Is College a Waste of Time and Money?

by Neal Frankle, CFP ®

Is college a waste of time and money?

I was talking to a young man named Andrew at a barbecue this weekend. He told me that he had just finished college and that he was excited about starting his career as a fireman.  He told me he wanted to be a fireman ever since he was 5 years old.

I congratulated Andrew for finishing college and for landing his dream job.  Then I asked Andrew if a college degree would be helpful in his career as a fireman or in landing the job in the first place.  He said no and that he could have been hired without the degree.  I asked Andrew why he went to college if he knew that from the start.  He said he wanted the experience and that he enjoyed it.

is college a waste of time and money

Huh?  You want to have fun…go to Disneyland…it’s a lot cheaper.  What the heck….buy a 3 day pass.  Splurge.   You’ll still come out ahead.

This kid just finished “having fun” with $150,000 of his parent’s money for crying out loud.  Was his fun worth the effort his parents will have to invest to recreate that cash?  Selfish if you ask me.

On top of that, he could have spent those four years at work saving lives, gaining experience and advancing his career.

My experience tells me that college, as an experience, is over-rated.  Yes it’s fun. But is it a game changer?  No way.  Is the social aspect of college really unique and priceless?  Not in my book.

College is one of many experiences and it has it’s pros and cons.  When you say yes to college you say no to something else.  Don’t get me wrong.  Depending on what you study and what you want your career to look like, college might be a requirement.  I could have never had the career I’ve had so far if I didn’t get a degree.

But the driver has to be what comes next.  College as a stand alone product is just about worthless.

My bottom line is that college might be a waste for you or your children.  It depends why they want to go and what they plan to do after they get their degree.  If you plan to do something that doesn’t require a degree, don’t waste your time.  Spend your time, energy and money on technical training.  Invest in yourself in a way that will really pay off for you and those around you.  And don’t forget to visit Disneyland…..you deserve it.

Do you think college is a good idea for everyone no matter what?  Why?

 

 

 

 

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