Is college worth the cost to you?

College gives young people more than a degree. It is also offers critical thinking skills while forcing young people to manage independent living.

But is it necessary for everyone?

Many jobs do require a college degree, and graduates do tend to make more money.

In college, you’re acquiring lifelong skills like critical thinking, organization, problem-solving, and teamwork. You also have access to counselors, career centers, internships, job fairs, clubs, and volunteer opportunities to intensify your marketability after graduation.

However, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports that 43 percent of today’s college graduates work in a job that doesn’t require a degree. A 2017 Gallup survey revealed that 51 percent of Americans who went to college would consider changing their degree, major, or institution. Moreover, The National Center for Education Statistics found that only 59 percent of college students get their degree within six years.

Try to determine whether the money you’ll earn with a degree will be worth what you’ve paid for it. If you’re not entirely sure about your career choice, you may later regret going to college at all.

While a college degree can open doors, sheer ambition, determination, and willingness to work open others. Do not dismiss such alternatives as trade schools, community colleges, and apprenticeships, among others. Becoming a real estate agent, medical assistant, or web developer doesn’t require a college degree. Capitalize on your entrepreneurial spirit by starting your own business through websites like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy. Take free online classes, learn a trade skill, or earn an associate degree at a community college, among other possibilities.

Most people invest in college to prepare for a productive and rewarding future. This pursuit is viable when you know what you want, manage your expectations, and intend to pay for everything from your own pocket. If necessary, apply for scholarships, find a part-time job, maybe even take a few semesters off to save up before you leave for college.

This way, you may earn a college degree without being haunted by a student loan for years and maybe decades to come.

How to scale the company ladder

It takes more to get ahead in a company than just doing the basics.

“Simply meeting expectations is not enough if you want to get ahead,”

writes business trainer and consultant Cy Wakeman in her book, The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace.

If you want to climb the ladder, strive to be a low-drama, high-value employee, Wakeman says.

Victor Lipman agrees, and he’s an author and management specialist with more than 20 years of Fortune 500 experience.

“Be relentlessly reliable,” he says. “Reliability is a cornerstone of business and a fine core personal attribute. Businesses may not often need brilliant bursts of artistic creativity, but they always need the trains to run on time.”

For example, try to become a go-to person by developing as many skills as possible. The more you can do within a company, and the more you can learn about its operations, the more relevant you are to its goals.

Your attitude and willingness to work do matter too. Try to be consistently collaborative. In projects involving multiple participants with conflicting views and opinions, the person who can react effectively with all kinds of people is appreciated.

Also, create strong, enduring relationships. In the corporate world, networking has been and always will be an influential factor regardless of an individual’s status in the company. As much as others may profess that professional advancement is based on merit, individual relationships do have their roles in any company, large or small.

Think about ways and means of resolving an issue that may have been gnawing at the company for years. Although some of these problems are unique to each organization, the more common challenges include containing costs, improving production processes, and discovering new markets for established products.

Be a self-starter. Try to identify obstacles before they get worse. Try to be valued as a team member who tries to make difficult decisions easier.

Keep in mind that any solution you propose is likely to be met with skepticism; if not, the issue most likely would have been solved long ago.

Should you succeed–or even make noticeable progress–your efforts could advance your career in ways you had not imagined.

Finally, try to make your boss look good (and if possible, his boss too). This sense can set you apart, showcase potential, and promote an ability to think beyond current circumstances.

Are you checking account wisely? Your credit score could now go up

This year, people who wisely manage their checking accounts could see an increase in their credit scores.

The new UltraFICO credit score will let some consumers offer their banking activity as proof that they are credit worthy.

A credit score has never been based on income. A person who makes $20,000 per year — and pays loans faithfully — could have a higher credit score than a person making $200,000, who doesn’t pay loans on time. The credit score tries to predict if a person will pay back a loan and pay it back on time.

Some people, especially younger people, may not have much of a history of loan payments. Those people pay for things mainly in cash, and through their checking accounts and debit cards, which aren’t counted toward a credit score. If they do apply for a loan, their lack of credit history could put them in the subprime category, scores below 670. They might be denied credit.

With the UltraFICO scoring system, a lender can offer to recalculate a consumer’s score based on banking activity. People who have had a checking account for some time, maintain a balance of about $400, and don’t overdraw are likely to see their score rise, possibly high enough to get a loan and therefore build credit history.

One caution: those who do overdraw their accounts could see their scores go down in an UltraFICO calculation.

Since the subprime mortgage crisis, banks have been focused on only the most creditworthy borrowers. In 2018, a record 58.2 percent of U.S. consumers held a score between 700 and 850, the FICO maximum. These high-score consumers aren’t taking out as many loans these days and lenders have been eager to find responsible borrowers.

Fair Isaac Corporation, the creator of the widely used FICO score, estimates 7 million people with thin credit histories could benefit from an UltraFICO recalculation. Another 26 million people could see an increase, and 4 million could see their score increase 20 points.