Deciding where to attend college can be a challenge for many students. Is it better to hit the ground running and enter the work force, or dedicate time to earning a college degree?
It used to be a decision of whether to work, or continue your education, but now it's a lot more complicated.
"I take 18 credits right now so my day is busy, busy, busy," Jefferson Hall, a Junior at UW-Eau Claire told News 18.
Hall chose to attend a four-year university rather than a two-year school for his business management degree. "I'm from Indianapolis, Indiana. I felt like a four-year university was the best option for me to get away," Hall added.
On the other side of University Drive in Eau Claire, Justin Zoromski is a graduate of Chippewa Valley Technical College. Zoromski earned his associate degree in business management in just two years, and now he's a financial and wealth advisor.
"I went through the two-year degree in the two-year time frame and my experience was wonderful," Zoromski said.
According to CVTC Vice President Julie Furst-Bowe, an associate degree is usually less expensive than a bachelor's. "Frankly we're less expensive than any of the public or private universities, so it's sort of an affordable way to start your college career if you're not exactly sure what you want to do in the end," Furst-Bowe said.
12 credits at CVTC costs a student about $1,600 per semester. At UW-Eau Claire, the same amount of credits would cost about $4,400 per semester. That means at graduation, a two-year degree would total about $6,400, whereas a four-year degree would cost about $35,000.
On the flip side though, those with bachelor's degrees typically earn more in the long run. A recent study done by Georgetown University found an associate's degree holder earns $1.7 million over a lifetime where as a student with a bachelor's degree will earn $2.3 million.
While Hall is working away at his degree and adding more to his college debt, Zoromski is earning away. "I was very fortunate to know what I wanted to do and it all worked out that way," Zoromski said.
Hall says the extra pennies are worth it, because of all of the extra-curricular activities that come with attending a four year degree. "Most people who go to a four-year campus tend to live here and you build a better relationship with your professors your academic advisers and different students so I feel like it's a better rapport at a four year," Hall said.
One thing everyone can agree with, some kind of degree or skill will set students on the path toward financial success.
"Education is something no one can ever take from you, so you're really investing in yourself which is important," said Zoromski. "It's something you have to be prepared for and really to have a game plan as to how to go about that as efficiently as possible you'll be successful. Whether you have a two-year degree or a four-year degree."
Job placement between the two schools is very similar. In fact, job placement for graduates from CVTC is about 95 percent and UW-Eau Claire's placement is at 96 percent.