College: To Go, or Not To Go?
As a person who strongly believes in education, I believe that unless it’s essential to your career path or free, the answer is no (for Americans).
With websites like Coursera: coursera.org, udemy.com, udacity.com and other online learning portals, libraries and book stores, you can learn everything you’d learn in college without going. You can also walk in most college classrooms for free and no one would know the difference.
What you get from graduating college is a piece of paper; a degree. It’s not a certification for a good life, nor a career requirement, nor a guarantee of a good or even decent job. In many cases, it has less value than four years of experience.
However, if a particular degree is necessary to get the job you know you want to do for your career, then go to college and get the degree.
Some examples include a degree in accounting, nursing or engineering. If you know you want to be a doctor or a lawyer, you also need a college degree and then medical school or law school.
If you can get the job you want without the degree, then go straight for the job. If you can learn the skills to do the job without going to college and get the job, then take that route.
Do not go to college if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. Don’t go because your friends are going. Don’t go because your parents want you to go. Don’t go because your teacher or guidance counselor tells you to. Don’t go to “find yourself”. Don’t go because of a television commercial or advertisement. Don’t go to college because of false promises that you can obtain success more easily with a degree than without one or that you will be any happier or more satisfied once you have a degree. You will be the same person, but four years older.
The truth is, anything you can learn in college, you can learn faster out of college. You can buy and read the same textbook without enrolling. And you don’t have to waste your time sitting in class or taking tests.
Here’s my experience:
I graduated high school and got a job offer for $15 an hour to do sales while learning SEO and Programming. I turned it down to go to college. After spending $40,000, plus missing out on $120,000 in earnings for a total loss of $160,000 over 4 years, I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration.
And I got a job offer for $14 an hour to do sales while learning SEO. I’d made a pretty bad business move.
After a few years I progressed and eventually starting earning in the $80,000 – $100,000 per year range, but none of the positions I had required a college degree. They were interested in my skills, not my degree.
And the truth is, I could have spent a fraction of the time and money I spent in college getting several certifications which would be more applicable to my career than college classes are.
Most college degrees are worth about $5,000, max. Some are worth less than that. But the cost is much greater for most students.
The truth is, you can “experience” college without paying for a degree. Just sit in on some classes and go to some parties. No one will know you don’t go there as long as you talk and dress the part.
Save your money, save your time and save your freedom. Only go to college if the degree you are obtaining is essential to later steps in your pre planned career path. Don’t have a planned career path? Then you probably aren’t yet ready for college. Work for a few years first and get a sense of what you might want to do.