Does Junior Really Need to Go to College? 5 Reasons to Skip It

need to go to collegeEveryone wants to be that perfect family. Mom’s beautiful. Dad is getting his sophisticated grays. And they have two caring and incredibly intelligent children – one’s going to be a lawyer, and the other a doctor.

Okay now let’s be real. Is that your family? Probably not. You’re 20 pounds heavier than you’d like to be. Your spouse hasn’t read a book since grade school. And your kids….Well, your kids just can’t seem to figure out this thing called life.

However, what does every parent preach? Let’s all say it together…

“You son, need to go to school and get an education so you can get a safe, secure, well-paying job that lasts you for the rest of your life.”

Then, we proceed to ship Junior off to school, so proud of him for listening to our advice. He sure is going to be a success with his college degree!

….Not so fast.

5 Reasons College Might Actually Hurt You

Does Junior really need to go to college? Is it actually beneficial for him to do so? Many would argue, “Of course!”.

The majority of the time, my response is, “Absolutely not.”

How on earth could I possibly advise that someone skip out on college? It’s quite simple – I actually sat down and thought through the situation….instead of following the lead of most parents that just push their children off to college, assuming that it’s the best thing for them.

Based on my research, I have discovered five indisputable reasons why Junior may not need to go to college.

1) Most Jobs Don’t Require a 4-Year Degree

It’s a not-so-well known fact. Approximately 64% of jobs don’t require a 4-year degree. So why is it that every single parent under the sun is pushing their kids to go to college? After all, two-thirds of them will be left working a job that never required a degree in the first place! Sounds pretty senseless to me. Does little Johnny need to go to college? Ummm, not likely.

But what about his income? He won’t be able to survive because his pay will be so low without that degree! This is yet another misconception.

Not EVERY college drop-out becomes a bum, just like not every college graduate earns a six-figure income! Am I right?

If your kid doesn’t love the idea of going to college, and you’re afraid of him digging through trash cans behind Wal-Mart, then maybe you should both read this piece by LifeHack: 20 High-Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree.

2) College is Outlandishly Expensive

According to a recent Forbes article, the national average cost of attending a public college is $28,000 per year. If you’re dreaming of attending private school, your bubble might just burst when you hear that it costs $59,000 per year. That’s right, $236,000 for a four-year degree. Yikes!

With these high costs, it’s not too hard to see why kids end up with $35,000 in student loan debt at the age of 22.

3) Delaying Your Earnings

I was 22 years old and one of my good friends was getting married. As I sat at the reception table, I heard one of my high-school classmates bellow, “So how many of you have earned $200,000 since high school?”

My response in my mind was, “Of course none of us have you idiot, we’re just wrapping up college.”

My second thought was, “Wow, how pompous and insecure do you have to be to shout out that you’ve earned $50k a year for the past four years?”

Years later, I discovered that while my high-school classmate was indeed pompous, he actually did a great point. If you’re going to attend college, you sure better plan on making more money in your field than if you would have never gone at all.

Think about it. That 22 year-old earned $200,000 while I went into debt $20,000. I was behind by $220,000 after just four years.

If I earned an average of $20,000 more than him after receiving my diploma, how long would it take me to catch him?

Eleven years.

We’d be 33 years old before finally hitting those cross-roads. And then I would like soar past his income and leave him in the dust, right? Again…not so fast.

4) Delaying Your Investments

When you go to college, you’re putting every single penny you can muster toward the cost of schooling. There’s nothing left to invest.

But, when you jump straight into work and earn $50,000 a year, don’t you think that you could put a solid chunk of change into your retirement funds?

Here’s the reality.

The high-school grad can start investing at the age of 18, let’s say $400 a month. The college grad can’t invest during school. Honestly, they typically don’t have any money to invest until after they pay off their debts! The average college grad won’t start investing until the age of 28.

The benefit of the college grad though, is that he’ll be earning more money and can stash away $600 a month instead of $400 like the high-school “dummy”. Surely, the college grad will come out victorious….right?

…nope.

need to go to college

Not only does the high-school grad end up with more money at retirement. He ends up with nearly $2 million more than the college grad!

Ever wonder why 80 year-olds have a ton of money in their retirement and you’re forecasting that you’ll have nothing? It’s because of this very principle: time. The earlier you start investing, the greater the odds that they turn into millions.

5) Delaying Your Experience

There you are…at the commencement. Annnnd, you’re officially graduated! You throw your cap into the air, find your mom in the crowd and blow her kisses (Dad always gets the shaft…why is that?). You’re on top of the world and your fantastic life is about to start!

…until you realize that you need three years of experience to get a job.

Even though a degree is helpful in finding a job, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Employers want to know that you’re going to work hard and actually help their company succeed. Your 3.62 GPA doesn’t tell them nearly as much as the applicant that has worked two other jobs in the exact same field and has glowing performance reviews from each.

When you go to college to get that degree, you’re delaying your experience in the workforce. This of course means that it could be tough to get hired, and you’ll likely still start in an entry-level position.

At this point, the high-school grad has already been proving themselves for four years and might even be a couple levels above you on the totem pole.

Does Junior really need to go to college? Her experience might be enough!

Summing It Up

If your kid knows he wants to be a mechanical engineer and wants to solve physics problems day in and day out, then by all means, send that kid to college! But, if your child has absolutely no clue what he wants to do with his life, then maybe you shouldn’t push him so hard to get his college degree.

After all, you might just be pressuring him to take on mountains of debt, lost income, reduced investment returns, and a “valuable” degree that he’ll never use.

There’s no shame in ditching college. Many an individual have proven themselves without it, and plenty more will do the same even today.

Be honest with yourself. Does your child need to go to college? Or are you pushing them into a nightmare?

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10 comments to Does Junior Really Need to Go to College? 5 Reasons to Skip It

  • The parents are always having one thing in their minds and that is sending their children to college once schooling completes. With this article, you will get to know that it is not always important to send them college. Many a times they can even become more successful without being send to college.
    Raj@financeclap recently posted..Make Smarter Investments, Starting Today

    • Right? I get that they want their child to be a success, but if they’re only going to college because that’s what they’re expected to do, they’ll get absolutely no benefit from it. They’d be better off earning $35,000 a year, stash some money away, and think about their future life!

  • Brian

    Something you don’t mention is that a 4-year degree is used as a screening tool in the job interview process, whether or not the job actually requires it. If one cannot get past the screener, they obviously won’t get the job. I took the advice out of high school that a 4-year degree wasn’t needed in my field, which it wasn’t to get started. but as I progressed, I very quickly arrived at the “barrier” of not having that education. I could not move up anymore without it, only because everyone else had it. Now I’m in college again for the 5th time, this time to get my MBA at age 48, for the same basic reasons I should have gotten the Bachelor’s right out of high school.

    • Hi Brian. If you work in the office, the degree makes sense. If you aspire to be a carpenter, master plumber, or a mechanic…then a college degree probably isn’t going to help you in the least. Parents need to take a step back and evaluate where their children’s gifts are. If their kid hates to sit still and can’t problem solve his way out of a paper bag, then he’s probably not meant for a cubicle job. It doesn’t mean he’ll end up destitute, just that he’ll choose a career path that won’t immediately plunge him into debt for no reason!

  • Brian

    I worked on the shop floor with people who had masters degrees. I agree that college isn’t for everyone. You mention professional work—I was a commercial pilot which doesn’t “require” any degree, just pilot training and the appropriate licenses. However, every other pilot had a degree, so I needed one, too, in order to advance. I received advice from someone on the outside of that industry, and as a young man I acted upon what I wanted to hear. That’s why this post is concerning to me. Each person needs to decide for their own situation, but young people are not in a position to make this decision from an uninformed perspective. By telling them that they’ll probably be just fine if they don’t go to college might be inaccurate for many.

  • Sorry I seriously disagree. It was very difficult trying to cut out a living in the real world without a degree. I went back to college because I didn’t want to stay at 13/hour for the rest of my life, I worked for a nationwide insurance company in their dental claims department.

    A lot of jobs in retail, fast food, hospitality, now want you to have a 2 or 4 year degree. Anyway, also I noticed a lot of people that have gone to college like to do business with, be friends with, marry other college educated people.

    People do have that college bias. I noticed in the corporate world people will only advance you if you have a bachelor’s degree. Some levels in mid-management require that you have a masters.

    On the other hand I was reading this budget lifestyle blog, Chasing Foxes, and it’s by a couple, the gal doesn’t have a college degree and on their like 6th month blogging they made $3,000. But they worked hard. So I think there are opportunities out there and blogging is one of them.

    So I thought that was interesting. BTW, I moved to the mid-west where college is cheaper so I wouldn’t have to take out student loans. Universities in Arizona are crazy expensive.

    • College is advisable… if it lines up with what you want to do, and if you can afford it. If you want to be a mom and earn some cash on the side, then you really don’t need a college degree. If you want to start your own business in web development, then go ahead and start it – take some classes if you have to, but you really don’t need a college degree.

      This post isn’t meant to tell everyone that they don’t need a degree. It’s just to advise people not to waste their money if they’re never going to use it!

  • I do agree with most of the points and I wish here in India, people start giving more importance to skill rather than a piece of paper containing grades of the students.
    It is important to learn and acquire knowledge and skills, but College is not the only place where people can learn them. Plus, they are very very expensive. Even after paying the huge amount, people don’t learn anything.
    It may take another 25-30 years to see a change in the way people look at college degrees. I have seen many of my friends going to a college and getting a Civil Engineering degree and end up in a software company. Seriously ? I am not so sure how a Civil Engineering degree is helping the software company. I would have hired a person without any degree but with more programming language and skills rather than hiring him.
    Personal Finance recently posted..Choosing a Mutual Fund- Why Mutual fund ratings not the best way

    • And you probably could have hired them at a lower rate as well (and they would have done a better job)!

      I agree – people put way too much emphasis on college degrees. And with more emphasis, more people are therefore going to college. The only problem is, college doesn’t make an under-performing employee any better. It just makes them more poor (and likely still without a job).

      Thanks for the comment!

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