More women choose college over a bad job

While young men will take any job they can get, young women are passing up dead-end jobs to seek more education, reports the New York Times. “The next generation of women may have a significant advantage over their male counterparts,” economists say.

“It doesn’t surprise me that in a poor economy women are ramping up their schooling,” said Heather Boushey, an economist at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning research organization. “The real question is: Why aren’t more men doing that too?”

Of course, women who leave work for college are gambling their investment will pay off. The Times‘ lead anecdote, Laura Baker, quit her Starbucks barista job to pursue a master’s degree in strategic communications at a private university. She hopes to work at a nonprofit.

Including the loans that financed her undergraduate education at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, she will complete her master’s program next year owing about $200,000 in debt.

“I have to have faith that I will eventually get a good job that pays enough to pay my living expenses and pay back my loans,” she said, “and hopefully make me happy in the process.”

Communications specialists with a master’s start at $37,500 a year, estimates PayScale. Nonprofits tend to pay less.

It’s crazy to borrow $200,000 for a communications degree, adds Cost of College. The FinAid loan calculation website estimates a debtor who spends 10 percent of gross monthly income on repaying student loans will need an income of $213, 044.40 to repay $200,000 in student loans. “If you use 15% of your gross monthly income to repay the loan, you will need an annual salary of only $142,029.60, but you may experience some financial difficulty.”

Savvier women are enrolling in community colleges. State budget cuts have pushed up tuition, but it remains a good deal.

Most new students are women at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, one of the country’s fastest-growing community colleges. “We now have 6,000 students on a waiting list because we didn’t have the resources to offer more classes,”  President Stephen Scott told the Times.


POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON January 2, 2012

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