Is College Worth the Cost?

Should you take on all of that debt?

Photo by Elijah Hail on Unsplash

When I was growing up in the 80’s my parents made it clear that in order to succeed that I had to do well in school, get into college, pick a practical major and become a doctor, engineer, lawyer or some other high earning profession.

This was the path; this is what you had to do to be a success; this is what you did to have a happy fulfilled life.

Yes, we knew back then that there were other paths, entertainment, sports etc. But this was pre-internet, when there were still gatekeepers keeping people out of those industries, and only a slim percentage of people made it and it was as much about luck as it was about talent.

So, sure, take a shot, but you better have that college degree as your fall back.

That model has shifted dramatically, in the past 20 years with most of the shift occurring in the past 5 years.

Is College still worth it?

College these days is substantially more expensive then it was 20–30 years ago and it has increased far more than inflation. Take a look at this chart showing cost of a 4 year college education vs cost of other goods and services.

by Coleman Nee @ letters2president.org

What Happened?

In 1958 the first student loan programs and Sallie Mae were created. Then due to high rates of default the federal government, made it almost impossible to default on your student loans.

Then of course, once there was no way to default, well then tuition skyrocketed. The Government created the perfect system for Universities to print money.

So, is College Worth the Cost of Tuition

Maybe, if You Want to be a Doctor

So, while 40 years ago college might have made sense, and 20 years ago depending on what you wanted to do it may or may not have made sense, do you really think the cost vs benefit makes sense today?

Ok, if you know for a fact you want to be a doctor or a nurse or go into some career where a specific set of knowledge and a specific degree is required. AND you know you will be in that career for the rest of your life or at least multiple decades. Then sure, go ahead. You’ll still come out ahead. But for most people these days there is no way that college makes sense.

For Most It Simply is No Longer Worth It

If you are not sure what you want to do you are much better off going to trade school, or taking that money your parents were going to spend on you college tuition and buying your first rental property, or hell just taking a year off and vagabonding around the world. Maybe take your camera, or podcast equipment and try to start your own thing up.

What I’m saying is go against what society and your parent and teachers are telling you. Don’t be an idiot and go deeply into debt by partying instead. You still need to work your ass off to get some money to be able to buy that equipment first, and cover several months of travel, as well as don’t burn bridges so you have a place to come back to where you can re-group as you inevitably fail the first time.

But if you really work your ass of it and come back knowledgeable in how to build a website, graphics, SEO, building a brand, reach. Hell, at worst, even if you fail at your own business, you would be valuable in a marketing department somewhere. You can go there, make some money, regroup before you try again.

Finance professional with a passion for reading, writing, history, economics and the world.

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