Is College a Waste of Time And Money?

In our modern society sometimes college degree can be a waste of time and money

How? well many students don't know what they want to be and work at

They choose wrong college and get a student loans

It ends by working in a totally different field and taking different courses

I know someone who had a passion to study history at Yale university

Now he is working on himself again to find a path to specific career

Imagine how much you'll accumulate debt in student loan when you graduate

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is college a waste of time

Unfortunately colleges don't guarantee hiring their students after graduation

You have to work on yourself again to be able to pay your debt

That's why I am going to discuss is college a waste of time and money

Is College degree necessary and not waste of time?

Some college degrees offer what I can call a self study courses like

  • Software Engineer or Computer Programmer
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Warehouse Supervisor
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Real Estate Agent

These are examples and not the full list

After the birth of internet you can easily acquire certificates and courses to work any of the above

Definitely you won't need to ask for student loan

While other colleges offer practical field like medicine, pharmacy and dentistry

I would say if it happens that you weren't able to join practical college then think twice before joining any self study college

I say think twice because you'll still face challenges when competing with same candidates in your career who are graduated from colleges

What do you learn at College?

Although I am graduated from business and finance college

I discovered my passion in programming and software development after graduation

Well, I asked myself was college a waste of time

What I would have learned if I had the chance to join an IT (Information Technology) college

1- Getting a discipline plan to study your passion systematically

I think this point is clear and explains itself

When I decided to change my career to software development I practiced a programming language called Basic

After that I switched to Visual basic by Microsoft

I didn't study algorithm the father of thinking logically

This means if you study by yourself you may stray and waste some time

Even you may study something that initially required an earlier study to build knowledge upon

In college you'll get a systematic study that prepares you for your future career

2- Building a strong network of people

Definitely working in assignments or projects with group of students strengthen your skills

In this case, college is not a waste of time as you will work in projects in real life career

For example, you can teach yourself programming

But you can't build an entire software system all by yourself

3- Learn project and time management skills

Big projects which imitate real career are exclusively available at colleges

At the same time, college is not going to be a waste of time if they teach you how to complete specific tasks on time

At colleges you will go for exams that reflect completing specific assignments on time

Of course you don't want to be fired at work because you take longer than expected

4- Get colleagues to challenge you to excel

At colleges you build the spirit of competition

You want to graduate with a degree

So definitely you would do your best to compete with other students

Studying all by yourself won't give you this opportunity

Have you heard of someone competing with himself?

5- Strong communication skills

Without doubt the only benefit that makes college not a waste of time is enhancing your communication skills

You deal with professors who know the subjects and demonstrate a level of details that explain to you why you choose a specific path over another

For example, real life projects from companies sharing their insiders you would face different scenarios on how to solve these projects

This would build a mentality that is able to enhance your communication skills

6- Create more job opportunity

As per statistics and according to the great recession of 2018

Those who graduated from colleges where able to secure jobs 30% better than those with self study

Also analyzing unemployment percentage you'll see higher percentage of those who are unemployed come from self study

How much does College cost?

According to College data site you are talking about $30,000 to $40,000 per year

This leaves you with around $160,000 after you complete 4 years term

is college a waste of money

Unfortunately this will take on average 10 to 15 years to pay it in full

According to how much you dedicate to pay your student debt

How to reduce your College expenses?

Now if you have made up your mind to join a college

Please follow the steps below to reduce your college's tuition fees

1- Consider dual enrolment

Some colleges allow taking few courses while you are in high school

Remember less years in college means less time and money you will waste

2- Go for in-state college if possible

Based on the chart above, in-state colleges are less in tuition fees

Even if you plan to move to private or out of state colleges

Make sure to confirm that your in-state college can accept you from current college

3- Live with your parents instead of Dom

I believe cost of living out of your parents' house while study is one third of total cost

If you can live with your parents while studying that would be a great privilege for you

4- Check if you can get a meal

Some colleges offer meals so if you have it make sure to use it

5- Buy used text books

At college don't waste time buying new books

You know you can buy your books with fraction of what you will pay

I heard once a student was able to buy a used book that is worth $80 for 50 cents

6- Work while studying

It would be great to start thinking about how you will pay your student debt

Working in summer and part time while studying will build a responsibility in the years before graduation

7- Explore all your aids options

Look for all funding options and see if your designated college offers scholarship

If not, then does it reduce the tuition fee according to your high school degrees

8- Return excess student fund to your lender

If it happens that you finish your college study with some fund then see if you can return them to your lender

You don't want to have big amount to pay back with interest

9- Finish your college on time

What I can tell you is to study well and finish on or before time

I see some students go for summer courses

Although it looks harsh but that's the only way to eliminate student loan

10- Take extra cost cutting measures

What I would tell is to think about extra measures to mimic your study cost

You can refuse credit cards to avoid falling in credit card debt

Don't use a car but try public transportation

Check for anything that offers student discounts

When should I go to College?

Let me be fair you can't say that college is waste of time, period

There are certain degrees you can't do it with self study

I mentioned earlier medicine, pharmacy, biochemistry, veterinarian degree, law and many more

The list above is so long

Ask yourself the following questions before you decide to go to college or not

1- Do you know what you want to do?

As I mentioned earlier some people till the age of 30 don't know what they want

I can't blame them as I went to business and finance while I was hesitant

Not knowing what I want was a continuous trend between high school graduates

2- Are you going just to satisfy your family?

Some students satisfy their families by going to colleges they don't like

It is always a rule if you don't have a passion to go for any degree then leave it for your parents to push you to join medicine or dental colleges

You become a victim even if you pass all college years without any issues

After graduation you still feel that something inside you is not fulfilled

3- Are you into study and spend extra 4 years?

Be honest to yourself and see if you can spend extra years to study more

You can easily tell from your marks at high school

This can be a measure of how you will be able to perform on college years

What to do if you didn't join a College?

If you didn't join college there are many jobs that don't require any degree

1- Project manager

Recently I discovered that working as a project manager only requires PMP certificate

It will cost you less than $200 to attend a classroom for 5 days

Another $500 to pass the PMP exam

2- IT (Information technology) job

You can pursue an IT job like web or software development

Keep in mind that you have to work on yourself a lot to hone your skills

3- Licensed nurse

You need a one year diploma which is not expensive to complete

4- Bus driver

Usually bus drivers are well paid

5- Patrol Officer

6- Firefighter

7- Insurance and real estate agent

With less than 3 months certificate you can become an insurance or real estate agent

8- Skill trade like plumber

There are many more skills to pursue but you can work as a plumber

9- Taxi drive also Uber and Lyft

You can work as a taxi driver and even Uber or Lyft

10- Nail technician or hair dresser

No degree at all you need a certificate or learn from someone who can hire you

All the above jobs are just example but there are many jobs on the list

Final thoughts if College is a waste of time and money?

Finally if you think college is a waste of time and money be accountable for that decision

It is hard feelings if you meet your school mates one day only to discover that he/she is a doctor or lawyer with 5 or 6 figures income and you work with minimum wage

I can't describe how I'll feel if this situation happens to me

It doesn't matter what you will be as long as you make enough money

Money speaks here and not the degree or your educational level


Michael launched Wealth of Geeks to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.