Skip to comments.Some say bypassing a higher education is smarter than paying for a degree (Hey, just skip college!)
Posted on 09/11/2010 1:05:39 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
Across the region and around the country, parents are kissing their college-bound kids -- and potentially up to $200,000 in tuition, room and board -- goodbye.
Especially in the supremely well-educated Washington area, this is expected. It's a rite of passage, part of an orderly progression toward success.
Or is it . . . herd mentality?
Hear this, high achievers: If you crunch the numbers, some experts say, college is a bad investment.
"You've been fooled into thinking there's no other way for my kid to get a job . . . or learn critical thinking or make social connections," hedge fund manager James Altucher says.
Altucher, president of Formula Capital, says he sees people making bad investment decisions all the time -- and one of them is paying for college.
College is overrated, he says: In most cases, what you get out of it is not worth the money, and there are cheaper and better ways to get an education. Altucher says he's not planning to send his two daughters to college.
"My plan is to encourage them to pursue a dream, at least initially," Altucher, 42, says. "Travel or do something creative or start a business. . . . Whether they succeed or fail, it'll be an interesting life experience. They'll meet people, they'll learn the value of money."
Certainly, you'd be forgiven for thinking this argument reeks of elitism. After all, Altucher is an Ivy Leaguer. He's rolling in dough. Easy for him to pooh-pooh the status quo.
But, it turns out, his anti-college ideas stem from personal experience. After his first year at Cornell University, Altucher says his parents lost money and couldn't afford tuition. So he paid his own way, working 60 hours a week delivering pizza and tutoring, on top of his course load.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
Sometimes I wonder... Which is better, starting off at $28,000 a year as a truck driver with no debts or making $50,000 a year after graduating from college with a $150,000 debt...
What are his daughters’ names? I need to mark them off my list of possible physicians when they arrive back from traveling the world and setting up their dream doc in a box practice.
..and for that 22K difference per year, in 6 years the guy with no college will still be making $28K and the guy who originally made $50K per year has paid off his debt and has moved up to making $75K.
However, one thing that a good college can do for you is establish a lifetime of connections, provided you have good social skills and stay involved with alumni activities long after your college years are over.
Am 2 months away from my 57th birthday. I have always had a high paying job and rose to the top wherever I was. Then was laid off from Wells Fargo in Dec 2008. I have not been hired anywhere since. No 4 year degree means no job in these times anyway. I am thanking God because my son is a freshman at Hillsdale College this year. He will need at least a 4 year degree to compete. That may not be enough.
What’s best is doing the work you want to do with the least amount of non-paid school work possible.
For some people that may mean going to school and getting degrees.
For other people it is best to grab the first apprenticeship-type job that is offered.
Ironically, I was able to achieve a higher status than many people who passed me over for interviews in lower level positions, but I had to find an organization willing to look at my results.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have bypassed college and started a business. Being master of your own destiny is the only true path to security.
Mine is looking at 7 years minimum.
It depends on what you want to do.
If you want an MBA level job, you need the MBA.
If you want to be a Chemical Engineer, college is mandatory.
If you spend $137,000 to get a four year degree in Restaurant Management, you probably would have been better off going to culinary school.
Trade or technical schools are a better path that college for many people.
Well med school is like any trade school - it teaches a specfic trade. That does not mean the generic BA will teach anything useful.
My son got his math degree and decided against all the entry level positions he was offered.
Instead, he went back to doing what he had always done to make money, work for his dad’s service company.
He got all the licenses he needed and now they are partners and doing fine.
Neither one of them would have ever been happy working for “the man”.
Cool! Can I also skip entry-level jobs and demand to go straight to being an executive, too?
-——————————————————————————————Absolutely. It just helps to have a wealthy family to give you a little boost.
I was there. Went back and finished. So far, it hasn’t meant diddly squat difference, although I have had a much better contract which I wouldn’t have gotten had I not finished.
Sadly that contract was some time ago.
A DJ here in Memphis would say a boob job was more surer investment for young women than a college education. Unsure if he was right though.
As anti-business, evil-capitalist stereotypes are taking hold in college cirricula across the country, it’s possible that businesses may alter their hiring practices...which would totally 86 the principal motive for American kids and their parents to scrimp, save and sacrifice for college “education”. It’s not likely they’ll still come to the door simply to get an ideological makeover.
I’m thinking of Georgia Tech for my 16 yr. old daughter who is aiming high for Chemical Engineering. #31 on the list although we’d be out-of-state unless we could manage to get that waived. That vs. CalTech or MIT, I think Georgia Tech is a good bargain for your buck.
“..and for that 22K difference per year, in 6 years the guy with no college will still be making $28K and the guy who originally made $50K per year has paid off his debt and has moved up to making $75K”
Your analysis is over simplified. The costs of higher education have substantially increased and the value in many areas has decreased. The analysis has changed dramatically in the last 10 years.
The issue involves obtaining the level of training necessary for a rewarding career. A side issue is having the mindset to adapt to changing conditions in employment and skill sets as you age. The current higher education model is a cottage industry, highly inefficient and resistant to change. Higher education should be going through the same types of gut wrenching changes as the news business. Instead, higher education, facilitated by large government subsidies and barriers to entry for competitors, is stagnant. For example, online education is an innovation of the internet age. The university model of online education involves higher costs than the traditional classroom model.
A new mindset and new competitors should embrace commodization of content, standardization of assessment, unbundling of related services, and lower cost labor. All these elements can combine to lower costs, improve accessibility, and maintain quality for large numbers of students. The technology is available now for a revolution in higher education. Entrenched mindsets, government subsidies, and a lack of development capital hinder the effort.
RE: Neither one of them would have ever been happy working for the man.
Hope he does not have to pay off any onerous college loans.
To simplify my point, suppose that the loan has no interest. $150,000/6 = $25,000, so that $50-$75K/year salary becomes a $25K-$50K/year salary. (If you're not going to pay that much in the first few years, then of course you'll have to pay more in the later years if you want to pay the $150K off in six years.) A single individual can live a decent life with a $25K/year salary in a low cost-of-living location, but luxuries will have to be foregone unless said individual wants to substitute student loan debt for credit card debt.
Excellent observation! There are many professions that now require a college degree just to be eligible to take the exams necessary to enter the professor. CPAs come to mind.
Trust me. Most people who have their pedigrees ain’t that smart.
At least in Kalifornia. Probably NY too.
HS graduate required at entry.
Reading, Learning and a belief that your greatest job skill is solving problems.
A tradesman, like an electrician, charges $80-90/hr and has more orders than he can fulfill. If he works about 2,000 hours per year (which is the usual 8 hour work day, 5 days a week) then he earns about $160K, pre-tax. Very few engineers even come close to this income. Also, since he is a business, he can use tax deductions for many items. He is his own boss, works flexible hours, takes a vacation whenever he wants, and will not be laid off. His job is also not going to be outsourced to Bangalore. What is there to not like?
The college not only costs you money, it also costs you time. A 4-year college costs you $150K in fees, and it costs you $600K in lost opportunity (compared to that electrician as an example.) Now that is some real money.
A college is required if you want to become an engineer or a scientist. The knowledge that engineers need, math in particular, is almost too difficult to comprehend on your own, without a teacher. Some manage that, but most will not. Also without a well developed course plan you don't even know what you need to know until you hit your head against the wall. So if you dream of becoming a chemist and working for Big Pharma, you'd better get the proper education. Even if you are good, a large company isn't going to give you a comprehensive exam - they don't need to if there are other applicants who already passed those exams in their schools.
But outside of that, a good number of occupations does not require formal education. This is doubly so if the person majors in something fashionable but utterly useless, like ancient hieroglyphics. But if you get a materials science diploma, for example, many doors will be open to you.
Bill Gates dropped out of college.
That is just ridiculous. Study and study says that you will make more money with a college education than stopping at the high school level. Yes there are some majors that probably should be avoided but overall you make more money with a decent degree. The only thing I would accept for my four children “taking time off” waiting to get their degree would be the military. That is it. I can’t see having them taking a year or so off to find themselves would be a good idea. I have seen this happen to many times and then the kids never go to school at all. Again personal choice that the family makes. Obviously there is the “they are 18 years old” saying but hopefully you raise them right to take your opinion on important matters. I know they certainly don’t accept our opinions on what clothes they have to wear, music, tv shows, movies and many other areas, but hopefully the biggies they will listen.
He got some scholarship money and paid the rest as he went.
His new bride does owe on college loans, but they
are paying those off as fast as they can.
Well I’ll simply argue what matters is what you can do - college or no college. What you can do is based on your willingness to learn and work hard. The lack of college can make it more difficult to get through that initial job door, but once through that door it matters little more if you are good at what you do.
And the bottom line is, those who love what they do succeed at what they do - college or no college.
I never went to college and I retired at age 52. No, I didn’t inherit any money. Just hard work, 70-80 hr weeks for awhile, sticking to my savings/investment plan and a bit of luck.
“...you don’t even know what you need to know until you hit your head against the wall.”
There is a place for vocational training, just as there is a place for classical learning. Both have value. I've studied Plato and Kant and managed to have a successful corporate business career. ...And hunt, fish and expouse conservative values.
In addition, many kids are not motivated or smart enough to be college material. As long as mom and dad pays, it's party time. Add to that the preferred minorities taking up seat that should be going to qualified MOTIVATED students who aren't the right color. Many college degrees today aren't woth the paper they're written on.
Quite frankly, I would think long and hard about sending a kid to college these days. I know many pafrents who are sick about sending off their precious progeny only to get back a flaming Lib with no saleable skills, and they paid out their life savings to have their kid brain-washed..
Or you can spend 10 years in Ivy League schools, come out dumb as gravel, become a White House czar and help to destroy the best country in the world in less than 2 years time. All while getting paid 6 figures and getting free transportation anywhere in the world.
Now that’s a gravy job.
There's the key. Owning your own business if done properly is like owning a money tree and a printing press along with the plates to print your own money.
Well I didn’t take a day of college and I’m far more successful than the vast majority of people who do what I do - electrical engineering. I employ other electrical engineers with degrees - but I don’t require they have one. I only care about how well they do what they do.
A college degree isn’t enough, if you are in an industry which is government-related (or receives government-awarded contracts).
I have seen numerous intelligent professionals whose “fairer” color skin caused them to be passed over for promotion (and associated rank & benefits) in favor of less-qualified persons of a “bolder” skin tone.
(The “winning” candidates, then delegated to “fairer” lower-level individuals the actual work assignments). True story.
Don’t forget not having to pay their taxes.
“Many high-school graduates are not ready for independence and adult responsibilities, and college provides a safe place for them to grow up — for a fee.”
There was a time when if you were not ready for adult responsibility at eighteen it was a sign that you never would be.
I think there’s a lot of truth to this article. We are in an education bubble. The gvt has thrown a bunch of credit at the education system. Prices have spiked and the supply of college graduates has spiked too.
A contrarian would say it’s time to invest in something else.
Any organization who fails to take advantage of their on hand talent because the human resource department requires a degree for a particular position (short of those mandated by intrusive government) has let the bean counters/bureaucrats take control and is probably on its way to decline.
“I never went to college and I retired at age 52.”
If you enjoy your work, why ever retire?
I used to deal with truck drivers on a daily basis. I didn’t know one who wasn’t making more than $28,000. It isn’t what it used to be but many truck drivers make far more than a lot of college graduates. In fact quite a few of the ones I knew WERE college graduates but drove trucks anyway. Government regulations have screwed up the industry but for a time truck drivers were very well paid indeed.
The difference would actually be much less than 22k anyway because of taxes. You have to remember the truck driver is earning money those six years the other guy is going to college so by the time another six years have passed that is twelve years that the driver has been driving, by then he could be an owner operator. It isn’t as simple as you make it.
If you want to do something professional (law, medicine, engineering, science, or education) go to college. Otherwise, try your hand at the real world first. I am a college professor and most kids there now are just wasting their parents (or the Government’s) money.
Lots of corporations, like Nike where I work, won’t even talk to you w/o a degree.
There are ways to get a degree without going into such huge debt. Heard a guy on the radio, on Hannity I think, who did this and ended up in his 20s owning 2 condos, one to rent and one to live in and no college loans.