Over the next four years, college students will face the same challenges they do now, which are increasing tuition costs resulting in large amounts of student loan debt and a saturated workforce. Job prospects are minimal, and many graduates end up living with their parents during lengthy job searches or barely making ends meet while being underemployed post-graduation. However, the college students of today are prepared for this hardship, and they are working to conquer this issue through thriftiness and a shift to majors that have in-demand job prospects.
Thriftiness comes in two forms: college choice and buying behavior. College choice has previously been an attempt to get into the best college one could afford even if it meant taking out significant student loans. This is no longer the case. Today’s college student is more frequently choosing a 2-year community college to begin their college journey, then transferring to the more-expensive reputable university. The first two years of prerequisites do not require anything but general teaching, and community colleges provide this arguably as well as universities. Students can often attend these colleges in their home town where they may continue to live with family to cover housing costs and other expenses.
Buying behavior is the college student’s second form of thriftiness. While they may still purchase the best smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers, they may not purchase a vehicle. Especially in urban areas, the automobile is unnecessary due to the availability of public transportation. Refraining from having an automobile results in no car payment or insurance payment, and it is environmentally friendly. In most cities, a person can reach their immediate needs by bike or foot. This allows for working college students to pay their tuition as they go instead of paying for transportation, or it significantly reduces student loan debt.
The second way that college students are evolving is by seeking majors and future careers that are in demand. A college degree is no longer an ensured path to employment. Employers are now seeking job candidates with work skills or niche education that cannot be replaced with a liberal arts or general studies degree. Students are focusing on education that meets society’s demands, such as medical, technological, environmental, and engineering majors. Degrees in cybersecurity, robotics, biomedical engineering, and public health are promising. Big data and analytics are also in demand. Trade schools are also offering job security, as they teach the job skills that create competitiveness in the job market.
Thriftiness and choice in career path are creating a future college student that will be able survive in an economy that doesn’t offer a lot of financial opportunity for those who don’t plan and sacrifice. Opting for a less-expensive college, especially for the first two years of college makes sense, and the college student of today plans to graduate with as little student loans as possible and a future that is sustainable. They are also creating a generation that will fill the education gap that currently exists in the tech and medical industry. With a growing population and increased reliance on technology, students who graduate from programs that are on the cutting-edge of technology will be sought for high-paying positions. The outlook for college students who will graduate four years from now is good because they are aware of the bleak outcast and making plans to thrive in the future job market. Of course, there are still going to be those who rack up student loan debt and choose majors that don’t pan out in the real world, but many college students are seeing the benefit in smart choices in spending and choosing career paths.