How to Make Sure that Your
Higher Education Adds Value

See also: Personal Development

While it used to be relatively uncommon for people to go to college, we are now at the point where a large number of young people are expected to go into higher education after they finish high school. Unfortunately, this is one of the main reasons why a college education just isn't worth what it used to be and a sizable percentage of college-aged people feel they walk away from education with nothing but their student loan debts.

Approximately 66 percent of students regret having even gone to college, and students in the United States alone owe a collective $1.6 trillion in debt on it. On the other hand, there are some fast-growing career areas, which means that there's a good chance that anyone can carefully plan their post-secondary years in a way they'll never regret.

Careers Still in Demand

A few years ago, it seemed like everyone was discussing the idea of making sure that jobs were offshoring-proof. There were suggestions that students should go into certain careers rather than others because they'd enjoy job security as a result. Unfortunately, some of these predictions were inaccurate and there have been attempts to take advantage of lower cost international labor markets as part of global economic shifts. The Covid-19 pandemic didn’t help the matter either.

Experts from the School Authority found that some traditional programs from well-known schools are actually surprisingly effective, however, which defies this conventional wisdom. Part of this has to do with the fact that some fields are still very much in demand. There has always been a consistent need for medical and legal professionals, which might explain why some of these programs are actually performing better than average.

Students who take advantage of these programs might end up with the same amount of debt as the national average, but their job prospects are going to be much more optimistic. This increases the possibility of actually paying off that debt eventually and showing a profit that helps to enhance one's quality of life. The fact that many of these programs are offered by smaller regionally-accredited schools is something that's not to be missed, either. You can get a degree that should remain at least relatively in-demand for the foreseeable future without running up the costly bills that some people have.

Nevertheless, the focus on trade school that many commentators were parroting has turned out to be true as well.

Learn a Trade Rather than Attend a Traditional School

In the past, attending a trade school has been viewed as far more traditional than going to college. The tables have turned, however, and trade schools are now seen as an alternative to going to college. However, this is something of a shame considering the outlook of some conventional trades. While medical trainees may find themselves getting a good career relatively quickly, you may just as easily do so in one of these other fields at a potentially lower cost.

For instance, reports claim that the United States alone will need to add 30,300 additional welders over the next 10 years, and this is going to mean more career opportunities for those who would otherwise have attended a far more expensive college program.

While welding may be considered an undesirable career by some, there's no reason that you should consider it as such. You could enter the field without spending a great deal of money, which is of particular importance to those attempting to manage their debt. In fact, some commentators have advised that money management skills may very well be more important to learn than most of what's actually taught in an average college program.

Welding, and the various machining careers related to it, aren't experiencing some kind of boom. Rather, there's just not enough people applying for these jobs, which means that it shouldn't be that difficult to get started in one without racking up a large amount of debt.

Other flashier technical positions might also grow in the near future, but those who'd like to fill these jobs may wish to proceed with a bit more caution.

Leverage Technology to Your Advantage

Information services departments around the world are hiring more individuals than they ever have before, which means people who are qualified to do these kinds of jobs are in a great position to get hired. That being said, most college programs focus on theoretical computer science as opposed to practical applications. Anyone who wants to fit into the real world marketplace may actually be better off applying for a dedicated training program.

These may include a focus on real-world mathematics as well as the applications and platforms that people in the computer industry actually work with. People who are able to edit a hosts file and connect systems to a router are probably going to be far better off than someone who can only discuss theoretical chip architectures.

You may want to consider getting yourself into a technical training program that teaches the basics of a platform that's going to be in use at the place you plan to apply. For instance, a data center for small-to-medium sized businesses is going to need people who can handle networking stacks and Linux commands, so it'll hire people who are certified to work with this kind of material regardless of whether or not they possess the right kind of degrees.

Don't forget that there are many technical training programs outside of the tech industry, too. Specialists from the National Careers Service in the UK have stated that the average starting salary for a motor mechanic is £18,000 and you could be making £35,000 in just a few years. That's not bad for someone who can start taking classes for around £172 a week in some parts of Britain.

The biggest thing to keep in mind, though, is that almost every industry is starting to incorporate some sort of high-tech solution that it never would have dreamed of doing before. As a result, you'll want to identify an area and stick to it so you can earn a career you won't regret.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide for Students

The Skills You Need Guide for Students

Skills You Need

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About the Author

Philip Piletic closely follows the impact of technology on education, and its evolution from traditional to modern methods that include e-learning, courses, gamification, and others. He has also helped the Sydney-based IT & Business school in developing their IT courses.