It doesn't take a math major to see that something isn't adding up when it comes to conventional four-year bachelor's degrees.
Public-college costs have skyrocketed over the past five years, bringing the total average annual price of an in-state education to $17,860, according to the College Board. Private-college costs are even more alarming, approaching $40,000 a year. Students who have borrowed to pay those prices are entering into the workforce with an average of $26,600 in student debt.
More bad news: The unemployment rate for bachelor's degree recipients between the ages of 20 and 24 is 5.9 percent, lower than the national unemployment rate but a discouraging statistic for those who assumed a degree would result in an immediate paycheck.
So where does the high school graduate with no desire to attend Flagship U and even less desire to flip burgers end up? Almost 30 million jobs in the U.S. pay $35,000 or more and don't require a bachelor's degree, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. But that doesn't mean your education can stop after high school.
Most middle-wage jobs in fields with increasing demand, such as health care, information technology and public services, require some form of post-high school certification.
Professional certification is an affordable way to increase your employment potential or enhance your value to employers once you are on the job.
In fact, more than one-fourth of those holding postsecondary licenses or certificates earn more than the average bachelor's degree recipient, according to Harvard University's 2011 "Pathways to Prosperity" report.
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