Posted at 9:15 AM on May, 17 2017
When starting out, most students are bewildered with the plethora of information. The basic question, Where should I go to college?, leads most students down a path guided by market forces and not what the student truly wants.
When doing a colleges search, it is important to know there are cost-effective alternatives to the high-priced, aggressively marketed traditional colleges. Flexible colleges are so good that you will not have to take even a dollar in student loans or financial aid. Some money that you have saved, or parental assistance, or a small part-time job will suffice to pay for your college studies!
Excited? Read on....
At CollegeOnomics, flexible colleges refer to those colleges which provide enormous flexibility with curriculum, credits transfer etc resulting in reduced costs and time to complete college. We have researched 1000’s of colleges to find the ones which are the most affordable and flexible for you.
Before we go over the top reasons why students are not pursuing a flexible college degree, let me go over some issues with higher education and some benefits that flexible colleges offer over traditional colleges.
We strongly believe that college should be affordable without the burden of student loans! Evidence indicates that the student loan bubble is much bigger than the subprime crisis we saw several years ago. See this article for more information.
Flexible Degree Program
When most people think of college, they think how they can fit into a college program and complete their degree. We take the opposite approach. We believe students can maximize their chances of success if colleges are flexible in meeting their needs. Students today face many challenges with their college studies. By providing a customized approach that serves each student, our society can greatly improve colleges and careers success rates.
College students in the present day have varying backgrounds; a large percentage of them do not fit the right-out-of-high-school model. Here is a report from the Education Commission of the States on the rise in age of the typical college student. Many students have families and work to support their families, in addition to studying for college. These students face many challenges in addition to those encountered by traditional, fulltime students. This in turn requires both affordable, and flexible degree programs.
This article lists the college dropout rates and describes reasons for this problem. Number one reason for the high college dropout rates is the high cost of college. For those who continue college, any additional burden on them can be the tipping point between success and failure. For students that dropout, they have the burden of large student debts, but without the benefit of a college degree to secure employment.
Apart from the low-cost of college, here are some key advantages of flexible colleges:
What courses to take: Students can take courses at any accredited colleges or universities, or learn in many different ways. The only condition is that the learning should meet the broad degree requirements at the college. This enables students to focus on learning things which they are passionate about, instead of wasting time on subjects which they have no interest or aptitude for. Finally, it results in increasing their mastery over the subject matter, and improves their grades.
Where to study: Students can study anywhere they want, even a boat is ok. Over the last several decades, the world has become increasingly global and people have more frequent needs for travel.
At a flexible college, students can stay actively enrolled and pursue their studies while traveling or living abroad. This benefits those who need to travel for work or for personal reasons. For others, the fact that they can live with family and cut down on their living expenses while in college can be a huge benefit!
How to study: Students are free to choose their modes of study and can mix and match them as convenient. For example, you could study and write CLEP, DSST or Excelsior exams in subject areas that you are confident about. For more challenging subjects, you can take regular classroom courses at a nearest college and transfer those credits to your flexible college.
Or you can enroll into online courses, either online college courses or ACE accredited online courses, and then transfer those credits to your college. If you acquired skills on the job, or completed courses at a non-accredited institution, portfolio assessment will help translate this learning towards college credits.
When to learn: Since there are so many ways to obtain college credits, scheduling your study time is more manageable. For example, you can study for 2 or 3 months and take many CLEP tests. After this, you can perhaps take a whole month of vacation before continuing your studies. So with flexible colleges, you can manage your social life and spend time with family, while still pursuing your college studies!
For those who are working, since there is no need to attend classes on the college campus, study time can fit into their day after work hours or on weekends. After signing up for online courses, you can start by reading books, using online study resources and by taking proctored tests online at your convenience!
Now with so many obvious advantages, why is it that everyone isn’t pursuing their degrees at flexible colleges? There are atleast 5 important reasons for this, as follows:
i) Do Not Know
Most people have zero knowledge of flexible colleges. They have never before heard that they can complete a Bachelors’ degree for under $10,000. They also do not know how easy it is to transfer credits into the program, or that college credits can be earned in so many inexpensive ways at these colleges!
Also, most people in our society have accepted that college is expensive, and that student loans are a necessary evil. Therefore, they never question this fact and end up studying at one of the high-priced colleges.
Many in our societies are status-conscious and are concerned more with others’ perceptions of them, than with their own experiences and feelings. Dropping the name of their ivy-league education is common practice by many in social circles. Parents also often push their kids towards ivy-league colleges.
There is a general perception that ivy-league college graduates earn more than graduates of other public and private colleges. As this article indicates, it is not necessarily the ivy-league but the chosen field/major that determines the starting and future salaries. Graduates of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) majors earn more than their counterparts, as the above article indicates.
There are also inherent issues students face at the ivy-league colleges. These colleges are highly selective, admit only a small percentage of applicants and lean more towards the wealthier sections of society. Students at these colleges have higher stress levels and many undergo depression due to the constant pressure of competition.
iii) Know But Skeptical
There are some people who have heard about such affordable colleges but are quite skeptical about them. The fact that there are only a handful of flexible colleges does not help. Wherever you look, you are 99% more likely to find one of the traditional, higher-priced colleges!
Another key aspect of our education system has to be taken into account as well. As many are aware, our education system has routinely prescribed a cookie-cutter approach whereby everyone receives the same training and education. This lack of free thinking seeps into every aspect of life as we expect to follow a similar sleep-walking-through-life approach with college. The regretting part happens much later as the student loans have piled-up after a few years of college!
iv) Abundant Financial Aid
Nowadays, there are numerous ways parents and students pay for college. Many start with their college savings before looking for other sources of financing. Some larger colleges offer their own student scholarships on a merit or financial-need basis. Most colleges are part of the federal financial aid program so their students can apply for federal aid, or FAFSA. Finally, after determining the amount of financial aid granted to them, students opt for student loans to cover the remaining costs.
Though financial aid programs were created to assist lower-income households, there is a widespread belief that the key driver of the exponential increase in college costs is the abundant supply of financial aid!
A full scholarship is designed to relieve the student’s financial burden, but this has encouraged many for-profit and non-profit colleges to raise their costs even further, with the guarantee that the government will cover the increased costs. Many students end up having to pay for the room and boarding costs, even if they they receive a full scholarship. Here’s a 2016 study by INSIDE Higher Ed which asserts that the availability of student aid is the cause for the rising cost of college.
v) Ruthless Marketing Techniques
Higher education is a lucrative industry for many. This includes both the for-profit and the non-profit colleges, along with the college consultants and advisors that bring in the student enrollments. So huge is the industry that the amount of outstanding student loans to the federal government stands at over $1 trillion dollars. In addition to this, there are private lenders that have loaned money to students at high interest! Anyone that aspires for college seems to be getting some form of financial support, in the form of scholarships, grants or loans.
Also, education is something that people take personally. A college degree has become a necessity for most jobs. Once a student enrolls into college and takes a few classes, it becomes difficult to just drop things and leave, due to the accumulated investment of time, effort and money. Many students who are promised a bright future by the college representatives tend to believe what they hear and sign up. Later, for some reason or another, they are asked to take on additional student loans while in the middle of their college program. Here is an article that discusses some of the ruthless marketing techniques of the for-profit colleges.
Provisions such as the GI Bill for veterans makes matters worse as they become targets of ruthless marketing for this additional federal aid money. Evidence indicates that many of the non-profit colleges have also been adopting similar ruthless marketing techniques, so as to increase student enrollments.
COLLEGE OR NO-COLLEGE
With so many pitfalls in a traditional college education, and with no guarantee of a solid ROI, many are questioning whether a college degree is even worth it! For most people, it certainly appears to be a prerequisite for employment. It opens the door for employers and recruiters to reach out to candidates for interviews. There are some people I’ve met who have many years of experience but never completed college. But such instances are becoming more and more rare, and the salaries of college graduates are generally higher than that of the high school graduates.
THE COLLEGEONOMICS, FLEXIBLE COLLEGE APPROACH
Having researched 1000’s of colleges across the country, we can certainly conclude that most colleges will land students into a vicious cycle of student loans! For the few fortunate students, say perhaps majoring in STEM fields, they might get a well-paying job after college and start paying off their loans. Others are not so lucky and undergo unbelievable degrees of financial misery! Even among the fortunate ones, a student loan backlog hinders their progress as they postpone important milestones such as buying a home, or planning a family!
With the academically rigorous flexible colleges, and with the additional guidance we provide, students can skip all these hardships and complete college literally pain-free, and with zero student loans! For a flexible colleges list, and for the names of the top 3 popular flexible colleges, refer to our article on How to complete college in less than 2 years with no student loans.
The main advantage with flexible colleges is that students can chart their own pathway for their college degree. Student counselors at the flexible colleges play an important role in assisting you with your degree. Additionally, it helps to have an unbiased mentor who can guide you every step of the way! This will enable you can choose the quickest and more affordable learning options, and stay on track for a timely and successful completion of your college degree. That is where we hope CollegeOnomics comes in for you, with guidance in both choosing your ideal college, and in partnering with you until your successful degree completion!!