The cost of a 4-year degree in both public and private universities is climbing and is a major concern for many parents and students when considering the best path after high school or community college.
“Salaries and income in the United States have basically been flat or declining over the last couple of years. And back in 2001, it took the average family less than 25 percent of their paycheck to go to college. Today, it takes 40 percent of their paycheck to go to college.” (Jeff Selingo, author of “College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students,” and contributing editor to “The Chronicle of Higher Education.”)
“While undergraduate education is typically billed as a four-year experience, many students, particularly at public universities, actually take five, six or even more years to attain a degree.”
It’s no wonder then that parents hope their children graduate in 4 years. They know that any additional time will cost money and add to student debt. However, too often students are not sure what they want to study when they start college and some change majors, sometimes more than once, which can lead to additional required courses and additional semesters in school. “Some of our highest debt carriers were here longer than four years, and they changed their majors along the way.” says Melanie Weaver, the director of financial aid at Ohio Northern, a private university in Ada in northwestern Ohio.
Many students have told us that they are not sure of what they want to do when they finish college. Many did not even know what career options they have. This is true for high school and community college students.
It is no wonder that students find themselves choosing and studying in an area where they have little or no real interest.
High schools can help ensure that students have a clear and realistic plan for their future by the time they graduate if students have opportunities to do internships.
A well-structured internship, or better yet a number of internships, when students are in high school or community college helps them explore career avenues. Some will find that their internship eliminates a career that they thought they would like. Others find that the internship points them in a direction where they want to go. When it comes time to choose a college major students who have had internships will have the knowledge they need to make a choice that is right for them.
However, it is important for any internship experience to be one that is challenging and one that enables the student to experience a variety of activities in the work environment. Work is not one dimensional and it falls on the internship designer or coordinator to make sure that students are challenged and have the opportunity to explore the different dimensions of a job.
Well-structured and robust internship experiences will help students know what they want to do in the future. They will also help students get on the road which is right for them.