Is college REALLY that important?

It’s been on my mind recently - is college worth it? I’m 1.5 years into my higher education, and I’m beginning to question its value. No doubt there are useful things to be learned here, and sure college opens you up to new and exciting things, but at 40k a year, it makes you wonder what kind of return on investment I should expect. When I applied, I wanted to major in finance, marketing, or entrepreneurship. Since then, I’ve decided I want to work only for myself. Part of my decision in going to my 40k/year name brand university was for the name brand, because I figured I’d be applying for jobs in competitive fields. Now that I’m certain I want to work for myself, that added value has faded to me a great deal. I feel like I’m wasting valuable time, and paying way too much for that time (granted I’m not actually paying anything…my mom is, but the fact that she complains about it all the time makes me feel like I’m paying for it). I know it sounds naive, but I really don’t care for formal education, as it is simply a means to an end for me (that end being wealth). As far as I see it there are lots of things you can learn outside of school that you can’t learn in it, but there aren’t many things you can learn in school that you can’t learn out of it.

I’m not considering dropping out, but I am considering a hiatus, and possibly a transfer. I don’t have any money, and financial independence is my first goal. So I’m thinking about taking some time off, and learning one market really well, and devoting myself to establishing a Rolodex and a sustainable income. I think I may even get more from my education, if I had real life applications to relate it to.

So my questions to you are: What’s your educational background and are you glad with the decision you made? Do you think college is worth the time and money, or would it be better spent on REI? Did any of you take time off of school to invest? Any other advice is always appreciated.

Stay in college. I invest part time but make over 150K a yr doing that. I also have a career which I gives me a salary of about 150K a yr as well, however I put many more hours into my career over REI. REI is more of my hobby that pays well and will allow me to retire at an early age with passive income (rental properties) and extra cash in the back and knowledge on how to earn money in my older age when I need to. (I am 34).
Going to a prestige college and wanting to be self employed is still good. Say you plan to be a marketing consultant, or go into business, when your going to banks, meeting executives, looking to build the business, etc, you can put down on your resume you went to Harvard, Yale, etc. It will look good. College is a fall back system to many people. Athletics looking to go pro realize one simply injury can end their chances so they need an education and many do obtain it.
I would recommend taking business courses, creative writting classes, physcology, art, etc. You want courses that will gear you into business, but also help you become creative to open you mind to ways to grow personally and finanically in business.
Common sense is one thing college will not teach you. That comes from growing up and from the inside. You can go along way with common sense, but I learned along time ago, it will not get me to the top, only assist me on the way.

BTW… I have an A.A in Liberal Arts and Business Information Systems, BA in International Economics and a MBA in Finance… Best thing about it all…my job really does not pretain to any of these majors… I just moved up the ladder in Retail Management, however I do deal in credit decisions with my company but its all common sense since I deal with D paper clients most of the time… Its the creative side that takes over there…

I feel the same way and am in the same position. I’m nearly 2 years in and know that it is something that I don’t want to necessarily want to do now. However, my decision to go for my major has lead me to REI and I will be able to use what I learn in class in the world of REI from time to time. If nothing else, it is a fall back plan. When you go to apply for a job, for the most part that degree will be the deciding factor. It shows commitment even if it may not necessarily apply for said field you’re applying for. Speaking of, it’s finals time and I should be studying! Blah! I think I spend more time researching the world of REI on here than I do in my studies.

I believe college is a good thing but you should also make time for other business ventures you have such as real estate.

I also agree that you should get your degree. Life is long and while you may want to be in real estate today, that may not be true tomorrow. In addition, the vast majority of newbies fail in a short period of time and it would be crazy to give up on a degree that will help ensure your future.

If the college you are attending is a financial burden on your mother, I would transfer to a state school or even a community college. The main thing that matters once you get out of college is that you have a degree, not where it’s from. If you plan on being self-employed, then having a degree from an Harvard or Yale would be impressive, but I’m not sure that is worth the extra money.

Good Luck,


I’m actually 47 years old and going back to getting my degree. While I’ve had my share of success, I’ve also always regretted not completing my degree. This is for three reasons:

  1. While a lot of people label college is worthless, it does broaden your mind and deepens your intellect. This is because a good college education will force you to learn things that you would not do on your own. Men will joke about having to take a “Women’s Studies” class or take Soc or Psych or History or Microeconomics. Maybe you won’t directly use it in your chosen field. However it will give you a broader grounding and basic knowledge which will help you in the future. Above that, forcing your mind to grapple with ideas you don’t always agree with makes you mentally more flexible, which is inherently a great thing.

  2. There is a snob factor. Talk to a banker and they will look at your balance sheet and be happy with you. Say you are a college dropout and they will cool a bit. Not finishing college, for good or ill, is often taken as an inability to finish important things, and many business people will hold it against you.

  3. For me, failing to finish college was a failure. it was a failure of discipline and focus. I know that completing something that is a test gives you a feeling of accomplishment and pride that can carry over in what you do. I felt some of that when I finished Basic Training. I felt more of it when I finished Airborne School. I missed finishing college - and at 47 I dislike the emptiness of knowing I failed in completing it.

So I am completing my degree, and in about 12 months I can hang my diploma on the wall. Since I am on my quasi-vacation in Ecuador I am doing it completely online. However I plan on travelling to Iowa for commencement.

Guaees that means I’ll have to buy some properties there :rolleyes

Like so many others, I have found that education is never a waste of time. Increased knowledge can lead to being able to take advantage of greater opportunities. However, that said, it is important to take a look at what you want out of life, and to let that guide your studies.

  • Write down goals and aspirations.
  • Set timelines and benchmarks.
  • Work with a life planning system (Anthony Robbins, for example).
  • Be consistent, but stay flexible.

Dare to dream…
Lecture over…

I firmly believe that college can only be a positive addition to any person’s life…What you choose to do after completion is up to you…Education is just another ace card in the deck…

college is not only about learning information, but learning how to learn.

a college degree is one of the few things you can keep for life. money, jobs, perhaps even spouses and friends will come and go.

I earn a very solid six-figure living in engineering where I have two degrees as well as added recently a business degree. real estate is just a hobby that pays $25-100k/yr extra to be squirelled away for kids’ education, retirement, etc

this is a topic everybody can talk about and would all have a great point, but
The answer that you NEED can only be provided by yourself.

I agree with EmeraldCascade, you need to write down your goals and be clear of what you want out of life. nobody here knows the detail about your life and your goals or your personality.

If one can choose again, do you think Bill Gates would choose to complete his university degree, instead of trying to start up his business?
History (especially American history) has proven again and again that large numbers of rich and powerful people rise out of high school education or less. At the same time statistic don’t lie, that on average, people who have a university or college degree earn a lot more than the people who don’t.

So collage, important or not really depends on your view point about life. If you clearly want to be someone that has nothing to do with what you are studying right now, then it might not be that important. But if you are not too clear about your passion or what you wish to do; or what you are studying now more or less is related to what you want to do; or if you are not too sure of your present ability, then university and college are very important. it can act as a transitional stage. by statistic, few college drop out make it far, but then again, only 2% of all population become successful at what they do. (according to seminar speakers lol! i wonder how they come up with the stats, maybe by financial info.)

I sort of disagree with what Salverston said, that college “forcing you to learn things that you would not do on your own” “forcing your mind to grapple…”.
This also depends on a person’s attitude. College cannot, and nobody can force you to truly learn anything, if you have no interest in it.
as for the point that made about talking to a banker without a degree, i guarantee they will respect you more if you have a huge bank account than a decent college degree. that sort of respect really depends on how much you make a year. i don’t mean to offend you but i do not think that’s a valid reason to go back to college at age of 47.

There is a lot to be said simply in favor of being nicely educated. If you are going to hang out with people with money, it’s nice to be able to understand what they are talking about.

It would be a bit embarrassing to be having lunch with some bankers and investors at the time that you discover you are the only person in the entire room that thinks Ride of the Valkyries is a video game.

yah, what kind of idiot would think Ride of the Valkyries is a video game?

EVERYONE knows it’s a computer game. the two are totally different. one uses a console system, the other one need a computer.

Thanks for all the responses and advice, it’s given me a lot of insight. Let me add a little bit of info to clarify what my goals are. First of all, I know it sounds ridiculous, but I sort of don’t want a backup plan, because I don’t want to give myself a chance to get stuck in a conventional 9-5 job. It’s really easy to be told what to do everyday, and I don’t want to get used to it. I’m very creative and thrive on novelty. My ultimate goal is to have as much wealth as possible, so I can materialize some of my more complex, and unique ideas (both REI related, and not). I don’t plan on merely living comfortably, but luxuriously and whimsically. REI, as I see it, is going to be my window in, and I plan to climb the ladder as high as it goes, and then some. I guess my reasoning is that college only helps you up to a certain point until, as b-f-c pointed out, the bank account is what matters. So in terms of my attractiveness to bankers, investors, and lenders, once I have enough cash in the bank, my degree means little to them. So if there is a quicker, and cheaper way to get to that point, why not go for it.

The counter argument, as a few of you mentioned, is that college opens your mind, introduces you to things you may not have had a chance to learn otherwise, and teaches you how to learn. Also, I don’t think anyone has mentioned it, but there is also the potential for networking, and I admit I haven’t taken advantage of that yet. I actually have taken all the classes you mentioned Salverston, as well as many others, completely unrelated to business (which is my major). What follows is mostly business related - but if the rest of what I’m going to learn is easily accessible or better learned through experience (or for less than 40k a year), then I can’t see the advantage of paying someone to teach me a generalized curriculum, make me take scantron tests, and memorize large amounts of useless information. I think for 40k, I could pay someone to teach me what I want, and need to know, without the unnecessary BS and pressure, with some left over to buy a house. But seriously, the way college works is totally irrational. The ones who know how to take tests do well, which emphasizes unnecessary skills. Many profs. teach straight from the book, others rely on assistants who barely speak english

I went to a good private college prep. school, I can write better than most people, I come from a wealthy background, and I’m motivated, ambitious and hold onto my dreams- I think I have a better chance than most of being successful, and staying on the positive side of the stats. I think it’s true education is never a bad thing, but college isn’t the only way to get it (as all of you seminar attendees are aware of). A lot of you are creative investors and financiers… why not creative education? If you had the choice of designing your own education with 30k/year, would you take it over college at 40k/year?

I’m not actually going to drop out (6-12 months off if anything)I’m just arguing with myself I guess. I’m just frustrated with the constant BS of school, and my grades are below what I consider acceptable this semester- so hopefully you can understand my questioning things as they are.

Thanks again for all the advice and responses (and sorry bout the long posts)

Oh, and if anyone wants to be my personal business and rei teacher for 30k/year, send me a resume…IVY league grads only! :biggrin

Let me guess: you are in your second year of college? The word is “sophomoric” for a reason.

A college degree is not a prerequisite to achieving success.

If you are completely dedicated to going out into the business world and establishing your mark, and you are willing to do whatever it takes to get there, having a college degree or not won’t make any difference.

But if you ever stop going to college, stopping your education is the worse thing you could ever do. If your mind doesn’t grow, neither will your business.

Sounds like your mind is set on leaving college, so not sure why you are asking us? The value of degree is not something you can reason, it is something you appreciate as you get older. You don’t have to work in your degree, but simply having it has its impact on you and those around you.

For that matter, why would you one day have your kids go to school all together? you can teach them how to read and write and skip school all together. Highschool degree is as useless as the paper it is written on right?

You cannot start your road to being filthy rich by quitting college :slight_smile: Now, if you become filthy rich before you finish college, then thats another story…

Dan Kennedy was a dropout!

So was Bill Gates…

There are so many successful dropouts, thats not the point though. Education does not guarantee success thats for sure, but the majority do not have the dedication the likes of Dan Kennedy, Bill Gates, and others have.

Since you mentioned Dan Kennedy, he wakes up at 5am to write on daily basis regardless of what time he goes to sleep. How many dropouts have such dedication to education/success?

omg i thought i was the only fan of Dan Kennedy. i’d buy all his books!

not his other stuff though, that dude will make me go bankrupt buying his products.

Three points to make -

  1. According to the Department of Labor, the following facts indicate (2002 dollars):

Average weekly wage of a HS drop out: $410
Average Weekly wage of HS Grad-no college: $603
Average Weekly wage of some college: $743
Average Weekly Wage BA/BS: $1090

Granted, there are lots of Bill Gates and Dan Kennedy’s out there. But for everyone that is hideously successful without a degree there are thousands who are not.

It is just like the inner cities, where tens of thousands dream of being NBA stars making oodles of money. There are 30 NBA teams with 12 players each for a total of 360 players. Many of them foreign players. Not good odds.

Getting a college education gives you more tools and greater options for your future.

  1. Many people plan on taking time off from college. I did. I planned to take 1-3 years off then return. Like almost everybody, that 2-3 years turned into 25. I have met hundreds of people who left school, intending to return in a few months, or 1-2 years. I have never met anyone who returned to school during the time they thought. never. Not one. Most do not return to college. A very few, like me, return after decades lost.

Don’t leave school expecting you will return in 1-2 years. You won’t. Things will happen. Things will change. You’ll get married, you’ll have kids, you’ll get involved in a business, etc, etc, etc. The early years of life are best for preparing for the rest of your life. There is little time to prepare when you are in the middle of it. If you leave college, the overwhelming odds say that you do not come back, or at least for a very long time.

  1. I am not back to school because of the way bankers look at me (that’s a laugh). I’m going back to school because I realize the mistakes I made as a youth. I made my mistake then, thinking it was the best thing for me. It wasn’t, but I was young and impatient. I was full of belief in myself and did not realize a very important fact about this life. We can only go as high as we are prepared to go. That is not only prepared in our hearts and attitudes, but also prepared in intellect and skills.

Many think college will hold you back. I can say without any doubt that college has never held anyone back from success, even Bill Gates. There have been MILLIONS who have been held back from success by not completing college.

Think about that.

You should complete college. If you don’t, then fine. Continue on and do your best and success can still be found. I hope that for whatever path you take, you will find what you hope for.