Should You Go To College? Is A Good College Degree Enough?

Should you go to college? good college degree
Should you go to college? good college degree

LIKE THIS POST? SUBSCRIBE TO MY MAILING LIST FOR UPDATES!

Keep This Blog AD-FREE, Become A Patron

Ten years ago, no one would have asked this question of “should you go to college?,” the idea of not getting a college education seemed ludicrous. But recently, many disadvantages of going to college have come to light and it has everyone questioning, “is it really necessary? And a good college degree worth the money?”

I graduated high school in 2007, when prosperity was flowing and the economy booming. As young high school graduates we were all excited to start our college careers. My last year of high school was devoted to college applications, college tours and college nights where we would be courted by local universities. It all seemed so exciting. Here I was, about to embark on this new adventure. I imagined that my college would literally hand me a job after and that I’d be pretty much set for life after that. Honestly, I don’t know why I made that assumption, maybe it was all the statistics the colleges threw at me, but I really did believe that.

And I think a majority of us believed it, 90% of my class went on to get a higher education and the rest either joined the military or picked up a trade.

I didn’t have much debt after undergrad, it was law school that put me WAYY under. It was the one year I took but couldn’t finish. But we all make mistakes. Whether you go to college or not is a personal and financial decision that only YOU can consider and answer.

Here are my thoughts on why you should go to college:

Your parents are footing a majority of the bill. Or you have a scholarship equal to 50% or more.

College is freaking expensive. A lot of private universities cost $30K annually or more, not including housing, food and books. Certain schools will give really good scholarships if you’re in the top 20% of your class. If you were blessed enough to get a partial (50% or better) or full scholarship, I’d say that the benefits of the college degree beats the cost. If your parents are able to cover at least 50% of the costs then I’d say go for it as well.

Most white collar jobs want a college graduate and even if you get a degree in basketweaving, most basic positions require a degree. And if you’re able to get a degree cheap from either your parent’s support or from a scholarship, I’d say the risk is minimized enough to guarantee reward.

You got into a really good college program

At my university there were certain programs that were really competitive. It was the pharmacy and physician’s assistant programs but at some universities it might be nursing, finance or mathematics.

If you get into a reputable program in a high paying field it might be worth taking on the loans as long as you have a plan to pay it back. Don’t go taking out huge loans for a degree in the arts or humanitarian sciences. That’s just a joke.

You plan to make sacrifices to pay for your schooling

It’s not for everyone but even a high cost school can be manageable if you make some lifestyle changes.

I read somewhere that there was this guy that was able to come out of his Ivy League university education with only 10K in debt. You know what he did? He made a home out of his van and lived there, then he showered at the school gym. He also worked weekends to make ends meet.

Now most likely you don’t have to go so far, but little changes like going to a community college and then transferring out to a better school or living with your parents from 18-22 years of age can really save you a lot of money.

Here are reasons you should not go to college

You Just Want To Party

Some people from my high school went to party schools. They studied humanities or liberal arts but what they really majored in was how to party. I don’t know about you but $30K annually is a LOT of money to just party. I actually partied a bit during my college years but I also took my education seriously. There were some friends of mine who took their party hard college career very seriously.

A lot of people believe that the sorority/fraternity party experience is an essential part of college. Puking on the lawn, wild sexy nights with hot students, and drugs and alcohol are a huge part of that culture. I remember being brainwashed about the importance of partying in college. Movies like Van Wilder, American Pie and Road Trip were some of my favorite movies that supported that belief, but some of us took the college partying lifestyle to heart. The truth is, $30K is WAYYYYY too much to spend to just get wasted. And if you think you can drink like a rockstar AND get good grades, you’re just kidding yourself.

You don’t want to go or don’t know what you want to do with your life

I always thought it was crazy and kind of sick that our society expects 18 year olds to decide what they want to do with the rest of their lives. I remember being in my junior and senior year of high school and everyone asking me, “What are you going to major in?” It’s like how the hell am I supposed to know? How am I supposed to decide on a major when I have literally NO real life experience? At times it felt like I was taking a stab in the dark. One month I’d be sold on psychology, next journalism, then legal studies.

My advice to young adults graduating high school today is if you don’t know what you want to do and have no clue, take a year off. Don’t go to college. Try your hand at different industries. Figure it out.

You don’t have to go to college right away. You can take a year to decipher your interests. That would be better than taking another year at college because you can’t decide on a major and finding yourself wasting money on prerequisites that you didn’t need for a major that you thought you wanted.

I had an old roommate, she graduated in teaching and then decided to transfer to another private school in the city ($$$) and dorm in the city ($$$$) for another degree in liberal arts (????). Well guess what! Now she has two low paying degrees and tons and tons of loans tied to her. She’s a slave to her degrees now.

So think about what you want to do, don’t just float around taking loans hoping against the odds you can pay them off easily with lackluster degrees.

You aren’t good at school

The truth is that there are a lot of people who just aren’t good at school. Like, it’s just not for them for whatever reason, whether it’s not having the motivation to study, not knowing what you’re supposed to do or not wanting to get into debt.

That’s totally fine. I don’t think our society values people who choose not to get a college degree enough. Actually there a ton of things you can do without a college degree.

-Join the military: here you can learn different trades or build a military career that is equivalent or better than a college degree

-learn a trade: plumbing, cosmetology, cooking, electrician, bookkeeping, hvac technician, mechanic etc. A lot of these are really well paying and if you’re able to get a jump on a trade early and without debt, chances are you’ll be just as well off as someone who went to college.

You’re a hustler

Become an entrepreneur. If you think of how much in loans you need to take out for college as well as the high interest rate and then you put that money towards a business endeavor and put as many hours into it as you would college, I guarantee you’ll have a successful
business at the end of 4 years.

Of course this isn’t for everyone but if you have a motivated and competitive personality, college isn’t the only option for you. Most people consider a business as a gamble, since it can fail, but isn’t college a gamble too? Especially since you’re not guaranteed a great job at the end… think about that.
—————————

So there you have it, all the reasons you should or shouldn’t go to college. Hopefully you can take my advice to heart. I wish I had someone in my life who could kind of shake me and help me make these kind of decisions about my education, career and finances, because going to college on a loan is a big deal.

Unfortunately my guidance counselor didn’t do shit for me at the time. They were more motivated to get as many kids into college, since that determined the school’s success rate, than finding the right path for students. And my parents were just as brainwashed as me into believing that college was worth it no matter what the cost.

So hopefully you can take this advice and use it to better yourself, figure out your path and make the best financial decision about your career, happiness and life.

If you like “Should You Go To College? Is A Good College Degree Enough,” check out my other posts

How To Live With Student Loans & Pay Them Off Faster

How To Be Successful & Be Happy

I Can’t Afford To Retire: Essential Tips On Filling The Gap

How To Live With Student Loans & Pay Them Off Faster

Hello my name is.

I have major student loan regret.  I’m not going to lie, looking back, I was not well educated on how loans worked.  I didn’t understand the financial repercussions of signing on for those loans.  In my mind, they were a necessary part of getting an education. I was a person that needed a lot of student loan debt help.

Actually, everyone was getting loans, so to me it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

I didn’t understand how much I had until graduated undergrad with about $20K in loans.  At the time, that seamed like a behemoth amount.  But it would only grow as I went off and took a risk going to law school for 1 year. By the end of that year, I finished with 49K worth of loans.

Still, I was in denial of how much in loans I owed.  I paid off a little here and there and sat on some unused loan money for a few years, while I was trying to build a safety net of emergency funds.

From the age of 18-24, I was not smart with money.

From 2011-2014, I was making small $200-$400 payments, it wasn’t until 2015 I realized I couldn’t forebear any longer and made my mind up to commit to the 10 year payment plan.  By that time, my debt had ballooned to nearly $60K. Mind you, the student loan payment for a 10 year payment plan for the average overall student loan of $25K is $280.

Until now I’m still paying a minimum of $871 towards my principle and interest.  But I’m working towards pushing and paying off my loans in bulk.  Earlier this year I paid off a $10K loan in full!

I’m lucky, I’m at $24K-25K in remaining debt, down more than half after deciding to get real about my student loan debt.  And in 3 more years, if not two, it will be completely gone.

Here are some tips to live with student loan debt.  Sometimes it’s inevitable to have to take out loans but we can at least minimize the shortfalls and reduce college debt.

  1. Pay Off Your Loans While You’re In School:

I had these stupid minimum wage jobs that brought in a couple hundred here and there. If I put at least 150 a month towards my loans, starting day 1, do you know how much of a dent that would have made in principle and future interest?  Whoosh, I don’t even want to think about it. Probably closer to 10K but I’m here not to regret and feel sorry for myself but to hopefully wake up a few other people who are still in dreamland about their loans!

2. Stop pretending you’re loans aren’t that bad.

Whether you have $1000 in loans or $200K in loans, you need to face them as soon as you’re financially able to.  Make a plan on how to pay or at least minimize your loans.

My sister is a great example of understanding how deep of shit she was in.  She went to two Ivy League Schools, Cornell for Undergrad and Columbia for Grad.  She was a smarty pants in many ways, and got a practical degree in engineering.  Still, her $70K salary doesn’t seem like enough to pay off her $125K in student loans from 6 years of Ivy education.

She was smart in the sense she worked during those years and put whatever she could working paid internships and hosting at restaurants towards her loans.  She saved herself thousands by doing that.

Though she makes a decent salary, she still lives below her means and drops 2K a month towards her loans.  That bad boy is going to be paid off in 5-6 years.  Considering the size of the loan, that’s incredible!

3. For Godsake, go to college for something practical!

I had a friend that started for speech pathology in college and spent two years pursuing that. Then she changed direction and decided to do performing arts, even though our school wasn’t a performing arts school.  She then transferred to another private college, lived on their Manhattan campus and finished her schooling there.  She finished with a liberal arts degree, because the other school she transferred to wasn’t a performing arts school either.

She worked a few years, then decided to go back to school for teaching.  She went back for another 3 years of undergrad or grad and is finally a teacher.

But OMG she is in too much debt.  Nearly $200K worth of debt with only a $50K salary?  Like how was this ever going to work for her? What was she aiming to do with all these changes and all these expenditures?

My friend is just one gleaming example of all the people I know who weren’t practical in choosing or at least funding their degrees.  I have nothing against less practical degrees like art, liberal arts, and philosophy.  But did she really need to spend $200K to get that?  Wouldn’t it have been better for her to just go to a community college first and then transfer?

I’m not perfect and I’m one of those people who didn’t think about the practical nature of my degree, Legal Studies.  But I made the most of it and got my real estate license through the course I took..  I realized that I couldn’t keep running from the hardness of finding a path and managed to carve one out through an opportunity provided from my education.

4. Live Frugally to Save Even Move Towards Loans

For me living very frugally felt like punishment.

“I can’t afford certain things because I made this bad choice and collected all these loans.”

Still to this day, I struggle with frugal living BUT you can take small steps to at least spend your money wiser.

I’ve stopped buying coffee outside like at Starbucks or DD. $1.95 3X a week for a cup of coffee adds up.  Over a year, that’s exactly $304 a year just on coffee.  With that money, you can buy a $30 coffee maker and 2 years worth of coffee grinds!  It just didn’t make sense.

I stopped buying frivolous things like random makeup and clothes to build a wardrobe that was already big enough.  I stopped going out to drinks on every occasion.  My socializing cut back a little bit, which kind of sucked.  But I invested in spending time with people who didn’t need to spend money to have fun, like my parents and sisters.

Cutting the non essentials was a hard change, but putting it towards my student loans was liberating.

5. Work a side hustle

I’ve never had a chance to tackle this but I would encourage this in anyone who has the free time or talent.

Taking on a 2nd job like Uber or working at the pizza place down the street can definitely help you.

Imagine taking on a part time holiday position on top of your 9-5 full time job.  If you earn an additional $600 a month, you can put all of that towards your loans on top of the payments you usually make.

This can help you make a nice dent in your loans and help you pay off your loans faster. I’ve heard of people paying off their large five figure loans in just a few years with this method.  Combine that with all the other methods we just discussed and that could be the way out of debt.

________________________________

Overall, I hope this post has helped you to realize that even though we had to take these godforsaken loans to get ahead, there’s no reason why these loans should keep us behind financially.

Wishing you all prosperity and financial wellness 🙂