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Job markets continue to become more and more globally connected. College students today need to be aware that not only do they need to compete with job seekers locally but internationally as well. Thanks to technology we are becoming more and more connected with one another and companies located in one country can easily manage employees in a country thousands of miles away. Many college students choose to attend higher education because that can be that thing makes them stand out from other applicants. However, that edge over the competition can come at a high price.

The average American student loan debt in 2012 was about $26,000 and that does not take into account those that attended grad school. While college graduates still statistically earn more than those without a college degree, grads also have more debt because of student loans. As college costs continue to rise every year and alternative forms of financial aid such as grants and scholarships continue to see their funding reduced, many students are forced to apply for student loans to help them pay for their college expenses.

Even though a college degree can ensure you more job security than those without a college degree, students should take the time to research just how much their education will truly cost them. To learn more about the history of student loan debt through the years take a look at this infographic by Consolidated Credit. Education is a huge investment and can often turn into a financial burden students do not plan their budgets carefully and practice smart spending.

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Comment by Hazel Owen on November 5, 2013 at 18:36

A really great post and infographic. It's pretty sobering. This is such a hot topic, and it's great to find some insights into the history of student loans and the real cost of education.

There is also the related conversation. As you say, a College degree is often seen as providing graduates with a competitive edge and more job security and is, as such, possibly worth the resulting debt.

However, an article in Forbes suggested that:

Sixty percent of U.S. college graduates cannot find a full-time job in their chosen profession, according to job placement firm Adecco. Dubbed ‘Generation Jobless’, college graduates ages 24 and younger face an uncertain job future that, even with improving employment numbers, is only going to get more difficult if we continue to turn out graduates without what an Apple exec described as “the skills we need.” Career and job websites, such as Monster Worldwide, ostensibly exist to address the challenge, but, in practice, offer only generic resume-building tips and interview skills....The needs of this job-seeking cohort are more granular. It is no longer sufficient to have quality undergraduate training in a specific area (say, journalism or architecture). Today’s employers can choose from candidates all over the globe. And what sets one applicant apart from another are skill sets that transcend one’s major or desired profession. (James Marshall Crotty, 2012,source).

 One of the questions for me, therefore is, 'in financial terms is a graduate degree worth it?'.

I came across this particular post by Once Written (Al Kline). It caught my eye as I had seen Dale Stephen (author of Hacking your education) speak at the ASCILITE Conference in NZ at the end of 2012, and had also listened to the same NPR podcast that prompted Al to write this thought-provoking post: Heading to UnCollege? Think Again.

In one of the comments at the end of the post Jess makes the points that: "I feel like those so-called menial jobs are way more lucrative than some white collar jobs. Ever think about how much money you paid your plumber the last time you needed a pipe replaced? ....I know these types of jobs need a skill set–not like working at a fast food restaurant– but still, it could make more sense to learn a trade then to be saddled with loans and working as a receptionist, or wherever you may land after college" (source). While the point about making a decent living is spot on, does it also perhaps highlight the fact that many societies somehow consider 'menial jobs' as lesser - as though skills that require physical (and often creative) acumen are somehow less worthy than those that require mainly intellect. Maybe we need a movement to improve the status of the skilled vocational practitioner? :-)

What are your thoughts? Is taking on the loans worth it? Should we be shifting to uncollege? Learning in the Trades? Where to next?

Thanks for sharing, Maxine :-)

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