Many community college students also don't realize how much money they can save with a little effort, a good prep book, a month's subscription to test preparation service InstantCert Academy (instantcert.com) and a few CLEP exams (College-Level Examination Program; clep.collegeboard.org). Not every college gives credit for CLEP exams, but most do. For example, I have been working with a community college student who now has earned 24 college credits through CLEP exam -- almost a year's education -- and has paid less than $500 for those credits. For everyone, college is an experience in life that we "coulda, woulda, shoulda" done more quickly and better if we had known when we started what we learned by going through it. Unfortunately, it is often human nature NOT to want to be told what to do, but to have to find it out for ourselves! -- Elizabeth Harris, Portsmouth, Va.
Rosa has announced to her family that she is not going to college but instead is electing to work as an unpaid intern at a media company to gain experience. Rosa's reasoning: She refuses to ruin her life by incurring unbearable educational debt.
The average college graduate racks up more than $25,000 in government loans, plus many have private loans and credit card debt. Graduates who owe more than $100,000 are no longer rare.
An entire generation of future American leaders is wondering, with reason, if the student debt they incur in college will damage their future ability to save and spend for cars, homes, marriage, family and retirement.
A college degree may not swing the big career club that it used to, but a high school diploma has even less employment clout. According to the latest U.S. Department of Labor figures, high school diploma graduates have an unemployment rate of 7.4 percent, compared to college degree graduates' rate of 3.8 percent.
Speaking of percentages, on July 1, interest rates for more than 7 million university students with federal Stafford loans doubled from 3.4 to 6.8 percent. What I don't get is why students taking out government loans to help pay for college can't pay the same rock-bottom 0.75 percent interest rate that the Federal Reserve charges big banks.
Find more information in a new book, "College (Un)bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students" by Jeffrey J. Selingo.
(Email career questions for possible use in this column to Joyce Lain Kennedy at email@example.com; use "Reader Question" for subject line. Or mail her at Box 368, Cardiff, CA 92007.)