Serious content alert; not somber though. I have previously posted about my personal belief that we do not promote non-college paths to success enough in our culture. Aside from the fact the trades and other hands-on careers are vital to our communities and economy, many individuals are far more suited to those than an academic pursuit. Choosing a non-college job is something to celebrate, too. Added to that, college costs (as with medical and housing in lots of places) have been continuously artificially inflated for a variety of inappropriate reasons. For all the bad that has come with COVID, it’s possible expanded distance learning might help bring college costs down.
I have also mentioned in the past we lived in a small college town and the rule was simple in our middle class one-income family. Go to school there with either a scholarship or working part time. Yes, going away to college would have been nice, but it wasn’t financially feasible. There are multiple factors to consider of course if the decision is made to do so and a major one is out-of-state. Most states have a good-to-excellent university systems with significant cost difference for in and out-of-state tuition. Yes, there are some specific careers where your university can matter when it comes to hiring. It is not a factor for the most part. For example, if being a a whiz on Wall Street is the goal, attending a well-known East Coast university can be important. If being a nurse or teacher, there is no reason to pay out-of-state tuition. If the goal is to nurse/teach in another state, a separate board certification might be required, but the degree itself should be adequate preparation. Another route is strongly consider attending a community-type college for the first two years (especially if getting an Associate Degree), then completing the Bachelors at a four-year college or university. With the ridiculous costs of college, these are viable options to keep potential debt low.