You may have been raised with college in mind. Don’t worry, you’re not alone – most young adults of this generation would have been led to believe that college was their best chance at being successful in life.
While there’s still a lot of truth in this, it pays to do your research and know both sides of the story. While there are many people who have emerged from college and gone on to be successful, there are also many reasons we could use to argue against this institution.
Let’s take a look at why we think college isn’t worth your money.
1. Cost of College
The reason why the cost of college is the first on our list is that it's one of the biggest.
College costs an excessive amount of money. If you go to a public school within the state that you grew up in, you're looking at spending a minimum of $18,000. If you decide to attend a public college that’s outside of your home state, this fee will increase to $29,000. If you’re looking at a private university, you can expect your fees to be an average of $37,000.
While these high rates do include features like books, transport, tuition, and board, they're still outside of the average households' budget.
Now, it’s important to remember that a lot of these schools will offer up grants of scholarships that can be awarded to help reduce these costs. However, it may be even more important to note that these grants or scholarships will never completely eliminate what you pay.
This means that if you’re not in the top 5% or even the top 10% of the country, nearly half to the majority of your financial aid will culminate in student loan. This is on top of the reality that the average cost of tuition continues to climb, increasing by 5% each year.
Grants and scholarships don’t increase by this much per annum, which means that the supply isn’t meeting the demand.
2. Facing Post-College Debt
While it's easy to put your student debt to the back of your mind when you're studying, it won't be long before you are forced to bring it to the fore. When the piper comes to collect, college debt can hang over your head and be challenging to pay back.
It’s common knowledge that the first job you’ll secure after college won’t be high paying. However, student loan debt collectors don’t take this into account, resulting in a frustratingly high margin between your monthly income and your student loan repayments.
Why this may be enough for you not to want a student loan, but it gets worse. A lot of the time, due to the interest you'll accrue on your loan, you won't even be able to begin paying off the principle for a long time. This means that for your first few years out of college you'll be paying back the money you didn't even use during your time at college.
3. Higher Earnings?
You may be tempted to think that as a college graduate, you'll earn more than your peers in high school who decided to take a different route. You'd be forgiven for thinking this because the stats certainly reflect this – you can expect to make one million more than your high school graduates and $400,000 more on top of this if you've got a graduate degree
However, there’s more to this story than simple math and numbers. High school graduates not only have a head start when it comes to diving into the workforce, but they’re also doing it without a student loan hanging over their heads.
Meanwhile, college graduates must start repayments on their loan, regardless of whether or not they've been able to pin down a job in the current competitive climate. Of course, we now know that the higher the degree, the more debt you come out with.
What you choose to study also contributes to this equation. If you’re a University of California engineer graduate, you can expect to earn the predicted one million. However, if you’ve decided to go down the arts road, you’re looking at making a scary 100,000 dollars less a year over twenty years than a high school graduate – once you’ve considered your student loan repayments.
4. Which College you Choose Doesn’t Matter
Maybe you’ve heard great things about certain universities – just enough to have you considering doing college. However, at the end of the day when you’re sitting in front of your prospective employer, they’re not concerned about where you got your degree – all they care about is that you have one.
The percentage of employers who care about this is surprisingly low. Only 9% cared where their interviewees went to school and took this into account when considering them for the job.
Let's think about what the employer wants you to have when you sit in that interview. Statistics show that the most important thing to bring to the table is industry knowledge – the more you know about the industry you're applying in, the better.
Following in at a close second to this is possessing the proper job skills. If you’re able to perform great in your interview and prove to your potential employer that you’re the right person for the job, this is more likely to help you land it than where you got your college degree from.
5. Lost Working Years
We’ve touched on this point briefly when considering whether or not to go to college. Let’s elaborate on it a bit.
Never underestimate the importance of work experience. In most industries these days, your experience matters most. This means that all those years you spent working in your early twenties instead of going to college were actually setting you up for landing your dream job.
Think about the high school graduate who has been working since their last year of high school. They started as a worker, before becoming an assistant manager and then finally manager. You'll have little to no chance of getting the management job over them when you apply for it after college and can't show the employer that you've got the experience.
This means that while you're slowly increasing your level of debt while you study at college, your friend from high school is already making money and if they're smart with it, investing for the future.
That four years of advantage that they have over the person that went to college could mean buying a home, beginning a retirement fund or even just getting that car they always wanted. Think of it as loss of experience and earnings – not to mention the time that you'll never get back.
6. Go to College or Early Retirement?
Not going to college can mean an early or more lucrative retirement. Yup, you read that right. Not going to college can actually make life at the other end a lot easier.
Why is this? If you don’t go to college, this allows you to invest that money that you would have otherwise spent on college into your retirement fund. Even if you don’t have a few thousand dollars of tuition money lying around before you’ve even thought about going, you can still secure your future.
This is because you can put aside the money you would have otherwise spent on tuition each year and put it towards your retirement instead. It doesn’t come with interest and enables you to invest your money when and if you have it, not spend it all before the first year of college is even over.
This is also relevant in relation to the average wage that a high school graduate will earn in comparison to a college graduate. You’ll have much more to put away per annum towards critical future investments like your early retirement.
7. Low Graduation Rates
This may be one of the scariest reasons of all, and more than enough for many high school graduates to already opt for the workforce instead.
You’d be surprised at how many college students don’t even manage to get that certificate of graduation. There are all types of reasons for this, from lack of funds to bad grades and unexpected changes in their personal life.
It’s tempting to feel secure when you’ve started college and have your degree all planned out. However, many of these students will gradually come to realize that their dream of graduating isn’t going to be as plausible as they thought.
We can’t think of many things worse than coming out of college with too much debt and no degree. Statistics show that nearly 50% of all students that enroll in college don’t see it through and graduate. It’s stats like these that cause us to think very seriously about the prospect of college, and whether it’s worth the money at all.
8. College Isn’t the Only Place to Learn
Like we mentioned above, skills are often a lot more important than a degree when applying for a job.
Let's ask why people go to college in the first place. The first answer that comes to mind is that they want to learn – and there's nothing wrong with this at all. However, college is certainly not the only way to learn about your dream industry, especially considering all the online resources available these days.
In fact, there are even online community colleges that are entirely free to attend. You choose at your own leisure the papers you want to study before completing them on your own time. This is a great, practical way to become self-taught in the industry your passionate about – and will undoubtedly give you an advantage when you go to apply for that job.
It sounds obvious, but another resource that is just as relevant today as it was ten years ago is the library. A library card is incredibly cheap to obtain and gives you access to an almost unlimited number of resources that will allow you to learn as much as you have time for.
The bottom line is, there are some excellent alternatives for learning that can accommodate for all different types of budget. Whether you’re limited or have a bit of cash to invest, there are some incredibly convenient ways to learn your niche without having to attend college and rack up that debt.
At this point, we think it’s safe to say that college is overrated. While the college experience may seem appealing – and we can see why – it will only leave you picking up the pieces at the other end and balking at the eye-watering debt you’ll then be in.
College has been a staple for hundreds of years for high school graduates everywhere. However, as we continue to push forward with technology and the future of our economy is uncertain, we recommend considering how to invest your money wisely.
College is all about setting yourself up for the future – but now not going to college is as well. There’s more than one way to go about landing the job you’ve always dreamed of – which means that college isn’t the only option.