Everyone you ask will immediately say yes, but I want to play devil's advocate here: Is college really worth it?
Obviously, I am all for higher education molding people into well-rounded individuals, but I don't know if pursuing a college degree strictly for a job is worth it.
Is it worth it to submarine yourself in debt for the next decade (or more) to maybe get a job that will give you a salary, benefits and the chance of upward mobility?
I have a business degree; I know all the expenses and added loans that come with it. I was all lined up for my nine-to-five (really more like 7:30-to-6:30), cubicle-dwelling job, but I turned away from it.
Businesses don't run the same way they used to. Back in the good old days, you could work for the same company for 25 years and your loyalty would be rewarded with benefits and a pension.
Now, corporations decided it's in their best interest to have an employee work as long as possible, then fire him or her before he or she can collect the benefits he or she deserves.
This is an increasingly popular trend because from a purely business point of view, it's smart. A business saves a lot of money firing a 20-year employee who is about to collect a pension, for a recent college graduate they can pay a minimum salary.
Not to mention, corporate greed has gotten out of control. Corporate executive pay is the highest it has ever been, and the middle-class wealth divide widens every single day.
I don't think it's safe to put your faith in increasingly shady corporations that can ruin your 40-year plan in the blink of an eye for its own bottom line.
The problem with college degrees in today's world is that everyone has one or is working toward getting one. This means once everyone has college degrees, he or she will go for the college-degree-required jobs.
As such, there is a huge saturation of that job market, unless you are an engineer or a nuclear physicist who splits atoms on the regular. But, if you didn't venture into the science or technology fields, this saturation is real.
This does not bode well for college graduates who don't have a 5.0 GPAs from Harvard — and if you do, you are solid. However, you probably don't.
This saturation means it will be difficult to find a job to finance your heaping pile of student loans you now have to pay off. So, you either get a part-time job or two to pay off the bills until you luck out with a salaried job (or you Chapter 7 that bitch and dwell the streets).
This influx in college degrees also means student loans are becoming saturated. And, if you've read something more credible than Cosmopolitan in the past decade, you will know that student loan debt is at an all-time high and interest rates continue to rise.
Hmm, saturated loans that people are going to have a hard time paying off... where have I heard that one before?
As I mentioned earlier, businesses run differently now. It's all about "cost-cutting strategies," which they will say 20 times if you ever listen to a quarterly press conference, even though it's a load of sh*t.
Companies are finding ways to outsource or automate every job: call centers, grocery cashiers, accountants, etc. Accounting, a job your mother would be so proud if you had 10 years ago, is being outsourced (see India) and automated (see TurboTax) on a wide scale.
Every job, even sex (Sex? Yes, sex.) is being outsourced, or at least automated. Fleshlights, toys, cyber-sex — these are crazy times we live in.
The point is, corporations are always seeking cheaper alternatives overseas to the jobs that an increasing amount of college graduates want.
A college degree doesn't separate you from the herd like it use to. In fact, it makes you part of the herd. And, following the herd to a slaughterhouse isn't wise.
Instead of pigeonholing yourself to a corporate job with a college degree, burying yourself in debt and inflating your ego to the point where you believe you deserve a lifestyle because you spent four years in a fraternity, don't go to college.
But, what can I possibly do if I don't go to college? Anything. You can do anything you want. That's what makes this country the best in the world.
Here are a few alternatives:
Start your own business.
Take the money and four years you would have spent in college to create a company of your own. Intern or receive a sub-par wage from a local entrepreneur to learn the ropes of managing your own business, then start your own.
Advantages: The tax shield and write-offs you can receive behind your own corporation/company will help you sustain your money much longer.
You get to control your own destiny. Think about that: You get to control whether you succeed or fail. That doesn't get nearly enough appreciation in this country as it should. That's why people come here to pursue the American Dream.
Disadvantages: self-discipline. Whether you are creating your own business or developing your own traveling ventriloquist musical attraction, you have to stay disciplined and do the work.
It's tough, but in the end, you are responsible for your own success or demise.
Learn a trade.
My dad is a contractor, so this one is close to home (and, ironically, built my home).
Trades are the way to do it because there will always be a demand to build infrastructure, especially since the population is exponentially increasing.
Go be a welder. Welding is a great job to have because you get to create tangible products (another thing that goes under-appreciated these days).
It pays well, and it's in high demand with virtually no one in line to do it. That sounds way better than sitting in front of computer analyzing data that doesn't matter, unless you are the one in corner office collecting your massive CEO paycheck, which you aren't.
It's rewarding to see physical work you've completed. If you build something, even Legos, you get a sense of accomplishment.
The downside of trades is that you have to travel for jobs. Welders are in high demand, but some of those jobs are in Alaska.
Some would say sounds horrible, but I think that'd be pretty sweet. Get yourself a nice log cabin and 40 acres of property for $40,000, and find a cute wife to fish for dinner in the hole she drilled in your backyard lake. Get yourself seven huskies to mush to work every day; it's badass and good for the environment!
Is a college degree worth it? Everyone will tell you a college degree is the safest investment you can make. But, seven years ago, everyone — including the government — said mortgage-backed securities were the safest investments you could make.
How'd that one turn out again?
Originally posted on my blog, Mornings With Mitch.