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This could potentially provide a perspective on education
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A Perspective on Education, Part 9
The 80/20 Solution provides practical tips on practical themes. It’s named after the 80/20 rule which generally states 80% of the results are from 20% of the effort. That’s the point of The 80/20 Solution – to give you most of what you need without much work. The 80/20 Solution targets audiences looking for general to intermediate information. The 80/20 Solution provides useful tips on a specific theme – you’ll be informed and ready to immediately apply what you learned.
Choosing a College
If you’re looking at colleges, starting to think about college, or know anyone who is, this 80/20 Solution is for you!
This 80/20 Solution is also for you if you’re asking the following questions…
What’s the best college/school for me?
Choosing a college is one of the most significant decisions you’ll make. It’s going to give you the education you’ll use to get a job and learn more about the world. It’s also a place where you’ll make lasting friendships as you grow from adolescence to adulthood. It’s a decision you don’t want to make lightly and it’s one you should think about from a number of different angles. Student debt and the usefulness of degrees is a big topic these days and something to strongly consider as you jump into your secondary education. This 80/20 Solution is going to focus on what to study, where to study and the cost/benefit ratio of your degree and school.
What to study
A good place to start is by deciding what you’re going to study. You don’t have to be super specific, but it’s a good idea to have an idea of the field you want to go into. For example, if you’re good at science and math, maybe you’d like to be an engineer. If you want to start and run your own company, business is probably best for you.
You should follow your passion but also be realistic – you need to earn a living, too. You can easily find resources on the Internet that tell you what an average degree earns once you graduate. As you’ll discover, it’s a pretty wide range. If your degree doesn’t pay much, consider getting an advanced degree such as a masters or a doctoral. Be careful, though, as that means more school and more cost – we’ll talk about cost/benefit in a bit.
Where to study
After you decide on an area of study that you’ll enjoy – but that you can also live on – you can start to think about a school that’s going to be best for you. The main factors are quality of degree, cost and personal preference (such as do you like the school and is it in a good location).
The Internet is again your friend in learning about the quality of the degree the school is going to give you. Sure, the school itself can give you information on that, but remember they’re trying to sell you on coming to their school, so make sure to do some independent research, too. The more specialized your degree, the more you should make sure the school has a high national or even global ranking in that specialty. If your degree isn’t as specialized, such as a general business or engineering degree, you’ll still want to make sure the school you’re going to is accredited in that field and also ranks decently at the national level. This helps you get a job after you graduate, especially if you’re going to get a job in a different part of the country or world.
Finally, you’ll want to choose a school that lets you adapt to your situation. For example, if you want to stay close to home, you’ll probably be looking for a college within a few hours drive so you can go home on the weekends from time to time. Or, if you want to go to a school where you already know people, you’ll want to think about where your friends are going. Keep in mind, of course, that part of the college experience is meeting new people and learning new things, so don’t let the nervousness of a new challenge prevent you from making the right decision.
The cost/benefit of your degree and your school are extremely important. Far too many students don’t think this part through. Unfortunately, that means they end up graduating with a degree they can’t use and still have tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt they need to pay. Pay attention to the cost/benefit so you don’t start your adult life in this situation.
The cost/benefit isn’t very difficult, so don’t get discouraged or intimidated by it. Here’s the trick, think through how much you’ll make with your degree/school combination and how much it’s going to cost you to live after you graduate (including paying your student debt, buying a car, buying a house, saving money, etc.). Once you have those two, you can pretty easily estimate if the degree/school combination is worth it.
Benefit – Your potential school should have pretty good statistics on how much money new graduates with certain degrees make. As mentioned earlier, make sure to do a reality check with the Internet, just to keep the school honest! Put the salary in monthly take-home pay by diving by 12 (to get it per month) and multiplying by 70% (assuming 30% in taxes).
Cost – Now calculate the total cost of attending your potential school and getting your potential degree. The cost includes tuition, room and board, transportation, personal spending, etc. If you know of scholarships you’re going to get or how much you’ll earn if you work through school, you can subtract that from the cost. You can also subtract any savings (not including loans) you or your family are going to use to help you pay for school. The resulting amount – total cost minus scholarships minus work minus savings – is the amount you’re going to need for a loan. Put the cost in monthly terms by estimating the debt payment. You might need a little help with this (try searching the Internet for “student loan repayment calculator” or ask your parents or guidance counselor if they know how to help). My estimate for a $50,000 debt repaid over 10 years at 5% interest is about $530 a month.
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