In today's economy, it's understood that you most likely must have a college education to get a job in your desired professional field. However, with a constant increase in tuition and fees, affording higher education is becoming more difficult. Record breaking numbers of enrollment lessens the amount of scholarship money available, which means more loans and larger debt upon graduation.
Unemployment rates are falling, now at 7.3 percent, giving graduates more hope than previous years at finding a job. According to Forbes.com, these are the best-paying college majors of 2012: computer engineering, chemical engineering, computer science, aeronautical engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering, finance, construction science, and information science and systems.
If these majors don't sound like your cup of tea, you can take advantage of money-saving options offered to students both in high school and college. In addition to loans and scholarships, here are some that you might not know about.
- Take classes at a regional campus versus a main campus.
Regional campuses are affordable, closer to home, have smaller class sizes and allow more one-on-one with faculty. At Kent State University at Stark, tuition for freshman and sophomore courses are $5,554 per year, and upper level classes are $6,508 per year, compared to the main campus’ $9,816 per year, says Diane Walker, Kent State Stark’s director of student services. "The flexibility allows students to maximize their course selection options," she says.
- Check out your high school's post secondary options.
Akron’s Archbishop Hoban High School has a partnership with St. Louis University, allowing students to take college courses and receive both high school and college credit. Sue Cox, Hoban’s academic dean, says students pay $65 per semester hour and don't even have to leave Hoban's campus because the courses are taught at the high school by university-trained Hoban staff. "This way, they can continue to have a high school experience while receiving college credit," Cox says.
- Enroll in Advanced Placement (AP) classes during high school.
Walsh Jesuit High School offers 27 AP classes both on campus and online, and Cindy Burgio, Walsh’s director of college guidance, says last year 149 seniors took at least one AP course, while most take three. While many colleges average several hundred dollars per credit hour, the AP exam to receive credit is just $89. "It is the universally accepted example of college rigor that can be used in the evaluation process," Burgio says.
- Participate in transfer programs offered at regional campuses or community colleges.
Stark State College offers associate of arts and associate of science degrees that easily transfer to baccalaureate degree programs at nearly 40 universities nationwide. Stark also offers the Ohio Transfer Module, which guarantees the transfer of a minimum of 36-40 semester credit hours of specified courses to any Ohio public university.
Irene Motts, Stark State’s director of marketing and communication, says the benefits are affordable tuition, small classes, personalized attention, well equipped and state-of-the-art labs and equipment. "Stark's tuition is $150.30 per semester credit hour, that equates to an average tuition savings of $12,000 for the first two years at a public Ohio university," Motts says.
- Combine a bachelor’s and master’s degree program.
These programs allow a student to complete their bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously. If students reach the required grade point average, they can apply and must be accepted by their college program. "Pursuing both degrees at the same time can be very academically demanding," Walker says. "But it can save the student time and money."
/ Writer Caitlyn Callahan is a senior at KSU working on her bachelor’s in magazine journalism.
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