The (Supposed) Coming College Bubble…

I have a dilemma here.

I’m at the point in my life where I finally have the motivation, drive, and work ethic to go after–and actually complete–a Bachelor’s degree (I’ll be majoring in International Business/Finance…not sure which, yet).  You may remember that I tried this roughly twelve years ago, and failed miserably at it for various reasons.  Well, that was then, and this is now.  

Today, I have been accepted to two universities so far, and one is pretty well-known the country over as a premier DC school.  Of course, it is also a private school, and runs nearly $40K per year.  To the average American, someone even thinking of taking out roughly $120-150K in student loans is absolutely nuts to do so in this economy.  To those in high and powerful places, that amount of money was well worth the investment.  I have not yet heard a decision from Georgetown, but if it was good enough for the likes of John Foster Dulles, Robert Gates, and Bill Clinton, it’s plenty good enough for me.

Many who actually know something about the way economics and business work have been saying for the last five years or so that college tuition is a bubble.  It probably is–tuition keeps rising so dramatically because student loans are easy to get, and the school isn’t held accountable for what happens in the marketplace.  That is–the government is subsidizing all of these student loans, so there is no real competition amongst the schools–they just get an almost infinite supply of students who have access to the money they are asking for.  If there was competition between institutions, Economics 101 would show that tuition prices would drop like a stone.  I’ve been watching a lot of Shark Tank lately–great show, if you’ve never seen it–and Mark Cuban seems to be someone who I identify with as far as methods and approach to problem-solving.  He’s a hard-nose, and he can be ruthless (I need to work on that part, I guess), but he knows what he’s doing.

He posted recently on his blog about the coming bursting of the college tuition bubble, and it has me at a crossroads.

Will this bubble finally burst in three years?  Five years?  Ten years?  When will this situation happen?  What will be the catalyst?

Herein lies the dilemma.

I don’t have five or ten years to wait around for this thing to happen.  I have right now.  As it is right now, I’ll be overpaying for my education by many times, I’m sure, but my choices seem to be either do it, or wait.  And I’m not putting my entire life on hold so I can be pursuing my first degree in my late thirties, while I have kids running around and a career to tend to.  I don’t want to make foolish decisions here–I’m very well aware of the implications of taking on this debt–but I don’t have the time to sit around and wait for things to blow up, and then settle again.  Plus, if you look at things pragmatically, after the housing bubble burst, no one had access to any loans.  What the heck good could come of that for me?  Sure, tuition came way down, but still not enough to attend school without a loan…which no one will be able to get for five years afterward, while the market resets itself…

I guess I am torn about it because I still feel like a college degree hasn’t reached the point of having a negative ROI–for those focused on my major, in particular–but at the same time, the inflated prices of tuition (and don’t forget books, too), are enough to make me, the average American, cringe.

Tell me your stories, Blogosphere.  How has your education made or broken your job prospects?  Has it changed the way you make decisions?  Think about money?  Think about your career?

Heck, is anyone else out there in my shoes?

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    • Robin
    • May 18th, 2012

    Now. Go now. Where? Well….most places transfer in classes….so if your private school will….look at online or community colleges in the area that offer courses that will transfer, for MUCH cheaper. I get the bottom line of $ doesn’t grow on trees. In fact, Chris told me yesterday it grows in cotton fields, being fececious (sp?!).

    Also, consider a variety of types of classes….some in person and some online…as you know, time is money. I have taken both, and found that some classes (aviation wise anyway) like leadership development, our professor had us read a book or two and write papers. I did this class on my lunch break and in between flight students when I instructed. Good use of my time. Calculus? In person for me. I’m not a figure it out by myself person on that one. So look at the requirements and go from there. Bottom line: money is just money. But if you can find the best value for your time and money…..my friend…that is gold! Good luck!!

    • Mom
    • May 18th, 2012

    I agree with Robin. Do your homework first. What college do you want to go to that will accept your credits from a Jr. college. Make sure that you take the right courses & that they will transfer. If you get to the point of transferring to a university, then you know you will still have the motivation to complete it. Don’t forget your credit from KState. I’m sure there a a few of gen eds that will transfer.

  1. @Mom, I understand what you’re saying, and conceivably, it makes sense to go to a CC first and then transfer. The thing is–for me, at least–that community colleges can suck it. I am soured on them. COD screwed me out of a degree, and the class that I took at Northern Virginia CC cost me a thousand bucks, when really I could have spent the ninety bucks on the book and read through it myself (which is exactly what I did, excepting the 4 tests I went and took on my own). I already know that I was accepted to American University, and it’s got private school tuition rates, but I also know that they accepted 40 previous credits already, so I won’t complain. It’ll still be a lot of dough, unfortunately.

    @Robin, I completely agree about doing a mix of classes (I would be a “calculus-in-person” kind of person, too). I really like the flexibility that the online class gives, when–like you said–I could be reading or doing homework on my lunch break at work if I need to. I know that AU and Georgetown are both great schools, so I know that whichever one I pick will be juuuust fine in the long-run. It still just irks me that I’m right on the cusp of far, far lower tuition rates, and I’ll probably overpay for the education I earn. I suppose there isn’t much I can do about it, but hey, that’s what this blog is for 🙂

    Thanks ladies–you give great things to consider, as always!

      • Robin
      • May 19th, 2012

      Tuition, like rent rarely goes down. Education is priceless. Worst case…if you have 2 great options, flip a coin and get started. Sometimes the hardest part is starting. We have loans, sure….but couldn’t be where we are without them! Its ONLY money! (Sure, eventually we will pay it all back! Sloooowly….!)

  1. June 4th, 2012

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