Attending a Career School Might Be a Financially Better Choice Than College

Here’s Why.

Going to a four year college seems like the automatic choice for a lot of people. And those thoughts begin taking shape and framing themselves late in their junior, and early in their senior year of high school. For the most part, their primary reason for attending college is obvious—more income. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, a college degree accounted for $15,000 in additional income per year versus a high school diploma ($30,000 versus $45,000). Over a thirty year career in the workforce, that adds up to a $450,000 difference.

While on the surface, these numbers do paint a rosy future for the prospective college graduate, they however, and as four year colleges would have it, do not really look at the closing income gap of career school training in todays job market place. Due to the increasingly high costs associated with a traditional college education, as well as other drawbacks, more and more people have been considering career school as an education alternative.

For starters, a bachelor’s degree typically takes four years and even more commonly nowadays, five years of study. This means that people who enter the workforce after receiving their degree aren’t doing so until age 22. However, the past few years have seen a graduation age increase well into age 25 as five years or more for a college degree is becoming more of the norm. That shaves some years off of a person’s career.

Another drawback is the cost. The average bachelor’s degree in the United States costs $127,000.

Very high tuition and attendance costs, and length of time to complete results in high debt and potential loss of income, but there is a third drawback to four year college attendance; and that is, some people simply aren’t prepared for the rigors of a four year college and this factor alone has also contributed to high college attrition rates. A ton of people do drop out somewhere in their freshman and sophomore years.

The Institute of Education Statistics estimates that 40% of students at four-year colleges and 46% of 9-month to two-year career school students drop out before completing their program. Not only have these students incurred a large debt expense of attendance that still has to be paid back, but they are also left without receiving a degree or a certificate of any kind. Compare that to OceanPointe’s graduation rates of 98%.

The big difference is that with a fast-track, work-based course such as our 12 week dental assisting program, students remain engaged through the intensity levels of our hybrid earning mode that is delivered in combination with online video lectures, demos, lab trainings, and clinical skills training in an actual dental setting, wit real patients, real equipment, and short-horizon completion leading directly to employment. Compare this to sitting in class from 9-months to 4+ years with mock labs or large theory-laden lecture halls.

In essence, a fast-track career school especially offers a pretty compelling career path, particularly when compared to the college path described above.

More importantly, the salary of graduates from a fast-track career specific program isn’t that much of a drop-off compared to a four year degree. A career school graduate will make about $42,000 per year. Over the course of thirty years, the difference between that career school graduate and the four year college graduate is only $90,000.

That’s also because you’ll have from two to fours head start in earnings.

$42,000 each year x 2 work years ( compared to the time spent earning an associates degree) is $84,000 head start earnings.

and $ 42,000 x 4 work years (compared to the time spent in classes earning a bachelors degree) is $156,000 head start earnings.

That means that at age 52 (after 30 years in the workforce versus 34 for the career school graduate), the college graduate will only be ahead by $90,000 on lifetime income, even with excluding the large six-figure student loan debt you won’t have.

Also, the average career school degree costs are as follows:
$33,000 (2 year associates), $18,000 (9-month certificate). $127,000 (4-year bachelor’s degree) with costs going up each year. These are covered by expensive tuition loans and some grants. Compare the savings to OceanPointe’s total tuition and fees of $4,275 means a savings of $28,800 (associates degree), $13,800 (9-month certificate), or $122,800 (4-year bachelors). But that’s not all!

If you assume that these students are fully financing their education with loans at 4% over ten years, the bachelor’s degree will cost $154,000.

Please understand that we are not opposed to a four year degree; instead, we are simply making a strong case for an option that many people overlook when deciding what to do after high school. And that doesn’t just mean recent graduates; this includes millions of adults over the age of 22 who are stuck in either dead-end jobs they hate, underemployed, are return to work moms, or unemployed. The advantages of a four year degree are numerous, yes: you’re perhaps going to earn more later on in life and you also have the door wide open to continue your studies and earn substantially more with a masters degree or doctorate.

Because of workforce demands outpacing the availability of trained dental assistants, the population taking better care of their teeth, and the continuous advent of new dental technologies and procedures, strong opportunities for additional training and advancement exist such as expanded functions certifications, dental office management, and even dental hygiene school.