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No. of Recommendations: 6
I just hate that these really bad scenarios get press, which highlights a real issue, and then these worst-case scenarios are often used to say "See, college just isn't worth it!"

There are some high-paying jobs that you can't get without a college degree: Doctor, lawyer, engineer. Maybe a business degree would lead to a decent paying job, but it's not always necessary.

Then there are some college majors that really don't have a good payoff: Art History, Modern Dance, Grievance Studies, Theater, etc. Someone may feel that he or she will be getting a "breadth of knowledge" or life skills, but there is not a reliable job payoff afterwards. Others want to get the "college experience" by going somewhere with fraternities/sororities, top-notch sports, etc.

If you go to State U, this is already being subsidized by the state's taxpayers. If your dream college is very expensive, and you still want to attend, I don't want to be in the way of you achieving your dreams. If you want to go on expensive spring break trips or summer vacations during your college years, I'm not going to veto that. The money you spend on those trips may come from your loans, but even if they don't, that's money that could otherwise have reduced the amount you needed to borrow.

But, please don't ask me, plus workers who didn't attend college, plus taxpayers who did the cost-vs-benefit analysis, to pay for your attending your dream college to study a subject without a job that society values at a monetary level that will let you pay off your loans. Don't ask us to pay for your vacations just because they occurred during your college years.

I see more than a few high school graduates turn up their noses at the local college (State University extension) which they could attend for about $5000 (assuming they lived at home). Despite offering most of the degrees they would want, it's just not "real college" to them without the sports, campus life, etc. Which is fine, but requires borrowing a lot more money to go elsewhere. I also see a lot of college graduates who looked at "getting a degree in X" as the end goal. They didn't look into what a bachelor's degree would allow them entry to. For example, one young lady is selling Cutco knives because her bachelor's degree in psychology didn't lead to a psychology job...you need a Master's degree at least (apparently). She could have discovered that prior to college, though, because all that is on the internet. (Plus, selling whatever isn't automatically bad, but it's not what she wanted to be doing.)

What I advised my kids to do was to:
-Look at the total four-year cost of the college you want to attend. Include scholarships in the reduced price, but not all financial aid is "free money," i.e., subsidized loans mean you still owe the money
-Look at the opportunities allowed by the degrees you might pursue. If "teacher" will make a more rewarding career and life than "businessperson," go for it, but realize you will need to work more years to reach whatever level of Financial Independence you might want. (And really, wouldn't you rather work 40 years at something you like vs. 35 at something you hate?)
-Don't let part-time work keep you from graduating in four years (starting that "real job" a semester or year earlier is better than part-time pay that slightly reduces your loan amount)
-Pay off your college loans as fast as possible. Live like a college student while you owe money. (Reliable but not flashy car, hold off on dream furniture and lifestyle)

If American society ever decides to more heavily subsidize college degrees, we should be ready for:
-A vastly different college experience as far as sports or activities (having been in other countries and worked with people from all over the world, sports are all club-level, and there's no college sports "industry")
-A high degree of society telling you what you can major in
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