Don’t Send Your Kids to College

download (17)

Somehow I went wrong as a father. The other day my two daughters informed me they eventually want to go to college. I said, “No way!” and they attempted to argue with me. I have no problem with them talking back to me but somehow they’ve been brainwashed by society into thinking that college is a good thing for young, intelligent, ambitious young people. Let’s look at the basic facts about higher education.

The average tuition cost is approximately $16,000 per year. Plus assume another $10,000 in living costs, books, etc. $26,000 in total for a complete cost of $104,000 in a 4 year period. Some people choose to go more expensive by going to a private college and some people choose to go a little cheaper by going public but this is an average. Also, a huge assumption is that its just for a 4 year period. According to the Department of Education, only 54% of undergraduates graduate within 6 years. So for the 46% that don’t graduate, or take 10 years to graduate, this is a horrible investment. But lets assume your children are in the brilliant first half who finish within six years (and hopefully within four).

Is it worth it? First, let’s look at it completely from a monetary perspective. Over the course of a lifetime, according to CollegeBoard, a college graduate can be expected to earn $800,000 more than his counterpart that didn’t go to college. $800,000 is a big spread and it could potentially separate the haves from the have-nots. But who has and who doesn’t?

If I took that $104,000 and I chose to invest it in a savings account that had interest income of 5% per year I’d end up with an extra $1.4 million dollars over a 50 year period. A full $600,000 more. That $600,000 is a lot of extra money an 18 year old could look forward to in her retirement. I also think the $800,000 quoted above is too high. Right now most motivated kids who have the interest and resources to go to college think it’s the only way to go if they want a good job. If those same kids decided to not go to college my guess is they would quickly close the gap on that $800,000 spread.

There are other factors as well. I won’t be spending $104,000 per child when my children, ages 10 and 7, decide to go to college. College costs have historically gone up much faster than inflation. Since 1978, cost of living has gone up three-fold. Medical costs, much to the horror of everyone in Congress, has gone up six-fold. And college education has gone up a whopping tenfold. This is beyond the housing bubble, the stock market bubble, any bubble you can think of.

So how can people afford college? Well, how has the US consumer afforded anything? They borrow it, of course. The average student now graduates with a $23,000 debt burden. Up from $13,000 12 years ago. Last year, student borrowings totaled $75 billion, up 25% from the year before. If students go on to graduate degrees such as law degrees they can see their debt burden soar to $200,000 or more. And the easy borrowing convinces colleges that they can raise prices even more.

So what should people do instead?

One idea: start a business. You don’t need to be an entrepreneur to get valuable experience selling a service, or buying some set of goods cheap and selling them expensive. A year or two of that will be a massive education in salesmanship, finance, and how to deal with the ups and downs of any business. And if you’re missing out on the 500 page books on The Deconstruction of Televisionthen buy a Kindle and read in your spare time. Maybe travel a bit. Or learn to paint. All of these things can be done cheap, will provide massive life experience, and maybe even make some money.

Related Posts:

How To Succeed in LA Without Really Trying

How to Steal and Get Rich

How to Turn Your 12 Year Old Into An Entrepreneur

Enjoyed This Post? Get Free Updates

  • http://www.facebook.com/Sharkoffs Rafael Sharkoffs Weiss

    It’s absolutely disgusting that there are people who think that college is there to teach there kids how to think. I don’t understand what these people mean when they say that. Have their kids not had a thought within the past 18 years? Have the parents not passed down important life skills and techniques that have to do with thinking?

    I think the “problem today” is that we are TOO reliant on colleges to teach us how to think and that the facade that college is the only way to go about things is a dying idea.

    • David Warner

      Well put–excellent!

  • Kahle B

    Unfortunately 90% of students do not receive this type of aid outside of the state of Florida. As someone who is working in higher education and attending graduate school, I know all too well that aid is limited in most parts of the country for myself and many people I know that are very intelligent (4.0GPA) and pay for college without any parental assistance.

  • Faelerin

    This fellow is bonkers.
    Don’t buy a home. It’s not a good investment. Forget that you’re supposed to live there.
    Quit your job. Forget all the things you’re supposed to pay for or what the job market looks like. You’re not happy and it’s not the best investment.
    Don’t send your kids to college. Forget that most employers want a degree and any specialized work requires specialized degrees. It’s money you should be investing somewhere else.
    It’s all about the money. money, money, money. Am I the only one who cares about something beyond Money here?

  • cowsinmybathtub

    I think this article is very biased and is trying to generalize 18 year olds too broadly. While I strongly agree that college is not for everyone, I don’t think you can make a blanket statement of “don’t send your children to college.”
    I think it’s more of an individual call for each 18 year old. Personally, I love how I finished off high school and began college. I studied abroad while I was a junior in high school in England and had a blast and learned so much about myself, England and my own country and cultural customs. This unfortunately put me behind finishing high school back in America, so I ended up graduating in December. While I did certainly feel college bound, and did apply and accept to enter university the following fall. I suddenly realized that I had 8 months of freedom. So I applied to be an au pair in Spain and took off right after New Years to live with a Spanish family in Madrid. I think this was the smartest thing I could have done for myself because I explored myself and yet another country. After my 6 months as an au pair I travelled around Europe for 2 months and visited 10 countries. It was the best time of my life by far. In all my 8 months of adventure cost my $4000 out of pocket, which really isn’t much for 8 months of fun. ($1000 air fare $800 in my eurail pass for 2 months and about $2200 in food/lodging and activities for the trip. I earned pocket money as an au pair so for those 6 months I was breaking even)

    When I entered university the following fall I felt much more prepared for college and appreciative. I saw students around me living in the dorms who really were there just because society told them they should go to college. Which is sad, and I do think that 18 year olds should be encouraged to do other things. But really, college for me at 19 was perfect. I’m not one of those who isn’t going to finish their degree in 6 years. I’m going to be graduating with a major in Math and minors in Statistics and Business in 3 years. I’m highly motivated and this was definitely the best path for me.
    I do think that this degree will pay off for me in the long run. I plan on going into statistics and probability and taking (and passing) the actuary exams to become a certified actuary. Something that I do need to have studied math to become.
    As for going into debt and the 104K that parents would put towards your education. That is HIGHLY overestimated in my opinion. Yes, my parents help support me but no where near that price. I get about $3500 a year in merit based scholarships and will have taken out $3000 each year in government subsidized loans (they won’t start accruing interest until 6 months after graduation). I also work on campus about 15 hours a week. Needless to say, college is expensive, but for the right people it can still be good for you soon after high school.
    Some people have mentioned that the return on your degree really depends on what your major is. This is a statement I take to heart. Someone who gets a liberal arts degree is going to earn much less than someone in the sciences. It’s just where the needs are in our society and the competitiveness of the jobs.

  • me

    here is a quick sketch of various costs per semester – note that they do not include books and living – both real but this is so that the landscape is clear about costs – typically Community colleges are less expensive. “skin” in the game could be rent and food a big chunk but covered by working..

    check into emancipation of minors if they want to go out of state and do not have scholarships. Most schools have guidelines to follow – again more “skin” in the game and most definitely real world experience as they go out on their own…..to be all they can be… if they want it bad enough they will get it.. once they have it is the real challenge…what does one do with the knowledge and experience? This of course does not apply to the ones out there as mentioned above – -“really only want a job….” too much to say about this one comment..

    But here is some leg work ..
    Great topic of discussion – dare we get into the subject of primary education and state funded elementary and high schools? — maybe another time..

    2010 fees averaged when needed

    School $/semester In-state $ 4yr total –
    15 hours -avg (not incl books, living)

    Texas State $4,116.00 $32,928.00
    UT Austin $4,787.00 $38,296.00
    Texas Tech $3,742.50 $29,940.00
    Ohio State $9,420.00 $75,360.00
    Florida State $2,404.00 $19,232.00
    USC $28,406.50 $227,252.00
    Oregon State $3,759.00 $30,072.00
    NYU $19,156.00 $153,248.00
    UNC $3,333.00 $26,664.00
    Univ. Oklahoma $3,926.50 $31,412.00
    Univ. Colorado $3,133.00 $25,064.00

    http://www1.txstate.edu/catsweb/sa/HBFLTRESU_SPRING.HTM
    http://www.utexas.edu/tuition/costs.html
    http://www.irs.ttu.edu/Tuition/TUITIONFY2009-10.pdf
    http://undergrad.osu.edu/money-matters/tuition-and-fees.html
    http://financialaid.fsu.edu/apply/cost_ungrad.html
    http://fbs.usc.edu/depts/sfs/page/4591/est-costs-2010-2011/
    http://oregonstate.edu/financialaid/cost-attendance
    http://www.nyu.edu/bursar/tuition.fees/rates10/ugstern.html
    http://admissions.unc.edu/Aid_and_Scholarships/Tuition_and_Fees/default.html
    https://bursar.ou.edu/tuition_fees.cfm
    http://bursar.colorado.edu/wp-content/uploads/Undergraduate-In-state-Fall2011-Spg20121.pdf

    • Mygmltrash

      forgot formatting:

      School

      $/Semester (15 hrs)

      4-yr Total (not incl books/living)

      Tx State
      UT Ausin
      Texas Tech
      Ohio State
      Florida State
      USC
      Oregon State
      NYU
      UNC
      Univ. of Okla
      Univ. Color

      $4,166
      $4,787
      $3,742
      $9,420
      $4,204
      $28,904
      $3,759
      $19,156
      $3,333
      $3,926
      $3,133

      $32,928
      $38,296
      $29,940
      $75,360
      $19,232
      $227,252
      $30,072
      $153,248
      $26,664
      $31,412
      $25,064

      Copyright © 2011 W3Schools.com

      • Anonymous

        I agree with the author. I floundered after high school. I spent a year working and hanging out in my hometown before enrolling at my local community college. My father paid for my tuition, as it was quite low due to my close vicinity to the campus. After two and a half years, I transferred my associate’s degree in fine arts to a branch campus of Penn State.

        Even then, I had no idea what I was doing. I found myself in the communications program and ended up with a job a the local newspaper shortly before I graduated. All in all, I got my BA in COMM for the bargain price of $10,000. I did
        that by working two jobs, interning, living at home and depending on my
        mother to supplement my tuition.

        In 2008, I made it through rounds of layoffs and cutbacks at the paper. I was working as a layout editor. A few of my mentors at the job prompted me to ask myself if I truly wanted to be qualified to layout local news in ten years. I quit when I had the opportunity to live in New York City. I spent a year there and in that time made some serious life changes.

        Now I’m married and living in North Carolina, ready to start again.

        What would my life have been like if I had done some of this in reverse order? I could have spent a year working at home to save, then getting NYC out of my system and finally considering higher education.

        Who knows? The point is that kids need to know that they have options. Engineers, doctors and the like have certain aptitudes that not all of us possess. I don’t think that this diminishes any of my other qualities, but my math skills are weak while my communication and reading skills come easily.

        We need to work at alleviating the negative stigmas associated with certain professions. For instance becoming a plumber or learning the heating and cooling trade isn’t exactly the most attractive option to some. But, those jobs pay very well. And let’s face it, when the plumbing goes bad there’s only one way out: paying up.

        College isn’t the only answer and it’s not the golden ticket. Take some time to consider what life has to offer before assuming the current educational trend (having life figured out at 18) is the only option.

      • Anonymous

        I agree with the author. I floundered after high school. I spent a year working and hanging out in my hometown before enrolling at my local community college. My father paid for my tuition, as it was quite low due to my close vicinity to the campus. After two and a half years, I transferred my associate’s degree in fine arts to a branch campus of Penn State.

        Even then, I had no idea what I was doing. I found myself in the communications program and ended up with a job a the local newspaper shortly before I graduated. All in all, I got my BA in COMM for the bargain price of $10,000. I did
        that by working two jobs, interning, living at home and depending on my
        mother to supplement my tuition.

        In 2008, I made it through rounds of layoffs and cutbacks at the paper. I was working as a layout editor. A few of my mentors at the job prompted me to ask myself if I truly wanted to be qualified to layout local news in ten years. I quit when I had the opportunity to live in New York City. I spent a year there and in that time made some serious life changes.

        Now I’m married and living in North Carolina, ready to start again.

        What would my life have been like if I had done some of this in reverse order? I could have spent a year working at home to save, then getting NYC out of my system and finally considering higher education.

        Who knows? The point is that kids need to know that they have options. Engineers, doctors and the like have certain aptitudes that not all of us possess. I don’t think that this diminishes any of my other qualities, but my math skills are weak while my communication and reading skills come easily.

        We need to work at alleviating the negative stigmas associated with certain professions. For instance becoming a plumber or learning the heating and cooling trade isn’t exactly the most attractive option to some. But, those jobs pay very well. And let’s face it, when the plumbing goes bad there’s only one way out: paying up.

        College isn’t the only answer and it’s not the golden ticket. Take some time to consider what life has to offer before assuming the current educational trend (having life figured out at 18) is the only option.

      • Anonymous

        I agree with the author. I floundered after high school. I spent a year working and hanging out in my hometown before enrolling at my local community college. My father paid for my tuition, as it was quite low due to my close vicinity to the campus. After two and a half years, I transferred my associate’s degree in fine arts to a branch campus of Penn State.

        Even then, I had no idea what I was doing. I found myself in the communications program and ended up with a job a the local newspaper shortly before I graduated. All in all, I got my BA in COMM for the bargain price of $10,000. I did
        that by working two jobs, interning, living at home and depending on my
        mother to supplement my tuition.

        In 2008, I made it through rounds of layoffs and cutbacks at the paper. I was working as a layout editor. A few of my mentors at the job prompted me to ask myself if I truly wanted to be qualified to layout local news in ten years. I quit when I had the opportunity to live in New York City. I spent a year there and in that time made some serious life changes.

        Now I’m married and living in North Carolina, ready to start again.

        What would my life have been like if I had done some of this in reverse order? I could have spent a year working at home to save, then getting NYC out of my system and finally considering higher education.

        Who knows? The point is that kids need to know that they have options. Engineers, doctors and the like have certain aptitudes that not all of us possess. I don’t think that this diminishes any of my other qualities, but my math skills are weak while my communication and reading skills come easily.

        We need to work at alleviating the negative stigmas associated with certain professions. For instance becoming a plumber or learning the heating and cooling trade isn’t exactly the most attractive option to some. But, those jobs pay very well. And let’s face it, when the plumbing goes bad there’s only one way out: paying up.

        College isn’t the only answer and it’s not the golden ticket. Take some time to consider what life has to offer before assuming the current educational trend (having life figured out at 18) is the only option.

  • Ben710

    James is writing from the perspective on an exceptional individual who will devote portions of his free time to activities that foster intellectual growth.  The average mind needs to be guided–or compelled more likely–to ingest materials that exemplify and instruct toward advanced, systematic thought.  The superior mind will flourish in an atmosphere of learning.  It is discursive to begin with, and the focus of required assignments will shape and hone even the brightest person.  Thus I subscribe to the notion that for the top 50% of graduating high school students, at least some college is salutory, even in cases when not essential to future prosperity. 

  • Dr. Nomworthy(15Yrs)

     At 15 years old I can’t help but think that my 3.00 GPA at Preble-Tucky, Ohio isn’t enough for well…..anything. The scholarships and merits that wonder over here are greedily consumed by anyone with a 4.00 and leaves literally nothing for anyone else…there just is nothing left to trickle down on a 95% Caucasian student population from the farmlands of Eaton Oh. The fact of the matter is that I know from seniors that have graduated here that many schools will look over people who go to school here vs. other people from other schools in “better” parts of the country. We have graduating classes of 170 each year and we have NEVER had a single student get a scholarship or let alone, get accepted to a Ivy league school. We had a senior this year get excepted to West Point but had to denied it due to concerns of paying for the education. That of which brings up another point. The average price of a house is about 200K correct? Well I think that around 10% of the houses in Eaton match or go over that price. my house for example ur…..my PARENTS house is valued at 120K and they are house poor because of it.(Neither of my parents went to college and I am the 1st born child that made my Dad have to drop out of college(you know so they could raise me))So the fact of the matter is they won’t be able to afford over 10K a year for college with all things considered, and that makes for a tight squeeze on where I could go without a full ride. I know I will be fine no matter what happens to me but…..I, like everyone else just want to have some sort of security in my life…, and that makes for a tight squeeze on where I could go without a full ride. I know I will be fine no matter what happens to me but…..I, like everyone else just want to have some sort of security in my life…

  • Dr.Nomworthy

     uh…something happened when I posted the comment below….sorry about the grammar also when I posted the comment below….sorry about the grammar also

  • Jim
  • http://twitter.com/stephsull Stephanie Sullivan

    James! I saw this infographic and thought you’d thoroughly enjoy it. I don’t know if you’re into infographics, but it completely backs up some of your No College points.

    http://www.moneyfile.net/consumer-debt/35/

  • Thanks Google

    I didn’t go to college and I haven’t regretted it until recently when I interviewed for a job at Google. Once they found out I didn’t agree, Google, the supposedly innovative, creative tech company, told me thanks, but no thanks. 

    • Mike Periboob

      I dont think James’ advice about college was accurate when aimed at people looking for a “job”. He is thinking about people like himself–driven, ambitious, bright, innovative. Why would a person like that want to interview for a job? If you are going to go to a job interview, that degree is a certification that you have persistence to stick with something for 4 or more years, and that you are likely not a complete idiot. Most employees are a drain on the company for an extended period while getting to know the ropes, so the company is not looking for someone who is going to bail the first time they are unhappy with how things are going.

      In my experience from both sides of the interview desk, without a degree, you are unlikely to even get to talk to the people who would be impressed with your genius. HR folks are not there, and not trained to recognize genius. Without easily recognizable proof of your competence, they are not going to risk bothering the working staff with a “?”.

  • Андрей Югай

    1. Hey, WTF? $104 000, 5%, 50 years = $364 000.
    Please, check your calculation here: http://www.bankprice.ru/pages_m1/calc_m2/deposit.php
    because i think it’s wrong.

    • swampwiz

      I get the calculation of 5% compounded as about 11.5X. As a regular investment should provide about 8% real return, 5% after taxes sounds reasonable.

  • Anonymous

    Here is the russian translation of this post: mcmimik.blogspot.com/2011/08/dont-send-your-kids-to-college.html

  • Azingaro

    I grew up with my mother always drilling into my head the grandeur possibilities of college and all the abundance that comes with it. So when high school ended I really knew of no other exception. I was a good artist. And I kind of liked it too. So when Pratt Art Institute came to our class I immediately jumped on the opportunity. Well, 6 years later and 80,000 dollars in debt I can say the only thing I got from college was, well, I matured a lot and I discovered what I really wanted to do with my life by just a freak chance elective course. Having this debt is absolutely killing me and stifling me from completing my goal and life dream. If I had to choose that faithful day what to do with my life, I’d tell Pratt to go suck themselves and keep their 100,000 dollar piece of fire food, cause that’s pretty much all my diploma is worth to me now.

  • Azingaro

    You’re absolutely right. It really depends on the parents and whether they taught them good work ethics. I am not using my degree now and have all this debt but if I didn’t go and had that experience then God knows what I would be doing now. It’s a very bitter sweet situation.

  • http://twitter.com/EatontownBB John Knoeppel

    This makes toooooooooooomuch sense.

  • Jim

    I feel that taking classes for the purpose of graduating with a degree is the expectation that needs to change. I think we should take the classes that are interesting and relevant to us and our jobs without enduring the ‘fool’s errand’ of completing a generic, one size fits all curriculum that someone else created.

    I quickly discovered that college was not right for me so I stopped going. My wife completed a 4-year business degree, took extra credits the following summer, earned her CPA, and someday plans to get her masters. We are polar opposites in education.I don’t have a debt in the world, and she still owes over $40k (5 years later). Yes, she earns a higher wage than I do, but it is by a margin of about $5k per year at this point (about $2.40 an hour). So after the 5 years that have already passed, her remaining school debt will take another 8 years of that extra $2.40/hr to pay off before she sees an extra penny. Not to mention the 5 years of income that she sacrificed while going to school instead of working. For me and the jobs that I want, it would have been a waste of time and money. A heavy price to pay for anyone who will only be a part of the workforce for 40 another years after college.I’ve always been lucky enough to make my own way, and I don’t ever want to have a job where having gone to college is the “make it or break it” factor in hiring me. I’ll admit that I have a better job than most of my friends who did not complete college, but I’m really good at what I do and my employer cares much more about that than they do about what my grade was in a public speaking class or a biology lecture. I’ve also always had specific  interests and direction, it’s the people who don’t know what they want to do that end up in those “nowhere jobs” that personify the $800k mentioned in the article.It also depends a great deal on what career you want to have. There are some careers (like medicine) that must be learned through a college. But if it has always been your dream to build hardwood furniture, own a floral shop, or be a luthier the need for college is not as imperative (and the money that you make is probably less important to you). Worse yet, if you don’t know what you want to do, it is even more wrong to go to college. Why would you pay for an education to get a job, if you haven’t defined what the job is yet? College is a good thing for a lot of people, but the social expectation that everyone should go is just wrong. The author is definitely presenting his stance a bit stronger than most of us think we agree with, but I think developing opinions is kind of like haggling on a used car. Two people who want to agree start at opposite ends of the scale and end up meeting somewhere in the middle. If the author titled his story “It’s acceptable if you decide not to go to college” instead of “don’t send your kids to college” nobody would have read it, even though it was the moral of the story. Everybody has the freedom to make their own decision, and whatever they choose is 100% fine by me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Todd-Shoenfelt/100000327394374 Todd Shoenfelt

    I think folks often miss the elephant in the room.  Universities no longer have a monopoly on knowledge.  They’re surviving on momentum alone.  The Internet is making a college education superfluous and appear even more ridiculously exorbitant.  

    Wanna learn calculus?  Without even searching, here’s a page full of video links on a single site.  Pick the teacher you like.  Pick all the teachers.  Play the lecture as many times as you like.  Pause the lecture to practice.  YouTube is just one of many free resources that makes driving to a campus, sitting passively in a chair, memorizing useless trivia, and paying $100K+ look positively Flintstone-esque: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=learn+calculus&oq=learn+cal&aq=0&aqi=g10&aql=&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=41573l43178l0l44799l9l8l0l1l1l0l238l1099l1.5.1l7l0  One of the videos claims to teach it in 20 minutes.  Imagine that: 20 minutes vs 15 weeks.  That’s 4 months of your life saved.  Have a more academic interest?  Try Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calculus 

  • Sense Schooler

    for Todd Shoenfelt – yup the internet is diminishing the use of college – unless, as someone here posted “you want to be a REAL scientist”. well i spent a lot of years in good schools with excellent teachers and became a REAL Chemist. problem now, unemployed 3+ years: nobody cares about real science anymore. facts are stubborn things! and often get in the way of business and making money, or political manipulation. so those of use trained to seek the real truth, or get as close as possible – are unwanted and unemployed!

  • http://twitter.com/GillieDunn Gillian Dunn

    I find it heartbreaking that your kids WANT to go to college and you refuse. 

    • KM

      They are 10 and 7. They don’t know what they want yet. They have the opportunity to get scholarships if they want. And unless they want to be doctors or nurses, college is a waste of time and money in this economy.

      • Hghjgj

         Glad I’m pre med.

      • Charles

        Well of course they don’t know what they want at that age. I am an engineering major at a highly rated, instate university.  Instate tuition is significantly less than these private schools/out of state schools you seem to obsess over in your writing. After I graduate, I will make $60,000 a year, my first year.  Is this not worthwhile, considering I will be able to pay off my school in approximately 2 years.  

        It is selfish to deny your children this opportunity.  Let them make the decision. While we do need people to flip burgers or work at Walmart, I believe everyone should not be denied an OPPORTUNITY for further education. Thank you for reading.

        • Leo Patel

          SchoolandUniversity.com helps you get connected with Best School, College, University, Community college for online and campus courses. We offer Educational Information about various Education level like Associate degree, Bachelor degree, Masters degree, Doctorate/PhD. It covers vast array of Study Programs like Business,Nursing, Psychology, Education, Medical, MBA, IT/Computer and many more.

        • KC

          Those who can’t afford it SHOULD be denied the opportunity. I should have been denied the opportunity as soon as I had to take out the loan. Now I am stuck with something I myself couldn’t pay. My husband has to.

          Not everyone should have the opportunity. Only those who can afford it or work hard enough to get scholarships.

    • swampwiz

      If he is of decent middle class means and he is refusing the local colleges, then yes, it is heartbreaking. If he is refusing them 4 years at NYU, then no.

  • Kallamadis

    Hahaha college teaches you more than you’ll ever know.  Besides that, without college, we wouldn’t have doctors to save your life, scientists to create the car you drive, architects to build the house you have to keep your family warm, engineers to create computers to type uneducated blogs like these, historians to keep you updated, politicians to make sure you have rights and freedom, and a ton of other things.  Most of all, college teaches you how to communicate, behave and become a better person.  If someone wants to expand their knowledge and be someone in life, especially in this economy, and if they want to go to college, then they should. Some people, like your kids, are smart enough to make their own decisions.  I hope they’re not influenced by your opinion.  If they get great grades in college, they can get scholarships, and if they get a great job out of college, their company can pay out their student loans.  Never look down on higher education…in fact, never look down on anything because you think you’re better.  Just be a good person. 

    • LB Sanders

      LIfe also teaches you more than you will ever know. With only college you wouldn’t have the office staffers and medical technicians that truly manage your health care, you wouldn’t have anyone to build those cars or service them when they break. Architects don’t build houses. Construction workers do. I think most of the commenters here are missing the point. Not everyone needs to go to college. There are fine well-paying, fulfilling careers for both the degreed and the non-degreed. We need to stop trying to fit everyone into the same little mold.

    • Virtuoso

      only some people should go to college (doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.) But since the government subsidizes the loans, everyone has one, and a BA is now worthless. Businesses need more capital and it is being diverted to worthless education.

  • http://twitter.com/rabbitrock Robert Reddick

    On your no-college stage: I think you are highly underestimating the power of database filters (that prevent employers from ever seeing non-college-grads credentials). Yes, there are lots of alternative life skills, and entrepreneurship angles to earning a living, but bypassing college (or ignoring other hard-coded factors like having even a minor criminal record) is out of touch with boots-on-the-ground employment conditions in America.

  • David Warner

    First of all, it’s already been agreed upon that if you want to have a professional license, doctor, lawyer, etc. you then require college.  And yes, I would gladly sponsor my kids to go away and learn another language which will translate into money (hint: Mandarin), or something similar.  Bottom line is that college is a scam, in a major bubble, the “learning” is now obsolete especially in the internet age plus does not translate into a “job” whatever that means–I guess another form of slavery.  I just hope you wake up before it’s too late after drinking the purple Koolaide.  If you don’t know what you want, you shouldn’t be in college.  “The Upcoming Age of Jobs” is coming to an end very soon.  Well, you’ll find out anyway soon enough.

    • dissatisfied

      Agreed. I went to a university for more than 4 years and they kept on and on raising the rates with my hard-earned (and everyone else’s) hard earned money winding up in the wrong hands. I have a degree and still unable to find a job due to my major and I felt that my college did not prepare me properly with the lack of moral standards. It’s sad to say that without moral ethics, it’s hard to find a job and I’m shamed that my college failed to help me and other students properly mature for jobs.

    • Chinatown

      There are already 1.5 billion people speaking Mandarin. Millions of those people study at universities and become first-class scientists and engineers who get top-paying exciting and rewarding jobs both in China and abroad. How’s that a “scam”? How do you compete with that if not through getting a good education?

  • David Warner

    You are totally delusional.  

  • David Warner

    In my humble opinion, I couldn’t disagree with you more.  You just can’t let go of outdated beliefs.  Yes, I had to go to college to become a doctor, but that’s a whole other story of society that can’t be changed.  There are literally an endless number of people who are extremely productive in all walks of life who don’t by into college.  It’s outdated, obsolete, in a bubble, and, often, where some of the worst habits of kids are formed.  It’s a bad investment and a waste of human potential to think that “everyone” should go to college.  Work, apprentice, do an internship, travel, learn another language, figure out your life and then, if necessary, go to college if it makes sense.  

  • Shawn Mks

    I went to college for a few years had about a hundred credits, then because of a family tragedy lost focus and dropped out. Most of it was a waist of time I agree, but I did learn a little though nothing that I couldn’t just learn on my own.

    Later in life I started working in finance on my own along with some family and friends and it went well .

     For a few differn’t reasons I stopped working with people close to me about a year ago some of them were:
     
    My family relationship especially at gatherings turned from family conversation to business conversation, resentment from siblings of aunts, uncles, cousins I advise or work directly with who I used to get along with . Activities with family and friends could not be enjoyed at least by me without the talk of investments being brought up.

    Also after I made the decision to just work with my own money I found out I’m going to be a father, so more then before I said to myself I’m going to look for  a job with less hours a week then I have been accustomed to which is around 100 hr weeks , anything between 40-60 is what I had in mind  and some benefits would be nice also. I wanted to put most of my own money away for my daughter rather then risk it day in and out for income, and work for someone else for a while.

    I figured with my experience and track record I could just get a job easily in my accustomed profession  without having to accept offers or ask for a favor from anyone close to me, and boy was I wrong lol.  Basically regardless of my experience I don’t have a degree which is required for almost any job in finance whether it be as a adviser , trader, portfolio manager etc. Unless someone close to me does me a favor lol.

    Now I find myself in a fork in the road , do I either

    A)Go back and finish up college at my age even though I probably would not learn anything new?

    B)Go back and work with family and friends who would be happy to have me even though I would not be able to enjoy anytime with my elders without work constantly being brought into the mix,  and as I mentioned many of their siblings would recent me still- even just for the fact of the time I spend with their parents and not them who I usually would spend most my time with?

    C) Just keep looking?

    D) Work with just my own money even though after having a daughter I no longer feel comfortable risking what I have?

    Oh and happy Birthday James !!

    (I think I remembered you say once instead of messaging you happy birthday comment on a old question)

  • Jay

    who can get a 5% interst rate?

  • KM

    So true. You don’t even learn socialization in college! College kids these days are stand-offish, don’t want to talk to people, and spend all their free time texting. If you want your kids to learn to socialize the wrong way, send em to college. :P

    • Tanisha Adjo

      lol

  • Jennafrance

    Let us all take this attitude and tell our kids not to go to college. When you need a doctor or lawyer there won’t be any because oh yeah you need a degree for that. You will also have to educate your own children because well no teaching degree equals no teachers. I also hope none of you like college sports. You get the point. I don’t have a college degree. I have been to college but things in life happened and I havnt been able to go back. I encourage my kids to go for a lot of reasons. How about a sense of accomplishment. My brother sent me this link in an email which pisses me off because he has his degree and a cushy job with great pay. More than my family makes in 3 yrs. If he was struggling like we are he would know that that degree means a better life for so many. If I had my degree I could get a better paying job. Maybe the problem is with colleges. Anyone think about that. Why do you need to take classes that are irrelevant to the field of work you want to go into. You could cut all that crap out and get your degree in 2yrs. I’m sure that pop music class I was required to take and humanities, art appreciation, health, and communications would not help me when counseling a child. My daughter took communications in 7th grade and used the same book as my college course. Give me a freakin break. It was the dumbest class ever oh and by the way was online!! Was all about giving speeches and public speaking which I never once had to actually do. We should all be focused on changing the way colleges operate. If you put people in specific training courses only relevant to that degree it would cost less and be a more practical approach.

    • Virtuoso

      tell your kids that the economy is going to crash in the next 2-5 years.

    • KC

      Unfortunately the only way to change the system is to hit the big guys where it hurts- their wallets.

      We can’t just keep paying them for a poor quality product. The vast majority of college coursework is not related to ANY career, and the vast majority of courses are useless ones that nobody actually WANTS to take, they are forced to.

      Until we stop paying these people, nothing will change.

  • http://profiles.google.com/ellib9 Bryan Ellison

    I’d love to see a bank give 5% interest.

  • mahendra

    With oversupply of PhD’s all over the country (so called PhD gluts), I think it is a good idea for them to make something like private “liberal arts course” or private “theoretical computer  course” or private “business 101”

    On the other hand, instead of send our kids to 4-year college, just send them to trade school, learn important skills and sharpening their business school and let PhD grads teach them college-level course privately.

    A agree though that so called “liberal education” is still important, but instead of spending thousands of dollars for that in 4-year college, why don’t just hire private PhD grads to teach them?

    It is beneficial for both sides. Its much  better for PhD grads to use their knowledge to teach privately than flipping burgers…

     

  • mahendra

    ” sharpening their business school” , sorry I mean sharpening their business skills

  • Cd195

    There IS a difference.  It’s the difference between a cultured, educated person and an oaf.  Grammar school tried to teach you good grammar for a reason.  So no, it’s not grade school; you were SUPPOSED to have learned all that in grade school, dummy!

    • Damedanslejardin

      Shut up, cd195! Your post is truely ignorant. What are you the internet grammar police? Do you honestly think it’s cultured of you to act like an oaf, correcting mistakes online? Our internet culture doesn’t come with a spell checker, nor does anyone have the time to “edit” every post made. Would you correct someone’s grammar if you were speaking to them in person? No, because you stand the chance of the person being uncivil and decking your smart mouth. Get some class!

      • http://twitter.com/Raveneesimo Raven M. Molisee

        This thread… is hilarious.

    • iam

      The audience might be attentively following the words of the speaker or the readers might be attentively following the words of the writer. They might be listening and focused; however, within their psychological depth there exists a secretary who translates the words of the speaker or of the writer. That secretary is the “I,” the myself, the ego. That secretary usually misinterprets or mistranslates the articulated or written words.

  • bobo

    This is a nice and interesting article. However, I would like to point out that at compound interest rate of 5% a year for 50 years, 104,000 will accumulate to $ 1,192,609. It still a pretty good amount of money but certainly not 1.4 M. Also in my opinion, it will be hard to find an saving account with 5% interest rate these days (Of course I am sure you can always invest in something else such as stock, bonds e.t.c)

    • swampwiz

      $1.192M is close enough to $1.4M for me. :)

  • Anon

    Oh man this is rich, way more rich than your children will be when they graduate high school and work at micky d’s for the rest of their life. If you thought a little bit you would realize college doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive. You can do general ed in a community college, do some transfer requirements, and transfer to a higher college; then you can get whatever degrees you are aiming for. It ends up being cost effective, you don’t get big scary debt, and you can get a very high paying job (as long as you didn’t waste your time with an art degree). You’ll have an extraordinarily easier time getting a high paying job with the right degree than you will being just a high school graduate. I’ll take spending a little money on college and having a higher quality of life over struggling to get by with a high school diploma any day.

  • http://lianza.org/ Tom Lianza

    This college alternative may be of interest… it is, itself, a startup: 
    http://www.enstituteu.com/

  • Charles

    you sir are a bully.  a BULLY.  Any parent who would honestly shoot down their children’s hopes and goals of being successful and going to college, is a bully.  You just don’t wont them to be more successful than you. You are afraid of their potential success and you will do whatever it takes to make sure they do not succeed.  GREAT PARENTING!

    • Charles

      NOT!

    • KC

      No, if you can get a SCHOLARSHIP or GRANT and get someone else to pay for it, it’s fine. He is advising against taking out loans and getting yourself into debt. Because while formal education is important, you can’t count on paying back the debt.

      We have too many corrupt individuals running the education systems right now. It’s time we stop paying them.

  • xdisciple

    There is a lot of merit to what you are saying.  But, formal education is essential, so we need a better system than the one we have now, which is rife with corruption and isn’t working…

    xdisciple.blogspot.com

    • KC

      Agreed.

  • Dustjohn

    Investing $104,000 is not the correct number to use. Someone that doesn’t go to college still has living expenses over those 4 years. So really the additional cost of school is tuition plus books…let’s say $40,000. 

    So yes, $40,000 now to be paid $800,000 later (plus gain some critical thinking skills, learn more about yourself, and possibly meet a lifelong mate) is not that bad of an investment… 

  • Mick Topping

    I am retired now, and have few regrets, but, if I was graduating high school this year, I doubt I would go to college. A degree is a certificate that you can stick with something for 4 years, but little else. Now information is so easily accessible, the college professors are grossly overpaid and not very expert on anything applicable to this decade (century?)

    http://xkcd.com/1052/
     

  • Bandwagon300

    James,
    Save me some research and report when you first published the recommendation not to go to college?

    Hidden agenda: it’s really easy to strum the chords of unhappiness of all the unemployed college grads and increase web traffic.  The real trick is to preach skipping college when the majority of kids taking it were well employed and the activity was generally well regarded.

  • jamie.

    The way I see it, in every direction there is a road block.

    My parents aren’t paying for my college education, but I’ve been encouraged to go. When I realized how expensive it was I considered becoming an electrician or a plumber because they’re valuable trades that are useful. Thing is, as a 5 foot girl, 95 pound girl, I don’t exactly have the body for much physical labour. I also don’t have the money, contacts, or experience to start a business coming out of high school. I also don’t want to work at Wal-Mart or the local grocery store for the rest of my life… so where to? Well, I’ve got good grades, so what else? School.

    I’m expecting to me $70,000 in debt when I leave school, if I graduate on time. That doesn’t include living expenses. Straight tuition. 

    I’m so stressed out.

    • KC

      DON’T DO IT!!!!!!

      Been 11 months though. Probably too late. Enjoy your soul-sucking debt while the big wig deans and administrators laugh at you at their office parties.

  • Unkwn

    I’m 18 nd this posts makes a lot of sense. I think I’ll just leave it up to my kids to decide or they want to go to college. Maybe it’ll benefit them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/norm.hartwell Norm Hartwell

    Shop Class as Soulcraft

  • Teris Riel

    Western Governors University (http://www.wgu.edu/). And with a few years of experience in the field, you can easily cut that in half.

    • shadowguy14

      They are my only hope IF I go to college.

  • Teris Riel

    “College teaches kids how to formulate opinions based on what they’ve learned. It teaches concepts and culture. It teaches kids how to take their future and current life experiences and learn from them.”

    I thought that’s what *parents* were supposed to teach their kids. Why should they give away this golden opportunity and abdicate their responsibility to the State? No wonder we have such smart people running our society. ;-)

  • Tanisha Adjo

    yes college cost alot and its a lot of work and you spend your entire life paying off the loan…so yes its not good to attend it if you have to take out so many loans and cannot pay it back…. its sad but 99%of people go to college and come out with mortgage payments…smh sad

  • http://www.bestcustomwriting.com/book-report-review college book report

    There was an exceptional urgency to provide a broader opportunity for
    minority families whose economic means disqualifies them from
    participating in this type of training. As his career took him in a
    different direction, he incorporated the services of Nathan Tibbs

  • mauie

    Just discovered this article and I have to say I am offended by what you are saying! College does not only give you an education, it gives you the opportunity to grow and find your own self away from home. For me, college actually saved my life. I was addicted to drugs throughout most of my high school career. I was going downhill fast and the only thing my parents wanted out of me was to go to college. I wanted to as well for as long as I can remember—to live on my own and be independent and free in a new environment. Leaving my home environment to go to college was the best thing that could have happened to me at that time. I learned how to live without the harmful substances and became greatly interested in my design courses. Painting for hours Freshman year became my therapy and graphic design became my future goal. I have now been out of college for 11 months and have been at my current job for the past 10 months. I am also making 45K which allows me to pay off my loans. If you want a career, I suggest getting a degree. If you want to survive in this economy, I also suggest getting a degree. If you want to figure out what you want from life, learning in college is the key! -my opinion

    • KC

      Lucky you. You are the exception, not the rule.

  • KC

    I have 30,000 dollars in student loan debt.

    I went to the cheapest public university in my state. I applied for scholarships, getting only very tiny ones that barely paid for books. I didn’t live in those pathetic excuses for dorms, choosing to stay home with my parents even though I didn’t want to. I picked a degree field that I should have found a great job in. I went to school in the summers (without loans) and graduated in four years, unlike my peers who spend 5 or 6 years in college.

    It’s been a year and I have no job in my field to show for it. I took the only full time job I could find and did what I had to do.

    My husband will be paying off my loans because my parents and I bought into the lies. These schools have two goals- profit and job creation for all the lazy government workers they can employ. There is a new building or two built every year on my college campus. They are cutting class offerings, cutting professor salaries, and increasing tuition at an alarming rate each year. They don’t want students to succeed, they want to build more buildings and buy more stuff. I don’t care to pay for some new building I don’t even get to use while the old ones still sit there unused with the lights on 24/7. Some days, I couldn’t even find parking to go to class.

    It’s time to stop sending kids to college. Hit these big wigs where it hurts- their wallets.

    As for me, I’ll be trying to salvage my life by learning some new languages and new skills.

    • KC

      I will be sure to teach my kids someday- never buy what you can’t afford. If I ever even have kids. I’ll be too busy paying this debt for the rest of my life.

  • swampwiz

    On some points I agree with the author – while on some others I do not. Now perhaps I come from this POV as an intellectual, but I think that any type of education – be it formal at a university, or informal via a MOOC, or by reading a book, etc. – is a plus for an individual and for society. And for college students going away from home, the college experience does give the canonical young adult an experience on living on his own – sort of like the way a kangaroo almost ready to leave her mother’s pouch spends part of its time both in & out.

    The question becomes whether such an experience is worth both the cost of tuition and room & board (if not commuting) and the opportunity cost of working, aside from the experience of living on one’s own and spending more time to develop socially. As for the opportunity cost, I figure that all it does is delay one’s life cycle – i.e., a person can start work at age 18 and work until age 58, or go to college and start work at age 22 and work until age 62 – which is not a whole lot of difference (this presumes no ae discrimination, health issues, etc.)

    So then, aside from the value added for personal development (i.e., not considering the effect on career options), the question is whether or not it is worth it financially. Yes, most certainly, if a prospective college student is given a pile of money to have and carefully invests it (an doesn’t touch it!), it essentially becomes a super nice starting nest egg, that eventually will be worth a lot over time – or alternatively, if the student were to take out student loans, he would avoid the negative nest egg of non-dischargeable student loan debt.

    The cost of college can be thought of as a basic cost – i.e., one that is as affordable as possible – such that extra costs are pure disposable luxury. The basic cost would have to be considered as a local community college for 2 years (or as much as possible), followed by 2 years at the local public university, if possible, or any state university. Any determination on cost must consider this as the true cost of college. Any spending in excess of this must be considered as either a pure luxury – or a financial bet that having a degree from a better university would produce lifetime of such increased earnings, that this increase in earnings would result in a better amortized return than taking that difference in cost and investing it. And here, I will most certainly agree that virtually any private university (at the “street cost” for the typical middle class student) is most certainly not worth it.

    Now of course, with the rise of MOOC’s, which should deliver a very affordable education to anyone with the internet, it probably will be so inexpensive that the cost would be worth it for anyone – i.e., anyone can afford $2K a year. Interestingly, a similar calculus of cost would need to be done to consider whether the social aspect of college would be worth the cost – but that is another issue, unrelated to the educational value of college.

  • Enslaving America

    Totally agree, the real world doesn’t give 2 shits about what degree you earned or didn’t earn. Sure a pretty degree may open a few more doors than somebody without a degree but having a degree only gets you in, if you suck at your job ergo are unproductive, lazy, lack ambition, etc. etc. you will be terminated and therefore re-titled to ” a person with a degree who has a lot of student load debt but is un-employed”. college’s have become almost 100% liberal and rather than teach 100% of the time they preach their political position on why they hate republicans and rich people(even though everybody they are talking to is only there to get make money/get rich ,if you disagree your delusional, and the teachers talking shit on capitalism are perceived to be apart of one of the most crucial steps to the capitalist process). College’s are the most successful businesses on the planet because they are a monopoly in the sense that colleges are IT- if you want a good job you have to go. At least that is the idea that the populous has been feed over and over the years and in the 1960’s the U.S government saw the potential cash cow and really pushed the modern day idea of “college” and are making hand over fist on student loans. Its all BS in my opinion and is a major reason to the lack of educated people in this country because they have taken the focus away from actually learning anything even remotely useful for their actual career(see pre-requisites that all kids are forced to take like biology and philosophy etc. etc. that none of these kids will use unless they become professors in the subjects, all because the colleges don’t just want you to come for 2 years and leave they want you for 4 so they force you to take a bunch of garbage courses and justify it by saying” the university teaches you how to learn and broadens your mental horizons” haha give me a break the only thing college broadened was my knowledge of drugs and the female reproductive system) and has been directed toward getting that piece of paper that says you have a degree. As if that degree says anything about your working habits(you can be lazy as all hell and still pass college), or what kind of attitude you have(lazy smart-mouth assholes get degrees all the time), or how punctual you are(nobody ever failed college for being late to class for 5 years), or your ability to learn or think on your feet(it’s sad how easy it is to cheat on tests). A college degree doesn’t really tell you anything about a student other than they paid a lot of $$$ to the school in the letterhead.

  • Suzie

    I totally respect that many, many people go to college who probably shouldn’t. People don’t have to go to college to be successful. But not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. What if someone wants to be a doctor and decides that college is optional, even to become a doctor? Or if someone wants to be an engineer or a teacher? These are all things that require degrees. Most things do not. Music, history, business (especially business), all these things are not things to go to college for. But just because someone goes to college, it doesn’t mean they were brainwashed by the system.

  • dagny

    Yep. Unfortunately, as long as we choose to work for someone else, they want the degree. Even in MA, MacDonald’s now advertises for help saying “college degree required”. How about that one?

  • Courtney

    Your reason for sharing with the world to not go to college because of money? Correct me if I am worng. But you whole argument is based on the fact that those who attend college are in debt. How many of those peole who are in debt due to college or a higher education regret it? As a high school senior I look at college as furthering my education. I know how much college cost and most likely will put me in debt. I see college as an oportunity to vast my knowledge and deepend my education. You say “Don’t send your kid to college” and when your child is all grown up and have children of their own and they say “Don’t send your kid to college” and so on ans so forth. what happens when no one is educated? what happens when our world is run by uneducated people??????????

  • sergeant1

    There are tens of thousands of millionaires and many billionaires who never finished college. In my life, I’ve met thousands of people from all walks of life, and some of the most financially successful never went to college: those in the building trades, real estate speculators, corporate security, and various entrepreneurs who created lucrative businesses from nothing.

    I started college after I retired from the NYPD. And even though I was working full time, helping to raise a family, performing duty in the military reserves, and maintaining two houses, my final GPA in the bachelor/masters program was 3.92. I’m not patting myself on the back. The point is, that if I had gone to college when I was 18 – when I had no responsibilities – I would have flunked out. The difference can be explained simply: 25 years of life experiences and obligations forced me to grow up and reach a modicum of maturity. Of course, you don’t have to wait 25 years, but a couple of years in the real world before college would help you decide what you want to do in life, and if college will help you get there.

    One of my sons joined the NROTC to go to a college we couldn’t afford. He told me that learned more by his experiences in the Navy than he could ever learn in a lifetime of schooling. And, of course, he doesn’t have the burden of loans to pay off.

    After high school, take two or three years to find yourself. You can join the military, and they will help you pay for college, and even teach you a skill that can jump-start a career. Drive a truck (a successful attorney acquaintance of mine did that to pay for law school), or a cab (another friend did that after HS and now owns three NYC medallion cabs – two such medallions just sold for one million apiece), work in a supermarket, do construction work, work in retail, be a pizza deliverer — anything to help you experience life and mature. You might actually find something you love to do, and then you can decide if further schooling will help you reach your success.

    Of course, the definition of success is purely subjective. Sweden, which has one of the highest standards of living in the world and where everything is “free” — education, sex, health care, etc. — has one of the highest rates of suicide. In Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, suicide is unheard of.

    Success in life means different things to different people. Financial success doesn’t mean you will attain happiness. And, after all, isn’t that what we’re all after?

  • fitsa

    You did not read the last part of what he said. Please don’t just reread it but internalize it

  • Savana

    I’m really hopin this is a satire–either way, none of these statistics are even remotely correct

  • Walter Kamphoefner

    So if you don’t go to college you don’t need to eat and can live under a bridge? Some of the $104 K is money you would spend anyway, and you probably wouldn’t be living without a car with two people in a 12 x 15 room like my daughter is at a state university.
    So a guy with these kind of logical fallacies is giving investment advice? Caveat emptor!

  • Nospeaka Englisha

    Your obviously liberal. College does not teach morals and socialism/communism do not teach respect for individuals.