Many soon-to-be college students worry about choosing the right institution. It is important to choose a college based on educational needs and never choose one because several friends plan to attend. The college a person chooses could affect how much money he or she will earn depending on the type of degree and field chosen. There are several steps to follow to ensure the right school is selected.
Choose A Major
The first and most important step is to choose a major. Some students know exactly what they want to do, but it is crucial to make sure the degree path chosen will pay off or still be an employable field in the future. It is better to pick a broader degree such as an MBA rather than a very applied degree that focuses on one unpopular area. A good way to gauge the likelihood of future employment with a specific degree or field is to browse the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For-Profit Schools Vs. Non-Profit Schools
A publication from Franklin University pinpoints the most defining aspect of for-profit schools, which is their need to maximize profits. They have shareholders to think of, so education is a service in their eyes. With non-profit schools, the focus is on providing education options to help students achieve their goals. This does not mean the quality of education is worse at all for-profit schools, but some employers may look at degrees more skeptically.
Overall, the intelligence and work quality of the student is more important, but degrees from recognized non-profit schools may hold more weight in competitive jobs. As a rule, for-profit schools tend to be more expensive than many non-profit colleges and some universities. Ivy-league school degrees are expensive, and admission is difficult. These are the most prestigious schools. Universities and state colleges are also reputable. Community colleges and vocational schools are better for trades or jobs that do not require four-year degrees.
Online Vs. Campus Degree Programs
Some degree programs are completed online without the need to set foot in a classroom. This may be convenient and look attractive to people with busy schedules, but it is important to think about the type of work. For example, degrees for some computer jobs that focus on software or online applications may not matter to prospective employers if they are obtained online or in the classroom. However, a degree for a field that requires more hands-on work is better sought with a campus-based program. As US News points out, online students should not feel that they must disclose how they earned their degrees. Every student should think about what the best way is to individually learn the material, absorb it and apply it in real life.
One final point to consider is the degree program. It is better to avoid certificate programs to rely on for a lifelong career. Smaller degrees come with more limitations. For example, someone who wants to be very successful in accounting is better off with a master's degree than a bachelor's degree. Associate degrees will usually help a person gain an entry-level job or start a type of trade. Bachelor degrees open up the opportunity for more diverse types of jobs and better pay. A master's degree will open up even more possibilities and much higher pay in many cases. Doctoral degrees are for professionals who want to reach as high as possible in their careers and earnings. Keep in mind that there are scholarships and financial aid available for most degree programs.