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babybadger's avatar

Skip out on the debt, or try to get in the highest-ranking college?

Asked by babybadger (1790 points ) November 22nd, 2011

I was reading the Times magazine the other day, and I came across an article similar to this one: http://moneyland.time.com/2011/11/04/college-graduates-face-record-high-debt-in-the-age-of-record-high-unemployment/

I read that college debt is worse than buying your first house. I also read of a woman who went to a top-notch college, was valedictorian, yadayadayada; and is now living with her parents and working at a low-paying run-of-the-mill hotel job. I have a couple of years before college, but I’m wondering whether you guys think students entering college should look for a full ride, or try to get into better colleges. I’m leaning towards the full ride idea…saddled in debt in my early twenties does not sound like it leads to success. Thoughts?
By the way, this is dealing with the United States economy.

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8 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

In the U. S. it is nearly all education, your motivation, creativity and luck. There are successful people who dropped out of school and unsuccessful people who had the full ride.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Get the best grades you can. Research and utilize whatever scholarships you can. Use students loans as a last resort. For most students, I think vocational training is a lot better investment than general say, Liberal Arts degrees.

HungryGuy's avatar

Unless you’re aiming to become a partner in a prestigious law firm or become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company by the time you’re 30, you’re better off getting the cheapest eduction that you can (just make sure the university you choose is accredited) and get good grades.

snowberry's avatar

Not sure if a nursing degree is considered a “vocation” or a college degree..

Our local community college is THE best in the tri-state area regarding a nursing degree. You can go down the road to the university and get the same degree, but local people hiring nurses will always choose a graduate from this community college over a graduate from any other university.

wonderingwhy's avatar

It’s really about whether you’re going for the degree or the education.

If it’s the degree, unless you’re realistically expecting to distinguish yourself or, as @HungryGuy said, targeting a top tier position it’s probably better to manage your debt and try your best to come out clean when you graduate.

If it’s the education, while it’s definitely not always the case, the better the school the better the opportunities, go for the absolute best program in your field of interest you can get into. I’m also of the mind not to pass up a chance to learn from someone you find inspiring, respect, or find intriguing in the field. The better you perform the more numerous your choices may be.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Look, either way, you’ll probably be saddled with debt in your early 20s (not quite sure what you mean by “full ride”). The question is, will you still be saddled with debt in your 40s and 50s? And I know that debts sounds really bad, but debt is actually how our system works, it’s how you build up credit, and it’s actually really hard to get credit without going into debt.

For undergrad, I think go with a state school. Depending upon what you want to do, the cheapest state school might be fine, or you might want to go to a nicer state school (especially if you’re planning on going to a really nice grad school). If you don’t know what you want to do, go to a cheaper state school – going to a nicer one is really only beneficial if you know exactly what you want to do with it.

Having said that, the thing about top tier schools is that you aren’t so much paying for a better education as you are paying for better contacts. Contacts who are already at the top, who can give you that better internship and better first job and better references and maybe give you a job when you’re down on your luck one day down the road. Top tier isn’t about superior education, it’s about superior networking. But that only works if you’re the extra social type (or determined to override your more introverted nature…) who’s actually making all those contacts; if you’d rather sit in the back and not have anyone notice you and not go to mixers and clubs and meet tons of people, then it’s not worth it to pay for that school.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
babybadger's avatar

@Full ride refers to getting a full scholarship for college – highschool slang. sorry!

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