Is College Worth the Opportunity Cost?

Eddie Braverman's picture
Rank: The Pro | banana points 21,143

This is going to seem like an odd question to many of you, and I even debated whether I should ask it here. On the other hand, this might be the perfect place to ask it. It's about the opportunity cost of college.

I'm asking as the father of two young men, ages 11 and 13 (6th and 8th grade). College hasn't really entered the conversation for my youngest, but it's looming large for my oldest now. They attend an upper crust private school, so by the 8th grade there is already pressure to get straight A's and max out test scores.

Let me preface this by saying that they will not be bankers (I would be astonished if they went into any field even related to finance). I realize that banking requires not only a degree, but the right degree from the right school. In other words, if your worldview is exclusively that of a banker, you can probably bail out of this post now. I'm asking on behalf of those mere mortals who don't aspire to Excel mastery and make up the rest of the population at large.

The Problem

Plenty of ink has been spilled over the past several years suggesting that the juice of a degree is no longer worth the squeeze of attending college. There's no doubt that we're waist-deep in a student loan bubble, and probably the only thing keeping it from bursting is the inability to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. Then there's the abysmal job market for recent grads. I'm actually writing this in a Starbucks, and all four of the baristas have degrees (I asked them).

More and more, I'm hearing from friends with kids in college that they're being told to strap in for grad school tuition, because a bachelor's degree just doesn't cut it anymore. The bachelor's degree has become the high school diploma of my day.

The average cost of private college in the US last year was $32,405. State schools are cheaper, but not by much. They came in at $24,000 a year for out-of-state residents. I live in Louisiana (there's no state school here worth throwing any shekels at), so that's what my kids would be paying to attend a state school elsewhere. Assume even the current rate of tuition inflation, and my kids are well into the six figures by the time they go to school, at a minimum.

Aside from that, they have to give up four (and more likely five) years of their life just to get a lambskin. If they take out student loans to help finance the expense, then they enter at least a decade of indenture upon graduation. They'll literally have to spend years of their life just getting back to zero.

As a parent, I'd like to help them avoid that outcome. That desire has sent me in search of alternatives.

The Alternatives I've Found

Probably the best alternative I've found is coding bootcamp. Right now coders are in such demand that several bootcamps offer an employment guarantee to successful graduates. Hack Reactor grads make an average of $104,000, and their program is only 12 weeks long and costs less than $20,000. Several of the bootcamps even defer your tuition until you get hired.

I realize coding isn't for everyone, but if I'm having a heart-to-heart with my kid about life after high school, part of that conversations is going to be "you can gut this out if it means you're making $72,000 a year three months later."

I've even started looking into alternatives to the school they're in now. To me, it's ridiculous that a kid has to "go" to school anymore. As in, physically go to a building somewhere and spend six hours a day being lectured to and forced to memorize useless shit, considering from this point forward they'll never spend a day of their lives without a supercomputer in their pocket. Hell, the Louisiana legislature just made cursive writing a requirement, so at least they're focused on the right things. SMH.

One of the alternatives I'm giving a hard look is Connections Academy. They're in about two-thirds of the US states (I'm shocked to report that Louisiana is one of them), and it's an accredited K-12 education that takes place 100% online. Students work at their own pace, there's no homework (or all the work is homework, depending on your point of view), and graduates have gong on to all the Ivies and virtually every other school in America. On top of all that, it's free.

My Questions For You

I realize that many of you are in college or recently graduated, so a lot of this stuff has to be top of mind for you. If you will, take a step back and think about what advice you wish you'd been given knowing what you know now.

  • Have you ever stopped to consider the opportunity costs of college and whether it was/is worth it?
  • Did you give any thought to alternatives? I'm constantly bombarded with videos from Mike Rowe extolling the virtues of becoming a plumber. Were the trades ever a part of your calculus?
  • I never went to college. I worked as an aircraft mechanic before I broke into finance, and I know I'll never starve because I can always go back to bending a wrench if things get really bad. How valuable do you think it is to develop an evergreen skill like coding (or aircraft maintenance, for that matter) before shouldering the burden of college?
  • What do you think is the biggest thing someone misses by skipping college? I'm not talking about a degree or job prospects, I mean what do you gain from the college experience itself that you miss otherwise?
  • Are you happy with the choices you made, or would you have rather gone a different route?

I can't help feeling that it's getting harder and harder for young people and, like every parent, I'd like to help my kids avoid the worst of it if possible.

Thanks in advance for your input.

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Comments (175)

Aug 30, 2016

How about from a future earnings point of view? Say a plumber might make, say $70,000 but might not be able to earn much more than that. However, a Walmart management trainee might earn, say $40,000 out of university but has the potential (no matter how slight) to become a F500 C-level executive.

Best Response
Aug 30, 2016

eddie, great question. I actually went to a vocational school half time for the last 2 years of high school (doing video, graphic design, etc.) and many of my best friends became masons, welders, plumbers, carpenters, etc. I also know a tiny bit about coding, not actual coding, but the job opportunities it affords.

I think you're asking the wrong question. college is absolutely NOT worth it if you study something like anthropology, art history, etc., and I've written about this before. I think majors that don't get people jobs should simply not be allowed to be majors. minors? sure, but letting a kid major in art history costing his parents $200k all in is asinine.

in my opinion, you should absolutely send your kids to college if they want to major in something marketable, like engineering, accounting, biology, chemistry (assuming they want to do a masters, PharmD, MD, DO, etc.), and so on. reason being, at most of the companies I work closely with have essentially 3 parts to the business: sales, manufacturing, and technology. each requires dramatically different skillsets and therefore has different trajectories.

salespeople went to college and worked their way up. if your kids want to go into sales, they should just major in business and work on people skills. quick aside: many of the most successful salespeople I know have some finance background. sales has a great trajectory, you can stay a sales guy in your territory forever, make great money, and be largely irreplaceable. very high ceiling.

technology people (software engineers and the like) also obviously went to college, and usually studied EE, ME, CS, or something else (for example, if at Dow Chemical they probably studied chemical engineering or if at Merck they studied bioengineering or something). if they have an interest in hard sciences, you'd probably know that by now, but this would also fall into the camp of an irreplaceable skill. technology jobs are pretty irreplaceable if the person is not just a model machine. the most successful engineers I know either have MBAs or took customer facing tech jobs. sure, they're developing things, coding, and have their names on patents, but they also have a skill that salespeople possess: translating complicated things into layman's terms. if your kids think they could be engineers, absolutely send them to college, no question.

also, let me expand on the coding comment. coders start at good salaries, but unless they move beyond just coding and developing software, they have ceilings and can be on the chopping block when layoffs hit tech companies. think of a coder as a #4 wide receiver who's 35 years old in the NFL. sure, they're talented, and can do what much of the population can't do, but can their job be easily taken by someone who's 22 coming out of their same code academy for less money? yes, and this happens. now your kid will likely never be unemployed long term with tangible skills like coding, so you could argue that it's better than college, but I've yet to see a coder at the tech companies I work with get nearly as much in comp & benefits as someone with a EE degree, even though they may have the same skillsets.

manufacturing. yes, there are $100k jobs out there, I have a friend who's a welder who makes at least $120k a year, no student loans. there are plumbers that make this much money, there are other tradespeople who make that much money. the problem isn't income & lack of debt, it's lifestyle & ceiling.

let's take the welder example, say he works for Exxon making $120k a year. he's pulling 80+ hours a week doing backbreaking work on a rig in Houston in August with full welder's gear on, and the bad news is he's pretty much hit his ceiling unless he becomes a supervisor. is that a good trajectory? you tell me.

on the opposite side, let's take an analyst at exxon, say somebody who studied chemical engineering at georgia tech or texas tech (both great options for you), they'll start out at $70k + bonuses living in a place like houston at 22yo. pretty good income, but what's even better is the ceiling and the lifestyle. they'll work 8-5 mostly with maybe some weekends (at any manufacturing facility, junior engineers have to be on call occasionally in case something blows up at a plant over the weekend when the non-engineer employees are working). this analyst will probably get 5-10% raises over the next 3-5 years, easily be able to payoff student loans (say it's 60-70k at graduation, will only be about 5-700/mo in a low CoL city), and then either just move up within the organization or get an MBA and vault up from within. the jobs in late 20s/early 30s at places like this are much preferred to being a tradesman if your kids have the desire and intellect.

that was an illustrative example to prove my point that if your kids have the aptitude and the desire, you'd be doing them a disservice by not sending them to college. at the same time, if they have no clue what they want to do, I'd recommend community college and holding down a job for 1-2 years until they figure it out. no sense in shelling out 20-40k for them to "find" themselves.

TLDR: is college worth it? yes, if you use it to get a job. no, if you use it to party. bro tip: you can do both.

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Aug 30, 2016

Bro tip +1

Aug 31, 2016

Absolutely, 100% spot on. My gf is from Alaska where most people go to a trade school, then go work on the Northern Slope with ConocoPhillips, BP, Exxon and make $90K like a year out of high school. Yeah, they'll top out at around $120K/yr, but the smarter ones will go to college part time to get like a degree in business and start their own small business doing plumbing, electrical work or construction. My gf's dad did that with just an associates from community college and he does really well for himself and makes fun of me for my absurd business school loans.....

Aug 31, 2016

Your comment regarding a professional 'coder' being able to be replaced by a 22 year old right of college is completely off the mark. The 22 year old doesn't know how to write production level code that is thoroughly tested, doesn't know how to properly estimate the time it will take to complete a project which can lead it lose revenues, doesn't have the years of experience to be able to innovate etc... Experience in these roles is often overlooked because the individuals who make these decision do not know enough about them. Furthermore, believing an engineers only upward mobility is to move into customer/management type of roles is a short-sided view.


"I am always saying "Glad to've met you" to somebody I'm not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though."
-- J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

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Aug 30, 2016

you're entitled to your opinion, I'm just speaking from experience of working with 2 Dow component tech companies on a fairly regular basis. I rarely see engineers commanding top comp unless they have some level of relationship management in their role. it may not be this way everywhere, but it appears to be this way at the biggest tech companies.

on the replacement thing, sure, it's not an apples to apples replacement, but again, just speaking from experience, heads are rolling. like I said, they'll never be unemployed, but they'll always be replaceable.

Aug 31, 2016

Sometimes it irritates me how people working in finance are suddenly experts who know the ins and outs of every single industry on the planet. Ya, you work on Wall Street and yet you know all there is to know about med school admissions. Nothing against him but just pointing out an irritating trend I notice among countless people in finance.

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Aug 30, 2016

On top of the potential earnings argument, another thing to think about is their happiness and social life. School can be a great place for a kid (I consider 18-22 year olds to still be kids) to develop and intellectually challenge themselves. In addition, in some social circles, a degree would be necessary to even be considered as respectable - either amongst mates or as a friend. I would not discount signaling power and the importance of fitting in in society.

Aug 30, 2016

People who would not respect me without a degree are not people I would like to associate myself with. College isn't as intellectually stimulating as everybody claims - ideas are usually just reinforced not challenged.

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Aug 31, 2016

This. Maybe a liberal arts focused school like UChicago or Williams might give you the environment to "expand your mind" or create an intellectually stimulating classroom experience...most state schools and larger institutions simply do not.

The classes I was challenged the most in terms of critical thinking were in courses such as Art History, Offensive Arts (specialty requirement at my school), and believe it or not Child Development. My Finance courses, although interesting were simply taught by professors who cared more about research than teaching or taught the same cookie-cutter curriculum year after year with little to no creativity.

At the end of the day, employers demand the best and if you can get a flood of top caliber applicants who set the bar higher and higher why would they readjust their requirements?

Aug 30, 2016

I was just thinking about this because at 34, I just wrote a pretty large check last week to pay off the balance of my student loans. I truly do believe that College isn't right for everyone and some percentage (40%?) of college students are wasting their time/money. However, in this day and age I think you have to go to college unless you have another viable plan. As you stated, plans could include:
- Vocational School
- Entrepreneurship (actual plans for entrepreneurship)
- Military
- Coding Academy
- Other specific IT training (I have a buddy without a degree who's trained in SAP and does pretty well)
- Culinary School
- Management Training Program
- Commercial Pilots license/ potentially a CDL

Basically, they're all somehow continuing educational/career development. The day you graduate high school you are not ready to jump into the career that you'll be in for the next 50 years.

I went to a crappy directional state school. I really think most people there wasted their time/money. However, it still opens up doors. Most of my accounting/finance classmates went on to work at banks (small town banks, not investment banks) and most of my friends took pretty crappy jobs out of school. From a career "success" standpoint, I'd probably grade the highest, but most of my buddies from school busted their ass and turned those crappy entry-level positions into (assumed) 6 figure jobs. That likely doesn't happen without a degree.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

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Aug 30, 2016
  • Vocational School - Many vocational schools are in community colleges which offer associate's degrees so it is technically college
  • Entrepreneurship (actual plans for entrepreneurship) - Most who do this inherit a business (e.g parent's diner, tailor, etc) or have parents with enough money to at least provide a down payment.
  • Military - In many cases, the military can pay for your college (ROTC, service academies, etc) and officer's pay is much higher than enlisted (bachelor's degrees are required for US military officers, many other countries as well)
  • Coding Academy - Don't know much about this one, but to be a coder is a skill that some people can pick up easily while others can't no matter how hard they try.
  • Culinary School - Excellent example, but the value of culinary school is debated, this forum obviously is not suitable for information on this line of work.
  • Management Training Program - Like being a military officer most of these programs require a bachelor's degree.
  • Commercial Pilots license/ potentially a CDL - Yes, this does not require college and would be an excellent example. But would just like to point out that some of those who operate in the "prestigious routes" in the big airlines have military experience as a pilot, which requires a bachelor's degree.
Aug 30, 2016

You are asking about opportunity costs of college. Fair question, however the answer truly lies completely outside of the cost of college picture. College can be pretty much put into three buckets.

1) Degree
2) What you actually learn. Academics and social skills
3) Life experiences

Those are the advantages of college. Now the question is, can you provide viable alternatives to those things with the opportunities you can afford to your kids? A degree really isn't possible unless you can completely fabricate an entire college existence for your kids. Which aside from being illegal is likely more actual work and money than just going to school.

On to number two, can the opportunities provided create an environment where your kids can learn enough life skills to replace the need for a college degree? For example if you have the ability to get them an internship directly out of high school working for the owner of a small to mid sized business that can mentor your kid for a year then potentially hire him for a job after. Or do the opportunities that could be made available consist of getting a job at some random place making barely above the minimum wage.

The point of view this question really needs to be address from is not how much money you can save your kids, but rather does college provide the best opportunities for success or can you help you kid match or beat the opportunities made available by college.

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Aug 30, 2016

Way too many people go to college than should today. There's a University of Phoenix commercial that has a tune that says 'a degree is a degree'. Nothing could be further from the truth and UoPhoenix is the perfect example of a degree you should not get. College is mostly designed to be a signal to employers that you're a smart person, if it doesn't send that signal, it's largely useless. The other good use would be for engineering, accounting, or something similar that has practical value.

Otherwise, most of those kids at no name universities would be better off becoming a plumber or electrician.

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Aug 31, 2016

As harsh as this may sound (it doesn't to me but may to others) I wholeheartedly agree. The government's emphasis on college education (maybe because they make billions on student loans) has diluted the value of a college degree and increased costs for students.

I would argue a trade is much better, even in the short run. People act as if you don't attend college right after high school those doors are closed to you forever.

Why not join a trade and become an HVAC technician? This is anecdotal evidence but I know quite a few people who repair HVAC units for small businesses and make around $75,000+ depending on the hours they choose to work and how many jobs they want to complete.

Once you have the money, invest a portion of it and then go and get a college degree. It may not land you an IB gig at GS but I challenge you to find an employer that would scoff at an applicant who ran his/her own business and then went to college and earned a degree.

Also the military is another option and no you don't have to be an infantryman running around shooting a gun. You can get into a medical training program, IT technology, or logistics and use that as leverage to get a better paying job post-military, post-college and have college paid for (or most of it).

People have a hard on for hiring vets since it is seen as the politically correct thing to do so why not?

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Aug 30, 2016

Absolutely agree. A system like they have in some European countries (apprenticeships) would be a lot better for many kids.

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Aug 30, 2016

My $0.02 is that College is a dated metric for intellect. It is a standard of yester-year that needs to be re-engineered into something more efficient. Back in my parents day the notion of Academia as a learning experience was acceptable and everyone got a job. Now the reality of learning academia makes candidates unable to compete in the real world due to the massive increase in competition of the labour force. University and education are not bad in principal; they simply need to change the curriculum to meet the demands of the labour force. Essentially I'm envisioning a Junior College style track for all of undergraduate studies. Why should firms need to spend 4 weeks educating new hires when they just spent 4 years getting "educated"? The system is dated and needs rebranding.

Aug 30, 2016

Like for f*ck sakes they still teach CAPM in Finance class.

Aug 30, 2016

Wholeheartedly agree. For the most part, college is a money-sucking black hole of bullshit. We desperately need a revamped nationwide curriculum that focuses on setting students up with relevant skills from day one. Sure everyone could benefit from being well-rounded, but Animal Science 101 isn't landing me an interview anytime soon. That's not to say a finance major shouldn't take a marketing course. There needs to be a better balance in gen-eds and core classes. The problem is good luck trying to convince anyone who makes a penny off the education system that students could probably be just as well off in 2 years as in 4. As long as my student loans are someone else's income, you'll be tough pressed to find a man big enough to make such a reform.

Aug 30, 2016

To be completely honest, I could not imagine my life without attending college. It granted me much more than just a degree and a means to a decent salary. It granted me a network of friends and colleagues I will forever be able to rely on. It granted me a sense of independence and self-appreciation. It also allowed me to make mistakes and learn from them in an environment that I would consider much safer than a workplace. College forces many people to grow up, learn to live alone and have responsibility for their actions without a parent looking over their shoulder. It teaches them who they are and allows them to mold themselves into who they want to become. From a purely emotional standpoint, I don't think I could ever put a price on that experience.

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Aug 30, 2016

Couldn't the same experience come from leaving home at 18, living with roommates, and getting a job? Not being argumentative, I'm just curious if you think you wouldn't have experienced much the same thing if you took a different route.

Aug 30, 2016

Had some similar benefits to the above, so I'll chime in here. I'm not saying it isn't possible. But I think it takes a pretty mature 18 year old to be ready for that. I have a good plenty of people I know from high school who went that path, and they never really broke out and made the jump to a full on career path. Something to be said, especially since I grew up in a cushy area of So-Cal.

...

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Aug 30, 2016

I don't think I would have, unfortunately. College is unique in the demographic around campus and that adds to the experience. We would always joke when leaving college for a brief vacation that no 19-25 year old existed outside of the bubble that was the university. At work (even now for me) there's a much sparser population of young adults to relate to and meet. Sure, I'll meet people outside of work at clubs and sports, but at college it was an endless supply of people who were like me. It made connections and friendships come easy, as well as the ridiculous experiences more memorable.

I'm sure it is possible to be just as happy taking a different route, but something about the sense of camaraderie that you feel with a class of thousands, a sports team, or a fraternity sets it apart in my mind. It would be very hard to replicate.

Aug 31, 2016

University was never meant to be for the masses. It was a place so that the 'enlightened' could come to express ideas. University comes from the root word 'universe' and establishes that in higher education, people could discuss philosophy and science about all the things under the sun and beyond. As far as it being there so you can have an enjoyable time, this is the wrong idea. Also, if you only want a job--most people only want to be able to earn enough to live comfortably--essentially university should not be your path. Jobs by nature should only require specific training on the day-to-day functions. That means that even though what you said about the experience is true, all of us that have been through that did it wrong unless we did it purely because we would have considered ourselves day wanderers, at least while in our early twenties.

The point I'm trying to bring out is that university was definitely an invaluable experience for those of us who were fortunate enough to be part of this era. But in reality, it just isn't practical to keep sending more and more kids to learn useless information that none of them care about or will even use throughout their lives. It will not be feasible to keep trying to find ways to pay for four years of no productivity, then blaming the government for bankrupting those same kid's futures.

I might even argue that 'college', as it differs from general university institutions, could be smarter establishments that have more ability to last. For example, if the technological revolution never comes and Skynet doesn't take over, we will till need LAC to educate our future lawyers, doctors, engineers, and professionals. I can't see how you need a full-fledge wave of kids going away for very specific professional careers. Most won't need to attend higher education, except for formal training programs, therefore we should have less universities and large institutions.

Aug 30, 2016

At the end of the day college is what you make of it. Too many kids see college as an extension of high school. They dick around, party too much, get poor grades, study a "lazy" major, and just don't put in the effort. Then when senior year rolls around, they realize they've screwed themselves and complain about the lack of jobs, the economy, etc. The negative consequences are amplified by the fact they took out tremendous student loans to live it up for four years.

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Aug 31, 2016

A lot of kids entering college are in a catch 22 mindset when it comes to that. You have countless adults telling them "enjoy it, these are going to be the best 4 years of your life, its all downhill from there" and then media pushing this idea, aggressively I might add, about how college is practically your last chance in life to party, make good friends, enjoy social life, and all of that stuff. Most of the kids that chase that sort of lifestyle in college are doing so because of the countless horror stories they heard about adulthood from adults themselves, the part where it is very difficult to make friends, party, live it up, and all of that. Adulthood, or graduation from college in general, is supposed to mean "growing up", starting a family, being serious, and no longer having the privilege to enjoy a social life and party.

I am not saying any of that is true but that is the belief countless adults and media aggressively and mercilessly push on to so many high school kids who are now in panic the day they enter college.

Get good grades, study hard, immerse yourself, and achieve a successful career? Mostly miss out on the social life, partying, and craziness which is going to be at an all time high in college according to what American society says. Yes you can do it later but apparently it will never be as good. Even if you balance it with your studies, you still won't get to experience it nearly as much as some guy who focused his college experience on just that.

Vice versa? Live it up in college and enjoy the life but then wake up to realize how bad you screwed yourself over in terms of a career.

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Aug 30, 2016

Perfectly describes every single one of my high school buddies.

Aug 31, 2016

I think we need to be careful not to skew what Eddie wrote. I don't think he intended to talk about how people's behaviors have shaped their career fortunes post graduation. What he is addressing is much more systemic and focused on the structure and idea of higher education then the social tendencies of those in college.

My wife is an example of what I mean. She is having a tough time finding work in a city we just moved to. She majored in the sciences, and has a graduate degree + professional certification to legally practice her form of medicine. However, most jobs in her field ask for at least 3-5 years work experience alongside licensing and graduate academics. She took college serious, graduated with two majors, and received high latin honors for both. Her biggest question is at what point will an employer stop asking for experience? Everyone asks for it but no one is willing to give.

My belief is that the job market is so saturated with candidates now (with 4-yr+ degrees) that the employer is able to make these arbitrary requirement, undercutting a whole subset of the youngest workforce. That's how we get to where we are: asking if the cost of higher education is really worth it if we can only scramble for work that doesn't have commensurate compensation for our education.

Aug 30, 2016

Eddie,

Assuming we exclude finance, I suppose the first real question is determining whether or not they want to go into Law, Medicine or Engineering, because college is mandatory for all three fields, as well as additional study if they want to continue down that career path. All of my friends who are engineers have at least one masters degree; that masters is in their particular field of study. I think it really comes down to whether or not you believe that college is the new high school. By that, I mean that a majority of jobs are using a college degree as a gate keeping mechanism to filter out qualified and unqualified candidates. Even schools for subjects like becoming a Physician Assistant require a college degree. Not that I want to push long term planning, but it's something that you need to honestly consider when talking to your kids about their future.

Looking back, when I graduated the opportunity costs of college have been a mixed bag. Was it worth the cost of four years of time? For me, I would say so, but I have experiences that shaped my world view and were crucial to figuring out who I am. All of the areas I'm interested in require a degree, which sucks, however, I think I would have used the time differently if I could. I also graduated right before the recession hit, which colors my thinking because everyone in my high school went to college, they all have degrees, and are working in fields that they wanted to go into. My high school wasn't the norm though. For a public school, we still are one of the top in the country and it shows in the work ethic of the kids I graduated along side with. The parents in my town pushed them to succeed and they have, generally speaking, at so many levels. I'm also an outlier, because I can see the pros and cons of both sides. When I was in high school, the idea of vocational school was out of the question. That said, college isn't for everyone. I remember my freshman roommate, which his academic all-star GPA of 0.7 being asked to leave. He eventually went back and got his college degree, but he took a year or two to work and went to a school that was right for him before succeeding. I also have friends who don't have a college degree that I've suggested either they take classes at night or get a vocational degree because their advancement is limited by not having something. Sadly, it's not because I see value in theoretical learning, but because having a piece of paper that shows some sort of accomplishment (be it VoTech, an AD or a Bachelors) opens doors. I think that people learn more from experiential learning than they do the theory behind things. Unless you want to go into academia, experience trumps the classroom.

At the same time, I don't think everyone is inherently ready for college at the age of 18. A good friend of mine served in the Israeli military before coming to the US for college. I knew him growing up and he was the biggest clown, but 3 years in the military changed him for the better. If he didn't have the military service, I don't think he would have succeeded as much as he has. It took him time before he was ready to attend college.

I know I'm in the minority when it comes to VoTech though. I think that not everyone should go to college, and if you do, it's imperative to learn actual usable skills. Growing up, my dad, who has a white collar job mind you, taught me how to do many of the things that apprentice plumbers, carpenters and electricians do. They are great skills to have, not just to fall back on, but to prepare you for life. Forgetting the savings, but I've found that having these skills has made projects easier to deal with and complete because you stop thinking at 10,000 feet and realize that the answer is an easy fix and can do it yourself if need be. They are skills that can be repurposed. I've leveraged my background in carpentry a few times on design projects because every time I look at a set of plans for a space, my answer is always how does this relate to what I'm physically doing and how can I design it to make sure that every move isn't wasted. With the plumbing and electrical skills, I've learned that placement is key, and making sure you have access when you need it is far more important than just putting something somewhere. If I were in the college position years ago, I don't think I'd do the VoTech route, but I've never discounted it at all. The truth is, vocational training is great to teach people skills and bring skilled labor into the workforce in areas that we are lacking.

Am I happy? Maybe. Maybe not. I think the question is do I have any regrets. And that, I don't have.

As an aside, what state did you enlist in? I would look into whether or not "Home of Record" applies to you or not, and if it does, does the state you enlisted in have a better state school system that you can leverage for your kids education.

Aug 30, 2016
Frieds:

As an aside, what state did you enlist in? I would look into whether or not "Home of Record" applies to you or not, and if it does, does the state you enlisted in have a better state school system that you can leverage for your kids education.

Never even occurred to me. I enlisted in California, which is head and shoulders above Louisiana as far as state schools go. I wonder if it matters that I've been out of the military for almost 25 years now.

Aug 30, 2016

I don't know. It's worth looking into because if you can use "Home of Record" and get your kids into the UC school system, college becomes a much more viable option.

And I take if you're not a fan of LSU? No love for the Tigers and Les Miles?

Aug 30, 2016

A few quick thoughts, going to pretend as if I had children around your age:

-College is not worth the opportunity cost in some cases (a degree from a top school - yes, or a STEM degree from most (all?) schools - yes), and I wouldnt offer to pay for it unless they were certain they wanted to major/work in a STEM field, but how many kids know what they really want to major in/do for a career at ~18? rare

-Two good friends of mine got Engineering degrees from state schools (USF / Western Washington) and are doing pretty well and are happy with their jobs - good success stories

-what I would help pay for (as long as they are studying online some type of coursework during this time, preferably what one learns in the "liberal arts" section of ugrad, history, philosophy, economics, etc):
1 year of world travel or living abroad, 1 year of volunteering, 6 months - 1 year to support them while they get their feet wet, e.g. internships, job shadowing, meeting with professionals for informational interviews and then a bootcamp or some type of "trade" school similar to what you mentioned (if that's what they were interested in)

-For me personally, the value of the friendships I created during those 4 years are really strong, tons of amazing memories, and it would be sad for my children to miss out on that experience

-i was going to argue don't stick them in a bootcamp if that's the last thing they're interested in, but the value of having a trade they can always fall back on later in life is HUGE. as long as the trade they learn won't replaced by a machine within ~20 years after having learned it. a friend's son (~13 it think) has been doing coding bootcamps for kids/teens the last two summers, great for him to get a head start on all that

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    • 1
Aug 31, 2016

Yes.

A lot of employers these days screen you out for not having a college degree but even jobs aside, it is worth it.

College is practically your last chance in life to be surrounded by many other people of your own age group, socialize with them, and not have to deal with the nonsense of teachers holding you by the hand like they did in high school. Going from sheltered high school kid to independent adult is very difficult, college is there for a transitioning period to where you get a lot of the freedom of an adult.

Even though my college experience was very miserable, I am glad I went. I learned a lot about people, life, how things work, and how to approach difficult situations. As a small town kid, college gave me the opportunity to be around various kinds of people and engage in a lot of the same activities as them. College gave me exposure to various people that I would not have been able to get by just going straight to the working world where you're working and not really engaging in those social situations.

Whether you want to be a banker or not, college is worth going to for most careers that kids aspire to be these days.

One other comment @thebrofessor mentioned, please do not let your kids major in biology, chemistry, or biochemistry unless you are willing to send them to grad school. I majored in Biology and if you do not go to med school or into healthcare in general (which you can literally do with any major), it is as useless as a liberal arts degree. All I could really get were scammy sales gigs and low level lab tech jobs for which there was fierce competition but the pay was lower than that of a McDonald's manager.

As for coding bootcamps, I hear that market is getting oversaturated. Pretty soon ever 18 year old Mark Zuckerberg wannabe is going to go to try and go to one, find he isn't that employable without a degree, and then complain that he could not find a job because his employer didn't see as much promise in him compared to some MIT graduate. Beware of them, a lot can be quite scammy and the best ones typically take people who already have college degrees anyways.

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Aug 30, 2016

Looking back I should have went to a trade school. I was really interested in welding, electricity, and carpentry . By now I would have finished trade school and participating in an apprenticeship.

But my advice for you sir is this. Let your kids experience different trades, and majors. Too often we get sucked into the whole you need a college degree to make it. Thats not true .......if your kids enjoy finance/business they should major in that. But if they like cars and working on them they should look into being a mechanic, if they like working with wood how about being a carpenter. I would say this do not let your children study political science, art history, or any degree that is similar most students won't be able to make a living off of that degree.

A personal story...My brother was accepted into a top engineering school here in the U.S so we all naturally thought that we was going to be studying engineering. So when it came to decide what specific major to choose he surprised us by saying political science. My father got up, brought the check for the semester and in front of the whole family ripped it up. He said that he will not be paying for that degree. A few years later my brother graduated with a degree in Aerospace found a well paying job. The day he graduated he thanked my dad for ripping up the check cause it prevented him from making a mistake that he saw his friends make who were currently looking for a job. He took the time to pick something he enjoyed and now makes a living from it.

If your kids want to study creative writing let them pay for the degree since you would be putting up most of the funds you should get a say. College is worth what you put in.....you work hard, study a major that is valuable you will be successful...if you half ass it you won't same with a trade..you don't enjoy it,,,,, you won't study or improve you won't be successful

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Aug 30, 2016

Well, my grandad never went to college, god i think neither of high school. I admire him however becuase when you dont have brains then luck is your widow. Im a goat however, dont implement alot of what i say to your life... please.

    • 1
Aug 30, 2016

I think you're asking the wrong questions. College is definitely out of this world expensive, but it's still a good investment if you treat it as such.

Problem is every 18 year old girl thinks they're special and is wetting themselves over how great the "college experience" is going to be. Guys getting excited over the ass they're about to get. $30k loan for first year? No big deal, chump change for when they become the next great social services worker.

College has become a much more socially engineered concept than in the past. Everyone thinks it's the highlight of their life rather than the springboard you suffer through for a better life.

That being said, college isn't a guarantee. I get irrationally angry when someone can't find a job as an undergrad, so they dish out another $35k for graduate school with the idea that throwing more education on their resume makes them immediately more marketable. I get even more irritated when someone gets a degree, refuses to network in their field, has a shitty 4 page resume, then wonders why employers aren't rushing to their side.

College is still a good investment. Just don't make stupid decisions, like going to an out of state school when an equivalent in-state school is cheaper, or renting the brand new college apartments that cost twice the average ones next door, or going to an expensive school only to major in "integrated studies".

If you do college right it teaches you about your own personal finances and budgeting (if mommy isn't paying the bills or you aren't financing literally everything you do), how to live alone and get through the world without people around you coddling you, and it teaches you how to talk with others who are reasonably educated.

Maybe I'm biased, my 18 year old cousin decided to go to my old alma mater. She kept complaining about the $20k in loans she had to take out for her first semester. Meanwhile she's getting a $1,600/month monstrosity she's splitting with a friend and wont retake her ACT to get 1 extra point to qualify her for a guaranteed $8k/yr merit scholarship.

    • 3
Aug 31, 2016

I am not sure how it was like in the past as I just graduated college a couple of years ago but I feel like a movement has somewhat taken place to where college is the new high school. You get the same craziness, popularity contests, and all of that drama that you usually received with high school. For some reason I actually found my undegrad to be even more cliquish and big on the whole popularity contests than high school was. A part of me feels like society is delaying growing up and maturing, everyone in their 20s is sorta kinda just some high school kid running around without teachers.

As I have said countless times in recent days, media and society (especially adults) have a lot to do with it because they practically make college out to be the only place where you can drink, party, get laid, make a ton of friends, AND enjoy the sense of community (when I said AND I meant have all of that). Many refer to them as "the best 4 years of your life", and then they're surprised their kids ended up getting wasted, burning thousands on spring break, and not taking their future seriously since life is supposed to suck after college.

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Aug 30, 2016

I agree. I went into college expecting to be broke, drive a shitty car, and get by to invest in myself for the future. It wasn't fun at the time, but looking back living in a $500 apartment with my (still) girlfriend on $1,300/month in income taught me a lot about myself. Once I had a job, it was easy to set a budget for myself and save a lot early. Looking back it was a pretty fun time too. Learning how to cook $6 in pasta to last 3 days, making garlic toast out of a plain loaf of bread, working to survive so I wouldn't need loans teach us things school can't.

Back then I envied the kids living in brand new apartments, not working at all, ordering whatever food they wanted that night with a seemingly unlimited credit card. But they have loans out the ass, have a hard time leveling with normal people who didn't have those luxuries, and often times (not always) slacked off on school and/or networking. Then I've seen some go through a slump the year after graduation when they're back in the real world. The media and parents really hail college as the best thing in the world. So kids in turn dish out the cash.

    • 3
Aug 30, 2016

My oldest brother went to school for two years, before dropping out and becoming a car mechanic for a very large, well-known distribution company. He loves it (he really, really, really loves cars and trucks and working on them and no one in my family can imagine him wanting to do anything else- he has that much passion/obsession for it), and because it is such a world-wide name company, he makes a great salary and gets benefits. A few years ago he went back to school part-time (and graduated) so that he could move up in the company because without a college degree you can't be a manager. The company ended up giving him tuition reimbursement. So even for technical skills, yes, I think it is still worth it to go to university.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

    • 2
Aug 30, 2016

1) From my knowledge most people at those coding academies that get good jobs already have degrees, usually from good schools, and prior work experience, usually at good companies. It is highly misleading / incorrect to assume a high school kid will be accepted and more specifically given a high paying job just after a 12 week program. These places are largely for career changer.

2) One of the most important elements of physically attending school is the social dynamics and learning how to interact with peers, etc. You have have conversations, debates, etc. Online school is such a joke - I'd never send my kid to an online school. I think you might be missing the big picture on this one.

3) A lot of those studies on college paying off is again really misleading. The results differ dramatically from horrible no name state/private schools to good state/private schools - and I'm not talking just Ivies. If you can go to a top 50 school or the top school in your state you will do well.

    • 3
Aug 30, 2016

Corporate america wants your kids to go to college (whether consciously or subconsciously).

People get addicted to a stable paycheck from their employer, which they receive in return for said employer owning their time (pseudo slavery, see Taleb: https://medium.com/@nntaled/how-to-legally-own-ano... ). The more debt you carry coming out of undergrad, the more you need that paycheck. It's in corporations' best interests to require college degrees.

Aug 30, 2016

Great questions. I am a graduated back in 2012 with about $80k in loans because I decided to attend a small private school. There are definitely some things I wish I knew before making my decision and taking on that financial burden. The biggest thing for me was truly understanding how student loans work and the impact that they will have on on life after you graduate. Growing up in a middle class family, I was told fairly early on in my high school career that if I wanted to go to college I would probably have to take out student loans. My parents told me they would try to help me out as much as they could, but they definitely did not make enough money to completely pay for my sister and I to go to college. As a teenager, it is tough to understand what the financial implications of having to take out student loans are. When I started hearing about how expensive it is go to college (as you mentioned in your post), and how much I would need to barrow, the large amounts sort of didn't really didn't sound all that bad. I remember comparing costs for different schools and thinking this ones ONLY $30k more total than the other. When you're already talking about borrowing upwards of $50+k what's another $20k or $30k. I wish someone would have explained to me if you borrow X that means starting 6 months after you graduate you'll have to pay Y for the next Z years to pay that off. In order to do that you will need to find a job that makes this much a year to live comfortably. If I would have had a better understanding of how the loans would impact my career, I may have made a different decision about where I went given my situation. Luckily I had a clear direction towards accounting/finance in college and was able to land a job in a field that will allow me to pay off my loans, but I realize that isn't the case for many people. I guess ultimately, I am trying to say that if taking out student loans are a possibility for your children (which it sounds like they will be), take the time make sure they understand how they work, what different programs/types of loans are available and how much they will need to make in order to make their loan payments and still live a comfortable life. Also, try to stress to them the importance of getting good grades and going for various scholarships to maybe help them avoid that whole mess altogether. I definitely would have made more of an effort in high school if I would have known the full impact that the cost of college would have on my adult life.

    • 1
Aug 31, 2016

I've had this conversation before, but I feel that the problem is systemic rather than with the government or personal choice. Just as many before mentioned, the potential to make x times income as time moves along makes it worth it to go to college, even if there are no guarantees. After all, what is guaranteed in life? It'd be hard to turn down college even if someone told you it would take a lifetime to make that x times income over what you are making because even that still makes somewhat of a rational choice.

In our communities today, we're more of the belief in the idea of individuality. The idea of community has been destroyed so we need college because it's the only path to making a life for yourself versus staying in your hometown as the butcher or the teacher that went to local colleges and got a cheap degree that can be paid off in 5 years with proper saving.

Look no further than the decline of entrepreneurship and small businesses. If small businesses slow or stop, it not only creates less jobs, but it destroys jobs for new college graduates if people with experience are competing for those same jobs or more seasoned folks are sitting in the seats with 15 or more years left until retirement. People will work a shit job driving themselves crazy for 20 years because there is no certainty that they can pay their bills if they quit and then have to make--what will soon be less than minimum wage, by the way--12 dollars an hour at the deli or even a little over as a local teacher at 35-40k a year. Alan Greenspan called it a lack of confidence in the wage earner because economics 101 tells you that the wage should be going up to compensate for the deterioration in work conditions. There are jobs that don't pay nearly enough for the expectations of duty.

I'm no religious nut, but if you look at how the decline of the church might affect communities, the results could be startling. Christians because of tithing in the Bible pay a wopping 10% of total income. Christians were very giving people, and if you belonged to these denominations, you always had a dependable body to help you through tough times.

I like @Eddie Braverman 's pointing out of alternative schooling but I don't think that I would limit consideration of those options to just post-grade school. Why not get kids learning harder skills early? At least that way if they will hate college they can do whatever they want. If they love school, then it should not stop them from still going to college. When my grandfather and parents were coming up, they learned vocations like electrical, carpentry, etc., they were even allowed driver's ed, which helped city kids get jobs driving cabs or working in deliveries. If you wanted more than just a job, you went on to the military or you actually worked hard to get into school.

Kids should have options that they have to choose early and the community should be more pivotal in putting pressure on kids to do something about their future and their contribution to the overall community.

    • 3
Aug 31, 2016

Military. Hated working for them but nowadays it's essentially a blank check to start anywhere with a free education, good savings in the bank, work experience and veteran on your resume. This opens the door wide open to government jobs on top of everything else in the private sector. No debt either. They'll trade 4 years to set themselves up for whatever success they want, but money and pedigree won't be an issue. It sucks that has to be a logical route for young people.

Aug 30, 2016

My wife and I really don't want this for our kids, though. My dad was retired Navy and survived Korea and Vietnam, and I did five years in the Corps and dealt with the Gulf War and some off-the-books stuff. We really don't want that life for our kids.

Hillary Clinton is Dick Cheney without the charm, and she's never seen a war zone she didn't love. My oldest is 13, and if she's elected in November and manages to make it eight years without coughing up a lung, there's a high probability that he'd end up in the shit if he joined the military with her in the White House. No bueno.

Aug 31, 2016

The best you can do is lay out all their options with a no shit assessment of each.

I was Navy too. You're talking about almost $250k (or more) in post tax benefits for their education. You just don't get that anywhere else.

The merits of college are almost immaterial. Do you know who isn't your Starbucks barista? The high school diploma holder. It's definitely not necessary for the task, but that's the market in many places. Which is really shitty when you think about it. Getting a degree with marketable skills to a specific field is worth it, for the right price. Not doing so is how you end up underemployed.

Aug 30, 2016

just realized I never actually answered your questions:

Have you ever stopped to consider the opportunity costs of college and whether it was/is worth it?

  • yes, definitely worth it.

Did you give any thought to alternatives? I'm constantly bombarded with videos from Mike Rowe extolling the virtues of becoming a plumber. Were the trades ever a part of your calculus?

  • my other reply kinda addresses this, I believe I was always college bound, I think seeing people doing the trades firsthand lead me that route. also my family has always been college educated (I'm the only one in my family without a masters or doctorate) so trades never were considered seriously.

I never went to college. I worked as an aircraft mechanic before I broke into finance, and I know I'll never starve because I can always go back to bending a wrench if things get really bad. How valuable do you think it is to develop an evergreen skill like coding (or aircraft maintenance, for that matter) before shouldering the burden of college?

  • I think it's important to be irreplaceable. I think a common laborer who simply hauls a wheelbarrow is as replaceable as a kid with an art history degree. you need to be the guy who knows how to work a soldering iron in the rain or the guy who knows how to sell network security better than anyone. I'd say it's more important to be irreplaceable than it is to know python or how to unclog a pipe.

What do you think is the biggest thing someone misses by skipping college? I'm not talking about a degree or job prospects, I mean what do you gain from the college experience itself that you miss otherwise?

  • the biggest thing I learned in college was what I learned in high school and it's social skills. you learn how to interact with different types of people from different backgrounds with different goals & worldviews. and if you're in organizations, you have to learn how to lead those same people. college also taught me how to be responsible. I was in charge of my schedule, my parents never visited me or checked up on me, and it was the first time in my life I had that level of control. yes, I partied a lot, I was president of the biggest frat on campus and we had great times. but I also learned how to do all that and get my shit done, which I don't think you can learn if you're living at home, going to community college, under your parents' supervision. it was a great intro in being an adult.

Are you happy with the choices you made, or would you have rather gone a different route?

  • extremely happy, only things I'd change would've been minor (roommates, sports I played/didn't play, etc.)
    • 1
Aug 31, 2016

let the rats keep racing, the university system is a sinking ship and very few are questioning it. thanks Eddie for bringing up this topic.

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

    • 1
Aug 31, 2016

Good questions to think about, but ultimately it comes down to what your kid wants. Does he want to go to an online HS or does he want to be a normal kid that gets to see his friends everyday, meet new girls in class, etc? Does he want to skip out on college or does he want to go join a fraternity, destroy his liver, and have some of the best times of his life? Just saying there is another aspect to it besides career preparation and cost

Aug 30, 2016

It's funny, because I asked them this very question a few days ago. I put it to them hypothetically, even though this is how Connections Academy actually works.

Me: What would you say if I told you that you could go to school online and do it at your own pace, so that you could knock out a week's worth of work in a couple days and then take the rest of the week off?

My Oldest: I would totally do that. Absolutely.

Me: But wait, you'd be doing it from home and wouldn't get to see your friends everyday anymore. Did you think about that?

My Oldest: Screw those guys. If I could get my work done in a couple days and take the rest of the week off? Yeah, screw those guys.

Needless to say I wasn't expecting that answer.

    • 2
Aug 31, 2016

Hahaha that's awesome. Tbh I'd probably have answered the same thing, it's not like he can't see his good friends after they get out of school anyways

Aug 31, 2016

Have you ever stopped to consider the opportunity costs of college and whether it was/is worth it?

  • Yes. College, for me, was absolutely worth it. It's important to consider more than lifetime earnings when talking about college. I had 4 years undergrad plus 2 years grad school to learn in the classroom, but also develop personally, gain more social skills, and the like. I will add that I didn't take on tens of thousands of dollars of debt for a degree that doesn't make much money. Some combinations of level of debt and degree just aren't worth it.

Did you give any thought to alternatives? I'm constantly bombarded with videos from Mike Rowe extolling the virtues of becoming a plumber. Were the trades ever a part of your calculus?

  • When I was a freshman/sophomore in high school, I wanted to go the military route. My parents persuaded me to go to college, probably didn't want to see their only kid go off to war. I worked manual labor jobs throughout high school, and quickly learned I didn't want to do that for a living. So no, I didn't consider the trades too much.

I never went to college. I worked as an aircraft mechanic before I broke into finance, and I know I'll never starve because I can always go back to bending a wrench if things get really bad. How valuable do you think it is to develop an evergreen skill like coding (or aircraft maintenance, for that matter) before shouldering the burden of college?

  • In my case, it was not important. So I'm biased when I say it is not important. There is some value there, but I think time could be spent elsewhere and be just as, or more, valuable.

What do you think is the biggest thing someone misses by skipping college? I'm not talking about a degree or job prospects, I mean what do you gain from the college experience itself that you miss otherwise?

  • Learning how to learn, critically evaluate and analyze things, and the social growth. Some people will disagree with this, but if you rush through a 3, 12, 24 month program, you are focusing on doing ONE thing very well. I took history, music, marketing, finance, computer, and even a recreation class in college. I broadened my horizons. Broadening horizons is the overall theme. Trade school may teach you a lot about a little, but college will do that as well as teach you a little about a lot.

Are you happy with the choices you made, or would you have rather gone a different route?

  • I'm not a believer in second guessing, because decisions are made at a point in time with the information you have available and in the context you are in. However, I am happy with the choices I made. I'm not sure I would have the same analytical skills and self-awareness I have now had I not explored this route. I'm looking at making a career switch, but I have learned much along the way.
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Aug 31, 2016

Can you move to Quebec temporarily?

I think in-province tuition at McGill is about 4 grand per year, and it's a top 25 school internationally. An engineering or commerce degree from there (paying in-province tuition) may have the highest lifetime ROI of any undergraduate degree in North America.

And Montreal rocks.

Otherwise, If you put in some work, and were willing to hustle and do things non-traditionally, you could probably hack together a business degree in the U.S. for a reasonable price. Attend in-state, apply for as many grants as possible, take AP courses that count for first year credit, possibly go to community college first and transfer those credits, petition the university for an increased course load during the school year and over the summer, take online credits...

FWIW if I could go back, I would have double majored in computer science/engineering and finance/economics (at the business school in my university), and taken my breadth courses in biology, physics, and philosophy...

Not really for the knowledge, just for the stamp and social benefits. When you say you have an engineering degree, you gain instant credibility with a large chunk of society, and by going to the business school you learn the peculiar social grace expected by the upper class. That's just me though.

I was a real knucklehead pre-college, and I'm not sure I would have ever grown out of it if I hadn't attended. I'm also no good with my hands and could never be a plumber/mechanic/whatever.

Aug 31, 2016

When considering the question, "Is college worth the opportunity cost for a particular kid?", the most important factor is the kid.

Helpful sub-questions include:

A) What sort of colleges can the kid get into?

B) Will the kid be able to take advantage of the opportunities offered to him/her by the colleges they can into?

C) What opportunities will be afforded to the kid if he/she doesn't attend college?

There aren't blanket answers to any of these question...because each kid is so different. The best choice for the kid is obvious if the kid is on one end the talent spectrum, but things get murky in the middle. It's not just the kid's interests or talent, but also the kid's ability to apply him/herself and ability to stay out of trouble.

While all this is fun to think about as an intellectual exercise, I'm 99.99% sure both of your kids will go to a four year college shortly following high school. I'm pretty sure you know that too.

The main reason that I know your kids will go to college is because the college window effectively opens and closes pretty quickly in a young person's life. If you're going to go, you're probably going to go shortly after high school. If you miss that window, it becomes wayyyy harder to go back. And, you're going to go because going to college is infinitely less risky than not going.

Aug 30, 2016
mybrainstormisahurricane:

While all this is fun to think about as an intellectual exercise, I'm 99.99% sure both of your kids will go to a four year college shortly following high school. I'm pretty sure you know that too.

The main reason that I know your kids will go to college is because the college window effectively opens and closes pretty quickly in a young person's life. If you're going to go, you're probably going to go shortly after high school. If you miss that window, it becomes wayyyy harder to go back. And, you're going to go because going to college is infinitely less risky than not going.

That's a really interesting point, and one I'll have to think about a bit. Statistically, you're absolutely correct. They are the 4-year college demographic. While I wouldn't put the probability quite as high as 99.99%, it's still way up there. It's just that under the lens of my own life (no degree, busted into finance, made a bundle), it really seems like an egregious waste of time and money.

Aug 30, 2016

It is a good point. The power of peer pressure can't be underestimated. I had inklings of taking a gap year between high school and college to pursue other things, but seeing and hearing my friends all going off to college meant that I'd be "left behind" so that gap year never came to be. In reality a year means nothing, but to stray away from the well-beaten path as an 18 year old is quite difficult.

Sep 1, 2016

Eddie...
I live in Europe now... and I volunteer as a college counselor at a public school that is considered one of the top in this country. Most of the European secondary schools are incredibly first rate educations compared to their US counterparts. And they often speak more than two or three languages. University in Europe is far cheaper than the U.S., and in my current country practically free.

And yet, many students want to go to the U.S. And I tell them, "you're not just competing with other Europeans, but all of Asia!" So why do they go through the app process? The U.S economy offers the best possibility for building work experience while being in school. They're building their curriculum and studying.

I can tell you that your kids will be competing with the whole world for those slots at good universities. Notice "good", not just ivy league or top research uni's. It's scary because if we look at UK universities, they are populated by more foreigners than British students in many fields.

All that you have to keep in mind is that we don't know what the best careers will be or best work will really be there when your oldest graduates from university ten years from now...
What really matters is that the U.S. keeps its Economy flourishing, and that he can do the best for himself.

They're kids. Help them go after the best Universities they can get into, to meet great professors that really motivate them, to meet people from all walks of life, to try out or experiment many other fields. Help them get summer jobs, work par-time during school and chip in with the cost of their education. Walk them through the sacrifices you and your family will have to make, step by step. Trust me, you won't be wasting your time or money.

As for liberal arts degrees... Half the top managers, when I was starting out had Philosophy and History degrees....

Sep 1, 2016

If you're a high achiever and not some Mark Zuckerberg type freak entrepeneur then college is a no brainer, regardless of what you study. You can still learning coding and home improvement in your spare time (obviously). If you're not a higher achiever then it's probably better to save the tuition money and become a plumber or whatever rather than spend 200k partying. I guess it depends on the person and their potential. Not to say that you can't become successful without a college degree, but why stack the odds against you. It's an investment

Sep 5, 2016

What if I told you that for 200k you can purchase a college student's future cash flows? After the first semester, I'll pay you 2.5k a month if it is not a quality student, you pay me an additional 2.5k if the student goes to a top tier school and gets straight A's. At the 4th semester you will have to stop paying me the monthly payments for the A student, but I will keep paying you for the other student.

Upon graduation you will get 20% of the students income until the PV of your investment is paid in full + 6% for the next 12 years. The student will also have the option to buy itself out of the contract.

How is my grammar? Drop me a note with any errors you see!

Sep 3, 2016

College needs to be treated like an investment, and not an entitlement. If you are going into a low paying career, do not take on 100k of debt to go to a private school for a teaching degree. Your debt should never be higher than the median salary of an experienced worker in your field.

Also please do not write off state schools. I realize that this board is obviously biased towards Elite schools given the nature of our profession, however for most majors, a state school is plenty sufficient. Even in Louisiana.

If he wants be an accountant, nurse, teacher, social worker, cop, etc.... Then he should attend a state school because for those careers school prestige doesn't matter.

Sep 5, 2016

For those who are saying they would never pay for their kids' political science or art history degree, what if your kid was truly gifted at these fields and could become professors, academics, researchers in these fields? Not necessarily low paying jobs. And you could argue these are special cases, but it's entirely possible that their potential does not show they actually pursue the major in college.

Sep 5, 2016

I'm fairly new to WSO and but not to the internet, and these threads come up too often then they should. Most kids should not attend college at all, all they do is flood the system and screw everything up for the genuine crowd who puts in 100% of their efforts in trying to succeed in life. Most of the kids should have attended an apprentice program or what have you, pick up a trade skill or go do something that peaked their interests.

I am an on-going college student, but I am an engineer by career, started as an Assembler I and eventually got a Test Engineer role based on my knowledge a few years afterwards at a big tech corporation. The top tech people I know of does not even have a high school diploma, but these guys are constantly at the work site just making it rain and being asked thousands of questions about their educational background and training. They just smile and say it's job a hobby, and they are there because they know "X" person (usually a higher up manager or director). So OP, I am in the same boat you were before.

Those coding camps are meant for people who has workforce discipline and are coach-able, looking for a 2nd career or additional hobby or want to pursue entrepreneurship, not quite for the recent HS student (unless he did a summer rotation at another camp). From what I have heard about 1% of them actually make it.

OP - bottom line - if I had to do it all over again at 18, I'd gone into sales and started a business after. I still plan on doing it now, but wished I did it at 18. Most kids go to college with huge sums of debt looking for a job, our TAs at the local university have a JD from a top school (UCLA, USC, NYU) and having to come back for a MSA because of unemployment.

I am going to interview at a trading firm in NYC for a summer internship role based on my work experience and an AA degree, and FWIW, it is a quantitative role. Most of the tech stuff I taught myself, including the math part.

Sep 5, 2016
  • Have you ever stopped to consider the opportunity costs of college and whether it was/is worth it?
    I have - it really depends on what your kid wants. If he is not sure - then delay college and spend the time working in fields that may interest him, if feasible. When thinking of college, remember that this is essentially a mechanism to impart education. College was traditionally a place where you go to learn from the best. And so, just keep that thought in mind when making a decision. Education trumps schooling.
  • Did you give any thought to alternatives? I'm constantly bombarded with videos from Mike Rowe extolling the virtues of becoming a plumber. Were the trades ever a part of your calculus?
    I have. As some people have mentioned above, a lot of companies just want a piece of paper. Therefore, when selecting a school, two key things should be considered. 1. Irrespective of brand, which school has the best PROGRAM, for what your kid wants to do (or which PEOPLE can impart the most relevant knowledge); and 2. Financial costs.
    Do not limit yourself to the USA. You are under no obligation to send your kid to school in the US - there are many other affordable alternatives abroad. If your kid can get mentored by one of the best person in his field of interest, then go to the cheapest school you can find (i.e., one notch about Devry) because he would have access to employment irrespective of school because of this mentoring relationship
  • I never went to college. I worked as an aircraft mechanic before I broke into finance, and I know I'll never starve because I can always go back to bending a wrench if things get really bad. How valuable do you think it is to develop an evergreen skill like coding (or aircraft maintenance, for that matter) before shouldering the burden of college?
    Coding is not necessarily an evergreen skill unless your kid likes it enough to keep up with the new in-demand languages consistently. I do, however, believe in evergreen skills and hope to take this route when I do have kids (e.g., plumbing) so they will always have a fallback.
  • What do you think is the biggest thing someone misses by skipping college? I'm not talking about a degree or job prospects, I mean what do you gain from the college experience itself that you miss otherwise?
    The biggest thing would be learning to interact with people from backgrounds that are different from you (i.e., social skills). That said, I don't believe these skills are worth $100k+. There are other ways to do this.
    Caveat: I have seen people still struggle with interacting with people who are different from them because instead of meeting new people, they spent most of their time hanging out people just like them. This really hindered their employment prospects / growth.
  • Are you happy with the choices you made, or would you have rather gone a different route?
    I had no choice about the decision to go to college. I was essentially forced to go (I wanted to get a job first) but things eventually worked themselves out. Ended up getting a well-paying job right after school and now making a transition to something that actually interests me. With that said, the only thing that I would do differently is to get an evergreen skill at a young age
Sep 5, 2016

Thanks for asking this question--it's a good one to ask when the labor market is in such flux. I would have to say that the answer depends on a few things, so I'll just give you some general parameters:

  1. Going to college might be useful (and this particularly applies to top schools) because of the connections you get. And that stays a factor once you get the job. I am always amazed by how people can light up and are willing to help you and advocate for you (having people who will advocate for you when you cannot is a big part of any job) when they hear you have a school in common.
  2. In my internships, I probably used about 10% or less of the facts that I learned in my liberal arts college. But I did gain the ability to discern texts of any subject, connect with people of vastly different backgrounds, and get the stamina and discipline to force myself to endure the things I would never do otherwise to reach my goals (that skill can be tough to learn independently of a nonacademic environment, but others have certainly done it).
  3. You never know what the markets will do, so your kids should at the very least plan to be volatile. Let them learn how to code, but allow them to pursue that anthropology passion. People often come with many seemingly incompatible things they love to do.
  4. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going to trade school, but your children should think long and hard about whether that's something they are truly passionate about (the same advice I'd give to any college student). Some colleges have apprenticeship programs, so perhaps your children will decide to make the best of both worlds and pursue both options.
Sep 7, 2016

Yes I agree with the idea that it greatly depends upon the individual and their unique interests and of course the family's resources. Being a IB wannabe my view might be slightly bias however in the investment industry if you do not go to a few target schools, then the chances of breaking into to the industry (IB) is slim to none but not impossible especially if the individual is very serious at mastering many finance skill sets and are determined enough to get higher level certificates like the CFA.

For me college opened my eyes to the industry and let me see into the very niche and closed industry as well as spark an enormous thirst for knowledge on the subjects of financial modeling, valuation, and so on. Because of this interest I decided to go way outside the curriculum and pursue knowledge of how these skills are actually practiced. Without exposure to the subjects through college, I would have never known about this exciting industry that many are drawn to.

Bottom line if the individual doesn't know what they want to do, you might not want to send them to an extremely expensive IB target school like Wharton unless funds are easily available in which the connections are probably worth it but that is not a reality for the vast amount of families. College is worth it at least for exposure to things that the vast population is not exposed to.

  • Mr. Carter
Sep 7, 2016

My advice is if your children have any interest in the STEM fields, college is a definite must. These subject matters are things you cannot learn on your own, and need the knowledge and guidance of a professor. The technical skills and benefits you will learn outweigh the costs in the long run. I would also say college is a must if it is a top tier school because of the implicit benefits that lie around networking and alumni connections. If your situation lies outside of these two options, I say college is optional and the alternatives you suggested are fine.

Sep 5, 2016

If you are there to learn and grow in a required regulated field (engineering, nursing, STEM, etc) what have you, yes. Business related? Yes. Everything else? More towards enjoyment at that sense.

I know a handful of people who are millionaires and all they do is own nail shops, auto repairs, barber and restaurants (pho shops). These guys never went to college let alone finished high school. It all depends what you are after.

However, I like college because of the hot chicks on campus.

Sep 10, 2016

I worked in a few different trades before university. The tradesmen I worked for went bust (during the recession). I thought it was pretty clear that university is there to show the student can manage their time effectively, write efficiently and have the discipline to sit and learn something. It's not about learning a subject. Banks hire from liberal arts graduate pools for example.

Most of my friends are tradespeople - they don't make much money and have 0 discipline. Theyll be doing backbreaking work with the majority of people looking at them as a servant for the rest of their careers. So largely disagree with anyone promoting a trade over university, this is just what i've observed in the UK, could be different for muricans.

Edit- this post is all over the place - trying to concentrade on something else and getting distracted by WSO

Aug 30, 2016
TommyGunn:

concentrade

Soooo hoping this wasn't a typo.

Sep 11, 2016

Now, with the opportunity cost, let us establish the trade off here. You either go to college or go somewhere. With the first example, you could invest in an education and potentially earn more money in the future. With the second option of not going to college, you can potentially work somewhere. It is up to the individual to decide what is best for them. Not everything is the same and you should inquire various resources before approaching a pathway that is suitable to you.

Sep 10, 2016

whats the most prestigious construction company gonna apply for apprenticeship

Jul 21, 2018

I thought a college was necessary to achieve the American dream, at minimum, potentially meet a nice decent man, get married, purchase a home, have a career, pay down my student loans, or pay them off if I could! BUT THESE ECONOMIC FIREWALLS . . ??

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Jul 21, 2018

I graduated in '98 w/ $60k in student loan debt. By the time I paid it off 10 years later, I'd paid about $90k. However, without the loans, I'd never have been able to pursue an education that has since set me up for a comfortable rest-of-my-life. Taking those loans and working my way through engineering school was one of the single best things I've ever done in my life.

This question has been beaten to death over the last 20 years. I have 3 children. My oldest was never a whiz in school but he has a natural mechanical ability. He is 32 and owns his own small utility repair business in NC. He spent 2 semesters in college and flunked out. Point is, he was not cut out for the higher education route so chose to do something that he enjoyed, he understood and something that will sustain him the rest of his life.

My 22-year old in a double-major in Electrical Engineering/Comp Sci and my youngest is starting to pursue a BS in Accounting with a view to becoming an actuary. Both of these boys put in the time and effort during primary school and were prepared for college. Youngest even has a scholarship.

The point of giving background to all 3 kids is that there is no one answer to the question. We, as a country, could learn much from Germany as far as how they train their workforce. Starting very early in their matriculation through school, the student and education system work together to determine which path the student prefers. One path is college education while the other path is apprenticeship programs that teach the student a skill such as carpentry, plumbing, CNC-machining, etc. My oldest son essentially inherited the company he has from his grandfather, who started training him when he was a boy. Both routes will provide financially for the student once they've graduated and have a meaningful education.

In Germany, and some other places in Europe, the emphasis is put on getting the student educated and becoming a productive member of society. The US higher education system is strictly profit-based and the biggest priority is to get as many dollars out of the student as possible prior to their departure from the institution. Money, and the attempt to inculcate the student body into a liberal mind-set is what I see as top priorities at places of higher education these days. And for the love of all that is holy, some of the classes that have are now being offered in colleges is simply absurd.

As for your questions:
Did I give thought to alternatives? - I'm a non-traditional student. I banged nails, tended bar, waited tables, painted houses and a few other shitty jobs before realizing I couldn't support a fam with what I would be making for the next 30 years. So, not only did I give alternatives thought, but I tried those alternatives first.

Having a backup skill to ensure you can support yourself is essential these days. Coding is not necessarily a job that you can just learn and keep it in your back pocket in the event you need it. A skill such as carpentry, however, hasn't changed much in the last 100 years other than standards and codes are now enforced.

Biggest thing skipping college is missing out on being in an atmosphere with other young, bright, ambitious people who have many different views which you may never have been exposed to before. Intermingling with people whom you would otherwise never converse with is invaluable in many ways. You learn to appreciate other cultures, other lifestyles, etc.

Am I happy with my choices? As I said, had I not done what I did, I'd never have been able to provide for my family as well as I've been able since getting an education.

It sounds like you have a few years on you if you're thinking about your kids. The best thing I think you can do for your kids is to help guide them and their decision-making. If you have one kid who is not focused, can't concentrate, doesn't do well in school, etc.; he may not be cut out for college. If that's the case, help them find a skill they enjoy. Help them begin exploring their options while they're a sophomore in HS, not entering college with no idea what they're doing there.

Alternatively, if you have a kid who is driven, has a good idea of the future they believe they want, and have a vague idea of how to get there, help them find resources so they may explore what it will take for them to achieve their goals, help them determine the financial repercussions, help them determine the best way to pay for their education (if you cannot help) and most importantly, once they're at school, keep in close contact with them. If you know your kids, you will be able to tell if they're doing well, whether they're honest with you or not.

Longest post I've ever typed on here but this is an important issue and one that I've been dealing with for the past 6 - 8 years. Above all else, let your kids know that you will love them and be there for them regardless of whether they become a CEO or whether they choose to teach art to elementary schoolers. In the final analysis, it is your child, not you, who will live with the repercussions of their decisions. All you can do is try to guide them to success. It's their responsibility to make it happen.

Jul 21, 2018

College is good for many things:
-Learning to live like you are unemployed
-Stifling creative thought
-increasing alcohol tolerance

It is not however in my eyes the best method of learning

    • 1
Jul 21, 2018

I can't watch the video here, but without seeing it I want to make a few points defending college.

While I agree that for the cost college is probably too expensive and not worth it, I think that people can also learn a lot about themselves while in college. The idea of getting a "real job" or starting a business right out of HS is great in theory, but it's too unreasonable for most peoople (99%). In college you learn time managment skills, how to deal with annoying/difficult people, and have a variety of life experiences. College allows people to experience and learn life lessons/skills with minimal risk--how do you want to learn time management skills, on a stupid class assignment or running your own business?

Jul 21, 2018

agree to an extent.

Kids should spend time working once out of college

Jul 21, 2018

I think anyone without rich parents or a ticket to a top school should delay college for a year and work full time. You will learn the value of money among other things. Considering that college is not a 100% guarantee of a job as soon as you graduate. College is great, but not the end of the world if you don't go.

Jul 21, 2018
ANT:

I think anyone without rich parents or a ticket to a top school should delay college for a year and work full time. You will learn the value of money among other things. Considering that college is not a 100% guarantee of a job as soon as you graduate. College is great, but not the end of the world if you don't go.

I totally agree that many of the most important life and work skills cannot be learned or developed in the classroom, but in this day and age, what kind of 'real job' can you expect to get without a college degree? What I think is a good alternative is the placement / co-op studies at many universities. Their degrees requires work and study terms so during your 4/5 years of college, you work in a real environment as well.

Jul 21, 2018
ANT:

I think anyone without rich parents or a ticket to a top school should delay college for a year and work full time. You will learn the value of money among other things. Considering that college is not a 100% guarantee of a job as soon as you graduate. College is great, but not the end of the world if you don't go.

I think it's the exact opposite, if someone doesn't have rich parents or a ticket to a top school why the hell would they waste time looking for a job that they probably can't get without a college degree anyway - unless you're assuming that any old kid can go out and get some meaningful work without any experience ( or some inside connection)

on the other hand, if you have rich parents or a ticket to a top school you can easily defer for a year and "explore", in fact, that's what a lot of kids with rich parents do.

you try telling a poor kid from the Bronx to try to find work for a year instead of going to college and trying to make something for himself

you're also assuming they can't work and go to school at the same time, which a lot of kids do (have to do in some instances)

Jul 21, 2018

Altucher is a big picture kind of guy. You have to be able to think outside the box on this idea. It's obviously not for everyone. In today's society, you've gotta have a 4yr degree to work @ McDonalds (kidding, sort of). If you've got an idea for a business, it may make sense to try and give it a go. But there are a lot of things you can learn in college that could advance your idea further, along with the network you could gain.

Jul 21, 2018

I'm not a fan of his alternatives.. not everyone is born entrepreneurial..comedy? as a career? maybe not..writing a book? how many 18 year old's have this writing ability/ experience needed to write a worthwhile book? probably vey few. I know I am a much better writer now than I was four years ago

with that said, I do agree that college is not for everyone and most people gain nothing but debt.

Jul 21, 2018

This guy is the bigger idiot then that bitty that ran for Miss America and described individuals living in the states as "US American's"

  • Only time will tell....
Jul 21, 2018

hmmmm.

    • 1
Jul 21, 2018

college is good for science education. That's something you probably cant get anywhere else directly anyways. Sure, if you want to take a year off between high school and college, go ahead, make some $$ learn some stuff. However, I think work-study program does that too to an extend without sacrificing a year.

James Altucher isnt exactly the go to man on practically anything (from his hair piece to his buy recommendation on natural gas back when it was at the top. He's been labeled correctly as a perpetual bull in the past).

Also, a lot of jobs arent really open to anyone who doesnt have college degree. From science to finance, I much rather graduate one year earlier, and make some really $$ rather than be a cashier at a fastfood place for a year, then go to school.

which brings another point, not everyone's cut out to start their own business. In fact, most people dont even want to start their own business, why force them?

Aug 30, 2016

Gap years (taking a year off between high school and college) are a pretty common practice in a lot of countries. I plan to do it for my two sons, though it won't be a year of partying in Magaluf. I plan to book them working passage on a freighter for a year. They'll see the world, work their asses off, come home with some great stories, and most important, qualify for the Captain's exam. Once they pass the test and show me a Captain's license to fall back on, I'll gladly send them to college.

Jul 21, 2018
Edmundo Braverman:

Gap years (taking a year off between high school and college) are a pretty common practice in a lot of countries. I plan to do it for my two sons, though it won't be a year of partying in Magaluf. I plan to book them working passage on a freighter for a year. They'll see the world, work their asses off, come home with some great stories, and most important, qualify for the Captain's exam. Once they pass the test and show me a Captain's license to fall back on, I'll gladly send them to college.

How would this plan change if you had daughters?

Jul 21, 2018

I don't think everyone who goes to college makes it, but if you don't go you are almost doomed to a life of poverty. There are a few famous exceptions, but for the most part the unemployment numbers show this.

Aug 30, 2016

I think you're looking at a correlation/causation thing. The percentage of my well off friends who did not go to college is probably about 40% (probably has more to do with my personal circle than any quantifiable trend, but still). With only one exception I can think of, they are all business owners.

Forgoing college certainly doesn't doom you to a life of poverty. I'm living proof of that.

Jul 21, 2018
Edmundo Braverman:

I think you're looking at a correlation/causation thing. The percentage of my well off friends who did not go to college is probably about 40% (probably has more to do with my personal circle than any quantifiable trend, but still). With only one exception I can think of, they are all business owners.

Forgoing college certainly doesn't doom you to a life of poverty. I'm living proof of that.

Ok, let's say that the proportion of friends that you have who are wealthy is 40 percent of the people who went to college and 40 percent of the people who didn't go to college. Ie their wealth is independent of them having gone to college or not.

But what about the people who are not wealthy but doing 'ok'? I imagine that the people who didn't go to college who are in the other 60 percent are not doing nearly as well as they simply can't get a white collar middle class life style.

Jul 21, 2018

Start a business? Fuck, if it was that easy... Personally I have had VERY few business ideas so far and I am an "ideas" guys. Ony 1-2 worked out but I probably lucked out. How the hell could 3m prospective students each start a successful business?

The comment about is haircut was gold.

Jul 21, 2018

I'd also like to point out that what I said is more true today (by a large, large amount) than say 20 or 30 years ago.

Jul 21, 2018
Edmundo Braverman:

I can almost hear the collective gasps from the peanut gallery as you guys watch this, but Formula Capital's James Altucher thinks college is a sucker's bet. Well, not really. But he thinks it can be a really bad move to go straight from high school into college, and he makes some great points. Why shouldn't everyone try to start their own business, if for nothing else but the experience? I really want to hear your feedback on this one, and try to think outside the box a little. And, yes, Blodget is talking about investment bankers at 3:40. (note: disregard the video title - right video, wrong title)

I am in 100% agreement with Mr. Altucher. I had a miserable time in high school and when I got to uni I was ready to live life. Unfortunately, I had neither the social skills to really enjoy myself, nor the motivation to excel academically.

I ended up having a terrible experience AND with a terrible transcript, two things that are going to haunt me for a very long time. I basically wasted 4 (5) years of my life.

In retrospect, I should have done anything except go directly from high school to undergrad. The only thing I would add to Altucher's list is work at a bar and get laid for a year.

Delaying university a year or two is not the end of the world, and is a smart move for many people.

Jul 21, 2018

Absolutely ridiculous, don't know about you guys but at age 18 i was a little bitch incapable of holding down a job at Fridays or Kroger (i was a sacker, not even a checker). For every Mark Zuckerberg out there exists a million incapable abercrombie wearing cunts that can barely wake up for an 8am class, let alone start a business.

Babyj18777, you are unable to have fun in college due to a lack of social skills and couldn't handle the academic side?? How the hell do you think starting a business at that age with those abililties would have been anywhere close to a good idea?

College taught me a lot of shit, aside from how to make a journal entry and calculate WACC. College is like a buffer between you and the real world, meant to help you transition from a complete worthless existence (highschool) into a contributing member of society. Before you all jump on this guys "college is a waste" train, try to remember who you were at age 18 and compare that to who you are at age 21-22....

Jul 21, 2018
HFFBALLfan123:

Absolutely ridiculous, don't know about you guys but at age 18 i was a little bitch incapable of holding down a job at Fridays or Kroger (i was a sacker, not even a checker). For every Mark Zuckerberg out there exists a million incapable abercrombie wearing cunts that can barely wake up for an 8am class, let alone start a business.

Babyj18777, you are unable to have fun in college due to a lack of social skills and couldn't handle the academic side?? How the hell do you think starting a business at that age with those abililties would have been anywhere close to a good idea?

College taught me a lot of shit, aside from how to make a journal entry and calculate WACC. College is like a buffer between you and the real world, meant to help you transition from a complete worthless existence (highschool) into a contributing member of society. Before you all jump on this guys "college is a waste" train, try to remember who you were at age 18 and compare that to who you are at age 21-22....

A great point. You may not always have measurable results from college (other than your degree of course) but when you look back at where you were, the gains are quite obvious.

Jul 21, 2018
HFFBALLfan123:

Babyj18777, you are unable to have fun in college due to a lack of social skills and couldn't handle the academic side?? How the hell do you think starting a business at that age with those abililties would have been anywhere close to a good idea?

Moron, obviously I went into a unique environment I was wholly unprepared for. Did you even watch the video? He recommended 7 other courses of action besides starting a business. Starting a business probably would not have been a great idea for me, but for others it may be an excellent option.

If your small business fails at least you can declare bankruptcy. If you fail out of university that's a black mark on your record for the rest of your life.

The level of stupidity on this forum is fucking ridiculous.

Jul 21, 2018

If you cannot handle a job at 18 I think college is going to be tough.

What I meant by not going to college is learning a trade or a skill. This country needs skilled labor just as much as college grads. Getting debt and graduating with a history degree isn't the wisest move either.

I really support working before school. Thissite is skewed with the idea that life is financial services. The vast majority of students are looking outside wall street. For them, I think a year of 40-50 hour weeks would really prioritize their life goals. It would also allow for earning and saving so you don't come out with large amounts of debt.

Jul 21, 2018

I'm of the impression that this chap has gotten to the point in life where he's looking back and sharing his experience and thoughts on life. It's nice to see him tinkering around with social theories, but that is probably best left to the politicians to fuck up: they'll do a better job. Although it's good he's sharing his thoughts, does he tell his kids this? chances are no. And it's not like he doesn't have the resources to bail them out if they fail. I don't think this idea is applicapble to the mojority of people. He's a money manager, not a guidance counselor.

Having taken time out of college myself to start businesses, and having both lost and made money on these ventures, I would STRONGLY recommend college to at least get the credentials necessary to get a decent job should the business fail or not make enough to live well off of. A job also can provide funding which will give more control to the entrepeneur, and they can always quit the job and /or look for additional capital later on if they so desire. The reasoning aside, many jobs won't even talk to you if you don't have a degree. There's nothing saying that you can't go to school and / or work your business part time, but how many kids at 17/18 with only a high school education really understand how to make the system work for them? There's always a few outliers, but for the most part the average person is better off with a college degree. The enhanced network alone makes college worth it, and provided any learning is done, this can only help a business.

As for college, a lot of this shit could be taught at a much earlier age. I HATED sitting through the aweful boredom of primary education and could easily have done this stuff much earlier in life. Not everyone is meant for college, and I know plumbers who own their own shop and make WAAAAYYYyyyyy more than me, but again, in the most general sense: college opens a lot more doors than anything else and the vast majority of people would be best served by attending.

Jul 21, 2018

Better primary education won't happen. The feel good libs don't want the dumber kids to feel bad and fail. To paraphrase Margie Thatcher, they'd rather have the dumb be dumber provided the smart were less smart.

Jul 21, 2018

I am assuming the a poor kid, who doesn't go to a top school, is going to look at college as a golden ticket and take on all kids of debt for it. A year of working will ground them, give them cash and get them focused on what they want to do. Same thing with middle class kids.

Yes, you can and probably should work a little during school also. What's so funny is the kids and parents who always scream about the college experience are always talking about partying or dicking around. If your going to Penn state and majoring in business, guess what, you should probably be working.

Kids have way too much fun nowadays. A little mandatory suffering does a body good.

Jul 21, 2018
ANT:

I am assuming the a poor kid, who doesn't go to a top school, is going to look at college as a golden ticket and take on all kids of debt for it.

Yes, it got me onto Wall Street where I make more than my dad did. 100% worth it. Without a degree my 1% chance of getting in here would have been far slimmer.

The guy that wrote this assumes vast amounts of disposable resources, which many people do not have, and debt is the only way to access the things he could pay for with pocket change.

I do agree with you though, that people without a background of wealth need to learn to manage money. I'm wondering if some high school classes would have helped with this?

Jul 21, 2018

Further reinforce the idea that James Altucher is a crazy idealist nut case.
He also thinks insider trading should be legal, and that climate is not changing. (it's one thing to believe that earth isnt getting hotter, it's another to say human doesnt change climate i.e building houses)

Aug 30, 2016

Why are so many people hating on this idea/guy. A gap year is common of Europe. I wish I had done a gap year and think American society needs to trend towards this system. Most kids, myself included, are too immature at 18 to begin college. Nor do they really know what they want to do. By working, saving money, traveling and exploring interests in an unstructured environment you can discover what those passions are and get the party shit out of your system. Then at 20 return to college with a better outlook, more focus and greater maturity.

When I have kids, I will encourage a gap year.

Jul 21, 2018

Why can't kids write a book, learn to paint, be a comic, etc. while in college? Anyways, if you want your kids to learn the "value of a dollar", don't fucking spoil them their first 18 years of life! Make sure they get a job as soon as they get into highschool -- even if it's just on the weekends if they play sports, do extracurriculars, etc. No reason to let your kids take a gap year to explore the world... that's what study abroad programs are for. Everything else you can do during your 4 years of college.

Jul 21, 2018

I don't think it's bad to take a gap year. I myself took a very long time to get my undergrad because of personal obligations and working too much. Some of you sound like you were sheltered as a teen/kid.

Jul 21, 2018
txjustin:

Some of you sound like you were sheltered as a teen/kid.

or we weren't as privileged to be able to take a year off from life to "figure things out"

all this talk about learning how to manage money and gaining some kind of toughness from working for a year only applies to a certain type of kid - one that has never seen hardships and thinks money grows on trees .. ie. kids with rich parents

Jul 21, 2018

^^agreed, thanks for clarifying my post.

Jul 21, 2018

http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2009/01/11/120-tak...
Regardless of how a white person chooses to spend their year off, they all share the same goal of becoming more interesting to other people. Sadly, the people who find these stories interesting are other white people who are politely listening until they can tell their own, more interesting story about taking a year off.

Thankfully, there is an enormous opportunity for personal gain. You see, whenever a white person takes a year off it opens up a valuable apartment, job opportunity or admissions slot. Consider it to be the most pretentious form of affirmative action.

    • 1
Jul 21, 2018
Edmundo Braverman:

Formula Capital's James Altucher thinks college is a sucker's bet.

He sure took his own advice.....
I guess that is why he went straight out of high school to do his undergraduate degree at Cornell and then did a Masters at CMU.

Jul 21, 2018

Grade school was such a waste of time, what the hell was i thinking..

Jul 21, 2018

I took a year off before attending college and coached baseball at my high school. I also helped teach a course... i was paid a small amount and used it to fund a schl for the students. I really could of used the money but I was still living at home so really no lost. I learned a lot about myself and the exp was great. It def got me fired up to start college.

Jul 21, 2018

college you learn how to learn... what you lean in school chances are you won't ue in the real world
college is about building social skills with your peers, taking advantages of the classes you are actually interested in, exploring the world mentally, physically and spiritually and fucking your brains out while you are surrounded by beautiful people your age

this guy clearly didn't have that experience

Jul 21, 2018

Wow, 50k a year to learn social skills and fuck. I wonder why the USA needs to import so much human capital. I fucked on my own time, when I went to school it was business. I guess when your cutting the checks things are a little different.

College is a great time, but youre there to get a job done. I don't know where this idea that college is about 4 Loko and crushing box got started, but it is ruining this country.

Jul 21, 2018
ANT:

I don't know where this idea that college is about 4 Loko and crushing box got started, but it is ruining this country.

It's one in a long list.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Jul 21, 2018
ANT:

Wow, 50k a year to learn social skills and fuck. I wonder why the USA needs to import so much human capital. I fucked on my own time, when I went to school it was business. I guess when your cutting the checks things are a little different.

College is a great time, but youre there to get a job done. I don't know where this idea that college is about 4 Loko and crushing box got started, but it is ruining this country.

Bingo.

Colleges, parents and highschool counselors have been selling the fantasy that college is some kind of life-changing experience of self-discovery (worth $200K in total). In my opinion, that notion is bullshit. What everyone forgot is that you're there to learn stuff that is suppose to make you a more useful (valuable) human being. Experiences don't make you more valuable, but skill sets do.

This is a big fucking deal. Kids are going into too much debt for college and they're not getting much in return.

man made the money, money never made the man

Jul 21, 2018

trust me when I say this, from my experiences living and studying abroad, the US party culture, drug scene looks like a fifth grade sleep over compared to countries like Spain, Italy, France, Brazil, Argentina even Hong Kong... Americans work longer weeks on average, take less time off and retire a lot later than the rest of the world... if you think that 2-4 nights of drinking a week in college followed by 3 all nighters is bad, don't go into the real world buddy

Jul 21, 2018

Wow, thanks for listing a number of soon to be bankrupt countries.

Also, I have worked for a number of years kid, as well as partied more than you can even imagine. Go sit in the corner or something.

Jul 21, 2018

Yup, that's why I advocate working for a year. When you bust you ass and get a paycheck, money becomes real. I think more kids would pick cheaper schools, more rewarding majors, community college, working PT, etc. Less debt is a good thing if you want an educated and mobile work force.

Jul 21, 2018

That still doesn't address costs. If tution wasn't so high, this wouldn't even be a conversation.

man made the money, money never made the man

Jul 21, 2018

mr1234, Tuition doesnt have to be high. Thats why there are state schools and community college transfer agreements.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Jul 21, 2018

i go to one of the most expensive schools in the country/the world and tuition only makes up 30% of my school's budget... you get what you pay for

Jul 21, 2018

I'm sure in state students at Berkley, Ross, UVA, etc would all disagree with you completely and rightfully so.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Jul 21, 2018

Cost of attendance for top publics is $20-25K all-in. That's not exaclty cheap. And unless you are lucky enough to be a resident in CA/MI/VA, you're basically SOL.

man made the money, money never made the man

Jul 21, 2018

Yea I agree but long term, that 20 to 25k is almost literally nothing when you consider the upside. Just playing devils advocate.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Jul 21, 2018

Potential upside. College doesn't guarantee success.

man made the money, money never made the man

Jul 21, 2018
mr1234:

Potential upside. College doesn't guarantee success.

There seems to be some confusion. College does not guarantee success, but the probability of failure without college is almost guaranteed. College is a necessary but not sufficient condition for success.

Jul 21, 2018

^ Oh yes, don't think that I believe that college is in any way useful other than to get a job. If one is interested in learning and wants to know how to do something the internet can be more than useful. It's the largest library ever built and houses near the entire knowledge of mankind. And people who do not go to college or cannot afford it are no more or less intelligent or capable than anyone else for the most part - just unlucky because employers will pass over their resume. It's the biggest ponzi scheme in the country and I really worry what will happen when it collapses.

Jul 21, 2018

I'm thinking the lower end of the for profit colleges will go first, and a LOT of regular schools have cut majors across the board

Jul 21, 2018

everything you learn in class can be learnt in a library, it's the intangibles like the experience and the network that makes college worthwhile. plus most people do it, so to compete you almost have to. there are lots of success stories about college drop outs, but many many more stories of failure.

take a risk, by all means, but have some insurance

Jul 21, 2018

I know this is an old topic but Altucher is 100% right these days, not because college is bullshit, but the price is bullshit and is unrealistic for anyone who isn't from the top 10% of American society in terms of income.

College degree holders don't really make anymore money than those who hold 2 year degrees or work in the trades, they're often still in debt. Yes, you get to sit in an office but there are plenty of mechanics and plumbers who make just as much, if not more than white collar workers and enjoy better job security.

It's doing more harm than good these days. You don't need to be an Nobel peace prize winning economist to see that the whole business of higher education is an outright assault on the middle class of America and for lack of a better word; a scam.

alpha currency trader wanna-be

Jul 21, 2018
watersign:

You don't need to be an Nobel peace prize winning economist to see that the whole business of higher education is an outright assault on the middle class of America and for lack of a better word; a scam.

When the current system was set up, it was one of the best things that ever happened to the middle class. The problem is that it hasn't been maintained and there has been a lack of oversight (somehow, the 'less govt' argument was used in terms of overseeing a govt program...just plain ignorant) Colleges are taking advantage of it and offering far too many unprofitable coursework (Star Wars studies, REALLY??!!!) but the worst offenders are the 'for profit' colleges. I will agree 100% with you that they are a scam....I'd know, I spent some time at one when I took time off from regular college.

Jul 21, 2018

I don't think it is the education system is a scam I think that people have become so caught up in the prestige of university names that these schools are now scam artists in a fair game. I mean why are you willing to pay 50k tuition if there is a school in your state that will cost you 3k?

If you focused for a year or two you could easily transfer into a decent school with scholarship. Anyone who payed more than 10k a year for an education is a chump and students like me have a 5 year financial head start as a result. The real smart students are getting paid to be educated.

Jul 21, 2018
jktecon:

I don't think it is the education system is a scam I think that people have become so caught up in the prestige of university names that these schools are now scam artists in a fair game. I mean why are you willing to pay 50k tuition if there is a school in your state that will cost you 3k?

If you focused for a year or two you could easily transfer into a decent school with scholarship. Anyone who payed more than 10k a year for an education is a chump and students like me have a 5 year financial head start as a result. The real smart students are getting paid to be educated.

I agree, there ARE schools out there that provide cheap education that is somewhat reasonably priced. A complete undergrad for $20,000 including living expenses is a bargain these days but what most people going to college fail to realize is that the price of college increases every year while the wages decrease every year.

For the average person a college degree is becoming more of a toxic asset than any type of "insurance" policy as some would call it.

I hope it gets reformed to the point where it is affordable but I don't think it will be. The college bubble bursting will be the next housing crisis. Most people will be underwater with their degrees and be locked into serfdom for the rest of their lives.

alpha currency trader wanna-be

Jul 21, 2018

This is complete BS. It is basically the same like all the supermodels telling average women that they eat chocolate and sweets all day long and that they don't have to exercise for their superior bodies. It is and has always be the same in the states, you need to be incredible smart and educated to be successful (because of the great competition), but you are not allowed to admit it (because the average joe doesn't like it when somebody is not average, so you tell them what they want to hear).

From an european perspective, I would say there are two things going on in america that prevent middle and underclass kids from rising up.

1: College is unreasonably expensive.

2: Instead of taking the right steps to solve problem #1, you tell them that they don't need college at all. They should take online courses and travel the world, so that they don't take away the jobs of the ivy league educated upper class (less competition).

Telling kids that they should travel the world, take online courses and get "real world experience" (wow is this from the shopping channel) instead of going to college is basically like telling them they should attend college and take 200k in debt for gender studies.

Once these kids come into your office and ask you for a job, you laugh at them and take the business/economics/stem educated harvard buddy.

    • 1
Jul 21, 2018

Altucher (and Peter Thiel) give advice that might work well for a lot of WSO readers, not so much for the population at large.

Jul 21, 2018
Barry Allen:
txjustin:

Some of you sound like you were sheltered as a teen/kid.

or we weren't as privileged to be able to take a year off from life to "figure things out"

all this talk about learning how to manage money and gaining some kind of toughness from working for a year only applies to a certain type of kid - one that has never seen hardships and thinks money grows on trees .. ie. kids with rich parents

Exactly. This only works for those that were sheltered and coddled their entire lives. You know, the kids that basically grew up with a silver spoon, had mommy and daddy set up their schedules for piano lessons and baseball throughout the day, as well as the kids that received trophies simply for just existing. No wonder this country is full of morons now a days. If it gets to a point where you are solely relying on this year out of college to get some life experience, then this is fucking sad all together.

I grew up piss poor. Immigrant parents working for menial wages, roaches and rats, lived in the hood out in Queens, and went to a high school that resembled rikers island where you had to go through metal detectors just to enter the god damn place. I learned how to be tough, realistic, and resilient. That shit made me work harder than ever knowing that I was at a disadvantage from the get go. I also traveled back to my piss poor home country when I had the chance and even spent time with my rich relatives out in Europe for a bit. Now that I am soon to graduate college, I don't regret my childhood at all. But I do feel bad for the kids that had no real responsibilities throughout their college years. They never really diversified their experiences. They never felt pain, never felt hardship, and never felt what it was like to really take charge of their own lives.

So no, college is too important now a days for those who need jobs to get out of poverty. But people need to get their kids some real life experiences while they are growing up. Don't fucking pick them up and drop them off to school, make them take the fucking city bus. Don't make them learn the piano , make them volunteer at a food bank. Send their asses to poor countries and have them see what it's like rather than going to Disney world. This is the dirty shit nobody wants to do and it's time people look at what will help their kids in the long run.

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Jul 21, 2018

Altucher is one of the stupidest intelligent people i can think of.

He mixes nuggets of gold under mountains of stupidity. So much so that i can no longer separate his crap from the good stuff.

If he was just a touch more aware, he would make the effort to put his ideas into context. This thread is a perfect example of this. Generally, yes everyone should be an entrepreneur. The world could have 7 billion 1 man businesses; It's called the stone age.

Rant off...

    • 1
Jul 21, 2018
Gekko21:

I can't watch the video here, but without seeing it I want to make a few points defending college.

While I agree that for the cost college is probably too expensive and not worth it, I think that people can also learn a lot about themselves while in college. The idea of getting a "real job" or starting a business right out of HS is great in theory, but it's too unreasonable for most peoople (99%). In college you learn time managment skills, how to deal with annoying/difficult people, and have a variety of life experiences. College allows people to experience and learn life lessons/skills with minimal risk--how do you want to learn time management skills, on a stupid class assignment or running your own business?

I learned none of those things in college. I think college is a good way to learn poor time management because it rewards quality over efficiency.

"It's very easy to have too many goals and be overwhelmed by them... The trick is to find the one thing you can focus on that represents every other single thing you want in life." -- @"Edmundo Braverman"

Jul 21, 2018

I do agree that college is a bad idea for someone who would graduate from a semi-target or with non-target lots of debt because they are probably not going to get the job they want based on their school and academic performance. On the other hand, taking on debt, within reason, to go to a target school is a good idea, assuming the person in question gets good grades and internships, because the school's "brand name" can lead to jobs that pay almost as much as a lifetimes work with a HS Diploma. Furthermore, the types firms one can work for after graduating from a target school provide a "brand" that will serve to enhance an entrepreneur/financiers credibility.

"It's very easy to have too many goals and be overwhelmed by them... The trick is to find the one thing you can focus on that represents every other single thing you want in life." -- @"Edmundo Braverman"

Jul 21, 2018

While this video is full of truth and inspiration and i trully support the idea, i still want to highligt one thing, you are living in USA. Yes, a place where having a job you still can save sufficient amount of money for starting a business. Now try moving outside of USA, preferably Europe, preferably not UK, Sweden, Norway of Switzerland and try to pull off the same thing, i dare you, i f**king double dare you. When you will live in a country where you need a college degree and 3 languages spoken fluently to clean toilets in McDonalds (Which is not the worst job, because they give you stable salary) and if you're licky and have a "normal" job after taxes, rent and all the bills you will be left with 500-600$. Yeah, now go and start a business with this life cycle.

You killed the Greece spread goes up, spread goes down, from Wall Street they all play like a freak, Goldman Sachs 'o beat.

Jul 21, 2018

Only people who are really good at math should go to college. Altucher is right, it's a suckers bet for most, especially if you want a job that pays more than $10 an hour.

college is an outright scam and pretty soon even the math kids will see that it's not worth it.

alpha currency trader wanna-be

Jul 21, 2018
watersign:

Only people who are really good at math should go to college. Altucher is right, it's a suckers bet for most, especially if you want a job that pays more than $10 an hour.

college is an outright scam and pretty soon even the math kids will see that it's not worth it.

I would like to qualify my original answer to say that it is better to go to a semi-target or non-target for free, minus the cost of housing, food, gas, ect., than it is to not go to college at all. However, its still much better to go to a target school with an average amount of financial aid and scholarships than it is to go to a semi-target with 100% or more of tuition covered by scholarships.

"It's very easy to have too many goals and be overwhelmed by them... The trick is to find the one thing you can focus on that represents every other single thing you want in life." -- @"Edmundo Braverman"

Jul 21, 2018

why chose an alternative? Why not merge the idea to a mandatory requirement from college to work aka do co-op/placement for atleast 1/2 years, thus extending the graduation period from an average of 4 years to atleast 6 years to fill in the life experience aspect. Previous poster made a good point that the risk is minimal in that environment so opportunity taking can be greater. If business ideas do start generating from that environment, then the school's connections and grass roots within the communities can help it grow. If you're investing +100k then have the investment of that institution 'university' create better products for its clients.

Jul 21, 2018

College only makes sense if you are going there to get a real degree. The problem today is too many people getting bullshit degrees, and "business" degrees are not real degrees at most of the colleges offering them ("business" is the number one major I believe).

Jul 21, 2018

I have seen people go to a college far from being a target just to play a sport. At the end of the 4 years they won some awards and left with a terrible GPA, huge amounts of debt, and no job leads. Now they are considering going back to school to avoid paying off their debt. I have also talked to other people who complain about the job market and when I ask them if they have gone to the on campus recruiting sessions, they respond with "no." Then I ask them what would you like to do with your degree, they respond with "I don't know." It's a terrible sight to see, but at the same time who is to blame? Some people go to college and come back in a worse condition and then there are others who take advantage of every opportunity to build a network and find internships. I hate debt so I actually work full-time and study full-time, yet I find time to build a network, pay off my debt and make really good money. I got my job by applying to a role I did not qualify for because I did not have a degree, yet I proved to my interviewer that I knew what I was talking about and that my school would not affect my performance. I will also say the timing of my job application was key as they were expanding quite aggressively. I guess the point of this write out is at the end of the day what you do with what you are given is ultimately up to you. College is an investment in yourself, some degrees are a better investment than others. Debt is terrible, so think wisely how you plan on taking it on. The world is changing and so we have to adjust to it, jobs are not a guarentee after college.

Jul 21, 2018

I think the big issue with this theory is that it's largely correct for the masses of students/parents that have romanticized the idea of college. "Study/do what you love" is some of the worst advice you can give to a 16-18 year old kid who has little to no direction. Work is work and school is school, you'll enjoy both at times and might even be great, but there will be bad days. The gap year isn't bad, in theory, but so many people view it as a chance to dick around for a year rather than work their ass off and experience life. College shouldn't be viewed as vocational training, but to completely ignore degree ROI is insane.

Jul 21, 2018

In theory this dude is right. It makes a ton of sense to actually experience the world before you really join it. In practice, most people can't make this work. Companies would love to see that you spent 5 years traveling world learning languages getting real-world business experience. But how do you get that set up. My dad would have cut my ass.

Jul 21, 2018

Here are some links relevant to this topic of student debt:

https://twitter.com/CFPB https://twitter.com/hashtag/studentdebtstress
https://twitter.com/hashtag/studentdebt https://twitter.com/hashtag/studentloans
https://twitter.com/hashtag/highered.
Do check out The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) twitter page. You can submit your personal stories to the CFPB through the links available on their twitter page.

Jul 21, 2018

You go by Dan? I like Andy better.

Jul 21, 2018

I look at college as a four-year-long vacation before the grind.

Jul 21, 2018

this approach works for the entrepreneur with a strong vision who's figured it out, but for the general mass of people at age 18 trying to figure out interests, life goals, mentors/role models, career aspirations, etc, etc, college can be a formative period that is priceless. the cost of higher education has quite gotten out of hands, i agree, but how many kids knew what they wanted to do or had a brilliant startup idea after high school?

in this era of access cards and IDs, i imagine it'd be tough for a guy off the street to sit in on classes at many campus.

Jul 21, 2018

As an entrepreneur, I couldn't disagree with this guy more. That's not to say this guy doesn't currently have a better "resume" than me right now and a bigger track record of success, but there is no "right" path for anyone, per se. When I was 18 I was entirely unprepared mentally to take on entrepreneurship--I didn't know what I was good at, what I liked, what I didn't like--I had no business experience, knew nothing about raising money, managing people, etc. In college I was a finance major who toyed around with real estate. When I graduated from college, I worked briefly in investment banking and then in various aspects of multifamily real estate. All of those experiences taught me about my specialty (real estate), taught me about good management/bad management, company cultures, business culture, etiquette, etc. College and "9-5s" were all important experiences in my life that got me to the place I'm at now running a company.

My father gave me sage advice--no matter what you ultimately want to do in life, go to college, get a relevant degree, and no matter what happens you've got a back-up plan. Given that 90% of businesses fail, I'd say that's pretty decent insight. "Pursuing your dream" makes for a nice book, but if done improperly or pursued foolishly, for the vast, VAST majority things will work out badly.

Besides, there's quite literally nothing like the American college experience, especially at big time football or basketball schools.

Jul 21, 2018

I am terrified that someone is actually going to take this advice seriously

    • 1
Jul 21, 2018
mdk6c:

I am terrified that someone is actually going to take this advice seriously

If you have a strong entrepreneurial mindset and you aren't risk-adverse, I don't see why you can't skip college. I don't know this for sure, but I would imagine almost every billionaire in this world comes from an entrepreneurial background. People just value the college path so much because they'd prefer to know they can have $100k/yr out of school, $300k in however many years, etc. rather then risk losing their status in life to create something (and have that lotto ticket at really making it big)

Jul 21, 2018

how many people are putting 50 hours of work a week into undergrad classes? I have never had a much free time as i had in college, just do enough to get by, and get decent grades so you have a backup.

Put most of your effort into the apps/business, while living on mom and pops dime, and hopefully you get some cashflow before you graduate

Jul 21, 2018

i guess the point of this post isnt to give that kid advice...but still

Jul 21, 2018

Because for every billionaire there are tens of thousands of failures...

If the math works against you like it almost certainly will then you've screwed yourself.

Jul 21, 2018

The whole 'forget college pursue your dreams' thing is great but you always hear it from the .01% of people who successfully pulled it off. You never hear that from the guy that tried it and is sitting in your econ 101 class at 30.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Jul 21, 2018

college first, great hedge in case your business fails (if your first thought is "well if you plan to fail then you probably will", you have read too many guru books)