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Is College Worth it?

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  • Is College Worth it?

    Playing on the income inequality thread, what are your thoughts on college? Is it worth even going? Certain specialized degrees have merit, but what about going just to go or because someone told you that you should go? Do you really need college to get ahead? There is a lot of money to be made out there if you know where to look, and a lot of it doesn't involve having a degree. Plenty of 6 figure sales jobs and jobs in the oil fields right out of high school. A lot of millionaire real estate investors without any formal education. Entrepreneurs and business owners can fall into the same category. With the ever rising costs of college degrees, do you think it is worth the time and money? Or can hustling and making connections and thinking outside the box serve you better?
    Brian

  • #2
    It depends on if you are looking at college as a vocational school or an institution of higher learning. Just because you're smart doesn't mean you're rich, and just because you're rich doesn't mean you're smart.

    Our son's college will run us about $120K in total, and I think it's worth it, but not necessarily due to some potential economic return. There's more to life than money.
    How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by TexasHusker View Post
      Our son's college will run us about $120K in total, and I think it's worth it, but not necessarily due to some potential economic return. There's more to life than money.
      I agree with this 100%. To me, college is about a lot more than what happens in the classroom. It's a valuable life experience that is hard to get in any other way. We also spent about 120K for college and I'm not at all sorry we did. Our daughter grew so much as a person during those 4 years. Had she just been living at home and working whatever job she found, that growth would not have happened. She wouldn't have had the same experiences or been exposed to the people and situations and concepts that college exposed her to.

      All of that said, there are plenty of cheaper options for college. You don't have to spend 120K. You could attend a state school. You could commute. You could go to community college for part or all of your degree.

      Is college right for everyone? Absolutely not. But for those who are college-appropriate, I think it's well worth it.
      Steve

      * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
      * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
      * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

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      • #4
        Since this is a financial forum when the question posed "Is it worth it", I assume that means is it financially worth it. Does the time and money spent in college assure you of greater overall income in life?
        There is really not an answer to this as you can get all sorts of degrees at a wide range or institutions and prices. It also has a whole lot to do with the individual. Some go into college with a plan, do very well and walk into a good job and a great career. Others play around for several years and bomb out or get some type of degree that doesn't pay anything. Also depends on what opportunities are around you when you hit college age.

        It really boils down to how the individual is wired and what they have the ambition to do. If you are the type that is content to work for the other guy all your life and just want to maximize income at your job a degree is probably the best bet. If you are one to do your own thing and be in business for yourself, the degree probably isn't necessary and you may look at those years in college as wasted time where you could have been earning money and getting ahead.

        One of my kids has a degree and the other does not, they are both doing fine, paying their bills, supporting themselves, etc.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by disneysteve View Post

          I agree with this 100%. To me, college is about a lot more than what happens in the classroom. It's a valuable life experience that is hard to get in any other way. We also spent about 120K for college and I'm not at all sorry we did. Our daughter grew so much as a person during those 4 years. Had she just been living at home and working whatever job she found, that growth would not have happened. She wouldn't have had the same experiences or been exposed to the people and situations and concepts that college exposed her to.

          All of that said, there are plenty of cheaper options for college. You don't have to spend 120K. You could attend a state school. You could commute. You could go to community college for part or all of your degree.

          Is college right for everyone? Absolutely not. But for those who are college-appropriate, I think it's well worth it.
          Nothing much happens in the classroom to be honest. With classes and modules moving to online, the information you learn is really no different than finding a similar lecture posted by another university already on youtube for free.

          The what you are essentially paying for is the "college experience"....aka meet people, fool around, make bad decisions, etc etc. I argue that 120k is better spent traveling around the world. A vacation is a vacation...so either spend it in college or spend it getting cultured with less drinking involved....if we are on the topic of not expecting any economic return out of college that is.

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          • #6
            Being able to put BS in something on your resume will pay back that $120k over a career. Doesn't mean you have to go to college to have a great career, but if you go down the route that requires a BS or BA, then college is well worth the investment. My FIL topped out in his job @ NSA because he didn't have a college degree. Kindof stupid because he was better at what he did than any of the other govies but a BS was required to promote to SES and he didn't have it. Probably cost him $1M of income and another $1M in pension.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by corn18 View Post
              Being able to put BS in something on your resume will pay back that $120k over a career. Doesn't mean you have to go to college to have a great career, but if you go down the route that requires a BS or BA, then college is well worth the investment. My FIL topped out in his job @ NSA because he didn't have a college degree. Kindof stupid because he was better at what he did than any of the other govies but a BS was required to promote to SES and he didn't have it. Probably cost him $1M of income and another $1M in pension.
              It's pretty easy to get a BS nowadays after work. Getting your foot in the door is more valuable than a degree. Your FIL topped out by choice since the hardest part was actually getting that job.

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              • #8
                You won't get your foot in the door at NSA without a degree.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Singuy View Post

                  It's pretty easy to get a BS nowadays after work.
                  I'd say it's a lot easier to get your degree straight out of high school than it is to go back and do it later in life when you have a family and a full time job and other responsibilities. It can certainly be done but it's harder for sure.
                  Steve

                  * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                  * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                  * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by corn18 View Post
                    You won't get your foot in the door at NSA without a degree.
                    You literally said "My FIL topped out in his job @ NSA because he didn't have a college degree"....

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Singuy View Post

                      You literally said "My FIL topped out in his job @ NSA because he didn't have a college degree"....
                      I should have put a qualifier on it: You won't get a foot in the door at NSA today without a degree. He joined them 50 years ago.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by corn18 View Post

                        I should have put a qualifier on it: You won't get a foot in the door at NSA today without a degree. He joined them 50 years ago.
                        Yes, I assumed so. And my response was for him specifically. My point is he didn't "max out"..it was his choice to due to the ease of getting a degree whenever you want nowadays.

                        Also I'm sure NSA needs janitors and they don't have college degrees. Nothing wrong with starting out low, get your degree with your spare time and make connections while you're at it at the source in which you want a job at vs blindly going to college and compete with all the other graduates.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Singuy View Post

                          Yes, I assumed so. And my response was for him specifically. My point is he didn't "max out"..it was his choice to due to the ease of getting a degree whenever you want nowadays.

                          Also I'm sure NSA needs janitors and they don't have college degrees. Nothing wrong with starting out low, get your degree with your spare time and make connections while you're at it at the source in which you want a job at vs blindly going to college and compete with all the other graduates.
                          Agree completely. And if you do that, the investment will more than pay for itself over time.

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                          • #14
                            The ROI on college cost should be about 50%. The starting salary needs to be about 50% of the cost of the education

                            example- if borrowing $120k for a $60k starting salary, I think that looks good
                            borrowing $240k for same $60 starting salary is not worth it.
                            So if a person starts college without thinking of the job they will get after, then most effective college decision is community college/ low cost education.

                            A degree is more about advancement than landing the first job- the NSA comment (to me) was about lack of advancement for someone without a degree.
                            6 figure sales positions exist, however getting promoted will likely take a degree.


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                            • #15
                              50%? That's crazy. It should be as close to 100% as possible. A 60k salary with a 120k student loan = a life time of slavery.

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