Kwento Kwentuhan

The ‘Going to College Quandary’

Liza A Pierce of “A Maui Blog”

Graduation Season is just around the corner. Currently, graduating high school students are terribly busy. Not only do they have to accomplish the requirements to graduate, they also need to start applying for colleges and universities, if attending college is part of their plan.

Is it really important to go to college? College graduates see fifty seven percent more job opportunities than non-graduates according to the research conducted at the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce. It was estimated that by 2020, two-thirds of all jobs will require a post-secondary education. A degree enables graduates to qualify for these additional opportunities and offers them more flexibility where they choose to work. Additional research by a couple from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York noted average college graduates (even without a major) earned about $78,000 per year—that’s $33,000 more than someone with just a high school diploma. Of course, these are averages but you get the point. While college is not for everyone, college brings advantages to many.

Unfortunately, college comes with a cost and most often soaring prices. Therefore, there are some major decisions a families of graduating students must make.

There are many books about incurring debt to afford college.
Image: Liza Pierce

1. To Borrow or Not to Borrow. I call this the “Student Debt Dilemma.” It is not hard to get college loans these days. The question is, “Do you really want to have a huge student loan debt by the time you graduate?” The answer to the question is usually no. With the price of colleges and universities, however, it is almost impossible to attend without having to borrow money. It is especially important to look at the pros and cons before borrowing money for college.

2. Community College vs Top Universities – It is a common belief attending a community college is cheaper than going to a university. There are, however, many considerations to look at. For example, the courses offered at community colleges may not be in line with the graduating students’ goal. Let’s take University of Hawai‘i Maui College for example. Although it is now part of the University of Hawai‘i, the courses offered may be limited. Popular majors include Liberal Arts and Humanities, Culinary Arts and Food Service, and Licensed Practical Nurse Training (LPN). Many graduating students from Maui decide to go to the University of Hawai‘i on O‘ahu because they have more majors to choose from.

3. In State or Out of State – A student will definitely save money enrolling in state rather than out of state not only pertaining to the tuition fee discounts offered when one is a resident of the State they are enrolling to but also with the elimination of board and lodging expenses if the student stays with their parents while going through college. The availability of majors, however, is once again a factor to consider.

4. Scholarships – To Apply or Not To Apply. Obviously, the popular answer to this question of “to apply or not to apply for scholarships” is to apply. With that said, we must note scholarship applications are time consuming. And there are certain criteria for each scholarship opportunities, many of which are dependent on grades of the student (need to have high average), economic level (below poverty level gets more scholarships) and sometimes special talents and extra-ordinary athletic abilities. Most often, the average middle-class student falls between the cracks and are not awarded the scholarships they apply for. Needless to say, scholarships are still worth pursuing. Every little bit of financial help obtained can help. There are thousands of scholarship opportunities.

In closing, it is up to each student (and hopefully with family support) to decide the path they want to take after high school. Go to college or not … May you make the right choice for you.

Liza Pierce of A Maui Blog is an Interactive Media enthusiast. She started blogging in 2006 and she loves talking story online and spreading aloha around the world. She’s been living on Maui since 1994 and considers Maui her home. A wife, a mother, a friend…and so much more. She loves Jesus; Maui Sunsets Catcher; Crazy About Rainbow; End Alzheimer’s Advocate. Her life is full and exciting here on the island of Maui. Liza is currently the Digital Media Specialist with Hawai‘i Life Real Estate Brokers. She is the author of the book Maui 2021 and Beyond.