99% of us do, unless you have a crystal ball.
For every SINGLE story we hear about of successful entrepreneurs who became millionaire/billionaires without a college degree from McDonald’s CEO to Dave Thomas (founder of Wendy’s) to the late Steve Jobs of Apple, there are millions of us who will never reach that.
These people who make it without a college degree were in the right place, at the right time, with the right opportunity and worked very, VERY hard for it.
WITHOUT A COLLEGE DEGREE, YOU’RE OUT A MILLION DOLLARS IN A LIFETIME
I do NOT care how many inspiring stories I hear about people who made it in life without a college degree — I would never suggest to anyone or to anyone’s child to not consider going to college.
I’m rather sick of people putting these unusual cases as examples for everyone to follow, and saying “hey that’s why we shouldn’t go to college!” — that is just effin’ bad advice.
When we look at the facts of someone with a high school degree versus a college degree, it’s just astounding:
Workers 18 and over sporting bachelors degrees earn an average of $51,206 a year, while those with a high school diploma earn $27,915.
But wait, there’s more.
Workers with an advanced degree make an average of $74,602, and those without a high school diploma average $18,734. (Source)
$23,291 = That’s what you’d be missing out on every year on average, without a college degree.
In a lifetime, that’s a total of $931,640 after 40 years (without even taking into account inflation or interest).
SO HOW DO I MAKE THE MOST OF COLLEGE?
The main thing that people forget is this:
YOUR CAREER IS NOT YOUR HOBBY
Hobbies don’t make money. You do hobbies on the side, for FUN.
Careers make you money for a lifetime and challenge you. That’s the difference.
I like to play the piano, but it isn’t my career.
Don’t pick something that you have a very small chance of making it big in (cooking, fashion, etc); because for every one superstar who goes to Parsons, there are a hundred thousand who have to give up the dream.
The keys to making that degree work for you:
- Go where no one goes — People tend to avoid math & sciences, and that’s where the money is.
- Don’t treat college as a hobby — Don’t just sign up and take classes you enjoy as a hobby (I liked history, for instance); get a degree that you can see yourself having a career in.
- Research the job before you plunge into school for it — Think law sounds sexy? Find out what being a lawyer really feels like or means by talking to other lawyers and talking to pre-law students.
- Don’t discount unglamourous careers — Trade schools (electricians!) for instance, are in high demand, so keep your eyes peeled.
- Don’t assume any college degree with get you into any door — An English major applying to an investment banking job, will not get the job; that’s the fact of the job because of the skills required.
- Take this college and career choice seriously — You can waste a lot of money (quarter of a million) by getting one degree before realizing you hate the career, and going back to get the other degree you really wanted.
- Avoid debt as much as possible by getting scholarships & saving — I wish I had done the latter (saved more), but I did get a lot of scholarships which helped ease my burden. I still graduated with $60,000 in debt, but that’s another story of me not being frugal AT ALL.
- Don’t go to college just because you are expected to — Take a year off if you want to and then DECIDE what you want to do. Don’t just go because everyone else is going and your parents are pressuring you so you sign up for an expensive set of student loans, but can’t figure out what you want, so you take bird (easy) courses.
I absolutely never want to ever hear again from anyone that just because Zuckerberg of Facebook dropped out of Harvard and became a billionaire before he even grew facial hair (kidding, kidding!), we should all thumb our noses up at college.
If you DO decide to NOT go to college, that’s your choice and you have a plan to get to where you want to be without that degree (maybe you want to go straight into your dream job of buying houses and flipping them).
Otherwise, college is the answer for the majority of us.