Tuition has become very expensive and very easy to finance. All manner of programs and degrees are being offered by a multitude of colleges both old and new. The numbers vary and many have their opinions but in general these days you can expect to pay somewhere areound $10,000 to $40,000 for college per year. Let me say that again so it sinks in properly – PER YEAR! That is absolutely insane. By the way, the lower number is for state sponsored schools – and where do you think the state gets its money? From taxes – by extracting it from the people – and that will be you too as soon as you begin to earn a living if you arent already doing so. That means there is no free lunch – somebody is always footing the bill one way or another.
Yet the talking heads and the “experts” agree that college graduates make more money than those with only a high school diploma. So they say. Maybe so in general and maybe so for some, and maybe so in the old days gone by, but these days there are a hell of a lot of highly educated baristas and advanced degree holding wait staff serving food. Many of whom have found out the hard way what the real value of their near worthless degree really is – damn near nothing.Yet they still have to pay back all that money.
Here is an idea – lets see if all the colleges will guarantee their degrees. So if they say their degree will enable you to earn $70,000.00 right out of college or $100,000 or more per year within a couple of years, then their repayment balance will be adjusted accordingly as will their payment amounts. So for example lets say you graduate after four years with a degree and instead of the big fancy high paying job you were promised all that is available in reality is entry level low paying menial jobs. When you start working you actually earn one quarter of what you were expecting – and led to believe by propaganda of the college machines. Think for a minute about that huge student loan debt and how hard it will be to make those huge payments on such a tiny salary, which is normal by the way. Yet if they would agree to value their education provided accordingly to what it actually produces for you – well then that would be a whole different story. If they dropped their balance owed and their monthly payments down to meet your tiny little income, at least things wouldn’t be so bad.
Now if they adjusted your debt according to the reality of the situation then they would cut it by three quarters and lower your eternal monthly payments respectively. What do you think? Any chance of them actually doing that?
Don’t hold your breath. A new car at least comes with a warranty. A new house usually has a warranty at least on major systems. College degrees cost more than many brand new luxury cars and as much as some condos, townhouses and modular homes – yet the college degree has no warranty at all. I would bet that if they did come with warranties – which would have to be paid out by those reaping these huge profits, then you would see many of them fold and go under very quickly. Either that or they would rein back in their inflated tuition to the world of reality, and they would stop creating worthless degree programs that don’t translate to any real value in the real world except to increase their own coffers at the expense of the student and society.
I recruited, hired, trained, supervised and fired truck drivers for many years. I hired many college grads with shiny new degrees and dusty old degrees alike over those years. The degree did not help any of them get the job – trucking was and is in need of hard working truck drivers to move the nations freight. A decent driving record, common sense, an acceptable work history and an ability to learn and then do the job was what mattered most. Though starting pay wasn’t great it was considerably higher than most of them were able to make doing other things.
Trucking is a hard lifestyle and not for everyone – mainly because of being away from home all the time, and you have to be at least 21 or older because Uncle Sam says so to drive in interstate commerce, but the point is many graduates wind up taking jobs they could have gotten just as easily without the years in school and the tens of thousands of dollars in debt. That is true in many industries, not just trucking. So is college a bad idea? In general no – education itself is always good. But over priced degrees in fields that do not pay and or do not have open and available employment is not only a bad idea, it is a tragedy. It helps to destroy peoples lives financially almost immediately before they even get started.
So if you want ot avoid learning these lessons the hard way – if you haven’t already that is, here are a few things for you to at least consider before you run off to college;
- Realistic Income Potential – When you graduate and have your degree from the school of your choice, are there and will there be any real jobs available in that field? Will they hire you? These things can be determined by a little research on your part before hand. Do NOT rely on marketing material and propaganda provided by any school or school loan finance entity or rely on government agency statistics – research real companies and real jobs.Talk to people. Most people like to talk if you are friendly yourself – ask your waiter if they went to college and your barista and anyone else you encounter in your daily travels. Then ask them why they are doing the jobs they are doing. Don’t be condescending and don’t be a smart ass – ask in the right way respectfully and you will be surprised at what people will share with you. Some may not – but ask enough and you will get the information you need. Real information – not propaganda. Talk to potential employers and find out what they need, and what they think they will need when you graduate and what the competition is. In other words about how many applicants do they expect for each open position. If there are three hundred applicants all similarly qualified seeking one job then what do you think your realistic chances will actually be of getting that one job?
- Choose What Makes Sense – In the real world real people have to make real money to pay for real living expenses and other things they need as well as the things they want. There is no sustainable pie in the sky – no lifelong free ride. That is harsh. But it is what it is and it is hard cold reality in this world. So money does absolutely matter. So if you choose a field that doesn’t pay squat but costs a fortune you will be singing the blues for a very long time. Unfortunately too many don’t get the message or think about this until after they already have a worthless degree that will cost a fortune to get. Talk to some graduates who have gone before you and see whether they are happy or not and whether they feel they made the right decision or not and what would they do differently if they had the chance knowing what they know now.
- Choose a School You Can Afford – There are many different schools and even within them there are many different ways to go to school. Going to a local community college to get all the general stuff out of the way while living at home and working a part time job is much less expensive than going out of state to some pie in the sky school and paying through the nose to do it. Then when it comes time to go for the rest of your program choose a school that provides the best quality education possible at the most reasonable price. If you choose the school that makes the most sense it will not be the big name big ego trip school in most cases.
- Live Off Campus – Never roll your housing costs into your loans and finance it! There are many ways you can find suitable housing and minimize or even eliminate housing costs. Look at some of the alternative and unconventional housing options I mention in my articles and books. Search other options under tiny homes, van dwelling, truck campers, living on a boat etc. Before you dismiss the idea off hand at least look into it and consider it with an open mind. If you are serious about college you will not be home often anyway and when you are you only need a place to keep your stuff, eat, sleep, shower etc. and a quiet place to do paperwork and study. It is possible to eliminate your housing costs completely if you are extreme enough to do it – and for those who aren’t quite that extreme you can still cut it massively to a minimum total cost if you try.
- Buy Used Books – All text books are expensive – some deservedly so, most not – but regardless they are mandated by your particular school and class so you are going to have to pay though the nose to get them. Never finance books! Pay cash for them and buy them used whenever possible to save as much money as you can then immediately sell them after the class is over, unless a particular book will be valuable to you as a reference.
- Credit Cards – Your fellow students will likely be using them like crazy and singing the praises of the little magic cards. They will be charging everything including books, pizza, beer, snacks, clothes, school supplies – and even tuition that is not already financed on a student loan. They are screwing up their lives massively without even realizing it. Don’t do that. Avoid credit cards like the plague they are. They are indenturement tickets. With every charge made more freedom is exchanged – future freedom and independence is exchanged for immediate gratification. Most of the things bought are just unnecessary junk that could have very easily been avoided all together. Other things can and should be paid for as purchased with a little planning and effort. This message is counter culture – and directly opposite of societal conditioning. Societal conditioning leads to indentured servitude – and what better way to put you there than to do so before you even get started good.
- Get a Job First – Unpopular I know – but if you get a job and have firm goals and a specific plan to go to college then you can get prepared beforehand. Minimize your living expenses, save as much as you can and continue to research specific options. You might even try attending a local college part time and getting some classes out of the way as you can afford to pay for them in full too. As a side benefit having some real world experience helps you see things more clearly and as they are when you do sit in a classroom and hear the opinions of various professors, faculty and other staff members as well as those of your fellow students. It will add more clarity to your life guaranteed. Depending on the job and on how dedicated and self disciplined you are it is possible to save enough in as little as three years or less to be able to completely pay for your college education in full when you walk through the door for the first time – where as your classmates who do not do so will be paying through their noses for DECADES if not for the rest of their lives…
- Evaluate Yourself – Why do you want to go to college to begin with? Think about that. Maybe even write down your answer and or say it aloud to yourself. What do you expect to get from doing so? If it’s for knowledge – you can gain all the knowledge you can ever handle all for free without ever paying any tuition. You are alive at a wondrous time – the internet makes it possible to research any topic known to man and then points you to references and other external sources you can use to verify and confirm the information with. Libraries are still in existence and readily available too. Books are available both in electronic format and hard copy from multiple authors for anywhere from free, to a few cents to a few dollars each. Knowledge is readily available to anyone who seeks it sincerely. So if not for knowledge then for what? Credentials? True some professions require a degree to be able to enter through their front door at least – medical doctors for example but many other programs that expound the benefit of credentials are exaggerating at best and down right delusional in some cases – such as the MBA for example. Is it for ego? Societal acceptance? What are your reasons for wanting to go to college?
Many people don’t really even know themselves at all. The reason they head off to college is because that is what they have been conditioned to do since birth. Its what people do, it’s what is expected. Why? Who does it really serve? Keep in mind that individual people and groups of people including the government have been trying to get you to do certain things and not do other things since you were born. More often than not when others seek to control you it is for their benefit and not your own.
Think for yourself instead. College may or may not be the right choice for you – but you alone need to decide that. If it is then be careful to make informed and carefully considered choices that are best for you and not to blindly follow along with the program as dictated through societal condition. If you follow along with the program and comply with societal norms then you are NORMAL. I would like to suggest that you consider becoming intentionally abnormal – and make your own decisions.
The most important thing I can ever tell you to consider is to avoid all debt at all costs. Avoid it like the plague that it is. Never finance anything and never borrow any money from anyone for anything at all so long as you live. Live a debt free life and never incur any voluntary debt of any kind. If you can do that then you will be as free as you can be in this modern world – instead of becoming a charter member of the rat race and spending your life as a lifelong indentured servant.
It is your life, your responsibility, and your choice – so choose wisely.