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College on your mind?

5 Things to Consider When Choosing A College

With college application season fast approaching you have certainly been given advice with respect on how to decide where to go and what your child should pursue. Some of the advice isn’t so obvious.

 

  • Kiplinger magazine has released its Best Values List, measuring public universities by how quickly they get students out into the real world and how much financial help they provide – most importantly how much debt the average student will be burdened with at graduation.
  • Historically it’s no secret that a communication degree would be worth much less monetarily than a friends’ engineering degree, but there is more to take into consideration.  For instance, consider unemployment rates. Architect majors, for instance, might earn more than social work majors. But unemployment among the former is running at 13.9 percent compared to the latter’s 7.3 percent.

 

So what can we learn from these mixed messages? Well, there are many ways to save for college that might not seem to make sense at first…

1. Smaller colleges don’t always = better

First place in Kiplinger’s Best Value List went to University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. With approximately 18,500 undergraduates and a 76 percent graduation rate in 4 years, UNC at Chapel Hill gives almost $11,000 of financial aid (if you qualify) to in-state students. Most students walk out owing a little more than $16,000.  Second place is the surprising one; college football powerhouse University of Florida. Home to more than 50,000 students, UF’s total tuition of $15,526 – $37,803 for out-of-state – is less than the national average. And student debt at graduation is almost the same as UNC at Chapel Hill’s, at $16,013.

 2. Competitive colleges don’t always = expensive

In third and fourth place are two elite Virginia universities. While both of them have higher price tags than UNC and UF, they also provide more financial aid – which means their students don’t owe much more than the first and second placers’ students.

  • University of Virginia has almost 16,000 undergraduate students, and its total tuition is $21,626 ($45,948 out-of-state). But its graduates only owe an average of $19,384 – just $3,000 more than at UF.
  • The College of William and Mary has a mere 5,898 undergraduates, and its student-faculty ratio is an amazing 12:1. Total tuition is $23,054 ($45,331 out-of-state), but the graduate’s average debt is a little more than $21,000 – still less than the annual tuition price tag. Eighty two percent of their students graduate in four years. Famous alums include Thomas Jefferson and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

3. On the flip side, less expensive colleges don’t necessarily = good colleges 

The cheapest school in the top 10 is another in Florida; New College of Florida. With 801 undergraduates, there are just 10 students for every professor in the liberal arts college. Most students graduate with less than $12,000 in debt – half the national average – it didn’t rank higher because only 5 percent of its students graduate in four years, and it provides a lower variety of choices for majors.

4. A degree doesn’t = a job

It’s no surprise that the humanities scored highest in the category of unemployment, landing two of the top three spots, but who made first? Those architecture majors we mentioned earlier, with that 13.9 percent unemployed for recent college graduates. The top three major types compared by unemployment:

Architecture…

  • Recent grad: 13.9 percent
  • With experience: 9.2 percent
  • Graduate degree: 7.7 percent

Arts…

  • Recent grad: 11.1 percent
  • With experience: 7.1 percent
  • Graduate degree: 6.2 percent

Humanities and Liberal Arts…

  • Recent grad: 9.4 percent
  • With experience: 6.1 percent
  • Graduate degree: 3.9 percent

5. Not all majors are created equally

Pre-med undergraduates make pennies, but their compensation changes dramatically once the medical degree is in hand. However even at the graduate level, the computer geeks beat those out for second place overall, leaving the engineers in first place. The top three major types compared by annual paychecks:

Engineering…

  • Recent grad: $55,000
  • With experience: $81,000
  • Graduate degree: $100,000

Computers and Mathematics

  • Recent grad: $46,000
  • With experience: $76,000

Are you even more confused?  Please don’t hesitate to contact Brad or Ann! We are here to help you!

Have a great weekend!

 

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