There are affordable alternatives to college

College is possibly the largest financial investment people make for their future. Students should understand the concept of ROI - return of investment and how it relates to what they'll earn in the real world.

Apprenticeship, trade schools, or community college programs are an affordable alternative to a college degree. These programs offer a more streamlined approach to education, with curricula focusing on developing a skill set and knowledge base for a specific occupation versus a general education.

These programs take a lot less time to complete, have smaller class sizes, and the training is hands-on. These degrees lead to well-paying jobs like electrician, mechanic, machinist, pharmacy technician, nuclear technician and dental hygienist — all with room for growth.

The average student loan debt for 2016 college graduates was $37,172 and 70% of the graduates left school owing money. Assuming students are fully financing their education with loans at 4% over 10 years, a bachelor's degree will cost around $154,000, while the trade or technical school degree will cost only $40,000.

Most skilled jobs are extremely difficult to export to another country. It is much easier to export computer programming work or other information economy work than it is to export carpentry or electrical work that requires a physical presence.

Students graduating from high school need to give an apprenticeship, trade school, or community college a second look as a career alternative to a college degree for starters.

Glenn Marshall

Williamsburg

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