Studying for a degree used to be free for British students in the UK. Former Prime Minister David Cameron, who was born to a wealthy family, had the privilege of studying a degree at Oxford University. Once he had graduated, he pursued his ambition of becoming a career politician, and by 2010 he had assumed the highest office in the UK. Once there, he introduced legislation that increased tuition fees threefold. David Cameron, a man whose education was covered by the generosity of the British taxpayer, has now ensured that fewer working class students can attend university. Many are now faced with a difficult decision: acquire a degree and take on all of the debts associated with it, or start work and potentially resign yourself to not being as able to access graduate level positions. It is prompting many people to reassess the value of a degree. It is a massive investment and a decision that should not be taken lightly.
The situation in the US is, if anything, starker. The cost of attending an Ivy League University is now as much as $63000 per year. That sort of debt is substantial and could be an obligation for students well into their later lives. The decision to attend university is in one sense a financial one. Will such an outpouring of money produce of a return that justifies it? The answer may depend in part of what major you chose to study; research shows that in 2016, engineering majors were earning on average $64891 while those who had studied education were earning just $34891. The difference of $30000 is pronounced and reflects a trend. STEM graduates (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) regularly earn more than people who studied the humanities. However, not everybody is naturally inclined towards such objective subjects. Whether they should study a STEM degree just because it will likely enable them to earn more money is contentious. Your choice of major can determine the rest of your life. Studying something you are not passionate about for financial reasons could easily be characterized as rather short sighted and shallow besides.
However, it is not just the subject of your degree that needs to factor into your decision. The internet has broadened the scope of modern education, and it is now possible to study for your degree online. Since you do not have classes to attend in person, you can choose which hours you wish to work and fit your studies around other areas of your life. You still get the benefit of a professor’s knowledge and guidance, but the whole experience is more flexible. This can also allow you the opportunity to work while you study and therefore get a start on paying back your debts. There are many programs now, such as FPU Online, which offer full degree programs at a much lower rate than many other private universities.
With every decision, there are necessarily going to be trade-offs. You just need to decide which ones you are going to concede, if any at all.