Everyone who has graduated from college sits back and wonders 2-3 years later, "Was the distance learning degrees' worth it?"
The average state tuition for public schools in the United States if $7,020 per year, plus living and book expenses, and a whopping $26,273 a year for a four-year program at a private university. (collegeboard.com)
So let's consider if students had to borrow the entire amount and not get assistance from their parents or any scholarships. For a public school that comes to over $28,000 and for a private school an amazing $105,092 (and that's without living expenses and considering they actually finish in 4 years).
Now, how useful exactly is the distance learning degrees that graduates receive?
Let's consider where the money is going:
According to Lynn O'Shaughnessy in an article posted on money watch.com, the most popular degree for men is Business Administration at 22.3% and the second most popular degree is Electrical Engineering at only 2.8%!!
The disparity for women is less staggering, but the degree choices are for notoriously low salaries industries. At number one is still a degree in Business Administration with 11.4%, followed by Education (5.1%), Social Work (4.2%) and Elementary Education (3.8%).
Obviously the numbers are considerably skewed with women in majors that offer lower starting and average annual salaries.
But degrees are required for the fields they are looking to get into; it's hard to imagine someone going to a private school to get a degree in education or social work, it just wouldn't make any financial sense!
Social workers and elementary education pursuits start at $33,000 a year (money watch.com). Try paying $100k in student loans on that salary!
An what is worse, real wages for people with a Bachelor's degree are falling! For Business Administration the median starting pay is only $42,900 annually.
The case rests in how the degrees are used! Surveys show that the majority of people end up working outside of their degrees! So what good does that 30k - 100k loan and 4 years of potentially gaining experience and making money rather than spending it, bring to the table?
The could be addressed through a long standing thought debate between Frederick Douglas and Marcus Garvey; Douglas advocated traditional education, much like our colleges today, the 4 year programs with brick and mortar universities; while Garvey advocated trade schools. Trade Schools show up in the form of IIT Tech, Phoenix University and Kaplan but even these schools and now charging tens of thousands of Dollars for a degree.
A niche has started to grow where certifications for specific skills are taught in less than a year. these certifications can cost less than $3,000 and have relevant real life experience built in because it's not taught bu academia but by real world professionals.
If you can get the information you need for only $3,000, imagine what you could get for $28,000? or even $100,000???
These are legitimate questions because there is more and more disdain for what is required in schools. why is someone in a technical college required to satisfy cultural studies credits? why do students spend almost 2 years on courses which can be completely irrelevant to their interests and abilities?
Counselors will answer this question under the guise of building a well-versed student and bringing them to intellectual maturity. How about explaining that to the student who skipped that class, got his or her B or C by fulfilling the minimum requirements.
Two years of this information is worth %15,000 and as students continue to skip class and graduate, their need is questioned! The funny thing is that students aren't even aware of this over charging and over pricing! They are promised that once they get a degree they will get a job.
But come the job hunting time and out is the question: "What kind of experience do you have?" Answer: "None."
Corporates love the fresh graduates, as they put them into lowly starting positions where they convince the candidate that they need to build the appropriate skills to work in the company, instead of all the big ideas they taught you at school.
Now some positions use skills specifically from what was taught in class, but those are technical courses such as computer programming, engineering and so on. You can learn that through a distance learning course and earn an additional degree at half the cost!
In the end, the degree is worth what the former student says it is. and if more and more former graduates are saying that they didn't get their money's worth from 4 years in a college, shouldn't someone be listening and paying attention? The benefits of being an alumni at a highly reputed private school should continue post graduation such as discounting continuing education classes, access to the library and resources, and possibly access to material on online education?