For a lot of people, money is tight right now, and many evaluate each decision to spend with caution. In recent years - even months - return on investment has become a main factor into many households' budgetary planning. And now, we are seeing that while many professionals opted to return to school to pursue higher education in the early stages of the recession, no matter the cost, students are questioning the value in attending a traditional four year college or university.
With huge tuition bills and even larger student loans to pay off after graduation, some students are turning to Associate Degree programs and trade schools. These programs are undoubtedly the right choice if a student wants to pursue a career as a Dental Hygenist or Radiation Therapist (or anything else that requires only a two year Associate's Degree). But if a student is passionate about a career in a different field and money is the sole reason for considering a less expensive educational path, should they abandon their career aspirations?
If attending a four year institution has always been your plan, stick to it. There are always ways to make it work - and make it worth your money. The loans can be daunting, but if you feel you received great value from your education, moreso than you would have found in a two year program, then you made the right choice.
Even if you can establish a career in a field that requires you to have only your Associate's Degree, you may want to consider a four year college or university anyways. A post on the Brazen Careerist blog claims that today's generation of high school and college students have incrediblly polished writing and communication skills because of their activity on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. I completely disagree. I think this age group has much difficulty with grammar, punctutation, and - especially - spelling. Twitter and Facebook updates allow you a very limited number of characters (ok, Facebook doesn't really limit your characters, but if you include too many, your post gets cut off), so people using these sites have adapted their communication skills - abbreviations are probably more prevalent than ever, and punctuation, aside from five exclamation points in a row at the end of a sentence, are basically nonexistent.
And what about verbal skills? There's very little need these days to pick the phone, let alone talk to someone face-to-face. If a child isn't constantly participating in class, how else are they going to learn to be a good speaker? I truly believe four year universities are credited with turning students into great writers and good communicators, not social media sites.
So, if these skills are important to you, you may want to consider a four year institution, regardless of your desired career path.