The Biggest Gamble We Must All Make

dice I never finished college. I just didn’t like learning things that had nothing to do with what I wanted to do in life. Especially when I really didn’t know what I wanted to do in life. I chose the path of pretty much not going to college and I don’t regret it. I’m taking a gamble and I hope it pays off. I was lucky in that I didn’t have to take out any unsecured personal loans and end up getting nothing out of it.

Go to college

The story these days is that you go to college, get a degree, and then stay at your parents house because you can’t find a job. As the economy goes south, so does the risk of not getting a job after you graduate. What college gets you is a better chance at success in the corporate world. You have a chance to get more connections and you’ll have a degree that shows proof that you can finish what you start.

Life is easier with a degree, plain and simple. But that’s only if you use it to the full potential. What if you’re not good at socializing? What if you’re not that interested in getting a degree? Then college is probably a bigger risk of failure to you and maybe you should have foregone college and got a head start out of high school.

Don’t get me wrong, college is a great experience and you can get a lot of connections that will serve you well after you get out. But that’s if you make the effort to get those connections. That’s all part of the gamble.

Don’t go to college

If you make this choice the road is a lot harder. However, it can give you a head start.  About 50% of the people that go to college drop out. If you take that route, then you wasted time you could have had in the workforce or starting a business.

Once you get out of high school you have to make a choice of which path you want to choose for yourself. If the economy is down like it is you have a better chance of just joining the work force or even starting your own business. When the economy’s down the risk of going to college and not getting a job are about the same as starting a successful business that you control.

I could either go to college and risk not getting a job when I get out or not go to college and risk that I won’t be able to go up in the ranks at work because I don’t have a degree.

What I’m getting at is that you have to make a choice of whichever one you feel will give you the best chance of happiness. I chose what I feel will be a harder road but I think I need that challenge in life.

What road did you choose? Do you regret your choice?

I’ll start. While I wish I started out sooner, I will say I did learn a lot about myself by going through the college atmosphere. So, I don’t regret it because I don’t know where I would be today if I didn’t attempt college.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Red

It’s true that you should know what you want to do and choose the path that is going to get you where you want to go. For some people, that means no college or it means technical school instead of a four-year university. As long as you’re doing what you want to do, I say more power to you.

However, the workforce is a competitive place these days. If you go to college, you have a degree to put you ahead of someone who doesn’t. And it’s common knowledge that college graduates earn more than non-college graduates, so you’re looking at being “behind” everyone with a college degree.

If the choice is between going to school, taking out loans and dropping out or not going to school and “getting a head start,” then, yes, it makes much more sense to forego college. But if you can stick it out and know that taking those crummy classes that bore you to death is an investment in your future, I think it’s totally worth it to be a college graduate. And we should be encouraging today’s graduates to invest in their future and education. Sure, parts of college suck, but it’s also something that thousands of people get through.

To answer your question, I’ll be graduating in Spring 2011. It’s been a rough journey, but it was the right one for me. The field I want to enter (journalism/politics) is competitive, and even during my internship/first job, I was told that journalists not only need a degree now but also need experience to land a job. So even though it’s cost me almost $30,000, I’m treating it as an investment in my future. (But I’ll still be paying those suckers off ASAP!)

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Kevin

I agree 100%. If you can make it through it’s well worth it most of the time. If you are disciplined enough then college is for you. I however lacked that discipline so it wasn’t for me at that time. I could do it now but I already stamped out my goals in life and they don’t include going back for a degree. I should have known it really wan’t for me but it’s what you do after highschool so it was pretty much my only choice at the time. And the allure of the college life led me there.

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Jeff @ sustainablelifeblog

I think this is one of the biggest financial decisions and people just “robot” it. Everyone assumes that going to college is the right thing and that it’s a must-do. It’s not.
Sure, you learn a lot when you’re there, but it’s not necessary to get a job. It could end up being a huge waste of time and money.

For the record, I went to college, but looking back on it, (and knowing the current status of the economy) I would have gone into a trade (electrician, plumber, or the like).

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Kevin

yea, it was a pretty big waste to me as far as I didn’t get a degree but I did do a lot of growing up at that time so I don’t regret it. But you’re right, people do assume it’s a must do. I know I did.

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Derek Sisterhen | Past Due Radio

The ironic thing is that the vast majority of folks in the workforce don’t work in a field they studied for. So we spend a lot of money and time getting a degree that doesn’t necessarily lead to the career path it would best help them in.

Doing the work you love, though, who cares if you have a degree to do that?

Great post!

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Kevin

Thanks! Yea you’re right, that does happen to a lot of people. I’ll say it has to do with people not really knowing what they want to do when they get out of high school. They just pick something they think they want to do but later on realize they would much rather do something else. Coming out of high school is a big time for growing. It’s really hard to pick something that you want to do for your whole life.

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Money Reasons

I went to college and have no regrets.

But I guess it depends on what career you choose to do. If you are going to be an small business owner, then it’s not so critical. If you are going to be a doctor or lawyer, well yeah, it’s required.

The only good thing about the electives are that you are forced to expand what you know, so you have a larger picture of the world. At the time, I hated most of my electives (some I found cool), but now I look bad and I’m glad I had them. With some effort, you can also find a lot of the information on the internet or in the library. So how valuable the electives are these days is questionable.

Sounds like you are doing well now, and that’s all that matters. Good luck!

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Kevin

Thanks, the internet is full of a lot of information that you learn in college. Some colleges even have all of their courses online that you could take for free. I just don’t see how I could learn from all of those classes but still be less qualified than someone who paid to take those same classes and received a piece of paper. I think the way we qualify people for jobs should be changed in this day and age.

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Financial Samurai

I’ve got to admit that college absolutely freaking ROCKED for me. Met a ton of women, went to a lot of parties, gained independence, learned a lot, studied abroad, and got a job afterwards.

Go to college and take a risk! Just make sure you get great grades and make solid friends to help you along the way.

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Kevin

Yea it sounds like college was a great experience for you. If everyone was guaranteed that experience it would be the best risk ever.

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Mneiae

I decided that college was worth it to me, mostly because I enjoy learning and reading, to the point where it’s insane. Reading is the biggest thing that I do that is intrinsically motivated.

Reading is about learning things. The fact that I read so much is part of the reason that I’m still in college, even with my rebellious, entrepreneurial spirit. I highly enjoy reading and learning; college is the perfect place for me right now.
I enjoy learning so much that by the time I graduate from college, I will have at least 1.5x the required amount of credit for a diploma. I have decided to take at least one class that wasn’t related to my diploma requirements every semester because one of my friends told me that she is doing the same and it appealed to me.

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Kevin

yea, that’s a good idea about taking that extra class. That can broaden your knowledge of other things.

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Jon DeGroff

I think that the main thing that people have to be isn’t necessarily “educated.” Plenty of people graduate from school and aren’t educated. What you have to be is marketable, personable, and reliable. If people like you and can trust you, they will hire you. Lots of people without degrees make lots of money. You may have to dig a bit deeper, and take that gamble and work every day towards achieving your goals, but we all have to do that, education or not.
Congrats on owning your decision!

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Kevin

Thanks, people just need to find out what they are good at and focus all of there energy on expanding their talent.

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George

I think it’s all down to personal preference. If you like the idea of college, then you’ll do well there and it’ll be the right choice. If you don’t like the idea, but you go anyway, then you won’t put your ‘all’ into it.
Do what you want to do. That is the right and best choice

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Jeff @MyMultiple Streams

I started college after I got off active duty from the marines, very quickly I discovered it wasnt for me. I did learn electronics in the marines and with that got a good job as a technician. Over 20 years with that company I did move up to becoming a design engineer for them. Even that really wasnt what I wanted. I was making a very good and stable income but ended up opening my on photo studio. Thats where we are in the story and so far pretty good :)

So yes you can do quite well with out that degree (all though I still hope my son and daughter go to college…)

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