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Why are you even going to college? No… Not what everyone tells you that you should go for. Image Source

What if I told you college might be the wrong choice for you?

College is the default options for students graduating from high school. Well over half of students that graduate from high school end up going to college. Parents and counselors hound their students about college being the right choice.

There are countless statistics you’ve probably seen that say things like:

  • College Graduates Make More!
  • College Graduates Are Happier!
  • College Graduates Don’t Live At Home Until They’re Thirty!

But… wait…

Do college graduates really make more money?

To say college graduates of 30 years ago made more than high school graduates 30 years ago is possible. To say college graduates of today make more than high school graduates is a whole lot harder to claim.

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There is a lot of history of excellence in college. Note the word history. Image Source

Prices have gone up. The available majors have increased. The allure of having a degree is less of a big thing to employers (everyone has one.) The competition has increased. College graduates of 30 years ago had a bigger challenge to overcome. They had to be smart enough to get accepted, pay it off without FAFSA, and convince everyone around them they’re not wasting their time.

Heck… look into grade inflation. The only thing statistics from 30 years ago can do is suggest smart people make more money on average.

Of course, it doesn’t suggest the opposite is the truth either. College could be a good choice but most statistics trying to prove it are flawed. There are good reasons to question the classic story you’re told.

Does skipping college mean you’re going to live at home until you’re thirty?

Well… I know plenty of college graduates working minimum wage to pay off tens of thousands of dollars of debt living at home too. Anecdotes aren’t evidence either.

Nearly half college graduates are underemployed.

So… Why Should You Go To College

1. As An Investment

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I couldn’t find an uglier stock image to use. Image Source

An investment is someplace you put your resources to get more resources later.

For college, that means you’re paying 4 years of your life and thousands of dollars. In exchange, you’re expecting to make more money in the future.

College needs money & time.

It provides better job prospects which should mean more money.

College can be a great investment. It can provide massive returns on your investment. 4 years of college can dramatically increase your earning potential. It can give you many more job opportunities.

But… it’s not magical. It’s also not a given. There are good cases against my opinion on this.

As an example:

Imagine I told you to invest your money in the stock market because the stock market goes up 9% a year (not a fair statement but ignore that part.) If you know a little about the stock market then you’d realize…

Wait a second… what stock should I invest in?

That’s the magic question. Some stocks are going up 20% a year. Others are dropping 10% a year. Everything in the market may average to 9% a year but not every stock will provide you 9% a year.

That’s kind of like investing in college. (But you can’t get an index degree…)

To invest in college you need to pick your major carefully.

You need to pick your major based on your best prospects of getting a good ROI. That means:

  • Pick a major that pays
  • Pick a major that has tons of jobs
  • Pick a major you can be comfortable working for years in. (If you can’t stand the job then you won’t get the ROI.)

I know you’ve heard the old “STEM” is the safe choice spiel. I mostly agree with it. I tend to prefer “TEM” for a consistent career, though. (Technology, Engineering, Math.) That’s part of the story.

The other part is personal.

Any major can provide a good ROI if you already have certain required connections. So… if you went for a degree in underwater basket weaving, you’d usually be screwed. But… if you happen to already be friends with a professional underwater basket weaver that has offered to take you under their wing, it may be worth going to college for it. Personal connections can change your ROI.

2. To Learn

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If you’re going to college to learn. Ask: Would you learn this even if you skipped college? Image Source

I know… the love of learning is a bit cliche but it’s true. College can be an awesome place to learn stuff. It exposes you to experts, new ideas, and deadlines for learning.

If you love a subject then you can go to college to learn more about it.

A cautionary note:
If you don’t have the money to spare then you probably shouldn’t go for this reason. It’s very risky to take out student loans to pay for a degree you won’t make more money off of.

If you can find a way to combine learning what you love with learning what will offer you a good career then you’re on track to having a successful school career.

Why You Shouldn’t Go

1. To Get Away

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How much is getting away from your parents really worth to you? Image Source

You’ve probably seen this before (maybe with someone intimate? Yourself, perhaps?)

High school graduates decide to go to college with the sole purpose of getting away from their home. They’ll look at colleges across the country and say, “I want to spend four years there!” The idea of staying near home drives them nuts. They just want to move away.

This is a bad reason to decide to go to college.

Getting away from home is way cheaper and easier than going to college.

If you want to get away from home then go. Move someplace. Get a job. Have all the fun you’re looking to have.

Don’t get thousands of dollars in loans to do it! You will need to work to pay them off someday.

2. To Party!

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Get the demographics right and you can usually have a pretty fun party. Image Source

College parties have a major reputation for being awesome but that’s mostly a myth.

Sure… take dozens of 20-year-olds and throw them into a home together and you’ll probably have an alright party. The demographics are just right. You don’t need to go to college for parties.

You can find awesome parties without paying student loans. Heck… you can usually go to college parties without even being a student. If you’re really up for a good time try some backpacker parties around the world. Yikes…

3. To Do What You’re “Supposed” To Do

Going to college will probably make your parents happy…

Sure…

But for how long…

They’re always going to want more out of you. Once you go to college they’ll want you to score certain grades. Once you score certain grades they’ll want you to “have some fun once in awhile.” Once you have some fun once in awhile they’ll tell you “you should settle down.” Once you start settling down they’ll think you should “push yourself harder!”

It doesn’t end.

They care about you.

They’ll always be pushing you.

The game of life doesn’t have any winners. We all lose eventually. Sure… it makes sense to put yourself in the best position for your future but it’s all a balance. A job or degree you don’t want doesn’t have any value on the marketplace because you won’t make money off it anyway. It’s a waste of your energy.

There are plenty of smart alternatives to college.

Here’s a Pinterest-worthy image for sharing ?
Here’s a Pinterest-worthy image for sharing ?

(A big part of the money I’ve made after graduating had almost nothing to do with the degree a got or even the training I got.)

College may be a good option but it’s not even close to the only option.

Take your time. Don’t slam doors shut behind you. You’ll make the right decision for yourself. (You can’t count on anyone else making it.)

Are you thinking about going someplace other than college to advance your future? What are your plans? Have you actually done it successfully?

Please share this post because it can help you and others get better grades. Those better grades can help you live better.

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Why You Should Go To College & Why You Shouldn’t

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9 thoughts on “Why You Should Go To College & Why You Shouldn’t

  • December 2, 2016 at 10:30 am
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    As someone who did go back to college at a later stage in life, I completely see why people might say “Oh, I’d rather go when I’m young”etc. I spent a long time being jealous of these people simply becasue I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet. I worked dead end, minimum wage jobs for years while my friends started their first “real” jobs earning good money.

    Looking back the experiences I’ve had with the opportunity the travel the world whenever I wanted when my friends were stuck in a classroom really won out for me in the end. Everyone will find their own path in the end.

    Reply
  • November 28, 2016 at 8:58 am
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    To learn the art of skipping classes?
    That also might be a reason not to go to college. Most of the students learn to be an expert of skipping in college. The boring lectures and the heavy load of assignments are unbearable. And about the partying. If its a strict college with badass rules and regulations, we are so done. Haha. I go to a college with no fun. So I know the pain. 🙁

    Reply
  • November 7, 2016 at 6:15 pm
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    Another bad reason to go to college:

    Because “you won’t go later.”

    That’s just silly.

    If you want to go to college later then you will. There are more options for non-traditional students than ever. If you don’t want to go to college later then you might not but if you don’t want to go then good for you. People don’t HAVE to go to college. There are no rules that you can’t be successful without a college education. It’s NOT a prerequisite for a job. It’s only a prerequisite for some jobs. There are plenty of good jobs and careers for ‘students of life’ without a degree.

    Reply
  • October 24, 2016 at 4:10 pm
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    College parties are overrated.

    I’ve been planning my major my whole life.
    Or… I’m not cool enough to get invited…

    haha

    I really do think college isn’t as cool as most movies make it look. It’s the ultimate advertising campaign where all the media tries to make it look fun and cool for free while the reality is kind of boring. College is kind of like being a monk committed to poverty and studies.

    Reply
    • October 24, 2016 at 4:23 pm
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      haha

      I love that. Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  • October 24, 2016 at 3:42 pm
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    I’m still going to college.

    Thankfully I’m not majoring in something stupid like I originally planned to.

    Engineering for the win!

    Reply
    • October 24, 2016 at 4:07 pm
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      Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  • October 24, 2016 at 3:26 pm
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    What do you think about a college degree being the new default?

    You kind of proved the point by saying over half students go to college. If most students go then how is someone supposed to compete without going?

    Reply
    • October 24, 2016 at 3:41 pm
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      Competing isn’t about conformity. It’s about differentiation.

      Sure… conforming can get you in the running for certain people but differentiation can get you in the running for most people too. Not having a college degree can be a selling point in the same way a college degree can be. College has a reputation for education but it also has a reputation for alcohol abuse. It’s probably better in most situation but it’s not a sure thing.

      If you can prove you spent 4 years becoming an expert on something (whether it’s through college or not) then you will be able to find a job in it. (Maybe not the ideal job. You can’t magically become a doctor without a degree but there are plenty of consulting jobs available to any expert.)

      Reply

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