Forget the High-Priced Ivy League Schools, Here's Some Better Ideas for Your Education
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Once it was a given: Follow the Ivy League road and you will arrive at a glistening Emerald City -- a place where you can be a president, CEO, or influential economist with an improved brain, passionate heart and the courage to go after big jobs with that impressive curriculum vitae. There's no place like Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Brown.
But with the recession and devaluation of the $100k degree, some are wondering if it isn't better to take an alternative path to success, one that doesn't require competing for that finance job to recoup your college investment. Those jobs usually involve serving the corporate complex to overproduce resources and aiding an economic recovery plan designed around one goal: Getting Americans to spend and consume more.
There is no argument that a college degree is still highly beneficial. A recent U.S. Census survey says the median pay for college grads is more than $20,000 higher than the earnings of those who only graduated high school. It also reports the unemployment rate for people with bachelor's degrees is almost half the rate for people without. In addition, college is a growing social and academic experience many consider to be among the greatest years of their lives.
But if earning is the goal, the outlook is upsetting. The number of unemployed college grads now stands higher than it has been in 25 years at 14 percent. According to Education in Review, those who managed to score paying jobs in 2009 earned a starting salary that was 3 percent lower than the previous year.
That's bad news when you consider that college tuition keeps rising and many students need good jobs to pay back hefty loans. In 2008, nearly 70 percent of all American high school students attended college and the cash loaned to flip the bill rose 18 percent from the previous year to $81 billion. The U.S. Department of Education reports the average tuition went up 6.5 percent in the fall of 2009. Two-thirds of all students finished college in the red with outstanding loans of which the average debt is a heavy one: $23,200.
This is probably why so many Ivy Leaguers now plan to go straight to grad school. Harvard's annual survey shows the number rose from 21 percent to 25 percent last year and continues to rise with the class of 2010. Students are eager to get started in their careers and often choose graduate programs that let them earn real life experience to check off on an application for a job.
While most job applications say the position requires a college degree, it is no longer a deal breaker because of several factors: the deepening of the recession; collapse of financial institutions that had offered great avenues to kids with impressive degrees in the past; and a renewed interest among students in health care, teaching in underprivileged sectors, the arts, and green fields of alternative energy and conservation of resources. "In a softer market, more employers are seeking applicants with valuable work experience, and that is harder to pull off when you are a full-time student in a pressure cooker environment where jumping through the hoops does nothing to prepare you for the kind of jobs our planet needs right now," observes conservationist Brad Hoyt.
Progressive green thinkers argue we should focus on water, energy and food as our main concerns, developing sustainability in these critical areas by joining research being done on how to use our resources most effectively. Creative students might seek one of these beneficial areas of growth: Organic and biodynamic farming, green social networking on the Web to increase awareness, or development of renewable, alternative energy. Other green fields include sustainable packaging, healthy and organic delivery to food deserts in big cities, green prefab housing companies, fair trade production to bolster developing economies, solar and wind energy training programs.