WHY College?

Who Should Skip this Article

If you were in the top 10% of your high school class (top 30% or so of private school), then you’ve proved you can do academics and, more importantly, you probably like school and the way they teach (& the way you learn best).  Go to college but spend a summer applying for all the scholarships and grants possible because college has become inordinately expensive.  If you were in the bottom 20% of your high school class, you don’t need a discussion of “why college” because you have no interest in nor apparent ability to learn in an academic environment.  Unless your brain is fried on drugs, you may have a passion for something else in life and you should do it.  (Just don’t ask me to pay your welfare!)

College or Not College

Unless your family is wealthy enough to pay for the “college experience” without any of you having to take out loans, then the KEY QUESTION is:  do you need a college degree to pursue your personal (not your parents’) career goals?  There are three possible answers to the question:

1.  Yes, I Need a College Diploma to Work in My Chosen Field

The jobs that require a college diploma are obvious, but just to clarify:  medical doctor, yes, but most medical support roles, no.  (We’re focused on 4 year degrees, not 1 or 2 year certificates.)  Engineer, yes; IT programmer, CAD operator and dozens of other affiliated jobs, no.  High school English teacher, yes; teaching English as a second language, especially in foreign countries, no.  If your parents are pushing you toward STEM or other professional jobs, read on.

2.  Not Sure Degree Required, But I Just Have a Passion for Certain Types of Work

There are tons of jobs paying six figures that do not require degrees, but most people think they do: commercial airline pilot, computer programmer, financial advisor, nuclear power plant operator/ supervisor, accountant, PR or advertising executive, corporate CEO or high level manager, movie director, producer, writer, or talent agent.

Here’s a secret: most entry level jobs that “require” a college degree do NOT really require a college degree.  That is corporate shorthand for saying, “We are selective, and we want employees with a proven discipline, interest level, tenacity, and the soft skills of speaking, writing, and thinking in a broader context than ‘duh’!  We don’t want to waste our time.”  They want people they can put through their corporate training programs and teach them the career consistent with their corporate culture.  There are ways to substitute “experience” and “initiative” and “sample work products” and “contacts” to substitute for the generally worthless $100,000 diploma.  Keep reading; keep researching; and, most importantly, think!

3.  “I Have No Earthly Idea What I’ll Do!  I’ll Figure It Out in College.”

If your family can afford to roll the dice and grant you the “four year college experience” then go for it.  (Most likely your 4 year degree will take 5 or 6 years because you’ll change majors or change colleges or both and have to make up for lost ground.  This will compound the cost of college, so make sure the family is willing to foot the bill for a $150,000 to $250,000 “college experience”.  As a practical matter, you can forget about most significant “scholarships” because your grades and test scores are not high enough to put you in that “elite” category, and you have not otherwise prepared yourself for a focused education.)

Rather than “figure it out in college”, why not take a Gap Year to figure it out?  Gap Years are very common in Europe and increasingly so in the US, at least partly because of the skyrocketing cost of educational mistakes in college.  There are formal programs you can join, OR you can sit down with your parents and/or with us to establish a concrete set of activities, goals, and timetables.  There are an infinite number of ways to plan a Gap Year.  Here is one suggestion, for healthy young men, which can be tailored to your personal needs, ideas, interests, finances, and timetable:

A.  4 months hard physical work in a relatively high paying industry, like construction or warehousing, while living at home, with friends or family for free.  (Your advantage as a healthy Youth is that typically you have the strength, energy, and endurance to work hard in harsh conditions day after day, and such jobs generally pay a lot more than unskilled labor sitting behind a fast food counter.)  While slaving at hard physical work, your mind can ponder more comfortable alternatives for a lifetime career.  Or, you may love the industry and decide you want to become an engineer working in air conditioning or, perhaps, you love the great outdoors and want to gain some specialized training that will pay you well and gain you respect in the workplace.

B.  4 months travel: we find that wide-ranging travel, especially foreign adventures, are educational and generally broadening experiences, to say nothing of the maturity that is gained being totally on your own in a foreign culture.  Narrow the travel to areas with one dominant language, such as Spanish or Mandarin, and live off the local economy, avoid mostly English speaking groups– and amaze yourself at how much of the language you learn.  Combine travel with religious mission work or NGO (non-governmental organization) volunteer work or a paying job with a local employer, and you add a consciousness expanding component to the experience (And it helps defray some of the costs of your adventure.  Even missions and NGOs provide some financial support.)

C.  4 months internship or entry level job in an industry that interests you.  (After prior months of hard work, travel, experiencing new people and places, as well as being on your own and taking the types of online courses we suggest; you may distill those experiences and observations into interest in a particular field.)  If not, at least you will have some savings to help pay for a semester of college and maybe enough life experience to better evaluate what they teach in college compared to your friends who stayed on the educational conveyor belt.

D.  We recommend a Dave Ramsey or similar course on money management PLUS a basic online course on investing (plus Jim Cramer’s books on investing and Rich Dad, Poor Dad on real estate) during the 4 months of physical work slogging.  Hard work should help you appreciate the value of a dollar, and the information will put you on the path of investing it wisely, whether in education or otherwise.  Note: you should save HALF of all you earn during these 4 months to invest in an IRA.  Hit your parents up to match your savings during this period, with the caveat that at least half the total saved will be invested strictly for the long term.

An online language course should be taken during the 4 months of travel.  (The internet is available today in even remote parts of the world.)  During the 8 months of travel and internship, at least 2 or 3 additional online courses should be taken to explore academic areas that may be of interest for a career choice, e.g., geology, geography, history, literature, business development, economics, etc.  Note: When the mind is freed to take courses for the love of learning, expanding one’s imagination, and/or solving practical problems vs. taking them for the grades, wondrous ideas can percolate and mature.




Why not just 1 to 5 history profs for USA?

There are about 10,000 history profs teaching freshman general survey US History courses in about 5,000 US colleges. Why?

One to five brilliant, entertaining, thorough professors could teach the course to all students online. Combine a few History Channel documentaries with the profs’ brilliant video lectures, and all America benefits from the best course ever. Add some biography reading assignments and a few SAT-style multiple choice proctored tests, and it’s done.

Provide the course for free and charge the students $20 apiece for each of, say, 5 proctored tests. Think of the tens of millions saved in teachers’ salaries, fringe benefits like health care, pensions, sabbaticals, office support. Since this course, and perhaps other survey courses are presented online, entire buildings and their maintenance and operating costs are eliminated. Janitors, support staff, and miscellaneous administrative support staff are eliminated.

IF we’re going to send all these millions of kids to college, why not eliminate the featherbedding and waste that are breaking the bank?

Beat the Radicals

My primary purpose in attacking today’s college paradigm is very simple:

1. The college degree program paradigm has priced itself out of the market.

2. In an effort to educate an ever larger portion of the high school grad world, college, as an institutional paradigm, has broadened its areas of teaching while watering down its standards for both entrance and definition of “success” in its courses for those attending. College is irrelevant in today’s evolving workplace!

Additionally, a great bonus of disrupting the paradigm would be to minimize its parasitic drain on Society’s resources while reducing its ever-increasing radical political power and influence. Ever notice how defeated and “retiring” politicians (most of whom have never worked at a ‘real’ productive job) retreat to the Ivory Tower to pontificate and indoctrinate our Young while continuing to slurp at the public trough?

Get Rich OR Get a Diploma

We all know a college degree is essential to certain well-paying career paths– doctor, lawyer, engineer, architect, veterinarian, even public school teacher. Also, a few other STEM specialties. However, contrary to what the self-serving Academic experts say, wasting 4-6 years in college is an expensive detriment to most other students.

Not only do they waste $50,000 to $200,000 of capital, at least some of which they could invest more productively; but there is the lost opportunity alternative of actually growing up and learning “hard skills” and earning a healthy income at a time in life when most young people have very few obligations.

The “experts” say a college graduate earns more money over a lifetime than a non-graduate. That was true decades ago, and may be true to a narrow degree today, if the analysis is of “income” only. However, if the potential for “wealth”, rather than just income, is compared; it is not true !

If one takes just $20,000 of the small fortune spent on college costs, and invests it at age 20 into an IRA, this small amount of capital will grow to $600,000- $1 million+ by retirement. This capital more than makes up for the total wage differential. This is TRUE even before you add to the non-grads’ wealth the ultimate capital accumulation of additional investment contributions during the 4-6 years the grads are stymied in college and before you subtract from the grads’ wealth the 10-20 years of monthly student loan payments.

A highly trained, employed non-grad will become wealthier than a run-of-the-mill college grad IF that hard worker is trained in money management & investing AND if he is financially disciplined. Its a no-brainer and, for many people, makes for a more enjoyable life.

IF you don’t want to go to college or are not sure of your long term path, the dumbest thing you can do is go to college and spend the rest of your productive life enslaved to debt. Your parents and grandparents probably disagree, but they grew up in a fundamentally different 20th Century world.

As a child of the 21st Century, you have opportunities unknown in the “good old days”. Don’t squander them!

NEW “Gap Year” Program


The European tradition of taking a year for alternative activities between high school and a probable college education is an increasingly popular idea in the US. Before undertaking a college commitment involving outlays of $50,000 to $200,000+, it is incumbent on students (and their indebted families) to make sure the next step is the right educational step. Don’t be a Zombie! Think!

This weekend I met with a June college graduate of a relatively inexpensive Southern university. She had changed majors 4 times in 6 years, taking on $95,000 in student debt. She has never traveled outside the US, or even west of the Mississippi River. While confident about her future career path now, graduate school is out of the question for several years. She is working a full-time job plus waitressing several nights a week. Her entire part-time pay is dedicated to student debt.

With all that, she is better positioned than most college students because her “real” job is in her major field. However, “settling down” or taking career risks are not options as she is enslaved to debt.


Who is eligible?

Single male high school graduates, 18-25 years old, in top half of your graduating high school class. We work with students trying to figure out what THEY want to do in life, not what their parents want them to do. However, we do agree with parents that “education” is important (maybe or maybe not college. Here in the 21st Century college is obsolete for many, but not all, “life plans”.)

Because fewer than 1/3 who begin will complete our program (not because we flunk them, but because they give up), you need to know you CAN focus and commit to goals. (Actually, it’s good if you’re confused, ambivalent, or undecided right now because that means you’re open to new ideas.)

IF making money &/or building wealth and financial freedom are not important to you, we are not your program because financial discipline and respect for the freedom wealth can provide you in the future are important pieces of the program. (If you’re a healthy 25 or younger, you’re a guaranteed millionaire over TIME, time being the key element to getting rich slowly.)

How the Gap Year Works

We guide you through 4 steps:

1. Boot Camp-style 4 months of hard full-time physical labor in the highest paying jobs available for healthy, incredibly hard-working, ambitious young men. PLUS Dave Ramsey money management course PLUS basics of investing PLUS a part-time job in an industry you think may be of interest to you. You live at home or with family, friends for free– and save half of every nickel you earn for investing.

2. 4 months in a country of your choosing, working for a church mission or volunteer with a NGO, learning or improving your foreign language skills PLUS taking 2 guided online courses of your choosing on your religion, the area culture, history, or geography. PLUS travel throughout the country.

3. 4 months “hard skills” training PLUS paid part-time “interning” in an industry that interests you PLUS Skype-based training with an expert Executive Recruiter on resume writing, interview techniques, and career networking.

4. Decision making: Counseling in making your next step: hybrid college/ work; additional hard skills training and education in how to start a business or how to climb the Fortune 500 career ladder; full-time college on a debt free, income earning basis (which we teach and can assure you $1,000 /month income on an earn while you learn basis).

IF you think you can hang tough and want to learn more, respond to laughlinou@gmail.com OR comment below.

College Degree or Wealth?

In today’s economy college is obsolete.  Luxuriating in their Ivory Towers the Academics have driven the price of “reading, writing, arithmetic” beyond any sensible cost-benefit justification.  College tuition, books, materials, room and board runs $20,000 to $50,000 per year, plus the “lost opportunity” cost of not making money or developing specific employable skills for the four years dedicated to college.  That lost opportunity runs at least another $100,000 in addition to the $80,000 to $200,000 invested in a college degree, a degree which 2/3 of all graduates never use for employment within the field of their major.

What is the Alternative?

Everyone says a college education is critical to a good job and a secure career.  For better or worse, in this day and age, everyone is wrong!  Education is important and should be pursued throughout one’s life for a variety of both economic and non-economic reasons.  Hard skills are more immediately critical to making a good income.  Skills and education should be pursued vigorously; college, not so much.

There are a wide variety of skills that can be acquired in six months to two years that lay a strong foundation for future additional skills development and provide an immediate comfortable income, skills and programs we will detail in future articles, but, first, how does the pursuit of skills over college make one wealthy?

$20,000 Today Becomes $1,000,000 Tomorrow

Any healthy, hard-working 18 year old high school graduate (who makes the fateful decision to live at home one extra year) can accumulate $20,000 in a year or so.  Learn to invest your own money, and you can turn that capital into $1,000,000 or more by retirement– even if you never add to your initial capital.  At 10% average compounded interest, money doubles every 7 years.  TIME and DISCIPLINE are the keys to building wealth.  The “Miracle of Compound Interest” takes care of the rest:

20 years of age:  $20,000;     27 years:  $40,000;     35 years:  $80,000;     42 years:  $160,000;     49 years:  $320,000;     56 years:  $640,000;     63 years:  $1,280,000;     70 years:  $2,560,000

While one does not need to be a brilliant investor, it would be more useful to study “how money works” than, perhaps, sociology, psychology, or astronomy, in order to build one’s wealth.  The KEY, however, is the advantage any healthy, hard-working young person has over most multiple degreed, ivy league educated older person:  TIME !

If you begin building your wealth at age 20, you can easily accumulate over $1million by age 63.  If you begin at age 30, you will have only half that amount by age 63.  Is college worth its high initial cost PLUS the $500,000+ capital accumulation that can be built by alternative path?

Though college is obsolete, lifelong experience proves the following is equally clear:

  • Disciplined saving and and investing at an early age is critical;
  • “Hard skills” learning to obtain a good income early is critical;
  •  Studying “how money works” is critical;
  • Taking time out to improve and add to one’s “hard skills” is critical in fast-moving, ever-changing world;
  • Lifelong learning provides one with a broader perspective, better insight, and the information to take maximum advantage of opportunities that come along;
  • Thinking independently, acting independently, and unceasing attention to one’s “game plan” is critical.

While life is not all about money, life without money is life with less freedom.  Life without money is less opportunity to learn, create, explore, and to develop new skills.  Life without money tends to limit one’s opportunities to contribute to your family, your community, to the world at large.





(While the following is a depressing condemnation of today’s college reality, we will offer practical, innovative immediate solutions in future articles.)

This is NOT your parents’ or grandparents’ college anymore!  College today is an obsolete fraud.  Contrary to the outdated propaganda spouted by self-serving Academic statisticians, of the 20 million students in higher education today, about 16.5 million will fail any reasonable cost-benefit analysis of their experience.  On what planet is less than a 20% success rate acceptable?  It is not the students’ or parents’ failure; it is the professors’, administrators’, and the System’s failure!  The facts:

  •  Of about 20 million Americans in college or other higher education today, one-half will never graduate (yet most will leave their “learning” experience with the primary harsh lesson being they have to repay $15,000 to $30,000 in student loans, which they cannot escape through bankruptcy or loan reductions and which will overhang their futures for decades, forcing postponement of marriages, children, house purchases, and even interfering with alternate career startup efforts);
  • Of the one-half who do finish the academic obstacle course, two-thirds (about 6.5 million) will NEVER work in their major field, yet the vast majority (they &/or their families) will owe $30,000 to $100,000+ in Government-underwritten student loans.
  • Whereas decades ago college graduates generally were assured job security in desirable career paths as well as college cost repayment schedules of less than 10 years, most of today’s graduates face uncertain futures with less job security than contemporaries who are “skills focused” and committed to lifelong learning.  Worse, many will be enslaved to their college debts even beyond the time their own children graduate high school!

WHY?            Two reasons:  Skyrocketing cost of college;  Increasing irrelevance of the coursework.

Skyrocketing cost of college:  In the 1960s a high school graduate working minimum wage at a full-time job could earn the price of one semester college tuition at a public state-supported college in the South or West in less than three weeks.  Today, it takes about 222 days to earn one semester’s tuition.

College costs have increased faster than almost any segment of society (except, perhaps, medical care).  Why?  Why has teaching “reading, writing, arithmetic”, the essence of undergraduate studies even today, increased more than almost any other industry (and certainly faster than the anemic increase in middle class incomes)?  Because they can, and because today colleges are operated primarily for the benefit of the teachers, administrators, financiers, and contractors who are fleecing the kids.

Whereas parents, students, and budget-constrained state governments once directly bore on a pay-as-you-go basis the burden of educational costs (and were thus incentivized to be cost conscious), today much of the immediate cost is borne by the Federal Government– which has accumulated close to $1.4 Trillion in student loan debt that ultimately the Government requires those students and taxpayers to pay.

Through the incestuous intertwining of Government and Academia, a costly maze of “standards”, regulations, financing gimmicks, “academic studies”, and pure propaganda has been concocted to justify the ever-increasing costs.  (Have you ever noticed how defeated or retired politicians end up “teaching” at prestigious universities and how top Government bureaucrats seem to be drawn from the cloistered world of Academia?)  Just one example of the incentives for this “intertwining” of the two worlds is the fact that most universities provide paid time off for professors to volunteer to participate on civic boards or to assist in drafting government policy papers.  In fact, many professors’ pay raises are at least partly based on their efforts to “help” government.  Thus, is it any wonder the end result is a system whereby naive, financially illiterate students can so easily mortgage their futures in exchange for cash now and that guilt-ridden parents are stampeded into participating in what has become more and more nothing but a pure racket ! ? !

Increasing irrelevance of college courses:  While society and technology look forward, Academics tend to look backwards.  With the possible exception of the STEM study areas, Academics are slow to adopt technology or any efficiency-inducing practices.

Except in certain specific areas like engineering, nursing, and other mostly STEM areas, college does not teach skills immediately applicable to the working world.  College is supposed to teach how to think/ analyze, how to write, and how to find and communicate usable information, calibrated to various depths of thought.  BUT, according to an increasing consensus of employers, most colleges are failing in even those “soft” skills areas.

As to efficiency of teaching, consider this:  the USA has about 10,000 college teachers of freshman survey level US History courses in some 5,000 institutions.  Why is it not more efficient to have 5 or 10 brilliant, entertaining professors teach the course via the internet, with History Channel supplements?  Why are we featherbedding 9,990 teachers that are totally unnecessary to present this basic information?  Why aren’t freshman survey psychology, sociology, philosophy, astronomy, geology, biology, and a few dozen other subjects taught in such a cost-effective manner?

Is it because the colleges today are run more for the benefit of the faculty, administrators, and various “hangers on” rather than primarily for the benefit of the poor students?