For some strange reason I’ve noticed many personal finance or development blogs in the last year or so take jabs at the idea of getting a college degree. Apparently, a college degree isn’t always the best option. Lifestyle Design Bloggers love to bash a formal education. I guess there are better things to do at 19 years old then to go to college. Since 2011 was the year that I officially picked up my college degree I wanted to touch on this today.
Is an education really overrated?
I ran into an old friend recently. We both had a few minutes to spare so we started to catch up on life. I remember that he had found a well-paying full-time job a few years ago. Mark was living at home and making a bit less than forty grand per year. Any money that you make while living at home is amazing because you save most of it. He loved his job and was happy about the fact that he could save money to buy his own condo at such a young age.
Now fast forward a few years. Mark is still earning the same salary (it’s a unionized gig with no room for career advancement) and now he has more expenses. Mark now lives on his own. As you can imagine, his expenses have gone way through the roof. When you own a condo you pay your own utilities, mortgage, property taxes, food, and anything else that comes up. This is much different from living at home.
Mark is now struggling to cover his expenses. He wants a better job but can’t find one. He’s been looking for a second job to help him deal with his expenses.
The worst (or best?) part is that I know for a fact that Mark has the ability to get a college degree and find a much higher paying career. The only problem is that he didn’t go to college after high school and now he simply doesn’t have the time or money to go back to school. It’s a pretty awful situation to be in. Being stuck in a job that doesn’t pay much and knowing that you’re stuck is horrible.
Before you start to spew off traditional financial advice like “you can start a business” or “you can blog for money,” please keep in mind that this isn’t for everyone. Some want to be employees. Some prefer the hourly wage model of compensation.
Is an education really overrated?
Not in my opinion. With an education you have more options. You have a higher chance of landing a “better” job. You simply have a better starting point with a college degree than you do without one.
Also, please tell me what else you have to do in your early-20s? You need money for most options. Sitting around at home isn’t much fun. Working a minimum job can only work out if you’re living at home with next to none expenses.
If you don’t get a decent education or start a profitable business, you’re going to be stuck taking whatever work comes your way without much potential for growth. An education is definitely not overrated.
It’s not only about the education.
The whole college experience isn’t just about the piece of paper that you get in the end. Going away for college or staying in town (like I did) is by far the best experience in your 20s. You get to be careless, meet a ton of cool people, and do whatever you want to do.
On top of all of the fun stuff, there’s more to college.
I started a personal finance blog for young people because college opened my eyes up to how many of my peers were struggling with money. I would’ve never figured this out while sitting at home or working at some job that I hated. College for me was about meeting tons of cool people and starting my own finance site. College is different for everyone.
You’re not going to learn everything in your school.
I need to stress that you will NOT learn everything in school. Just because you took finance in school and graduated with tons of credit card debt it’s not the schools fault. I’m so annoyed of all of these finance experts claiming that schools need to teach us more about basics. That’s not their job. You shouldn’t expect to learn everything in college.
You will learn how to pass tests, interact with others, and get by. You won’t learn everything. You’ll learn enough to be a more rounded person.
When is an education not a good idea?
If you’re a genius like Mark Zuckerberg then you don’t need to worry about spending time in school. It’s only going delay your plan to be a millionaire before 25. If you have the entrepreneurial drive and ability to think of the next Facebook, then you don’t need college.
If you’re a normal person looking for a way to make money, then your best bet is to get that college degree after high school and then take it from there.
Do you still think that a college degree is overrated? Please explain because I would love to hear your input.