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In today’s economy college is obsolete.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.

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “College Degree or Wealth?

  1. I don’t think I would go so far as to say college is obsolete. I do think the way that college is offered and the price people are paying is what needs to be updated. The problem with making this assumption is that the job market doesn’t support it. While many students don’t use their major of study professionally, that doesn’t man the degree is not valuable or at least valued by prospective or current employers. You could argue that college has become the cost of admission to higher paying jobs, in the way that a high school diploma used to. It isn’t necessarily about what you studied, but more about the demonstrated ability to think and operate in a higher education environment.That being said, what people pay for these degrees nowadays is ridiculous and should not be tolerated by our society. There is no reason to be paying $20,000+ per year for a bachelor’s degree when there are tons of other more affordable ways to get the same end result.

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    1. I agree College is a more or less lazy signaling device whereby employers understand the job applicant had the discipline & tenacity to sit thru tons of boring lectures on irrelevant subjects. The point is Society needs better, more relevant, less expensive ways to send that “signal”.
      WHERE can a student get a 4 yr degree for less than $20k /yr?
      (Only a few get significant scholarships, pipe-dream for most, & most families earn too much to receive major grants. Just another way Middle Class being hollowed out!)

      Bottom line problem:
      Colleges today operate more for the benefit of tenured, cloistered profs & bloated administrative bureaucracies than for benefit of students & future employers.

      Time for 21st Century creative destruction in Academia!!

      WHY, for example, does USA have 10,000 US history teachers when 5 or 10 superior, entertaining profs could make history come alive via video for all students?

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      1. Starting out at a community college for 2 years is one way to get a BA or BS for less than $20K per year. Then if possible commuting to a 4 year school in your area saves a ton on room and board. Or go to a state college in which you have residency. Our local 2 year college costs $4500 per year for tuition plus some fees and costs of supplies of course. My husband attended a State University of NY (4 year college) a decade ago and even today the tuition and fees for a NY state resident is $8200 per year. Room and board is another thing altogether but you do not need to live on campus.

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      2. True. You’ve addressed the cost issue, though keeping kids at home 4 yrs ties them in dependency to the apron strings until age 21 or 22. How well does that work in most cases?
        Next issues: relevance & lost opportunity costs.
        Relevance: (set aside engineers & other STEM students). Studies show that more than 1/3 of college grads did not hone analytical, writing, or reasoning skills thru 4 yrs of memorizing & regurgitating lecture material.
        Lost Opportunity Cost: Not earning, saving, & investing money for those 4 yrs while also learning “hard skills” that permit a student to start at $30-$40k+ a couple years out of high school, then later tng for more skills & move up the career ladder.
        What about the educational value of travel & living in a foreign culture for several months? Training, working, traveling— living & thinking independently.
        (Of course, there is no simple template to keep a Youth “between the lines”, & the risk is wasted time & opportunity. That’s what I’m developing with my grandkids: carrot & stick; a template to build discipline, persistence, & a “success ladder” of skills, true education, wisdom & reasoning into an uncharted path.
        Bottom line: College has failed & is obsolete in the 21st Century.

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      3. I don’t think that spending 4 years at home while working on something meaningful and enriching, and being able to cash flow it nonetheless fosters dependency on the parents. I think when the young adult is handed it all without the expectation of performing well in school, seeking internships, seeking money earning opportunities and other professional development, etc. then yes you have a recipe for an overly dependent adult-child. That is not in anyone’s benefit. There are plenty of young adults (and their parents) that are doing things right though.

        The skills you speak of ARE honed in a college environment if the student wants it, but that is the key point right there. Just because learning opportunities are offered doesn’t mean a student will seek them out and make the most of them, no matter what format you package it in.

        Further, more people need to be challenging the way that they pay for college and the price being flashed at them and I think that is the greatest problem with higher education right now. (and their parents) are doing too much whining about their student loans and it is pulling their focus from how they can be enriching themselves and avoiding further debt. You can’t make a student want that though.

        I have read everything you wrote on your website and here in your comment and you make interesting and valid points, I just don’t know that I totally agree, and that is okay. We can agree to disagree, or at least agree that we don’t totally see it 100% the same way. I don’t think it is time to write off college the way that it is just yet.

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  2. Agh, big typo above, sorry! That sentence in my second to last paragraph is supposed to read “Students (and their parents) are doing too much whining…”

    Liked by 1 person

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