Hard-up Arts Students Should Heed the Lessons of History

Students in the UK are reckoned to graduate with an average debt of £28,000 give or take a few English pounds, according to research conducted by Voucherbox. Given the escalating plight of US students though, that’s relatively small change in the grand scheme of things.

More and more Americans are burdened by student debt than ever before and it gets worse with every passing day – one website, MarketWatch, estimates by as much as $2.76 every second. Overall, America’s student debt is an eye-watering $1.2 trillion. So much for a care-free life! 

Now, about 40 million Americans are carrying some student loans and 70 percent graduate with serious student debt. But what about the 30 percent who don’t? What’s their secret for making ends meet? It would be natural to assume that many come from affluent backgrounds and have parents or relatives who fund their further education. For those not so fortunate, however, part-time work – often to the detriment of studies and physical and mental well-being – is the only answer.

"Wine Tasting" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by StateofIsrael

Juggling work commitments, often in a low-paid, stressful environment like a kitchen or a busy bar, with exams and revision can be a cocktail for disaster and not what most students signed up for when they left home. Three years of a blissful hedonistic lifestyle amongst like-minded people their own age, with the occasional lecture thrown in for good measure, is what most young people envisage when they spread their wings and set off on this exciting new chapter in their lives.

So, we know that being a student costs small fortune but is it money well spent? If Doug or Diane go on to become hot-shot lawyers the short-term pain will definitely have been worth the long-term gain. Pick a vocational course like Law and you’re far more likely to be on Easy Street than dead-beat through the stress that being in long-term debt can cause you both as an undergraduate and then into adult working life.

Which course you choose can, therefore, have serious financial implications for years to come. A list of the 50 Most Affordable Colleges with the Best Returns places military establishments in its top four, with the United States Naval Academy ranked number one. Unsurprisingly, the Colorado School of Mines and the Georgia Institute of Technology also score well. In fact, the world-renowned University of Berkeley in California is the only college in the top 10 that doesn’t specialize in either the military, science, technology or engineering.

Getting more bang for your buck counts a lot, too. In the UK, the Voucherbox research reveals that students taking arts-based subjects like Theatre Studies or History don’t get the same value as a budding scientist. Based on the cost of tuition per hour, arts students pay double the amount – £38.50 per hour compared to £18.10 – someone in a lab coat coughs up.

"No necesitamos tu dinero" (CC BY 2.0) by Daquella manera

Getting more bang for your buck counts a lot, too. In the UK, the Voucherbox research reveals that students taking arts-based subjects like Theatre Studies or History don’t get the same value as a budding scientist. Based on the cost of tuition per hour, arts students pay double the amount – £38.50 per hour compared to £18.10 – someone in a lab coat coughs up.

"Graduation 2012 050" (CC BY 2.0) by klbradt

The graduate job market for Art students isn’t flush with cash, either. Cuts to public spending mean that resources are tight and what money there is rarely finds its way into the pockets of people new to the job. So, as well as overpaying for their education, UK arts students then struggle to pay back what money they owe. For those wanting to get into design, music, and performing or visual arts, salaries vary vastly but the average figure is £19,600, while the Graduate Recruitment Bureau peg first salaries for General Engineers at £27,157. 

So it is going to be BA or BSC? One letter can make a world of difference financially.

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