Less Traditional (and Less Costly) College Options

by Joanna Rini, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, The Ohio State University

College savings – parents and students across America hear these two words and likely feel overwhelmed, unprepared and in-over-their-heads... but maybe they don’t have to. Though most people associate college with traditional four-year degrees complete with residence hall living and a swipe-for-a-meal plan, there are a variety of alternative options for higher education that offer promising job prospects and come at dramatically lower costs.

Some of these alternative options include:

Education beyond high school is associated with lower unemployment rates and higher levels of job satisfaction. So, the pursuit of higher education still proves to be worth the investment. The paths to education outlined above should not be overlooked as students consider their post-secondary options.

Consider these facts: First, the healthcare industry continues to be one of the fastest growing fields with a number of job prospects – most of which require an associate’s degree! Second, skilled trade jobs will account for an estimated 40% of job growth by 2017. (Read a compelling story about a student that took this route here). Depending on a student’s career of interest, these alternatives are certainly worth considering and could cost a family tens of thousands of dollars less than some bachelor’s degree programs. Families can save big on education through these alternatives by:

With a higher percentage of families than ever relying on loans to fund their students’ enrollment in traditional four-year degree programs, it may start to feel like something that must be done in order to set your child on the right path, but that certainly does not make it the right choice for everyone. There are many possibilities to explore, so don’t rule out these less-traditional and less-costly paths.