Cheap Degrees can be Quality Degrees

6/22/2010 Stanford University, front entrance, Quad, Memorial Church. Credit: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service
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The idea that there are alternative and, importantly, cheaper ways to earn a college degree may seem surprising to some. After all, we have only to look at the imploding student loan crisis to see that many believe that the only way to attend college is by going into massive debt.

Can I tell you one of the great lies out there about college degrees?

There are a wide variety of colleges and degrees out there — from ones that are very expensive to a few that are free — but there are many people who will tell you that cost is one of the major indicators of the quality of the degree.

This can sometimes be true. A Harvard or Stanford degree is certainly rigorous. Are they better than an Arkansas State University or a SUNY Buffalo degree? It’s hard to know. All four are good schools, but what they provide can vary widely. Often, it can be about what you wish to study and your ultimate employment goals.

Want to be a college professor? My advisor is to get into the most prestigious university possible. Why? Because often that will help you get into the most prestigious graduate program.

Want to work in an agriculture-related job? It might make more sense to go to California State University, Fresno or Illinois State University. Your ultimate goal is important in the college selection and funding process.

Do you get more bang for the buck by getting a degree from one of those prestigious schools. You might, but the reality is that most of us don’t need that expensive bang for the buck.

I would say that is even more true depending on your employment possibilities. If you want to be a teacher or a social worker, does it make sense to get a degree that will put you in debt for the next 10 or 20 years?

What’s Important?
Going to college inexpensively ends up in two general categories:

  • How you pay for college and the necessary resources; and
  • How you pay for your living while you are in college.

Paying for college can be done in a variety of ways. Certainly you can save up the money until you can afford to go. I would never try to talk you out of that as an option.

Does that mean you don’t go to college at age 18? Yes. Or at least it can.

However, there are a variety of ways to pay less for college and still start at age 18 (or whenever you want to start). These include:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Testing out of courses
  • Testing into credits
  • Cheap or free tuition
  • Military options (G.I. Bill, services academies, ROTC)
  • Portfolio assessment
  • And so much more.

In addition and what many forget, there are a variety of ways to pay less for your college living experience including:

  • Alternatives to dorms
  • Paying less for daily living
  • Short-term and flexible jobs

So where to from here?

Cheap Degrees Magazine aims to be the source for how you can go to college as inexpensively as is possible and without student loans. Hang out with us here and we will show you how to make that happen regardless of who you are and from where you came.

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