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Is College a Waste of Money?

Are you currently attending college, or do you know someone that is? Based on their degree choice, their college education might be a complete waste of money! According to Money.USNews.com, there are for sure 5 degrees that simply aren’t worth the expense: (1) Social Work, (2) Elementary Teachers, (3) Theatre Arts, (4) Family and Consumer Studies, and (5) Anthropology and Archaeology.

On average, these degrees can cost over $100,000 to attain, but only pay out a little over $30,000 a year. You could make $30,000 without the degree at your local manufacturing plant!

Why Is Everyone Going to College?

There are quite a few reasons why teens automatically sign up for college once their high school days are over. Let’s explore some of these:

1) Their parents may have felt trapped through life because they didn’t have a college degree and saw a bunch of young punks pass them by, just because they had a piece of paper from a university. On the flip side, maybe their parents achieved great success because they got their degree and it separated them from their peers. Either way, they think that if their kids have a degree, they will automatically be successful.

2) They’re scared of the real world. I think there are quite a few kids out there that just don’t want to grow up yet! They can go to college, be their parents’ hero, and still party every night for the next 4 or 5 years. It beats the heck out of facing the reality of bills and daily work.

3) Everyone else is doing it. Without looking up the official stats, I think it’s fair to say that over half of high school students have plans to attend college. And, I bet most of them have absolutely no idea what they want to do with their lives!

4) They have dreams of success. Every child has been fed the line that ‘if they want to succeed in life, they should go to school, get good grades, and get that wonderful job with great pay and benefits.’ Little do they know that their career choice might not even find them work, but all that schooling will definitely guarantee them a large debt load…

College Does Not Guarantee Success

Did you know that 20% of those that receive a college degree can’t even find a job (that’s why I prefer a Debt Free Degree)? Not only can’t college guarantee success, they can’t even promise you a job once you’re done!

What if I walked up to you and said, “I’ll make you a deal. You agree to pay me $100,000 over the course of the next 5 years, I’ll probably find you a job that pays $40,000 a year instead of $35,000 a year.” Does that sound like a good deal to you? It just sounds crazy! But, since everyone’s doing it, we don’t think twice about paying a large amount of money to those college institutions.

What Else Can You Do?

Do you know what made America great back in the early days of our country? Entrepreneurism. There weren’t huge corporations like there are today. The great majority of people developed a skill and went into business on their own! It wasn’t always easy, but as long as you’re able to fulfill a need for society, you’ll earn a good income and you won’t have to depend on a piece of paper for your worth.

Granted, today things are a little tougher, but there are still quite a few opportunities for those that want to avoid the cubicle life! I started this blog without the thought of earning a “full-time income”, but now that I’ve experienced a couple of years in the ‘online world’, I realize that it’s entirely possible! There are so many ways to earn money! You just have to dip your foot in the entrepreneurial pond!

Have you ever thought about how you could earn money without depending on a college diploma? What would you do? Do you think college is a waste of money?

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25 comments to Is College a Waste of Money?

  • Tim

    Ten years ago I earned a culinary arts degree. I worked in the field for 8 years before getting sick and tired of working every single night, weekend, and holiday. Now I’ve been working for a small, mom and pop type, mfg operation where I get every night and weekend off, and paid holidays off. I’m also making the same if not a little more than I was cooking. College was a good life experience for me, but I realize now that you can learn just as much out in the real world.

    Thanks for another great article, it’s a good way to start off the morning!

  • Susan Smith

    My son is in his first year of college. I still think it’s important to get a college degree. I think elementary teachers go into their field because they love teaching not for the money. Not only is the type of degree is important but the college you go to it too. A lot of people who go to private colleges can’t afford to. They should be going to a more affordable state school. My son is not taking out student loans. We are paying the tuition but he is staying home to save money. He is going to a state school and has received scholarships.

    • I do believe that getting a college degree is beneficial, but it’s not for everyone. It sounds like you are teaching your son the art of frugality when it comes to paying for college. Good job!

  • Interesting post. My wife is a social worker and I can attest to the debt associated with the degree. Still – you listed some of the most important degrees in our society.. without those we’ may be in a world of trouble. Perhaps the problem lies in not valuing these professions enough.

    • I definitely applaud those that are teachers and social workers. We definitely need them. However, if a student racks up a 6 figure debt load to become a teacher, they might want to re-think their future goals…

  • I think without my degree I.would try much harder at my online ventures and might be a bowling alley manager. Instead I got a degree that pays and I am an accountant.
    Lance@MoneyLife&More recently posted..I Almost Made an Emotional Investing Decision

    • If I didn’t have my degree, I would most certainly be more entrepreneurial and might even make more money than I do now! Many of us tend to grow complacent in our jobs, which means that our income remains stagnant as well.

  • Like Aaron, I think that it’s unfair to included teachers and social workers on this list. People who go into those professions don’t do it to get rich. They do it because they find them rewarding careers where they get to help people.

    I originally went to school to become a teacher, but discovered that I wasn’t really suited to it. I switched to geo-science. When I get started, I’ll probably be making about $30,000 but it will go up in time and a degree will be absolutely essential.

    I don’t know where you are, but around here manufacturing doesn’t pay anywhere near $30,000. My brother makes cow tags and he only gets minimum wage.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..Three Tips for Christmas Decorating on a Budget

  • All training/education just helps to make you better or prepared for what will occur. You have to use that training/education to succeed in life. Is collge worth the expense, it depends on the individual!
    krantcents recently posted..Happy Thanksgiving

    • Yep, it depends. For some, I think that college shouldn’t be an option, but for others that have a passion for a particular profession, they should definitely get educated and pursue their dreams.

  • I appreciated your post and your comments. Especially, when you said something about, “If you’re doing it because it’s your passion, then that’s fine.” I am an administrator in a private school, and the need for passionate teachers is great. Those that want to be there also typically take on more work during the summer to pay off student loans. Like any position, it takes a love for what you do and a commitment to do your best no matter what the paycheck says.

    • Very true. While college definitely isn’t for everyone, it can certainly be beneficial for some. As krantcents said in his comment, “it depends on the individual”! :) Thanks for the comment.

  • Getting an undergraduate degree, AND graduate degree, are the two best decisions I’ve made. I think I’m much better off for having pursued education.

    I’m squarely in favor of college being a good choice for just about everyone. However, what is VERY important is choosing the right college and making sure that one that provides VALUE is selected. A college education is a massive investment, and one should be extremely cognizant of the costs and expected benefits.
    Tie the Money Knot recently posted..Finding Out How Much Someone Paid For a Home

    • Great point Mark. There are quite a few students in my area that are choosing to pursue a degree in secretarial work at an expensive college…. To me, this decision just doesn’t add up. Thanks for the comment, and congrats on your degrees!

  • My sister’s a senior in college studying elementary ed. She loves it so I joke that she’ll just have to marry and engineer ;) My total tuition was probably around $50k (I paid $30k, my parents paid for my first year) and this year I’ve made ~$36k from working. I found a part time job and had to supplement it with teaching at a community college and picking up shifts at a hospital. I could have found a full time job easily if I was willing to move, but I did get a sweet husband who has a stable job, so there’s not as much pressure. Are you on track to complete the $30k online money blogger challenge?
    Jessica @ Budget for Health recently posted..High Protein Diet: Highs and Lows

    • Oooo, the money blogger challange! I didn’t think anybody was tracking that anymore. The last time I calculated my total was at the end of August and I had just cleared $20k, which was perfectly on track. At this point, I bet I am very, very close. I know one of my blogger friends surpassed the 30k mark a few months ago already!! :) Thanks for asking. It will help me get motivated again and close out the year on top.

  • I don’t regret going to college because I definitely learned a lot from there, from academics to life. Now that I think of it, I guess it is possible for me to get a decent job and earn decent money and even put up the business that I want, but I would lack the experience that I have with me now. I believe it actually depends on a person if he/she can go on without a degree. If the person is really good at something, then it is possible. Otherwise, life won’t be that great for that person.
    Jane recently posted..Up to 70% off on dansko at 6Pm

    • You said it! It depends on the person. Personally, I went to college, and am now going back for my MBA! I believe that I can move up quickly in my company and an advanced degree certainly doesn’t hurt! ;) Thanks for the comment.

  • College itself isn’t a waste of money. Going to college just for the sake of going to college could be a waste of money. Or it could be a springboard to something else. It all depends on how you use it. Some jobs require a degree. But the idea that “everyone must go to college” can lead to a big disappointment. The biggest problem is that the costs of most colleges are so high that you need to have some type of plan…and even then hope you can find a job.

    • Couldn’t have said it better myself Kris! I think there are way too many people going to college just because that’s what their parents want them to do. If they are entrepreneurial or really hate the cubical lifestyle, maybe they should just do without it! That’s ok!

  • I’m surprised an English degree isn’t on that list ;) I got my degree in English because I was young and dumb. Generally, liberal arts degrees are not the most lucrative. Even so, I love the skills that I learned, and I enjoyed the time I spent in college. I suppose I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but had my degree cost $100K, I may have thought twice!
    Christa recently posted..Investing in Sanity: Baby Sleep Training

    • Maybe an English degree was #6 on the list ;) . I wonder if any college out there gives you an idea of how much demand there is for each degree? Or, if they’re just glad to take your money and teach you something that’s most likely useless….

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