Five Sure-Fire Ways to Fail at College Part 2

Mistake #2: Forget about the “other” costs of going to college

Of course, tuition and fees aren’t the only costs to consider. Other hidden costs, some quite sizable, include room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation. Room and board can vary according to your lifestyle choices. Options can include living in campus housing or off-campus by yourself, with friends, or even at home. To some extent, you can moderate this expense to fit your available budget -- but on the high end, this can run into the thousands.

The national average for books and supplies at a four-year public college in 2010-11 was $1,137. For personal expenses, such as laundry, cell phone, pizza, entertainment and snacks, the national average was $1,989. And for those trips to and from campus, as well as trips home, the average expense was $1,073.4

Also, if you are a full-time employee now, but need to reduce your hours to go to a traditional” bricks and mortar” college, there are opportunity costs to those lost wages. You can’t earn what you don’t work for. If keeping your current job is a must, then it’s time to consider the flexibility online institutions bring to the college mix.

Mistake #3: Believe there is only one right way to go to college

The lure of a traditional college campus is obvious. Beautiful architecture, lush campuses, daily face-to-face interaction with professors and students, maybe even tailgating with friends during college game days. However attractive this picture of college life may be -- and it is attractive -- it is not the only way to have an enjoyable college experience, and acquire the professional and personal gains having a college degree provides.

Perhaps you are an adult learner with a busy life but the rationale for returning for a college degree is compelling you to move forward with your college dreams. Perhaps you know from experience, or have heard, that young adults (ages 25-34) with a bachelor’s degree consistently make more than those without, more than twice as much.5 Even with that information and your own personal motivation, perhaps you are finding it difficult to take that first step back into the classroom.

With a job, children or both, fitting in the time required to attend classes at a traditional campus could seem insurmountable. This is when it’s critical to realize there are many right ways to go to college, including online universities such as WGU Texas, Capella University, Colorado State University-Global Campus and Kaplan University, among many others.

The flexibility of an online degree is obvious. You can study as it fits your schedule, not the other way around. Yes, there may still be sacrifices on your time, but it’s you managing your schedule and setting your daily goals.

Concerned attending an online college is stepping too far out of the mainstream? Don’t be. Online education has now become an essential part of the college experience. In 2008, about 20% of all undergraduates took at least one distance education course and 4% of all undergraduates took their entire program through distance education.6 Online education, for many, has become their right way to obtain that college degree.

4 College Board, Break Down the Bill: College Expenses to Consider, 2011.

5 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics. (2011). The Condition of Education, 2011 (NCES 2011-033), Indicator 17

6 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Fast Facts, 2011