If you are nearing the end of your high school career, you are probably already thinking about the next phase in your education. But while it is true that a college degree can open a lot of doors and help you land a great job, the traditional way of getting that degree leaves a lot to be desired. With college costs rising far faster than inflation, today's graduates are leaving school with a staggering debt load, and that debt can set their financial lives back many years.
The good news is that there is a practical alternative to that expensive college education. It might not be glamorous, and it might not be what your friends are doing. But it just might allow you to get your life off to a solid start and help you avoid the high levels of debt so many young college graduates are suffering with.
Working for a Living
Unless you are lucky enough to land a full scholarship to college, it may be better off to take a radical, but more practical, path to the college degree you desire. Taking a job right out of high school can be very rewarding in terms of your future and your college aspirations. Even if you do not earn a lot of money, you can enjoy many advantages that go far beyond that first paycheck.
For instance, you can work your way up by showing a dedication, strong work ethic and a desire to succeed. As a high school graduate, you may not have a lot of practical skills to offer a would-be employer, but you can bring an excitement to the job that your older colleagues cannot match. Simple things, like being the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night, can get the attention of the management team and help you move up the ladder, even if you do not yet have a piece of paper showing that you have earned a college degree.
The Value of Tuition Reimbursement
The value of this alternative approach to a college education really becomes apparent when you consider that many companies have tuition reimbursement programs in place. Some companies will pay the entire cost of your college education, while others will pay a portion of your tuition each semester. Either way, those programs can be a great deal, and a great way to graduate from college completely debt free.
You might object to this approach because it stretches out the time it takes to earn a college degree, and it can require a lot more hard work and dedication on your part. But while it is true that it will probably take you longer to graduate from college, the advantages of this approach can far outweigh any downsides
Just compare the economics of the two approaches to earning a college degree. In the traditional scenario, a high school graduate might land a few scholarships but still end up taking out $50,000 or more in loans to pay for the cost of that education. When the newly minted college graduate emerges, he or she is already burdened with that debt, even before landing a job. That college loan debt can make it that much more difficult to build an emergency fund and start saving for the future.
The high school graduate who takes the alternative route to college by taking a job right out of high school can end up better off financially in the long run. That individual can land a job that pays the bills, then goto college part time, largely on the employer's dime. When graduation arrives, there are no college loans to pay back, and best of all the new college graduate already has a job. The new college degree can open more doors at work, and since it is generally easier to learn about opportunities from the inside the chances of success can be that much higher.
In addition, the person using this radical approach is actually earning money while earning a college degree, instead of pouring tens of thousands of dollars into the coffers of the university every year. This radical approach might not seem attractive at first blush, but when you stop and think about it you just might begin to see the value in putting of college while you work your way into the real world and learn about the workaday world from the inside.