Monday, April 24, 2006

Is College a Worthless Investment?

I don't think so, but apparently it is something to consider. Everyone knows Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft just in case you didn't know, never finished college. Steve Jobs founder of Apple Computers never graduated from college. Larry Ellison of Oracle Corporation never finished college either! So what does this mean? Should we just skip an expense that can easily add up to at least $100k to work or pursue a trade? Maybe take some classes on the side? I don't know. When I was deciding between colleges, not going to college was never an option. I ended up choosing my state university over an Ivy university. It saved me a ton of money, in fact I made some. I wrote about my decision earlier. I would like to argue that Bill, Steve, and Larry are naturally gifted, just like pro athletes that have some natural born skill. With the combination of skill, drive, and some timing, they made things happen. The path they took to success is much different than most of the general population, so I would say they are exceptions. What about the rest of us? This MSNBC.com article, Five Reasons To Skip College, says:
Reasons to skip college. Is higher education a good idea? 1. You'll be losing four working years 2. You won't necessarily earn less money 3. In fact, you could make more money 4. You can learn outside a classroom 5. Plenty of other people did fine
I can't disagree more. Since much of life is about risk minimization, the fact that you have a college degree does in fact minimize the risk that you will not have work, and does maximize your potential to make more. I especially hate reason #5. But then again, if you have the drive and the ideas, why not skip college? I can't really argue against that either, but it's risky. What do you think? If you had a choice, would you go to school again? What about if your kids decided they didn't want to go to college? Let's say as the parent you believed they had what it takes to make it without the college degree. What if they were really good at sports, would you let them skip college?

11 comments:

Single Ma said...

college is definitely worth the investment. even if my daughter had major skills, i'd still want her to at least get a bachelor's. it's like insurance, ya know?

kassy said...

I didn't go to college and what I find humourous is that I work at a university. But if I had it to do over I would go to college. And if I knew what I wanted to study, I'd go to college right now.

freedumb said...

SingleMa, Yeah, it is...I would strongly urge (level 4 out of 5) my kids to go to college...but on the same note, if they had some business venture idea or golf talent that would secure them even without it, I'd let them choose that. Kassy, that is ironic! You're never too old to go back...I want to someday...it is getting harder as I get older though...the thought of studying for exams again! ACK!

lauda said...

freedumb--
If college is about risk minimization, then you should have chosen the ivy instead of the state school--jobs go to the top of a state school--and basically anyone who got a diploma from a ivy (and remember D stands for diploma).
In choosing the ivy, you have no risk involved...but I guess there is also a middle road--however, I doubt it was such a conscious decision--at least I could never have made such a thoughtful decision at 18...

freedumb said...

Lauda--
It is...I mean there are tons of other things college brings, but one is risk minimization. Err, I'm having a tough time writing down my thoughts on this.

I agree with you that having a degree from a top university would almost be like a guarantee for a job...but when I had to weigh the stress it would've put on my family and myself, it was just not worth it in my opinion. It's a tough decision...I feel I made the right one...

Jack said...

In my senior year at the U of Minnesota, I realized that I had made a mistake. Despite my good grades, I dropped out before graduating and went into business for myself. At no time in the past 58 years have I ever needed a diploma, In fact, I recently wrote an e-book, SKIP COLLEGE; Go Into Business for Yourself.-- JJ Luna

Poly Muthumbi said...

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Isaac said...

Before going to a college one needs to have a good plan on COLLEGE FINANCING before you even join a college of your choice. Otherwise at some point if no good plan is established financing may become a problem to any student.

Anonymous said...

I have a Masters degree and a PhD, and I can honestly say, you do not need a college education to succeed. Experience is everything, and companies do not see college as experience (even if you do internships and the like).
Colleges make up stories about earning potential that are patently false or outdated. Having a BS might get you $250,000 more in life, not $1 million like they say. If you figure that college costs about $50,000 to $100,000 to attend, you probaly only get about $150,000 more in life if you go to college. Is it really worth spending 4 to 5 of the best years of your life for about 4 to 5 years of extra salary at some point down the road?

Vurtle said...

There is nothing wrong with someone going to college. As long as they pay cash for it. If you can't pay cash, go get a job or figure out how to get someone else to pay for it with out you being liable for the cost. You also have to figure you are paying an enormous amount of money and in return you get professors who can't speak English or they only care about feeding there ego. College is a tool, but it can never supplement competence, hard work, and personality. College is never found in the formula for success. Success is also measured by how much you loved your family, your freinds, how well you maintained your health, and what you did with the income you earned. Not so much about how much you earned.

vurtle said...

forgive my spelling error