Before committing to four years of college and possibly tens of thousands of dollars of debt, ask first if you really should or need to go. If your ambition is to be in the trades, carpentry, masonry, auto or aircraft repair, air conditioning, etc., you will be four years ahead in earning, experience and seniority by going directly to work in your chosen field.
If you haven’t yet decided on a specific career but believe you will need a degree, consider going to a community college for the first two years. The first two years in any college are devoted almost exclusively to liberal arts; English, history, science and math. You get the same subjects at a community college for a 10th or less of the cost of a big university. Then, if you still aren’t positive of your chosen profession, transfer to a state college for your last two years, and pick a major you are interested in or enjoy for personal reasons. Many companies require a degree to qualify for certain, usually management, positions, but they don’t care what the degree is in.
If you intend to go into a profession that does require a specific degree, you can still limit your financial responsibility. Again, consider starting in a community college. Then, if possible, choose a college or university close to home so you can commute. Granted, you may miss the fraternity beer busts, but you’ll be buying your own home long before the guys who ran up big student loans.
My grandson very recently graduated from college owing no student loans. He attended the University of Central Florida and commuted. He enrolled in Army ROTC, which helped with tuition costs (and he got some very good training in growing up). He also joined the Florida National Guard, which paid him for his weekly/monthly training sessions. And instead of loafing through the summers or taking just two weeks of Guard encampment, he attended Army Basic Training at Fort Benning where, for the whole summer, he drew full pay and the allowances of an Army private.
In summary, it is still possible to get a college education at a cost that most middle class families can afford if you are willing to forego the frills and big names, and are willing to work for it and choose your college wisely.
Alfred J. D’Amario