Should You Go To College? My $50,000 Mistake
College, college, college. I’m not going to lie I loved college. But I’m not sure I loved it for all the right reasons.
Sometimes I ask myself if I should have even gone to college in the first place. From my perspective, I spent ~$46,000 on a degree that I don’t use in my everyday job. That doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t worth it though and I’ll tell you why later on in this article. That $46,000 was my total amount for a 4-year bachelor’s degree in finance. It’s not uncommon for people to pay that same amount per year or more!
Of course, like everything, hindsight is 20/20 but the question of whether college is worth it or not is something many are struggling with due to the new changes to our world.
With many schools going 100% remote, students are starting to question whether the price tag is worth it.
Some are even taking it a step further and protesting.
I believe this a valid argument and I’m glad they are doing it. You paid money expecting to be sitting in class together, surrounded by individuals with some of the same goals, mindsets, and interests. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll meet people with different interests and expand your brain a little. Inevitably some of these people will end up being your closest friends which is a huge perk of college to me.
Building these relationships is almost impossible through a 100% online course. I know you’re not only doing it for the relationships but it seems to reduce the return on your investment when you take that benefit away.
College Is Still Worth It
For most people reading this, college is still well worth the money. Having a degree is often the barrier between a regular job and a good-paying job. I would give exact figures here but it all depends on where you live, career field, degree obtained, and all kinds of situation-specific data.
For example, in the Midwest, generally speaking, it is hard to find an entry-level job with a salary greater than $50,000 without a college degree.
Do I think this is right or fair? Absolutely not. But that’s the world we live in.
I also believe that the weight of where you get your degree from doesn’t matter as much as we once thought. Sure, an Ivy League school sounds great and if you are able to get in, then go for it. The real value is in the people you meet and an Ivy League school is going to have you touching elbows with some prominent people. I, like many people I know, got my first degree-related job because a friend made an introduction. Without that introduction, I would have been stuck in the rut of applying for as many jobs as possible.
The value is in the people.
Another obvious point is that college is the only way. The obvious example that comes to mind here is a doctor. Your health is the most important thing you have and personally, I don’t want my doctor to get a degree from an online course in six months. Can you imagine? “Don’t worry I took the heart surgery module last week, this should be a breeze”. That’s a big no from me.
Lastly, attending a traditional college is often someone’s only path to a better life. Being accepted and attending college is a huge moment for a majority of people and they should be proud of their accomplishments. I don’t want to take anything away from the excitement or success of going to college. I just want you to seriously decide if it’s worth it and beneficial in the long run.
Would I Change Anything
Yes. I don’t have regrets but I spent almost $50,000 on an education I don’t use in a traditional sense. Thankfully most of this was financed with scholarships (shoutout to my sister for showing me the way). That being said, I am using the information I learned every single day. Without that education, this website and my YouTube channel would never have happened. I wouldn’t have house hacked my first property or been able to understand how to invest in a more intelligent way.
Most importantly, I wouldn’t have the friend group I have, and what’s life without solid relationships with other people?
Am I suggesting paying a ton of money to make new friends? No, absolutely not. But it is a pretty sweet side effect of going to a school and finding people with common interests.
To be honest, if I could go back I probably would have taken it more seriously. I still would have gone to the parties and extracurricular activities of course, but I should have taken advantage of what was right in front of me. Hundreds of extremely smart people being taught by even smarter people. I wish I would have built stronger relationships with my professors, some of whom have done things that I want to do in life.
But that’s a story for another time.
If I was going to start college in 2020 I would like to think I would have taken a gap year. It’s easy to type that but when I think about the pressure from parents and peers, I probably wouldn’t have. I can hear people now “It’s going to set you back” or “you are making a huge mistake by waiting”. Like I stated earlier, hindsight is always 20/20.
The Bottom Line
College in the traditional sense is a market ripe for disrupting. The steadily increasing costs, even with a global pandemic, paired with a gap in value means a new variation is on the horizon. If students can pay 1/10th the cost and get more value, why wouldn’t they?
Some schools have seen this coming for years and have been investing heavily in their online programs. But they still have the infrastructure to pay for. They still have buildings that need maintenance, grounds that need to be kept, and thousands of other items that cost millions of dollars.
On the other side, I predict you’ll see companies start investing directly into their workforce like Google and other tech companies already have. If you can capture a young, motivated mind and teach them exactly what they need to do their job well why wouldn’t they?
Why wait four years or more for that person to have a degree but still need a lot of the same training?
I wouldn’t be surprised if many college campuses become obsolete within the next 10 years. Turning simply into a ghost town of what once was. Already, the dorms that my fiance and I lived in our freshman year of college is now a patch of grass. Nothing is constant but change.
My intention is not to steer you in any certain direction, but to give you a little more information to make decisions with. Use your head and think about the long-term. Ask yourself if the path you take is worth paying for until you’re 35 or 40. If it is, then do it.
We love learning things and educating ourselves in any way. But that doesn’t mean you have to go to college to learn. There are so many opportunities, just seek them out. We are deciding not to be young, dumb, and broke, and we’re doing it now!
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