Real Life: When You Just Can’t Afford College

So what happens now? You’ve spent so much time and effort in educating your school leaving child or children and the stark reality of your life has just hit you:

You cannot afford college and your kid might not have made the grades to get financial aid or scholarships.

It may seem like the end is near, but the reality is very different.

The first thing to know is this, you’re not alone and thanks to Covid, this is something that’s only going to get worse. Mercifully though, it’s not all bad news and in some ways, this might just be the silver lining in and of itself.

It’s important to know that this doesn’t mean the end of all things, so let’s take time to dispel some of the myths around entering the job market without a college degree.

All College Graduates Automatically Earn More Than Non-Graduates

So this is a tough one, because it’s true and also…not so much.  It depends entirely on the field of study and the career path that one has chosen post-college.  There are differences between degree holders and non-degree holders, but this doesn’t have to be the status quo for life. Gaining an entry-level position can be a great way to learn on the job and prepare you for better positions and earning potential later on.

Immediate Entrance to College, Or No College At All

This is increasingly becoming a non-truth. More and more young people in the United States are choosing to take a year or even two off to enter the job market, save some money and then enter the college force. This places them in a much more mature position to handle the stress of college and a much better financial position besides. An increasing number of students are choosing to work full time while in college. Sure it’s not easy, but with discipline and support from home, it can be done and the real first prize, you’d have found ways to avoid student loan debt.

Only Graduate-Level Employment is Lucrative

This is wholly and entirely untrue.  If a Bachelor’s degree is out of your immediate grasp, then consider this: Associate degrees open up a whole range of careers that pay in the $50k plus category and they’re way more affordable than Bachelor degrees and usually a lot more accessible too.

Sure You Can Be Successful Without a Degree, But You’d Better Be a Genius

Also not true. Necessarily. As the online environment is opening up new avenues that we would have never thought possible this side of ten years ago, so has the drive towards “personality recruitment”. The ethos of “hire for attitude and train for skills” is becoming more of the norm for tech start-ups, silicon valley type employers, online marketers, financial and hedge-fund managers, and so on.

The bottom line is this, life will throw you lemons at times and it’s up to you to decide what you’re going to do with them.  On the bright side, if you find yourself in this position you may just be surprised at whose company you’ll be sharing.  Richard Branson, Ted Turner, Coco Chanel, and James Cameron all made it pretty big without going to college but to join that club, you’ll need to find your passion and do it very, very well and perhaps that’s the point. 

After all, a little adversity can go a long, long way.

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