1. A college diploma does not guarantee you a job. The conventional wisdom is that, if you don't have a college degree, you won't do well in life. They are selling you a bill of goods! They are using statistics to lie which anyone can do with statistics. Who are "they?" Those who stand to gain by getting you to go to college, namely, colleges and universities, themselves, and corporations for whom you are grist for the mill. I feel sorry for all the youngsters, especially poor black kids from the ghetto, who swallow this crap thinking everything will be hunky-dory if they just do what they're told and stay in school. Many of them are destined to wake up one day and be very disillusioned realizing that they have been lied to and sold a bill of goods if everything doesn't turn out as they were promised it would. Here are some reasons to think twice about college.
Your job can be terminated, RIFed (Reduction in Force-ed), outsourced. You can be fired, laid off, let go, given a pink slip, terminated. If you're self-employed, none of these things can happen to you. You don't need a college diploma to be self-employed or to start your own business. After all Bill Gates started Microsoft without a college diploma or degree. He is a college drop-out! Fresh out of college you may or may not be able to get a job. But if you lose your job after 10 or 20 years and are unemployed, the chances of your ever getting another one diminish with age. After 40 or so, the chances you will ever get hired again - especially in a high tech field - are negligible. The government doesn't guarantee you a job. Private industry will use you or discard you as they see fit. As you get older, your skill set will diminish relative to younger just-out-of-college types and your salary will have escalated compared to their starting salaries so that you're ready to be discarded as far as a corporation is concerned. They need to keep labor costs low in order to increase profits because their first responsibility is to their blessed shareholders, not to their employees. You're better off taking the $100,000. you would have spent on college and becoming one of their shareholders instead!
2. Student Loan Debt. Students coming out of college today are starting off with $50K to $100 K in student loan debt. It's like having a 30 year mortgage without having the benefit of a place to live. The money might have been better invested in a mortgage in the first place. An investment in real estate will appreciate over the years. An investment in a college education that leads to your becoming an employee will depreciate. Of course, if your college education prepares you for a profession which enables you to be self-employed or go into business for yourself, this is not true. No one is in a position to "let you go" if you are your own boss.
3. Self-education is better than forced feeding. You can learn more, develop your brain better and have more knowledge than most college graduates simply by reading 2 hours a night. Such subjects as art, history, literature, foreign languages, music appreciation as well as many other subjects can be self-taught. The learning resources are available on the internet and in public libraries. Why pay money for something you can get for free? All that is required is self-discipline rather than someone standing over you threatening you with failure if you don't study and pass tests! The beauty of being self-taught is that then you will learn what you are truly motivated to learn, what you are really interested in rather than courses that are required to get your degree. Such courses will be immediately forgotten once the final has been passed .
Many contributors to human knowledge were autodidacts, that is people who were sufficiently interested in whatever field to teach it to themselves. Such geniuses as Sir Isaac Newton (pictured at right) and Gottfried Liebniz, who simultaneously developed calculus, were largely self-taught. A lot of great musicians and artists are self-taught. The only reason to actually go to college is to get credentialed in a field that you really want to enter, and then it should be possible (it only isn't in order to give job security to professors) to just take an exam (like it used to be for the law) in order to gain the credential. Abraham Lincoln taught himself law and passed the bar without the benefit of a college education or diploma. Then he was actually able to make money at it - all without the benefit of a college degree. Today, of course, we are much more civilized, requiring our lawyers to have a college degree in addition to passing the bar!
Anything you can learn in college you can learn on your own. If you want the equivalent of a college education, find out the course list and reading lists for any degree of the college of your choice. Then read all the same books. Anything you want to know is available on the internet. Why study a lot of boring stuff you're not interested in? You won't retain it anyway. Most college students study enough to regurgitate on a test and then immediately forget it. It's wasted time and energy. Study and learn what you're interested in instead of what is "required." That way you only will be learning what you have a passion for. Most people that are successful in their professions have a passion for what they do, not merely a "ticket of admission" to the field of their choice which is what a college degree represents.
4. Money Invested in a College Education Would Be Better Invested in Real Estate. If you took the money most people invest in a college education and bought a chunk of real estate instead at age 18, you'd be able to retire with the income and/or profit from this investment in 30 years. You do the math. Money invested is gaining appreciation and/or interest. A student loan will end up costing you many times the value of the loan itself in interest for a college diploma that only depreciates in value if all you have to offer is your labor as an employee. From a corporation's point of view you are just a labor input regardless of whether or not you have a degree. Don't think you're a privileged character just because you have a college degree. You're not, and, in a corporation's eyes, you're totally discardable especially if they can get somebody cheaper to do the job, say somebody in India or China. Don't think an American educational institution has anything over the educational institutions in India or China either. In many cases they're a lot better, and their graduates sure work cheaper.
5. Money Spent on College Education Would Be Better Invested in Starting Your Own Business. If you are your own boss, you don't need a piece of paper to prove to an employer that you're worthy of being hired by him. You don't have to worry about sucking up to your boss or getting along with your co-workers. Everyone I know who is an employee undergoes all kinds of stress having to deal with co-workers and bosses. Employees are stuck with their co-workers and stuck with their boss. The only way of getting rid of them is to quit your job. Be your own boss and you don't have to put up with that kind of crap. Bill Gates didn't need a college diploma to start Microsoft. In fact he doesn't have one and neither do a lot of entrepreneurs and people who have made great contributions to society.
6. Don't think a college diploma eliminates risk. Corporations are in the business of shifting risk to their employees rather than, as they traditionally have, assuming it themselves. Increasingly, employees are having to assume the risk for their own pensions which can be lost in risky investments in the stock market via 401ks. This risk used to be assumed by employers with defined benefit pensions. No more. Now there are defined contributions; read - YOU TAKE THE RISK! Also, if circumstances change for the corporation, you can be downsized, laid off, let go, fired, whatever euphemism, you want to apply to it...terminated? The corporation (or any employer for that matter) has no obligation to keep you employed. Health care is another risk employees are being asked to shoulder alone. Suddenly, paternalistic corporations are no longer paternalistic. You're on your own, baby! And don't expect unions to bail you out. Unions are passe with membership decreasing with each passing year.
So why not look your risk squarely in the face and become an entrepreneur, start your own business whether it's as a gardener, painter, handyman, carpenter, architect, civil engineer, lawyer or whatever. Just because you're a gardener doesn't mean that you're not the owner of a business that has value. Your customer list is a valuable asset that can be sold some day if you wish to retire or do something else.
Also there's no reason why you shouldn't develop a few different skill sets. For instance, you could become an excellent cook or a waiter. Doesn't take a huge training investment to do that. Then while you're pursuing an education in another field, you can be making money doing something more basic. Also it's something to fall back on should you ever be "downsized." Many people have aspirations toward very risky fields such as being an actor, musician, novelist or artist. Having an ability to make money in more mundane fields such as gardening or accounting may act as a launchpad (read "day job") for professions that are inherently more satisfying and are potentially more lucrative but in which relatively few are able to gain a reputation or make any money. If what you are doing is a labor of love, making money may not even be a requirement so long as you have an alternative way to make a living. Borat gave himself 5 years to make it as a comedian before he would give up and go into something more mundane. As it turned out, it took almost the whole 5 years before he started getting anywhere and now he's made tens (possibly hundreds) of millions of dollars on a #1 "moviefilm" for which the production expenses must have been unbelievably low.
7. Start Life Early. Don't Delay it by Going to College. You don't have to delay real life by 4 to 8 years. You can start a family and your kids will be grown and out of the house before you are old and gray. You have a jump on real world experience. College unnecessarily delays starting out in life. At a time when your peers are graduating from college with so much student loan debt that they can't even afford to date, let alone get married and start a family, you could own your own business which you started from scratch, have a family started and own a house.
Be earning money during the 4 to 8 years you might have spent in college. Learn a basic trade or profession and build your business over the years you would have spent in college. Pay the minimum necessary to procure whatever credentials you need to practice that trade or profession. Learn it on your own. The only college degrees worth having are in the "thousand year old professions" such as law, architecture, civil engineering, medicine. In these professions you can hang out your own shingle - be in business for yourself. Forget high tech and anything that requires you to work for a corporation or as an employee and doesn't let you have the option of starting your own business. These degrees are worthless. As a laborer with a college degree, no matter how high tech, you are just a commodity. As a self-employed businessman, you call the shots, make the profits and build a business which has a value in itself, which can be sold some day if you choose to do so. Live simply and on the cheap when you're starting out pouring most of your money into your fledgling business. Be homeless if you have to. Live in your car or work vehicle. If you have a shop or storefront, live there. No sense in paying 2 rents. After you get going, you will be able to afford to move up in the world.
8. A 4 year college degree is worth practically nothing these days. Since these degrees have become so common, colleges and corporations have upped the ante requiring more and more college, graduate school, specialized training, licenses, post-docs and every other way they can figure to keep you paying tuition and racking up student loan debt which you will probably be paying off in lieu of a mortgage for the rest of your life.
9. College trains you to be a docile and compliant employee. Is this how you want to live your life? As Caspar Milquetoast? The second you mouth off to your boss, you're history! Be a free and independent individual instead. Have a passion for what you do. Have real knowledge instead of a piece of paper that says you know something. Do real work instead of make work. Be willing to take the risk of starting your own business instead of the pseudo-security of being somebody else's employee. Then you don't have to take crap from anyone or kiss anybody's ass!
Most college courses do not train you to do anything useful in the real world. Even as a working engineer, I never used 98% of the course material I had to learn in college. I had a professor at Georgia Tech who demanded that every electronics engineer be capable of working a thyratron problem. I was never asked to work a thyratron problem in my engineering work life or even to design any kind of a circuit. I was never asked to work a calculus problem. (Calculus was a required course.) Most, if not all, engineers do nothing more than push paper - especially if they work in the military-industrial complex. Of course, a lot of people are perfectly happy doing this!
Instead, learn a trade or a profession that deals with reality head-on. Otherwise, you're merely equipping yourself to be a paper-pusher. And you have no skills that are relevant to anything anyone would want to pay for in the real world if you lose your job in the corporate world. I found that the best engineers I met in my life were not even college graduates but people who had a passion for whatever it was they did. If you don't have a passion for your work, forget it, unless you're perfectly happy sitting on your ass and doing nothing all day. Then, by all means, get a college degree and enjoy collecting middle class welfare!
10. Learning resources are available for free in libraries and on the internet. Anything you want to know is already available to you. Why pay for it? You're not going to learn anything by going to college if you don't have the self-discipline to study it on your own. You have to put in the effort. The teacher can't transfer the knowledge painlessly from his brain to yours. Most professors are useless anyway. All you end up doing in class is taking notes which you are forced to decipher later. You might as well buy the notes and study them on your own rather than wear out your writing hand trying to keep up with the professor in class. He will have taught you nothing except how to take notes. Most of the material can probably be found in the text book or from other sources anyway.
Some of the great men in American history were autodidacts not products of educational institutions. Take Ben Franklin, for example. He only had a third grade education yet was a scientist, inventor, author, publisher, writer, diplomat - an all-around Renaissance man. He invented the lightning rod, the Franklin stove and bifocals among other things. He was fluent in 5 languages. He was also one of the wealthiest men of his day and was highly regarded as a scientist for his pioneering work in electricity. As a printer, he also had access to the tools necessary in becoming a published writer. This is an example of what I call concomitant serendipity, when a proficiency in one vocation synchronizes with another enabling one to move from one to the other with ease. Another example is becoming an architect and a contractor at the same time. That way one can design and build one's own spec houses. After so many of these, one has a track record that prospective clients can check out. With this approach you can start your own business from scratch making money at first from selling spec houses that gain you a reputation as an architect and later from clients who are impressed by the legacy of the houses you've designed and built. Another example of concomitant serendipity is a journalist who writes books on the side such as Bob Woodward, an editor of the Washington Post who has written 12 best-selling non-fiction books. Look for professions that allow you to do other perhaps more satisfying and lucrative work as a by-product.