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Is College Worth the Cost? A Look at Today’s Education Landscape

College. It’s a rite of passage. A no-brainer. Everyone should get a college education.

Right?

Not so fast. The outcomes of attending a four-year college look a lot different now versus 20 or 30 years ago.

It went from “You’re guaranteed a job with a degree” to… “You have a degree? So what?”

Danny Iny, course education pioneer, bestselling author and CEO, recently dropped some major truth bombs about the state of higher education from sneak peeks to his upcoming book, Leveraged Learning, and on his website. He was also featured on Inc.com discussing this topic. Listen to this.

“For more than 30 years, tuition has grown at more than double the rate of inflation. For many college graduates today, the dream has turned into a nightmare. Today’s average college graduate is saddled with over $30,000 in debt, and spends the next several decades paying it off.”

But wait, there’s more:

“Research has shown that the majority of today’s recent graduates are unemployed or under-employed, making ends meet as Starbucks baristas or Uber drivers. And, of those who do have a good job, under a quarter are working in the field they actually studied.”

All these sobering facts beg the question:

Is college worth the cost?

Let’s dive in and discuss.

is college worth the cost

Is College Worth the Cost? What 2018 Research Says

Unfortunately, research doesn’t paint a very good picture of higher education. It’s still expensive, graduates are stuck with higher and higher amounts of debt, and the unemployment rate of recent grads has been pretty steady since the Great Recession.

  • For the 2017-18 school year, the top private universities in the U.S. raised their tuition by an average of 3.6%. This means most increased their tuition at a rate almost double that of the current rate of inflation (about 2.2%).
  • Meanwhile, debt from student loans continues to soar. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the current number is $1.41 trillion in outstanding loan balances.
  • While the economy is better today than it was in 2008 during the Great Recession, the average unemployment rate for recent graduates remains almost exactly the same, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Although average unemployment is about the same, student debt at graduation has nearly doubled since 2008, when it averaged about $23,000. Today, it’s over $41,000.
  • Underemployment – when college graduates work at jobs that don’t require a degree – is a big problem, too. Over 43% are underemployed in their first jobs out of school, according to a report by Burning Glass and the Strada Institute.
  • Even more sobering: Those who start out underemployed tend to stay that way, via the above report. Two-thirds of those who are underemployed in their first jobs out of college remain underemployed five years later.

As you can see, the facts pile up. All of a sudden, college doesn’t look like a sure-fire way to reach success, anymore.

But – what if you want to work in a creative field like content writing or content marketing?

Does the same conclusion hold true?

Is College Worth the Cost for Creatives? Pros and Cons

If you want to work in a creative field, there’s a bad news: You might be worse off than your peers who study science, engineering, education, or technology.

Recent college graduates with the highest unemployment rates are those who studied mass media, English language, fine arts, and other subjects within the liberal arts.

The “Is college worth the cost?” debate gets tougher for us creatives – the writers, artists, designers, self-starters, and idea-makers.

With a college education, we’re practically guaranteed to walk out the doors of our chosen institutions with a heavy amount of debt, not to mention zero guarantees about whether we’ll find jobs in our field.

So, how should we weigh that heavy question (college or no college)?

2 Possible Reasons Why College Is Worth the Cost

For people in creative fields, college could be worth it based on factors other than the education you’ll get, as we’ve seen that diplomas aren’t guarantees for jobs.

1. You get valuable life experiences in college.

For many people, college isn’t only about the education they receive. It’s also about the experiences they collect along the road to their degree.

Think about it: Dorm room shenanigans, fraternity/sorority solidarity, clubs, trips, studying abroad, parties, friends, school spirit, and that “college life.” You can’t experience any of it if you skip out. In fact, many would call the college experience an American rite of passage.

If having these experiences matters to you, the answer to the question of “Is college worth the cost” = “absolutely.”

2. You have time to figure out your career path.

When you’re 18 years old, you’re still a teenager figuring out life. The number of college freshman who knows exactly what major or career path they will pursue is pretty small. Luckily, those four years of school give you elbow room to figure it out before you head into the big, scary world of adults.

4 Great Reasons Why You DON’T Need a College Degree

Sometimes, college isn’t worth the cost. This is why:

1. You’ll avoid debt that will follow you for decades.

Tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt is no small matter. Let’s face it: If you choose to get a college education, you’re more than likely to accumulate this burden, which, if you’re like most people, will follow you around for decades.

Choosing a different path means zero college debt. That’s not a bad trade-off, by any means.

2. With the right experience/training, you’ll have an equal/better chance at scoring creative work.

Often, depending on your chosen field or industry, you can substitute college education for valuable training and work experiences. This is especially true for creatives.

3. Some professors are encouraging and facilitating a more useful, modern type of education.

To add to point #2, some educators are helping to share their knowledge and expertise in a broader, more accessible way. That means you don’t have to deal with barriers like money or time to improve your skills.

Instead, you can go online and connect with teachers and professors spreading valuable knowledge through social media, webinars, videos, blogs, and courses.

One great example is Dr. Ai Addyson-Zhang, a social media professor and digital learning expert. She hosts a weekly Facebook Live show on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. CST. She’s an incredible resource in the online learning space!

4. High-level training is out there with major bang for your buck.

You don’t have to head off to college to receive high-level training and education.

Experts – including professors, teachers, CEOs, and more – are on the web, teaching the masses the secrets to their skills and successes. Best of all, much of this education is either free or at far lower cost than obtaining a college degree.

  • For example, did you know you can take free courses on management, tech, marketing, entrepreneurship, and more via LinkedIn Learning?
  • Skillshare is also a hot spot to access both free and paid courses from experts in an array of fields and subjects.
  • There’s also Coursera, an online learning platform that offers free education from college professors and top businesses.
  • MOOCs (massive open online courses) are free to join and cover a wide breadth of subjects like coding, business, language, data science, and biology.

What About Training for Content Strategy and Marketing?

If you want to work in a creative industry like content strategy and marketing, you don’t necessarily have to get a degree in business, marketing, or communications to achieve that goal.

Instead, try self-education through valuable training.

The Content Strategy & Marketing Course is a thorough, in-depth, expert education that covers the industry as it stands right NOW.

It’s real, actionable knowledge you can leverage today to help power you/your clients’ marketing.

Our student success stories point to how practical and useful the course truly is:

“Brittany used the course to improve her ability to understand and build a content strategy, and convince potential clients why content is important. The knowledge she gained has even helped position her as one of the few content marketing pioneers in Calgary!”

“Angelina wished she’d found it sooner. It gave her everything she needed to learn about content marketing as she started her own content business!”

As you can see, students quickly applied what they learned from the course to jump directly into content marketing careers. The knowledge they got (what you’ll get) looks a little something like this:

You’ll study 6 in-depth modules over 6 weeks:

  • The fundamentals of a winning content strategy
  • How to discover your audience and speak to them with content at the right moment
  • SEO fundamentals, including how to optimize content
  • How to build your online authority through strong content across multiple channels
  • Content creation made easy
  • How to keep your content marketing running for the long-haul
  • Learn how strategy powers your content marketing
  • Get certified and make your resume stronger
  • Get access to ongoing mentorship via the student community on Facebook

As you can see, you don’t have to go to college to get an excellent education and boost your marketable skill-sets.

“Is college worth the cost?” does not earn a universal “yes” from every person.

Instead, you can take your learning journey into your own hands and use it to set yourself off on an individual path.

Are you ready to take the path to a career in content marketing?

The Content Strategy & Marketing Course can help you get further, faster, in today’s marketing landscape. Learn up, educate yourself, and forge into the future armed with this exhaustive course and certification under your belt.

Opinions

  1. Post comment

    I’m in college right now and I find it an absolute waste of time. The syllabus isn’t updated and they teach us the old methods which no longer is suitable for today’s companies.

    I’m planning to drop out!

    I stay in India and the education system here is worse.

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    1. Post comment

      Wow, Meenank… Thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve heard that from many other marketing grads. The syllabus was 100% outdated. Eek. Have you thought about taking online courses? Also, there are many good books – Mark Schaefer, Ann Handley are great modern-day marketing authors. I’ve written a couple books on content marketing that might help.

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  2. Post comment

    What obstacles does
    your hero require to overcome to achieve the cure?
    It requires concentration, creativity, while focusing.

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