.