It used to be that simply having a college degree meant you'd be able to get a better job with higher pay - an all-around more solid career. But that's not always the case these days. As more and more people earn bachelor's degrees, it becomes less certain that each will land in a career that makes their initial investment worthwhile.
The more you pay out (both today and in the future), the more you'll have to earn later on to offset the costs. Consider a state university instead of a private school. Apply for every grant you're eligible for. Take general classes at the local community college. If your employer offers tuition reimbursement, do what you can to make sure your classes will qualify. Even if the difference feels like "a drop in the bucket" now, you'll be glad later that you kept your debt load down.
There's no way around it. Some courses of study lead right to in-demand, high-paying careers. (Think engineering.) Others have a bad reputation for leading nowhere specific. (English literature usually gets a bad rap.) Being savvy about your major can give you a big headstart.
Do some research about the kinds of career you think you're interested in. Talk to a career counselor before you decide. Use an internship or part-time job to test whether the field might turn out to be a good fit. And if your heart is set on an "impractical" major, consider balancing it with a career-oriented minor or second major.
You'll get out of college whatever you put into it. No matter what your major is, one of the best things you can learn is how to learn. Strong reasoning skills are always in demand. They're useful in every industry and just about every job. Understanding your biases, strengths, and weaknesses is invaluable in the workplace, and can put you ahead in your career later on.
It takes hard work, that's for sure. But the benefits of these three simple things will last the rest of your life.
Learn more about our Financial Tools and Resources.