It’s time for a rather radical reconfiguration of how we think about ‘college’. Certainly, there are still large numbers of traditional age students attending residential 4-year institutions in the US. and parents should consider.
Here are five different college degrees that offer significant value and unique benefits:
1. Get a degree from a Canadian or UK university. According to the Times Higher Education ranking, 33 of the top 200 universities in the world are found in Canada and the UK – and most of them cost a fraction of the cost of comparable US institutions.
2. After high school, take a year or two to work. Think of it as an acceleration year in which a young person can gain valuable work experience and gain insight into what he likes and dislikes. We have lost sight of the ‘learning value’ of work; yet that value corresponds to what is learned during training. And they are not mutually exclusive. The goal should be to have both. With more than half of Americans regretting some aspect of their college education (either their major or their alma mater), with more experience before college will reduce the chance of educational regret after.
3. Go to an HBCU or other minority institution. Research from Strada Education Network and Gallup alumni shows that HBCUs provide an incredibly high-quality student experience. This is also a recommendation for white students – who would not only have the opportunity to receive a quality education, but also broaden their cultural and racial horizons in powerful ways.
4. “Go Pro Early” by working for a company after high school that pays for a college degree as part of their benefits package. Yes, this could trade in a residential college experience, but it would also bring a host of other/different benefits. And there’s nothing to say there won’t be options for new residential models that will support these kinds of paths in the future. (e.g. residential communities for fully online working students of traditional age).
5. Start at a community college and transfer to a 4-year institution to eventually earn a degree at a lower cost than those who spend all 4 years there. Same degree. Better price. (Just be sure to research the convenience of transfer credits – which is often much more complicated than necessary.)