Ten years ago this question would not be spoken in student circles. College is an inevitable necessity, most will say, even despite the recent job market and mounting student loan debt.
I think those asking why go to college raise a good point: If it is going to take approximately half of your working career to simply pay for your degree, what is the point?
Sure, a college degree can give you access to a higher-paying job, but at the expense of massive debt. So when you are using that higher-paying job to buy more expensive clothes, homes and cars, you are further tying yourself to a cycle where you must always make more money next year, or at least not lose any ground.
Even in our house, we recently paid off one student loan and are poised to pay off the last. Even with aggressive debt payoff efforts, it still took us TEN years.
Is College a Scam?
Many people who recently graduated and feel that they have no hope of finding a job may be asking themselves if college is a scam. If you look at the rising cost of providing an education, including the exorbitant salaries and benefits paid at public universities, it may appear that college is mostly benefiting the teachers and administrators.
Anyone who hates government waste can easily look through a public university’s course offerings and find many classes that would enrage them. If you think that makes you mad, take a look through the annual reports of your state’s public schools and look at their top ten highest paid employees (not counting the athletic directors or coaches who are often paid out of private funds).
You will see many professors and administrators making hundreds of thousands of dollars. You will also find emeritus professors or honorary professors who make a lot of money for doing nothing more than saying they are affiliated with a certain school.
Why go to college if it’s just becoming another commodity? But is it a scam: probably not, because you know what you are getting.
Should I Go to College?
Like I said before, ten years ago if a kid asked me if they should go to college I would say yes without hesitation. Today, I would not be so quick to rush them there.
Kids are growing up at a slower pace these days, though it seems like pop culture is doing its best to sexualize them at the earliest age possible. The median age that people are marrying is going up, and more young people are choosing to live with their families and treat their twenties more like their teens.
So if I was asked why go to college, I would first ask that young person what their goals are. If they are skeptical about college, what are your alternatives to college? If the student laid out a solid plan to start or expand their own business, and they appeared to be serious, I may tell them to put college on hold.
In less than four years, most competent people could build their own online business with no debt and be earning a good income.
Please note I would only steer someone away from college if they had something viable in the works. For those who are just uncertain, I would urge they do some more soul searching.
Life IS NOT short and there is plenty of time to ponder the right decision.
Do You Want to Play the Game?
So it’s no secret that one of our economy’s biggest downfalls is a lack of jobs for people who don’t want to go to college. I think we are doing our citizens a great disservice by assuming on their behalf that no one wants a blue collar job.
The fact is, we need jobs for people who like to work with their hands, and maybe don’t have an interest in studying string theory and other things that have no impact on their life.
By overburdening businesses with regulations and making it generally cheaper and easier to outsource jobs to other countries, we are becoming even more enslaved to the vicious cycle of work.
In the place of blue collar jobs we must churn out more jobs where people are simply moving one pile of money to another account and generating income from fees. These jobs where we invent new financial derivatives offer no value to the world and we need to stop pretending like they do.
We are also banking on service jobs, where we hope that the college-educated people make enough money to afford haircuts and shoeshines from those who didn’t want to go to college. This is a dangerous hope.
As I said before, life IS NOT short. If you want to take your time and start your own business, or try a sales career, go for it.
College will always be there as an option, and pay no mind to anyone who would look down on you if it wasn’t your first choice.