In a survey conducted by IvyWise and Next Step Magazine, 50% of families are now limiting their child’s college choices to less expensive options and 54% of families are considering in-state, public colleges, in response to the economic downturn.
This is no surprise, as 32% of families reported their financial situation has changed in the past six months. Another 38% said they are concerned about the economy and are now seeking more affordable college options. Surprisingly, only 17% of families considered the reputation of the college or university as the most important factor when researching colleges.
What does this mean to you?
We are well aware of how the changing economic climate can affect a student’s college aspirations. Although the initial impulse to conserve resources is important, it is also important to understand a few realities:
- A college education is an investment that will pay off financially. There are significant long-term benefits to going to college. According to the U.S. Census, over an adult’s working life, high school graduates earn an average of $30,000 a year. Those with bachelor’s degrees earn an average of $51,000 a year. And the more you learn, the more you earn: those with a professional degree earn on average $100,000 a year. Also, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, college graduates had an unemployment rate of 2.2%. High school graduates had an unemployment rate of 4.4%.
- Attending a residential college has a positive impact on a student’s social development. Attending a residential college can lead to increased professional/personal mobility and a better quality of life for your offspring (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 1998). Also, students who attend residential colleges are more likely to interact with individuals with diverse social and political points-of-view (Pascarella, E. & Terenzini, P., 2006).
- A liberal arts education provides the greatest flexibility in a changing global economy.According to Seifert and Wolniak (2008), compared to business majors, liberal arts majors develop more cross-cultural and professional skills, especially those associated with management and entrepreneurship. Although business majors may develop more technical skills, these technical skills are also more likely to be outsourced.
In conclusion, families should invest even more resources in finding a college that matches their child’s personal and professional goals.
“Getting into college has become more competitive over the years, and now paying for it will be a bigger challenge for many families,” said Katherine Cohen, PhD., Founder and CEO of IvyWise, the Manhattan-based college counseling boutique. As Dr. Kat notes, “when families are forced to look for more economical options, it pays to consult experts who can help them identify potential financial resources and the schools that would be a good fit for the student. Families need to be determined, not discouraged, at a time like this.”