To College or Not?

The ongoing debate. Is it really worth it? I’ve listened to all the rationale, spoken to people who are economists and actuaries – non-grads and PhDs.

If you have talent, can you make a great living at that?

Say you are just 17, aka LORDE (we saw her at the Mann Center last night – she was a great performer, young aka college age… but she is the 2014 MVA award winning emerging artist which helps a lot to propel your music and entertainment industry career forward.) Well, then NOT. She (you – fictitious talented person out there) probably shouldn’t go to college.

Maybe you are an amazing athlete and can go pro – should you still spend 4 years, perhaps get injured in a college game and then have to get a real job doing something outside of your sports career because you “wasted it” on the college team?

Or, maybe like most, you are just an average kid, from a “talent” perspective BUT you are REALLY smart.

Maybe you are one of the rare ones, like my high school class mate, Dan Z. He was in all the right classes, got pretty great grades, honors classes… He wasn’t even a nerd. (Really!) He was a bit of a smart ass and down right funny, to be honest!). He asked the important probing questions, he pushed the limits on all of the teachers, but when he decided NOT to go to college, there was an uproar. Teachers tried to bribe him if he went they’d turn his one B into an A, even though they knew that didn’t matter to him in the slightest. He wasn’t going to be pushed to do anything he didn’t want to do and hey, at that time, college was expensive, maybe he couldn’t afford it (I’m not sure of that, but he definitely would have gotten scholarships, grants and loans that would have made it affordable – back then – to pay off after graduation.) He just decided he didn’t want to go. Face it, he didn’t NEED to go. He was going to succeed in spite of a college degree. I don’t know for certain, but I am fairly confident that he has been successful (we don’t “keep in touch” so to speak).

But, think about it. If that same kid was in your sphere of influence today, would you push them to go?

Is there any education at a $50,000 per year price tag that is worth it? What is the earning potential to pay it off? How long will it take?

And, if the kids you know are not Brilliant / Genius “smart” and they don’t know “what they want to do”… should they go? (remember it’s $50 LARGE a year!)

Or, should they work to learn a trade and be productive serving customers who need services? Then, later decide if they want more – from a science, math, engineering, French, teaching or nursing etc etc etc degree? Then, at least, they will KNOW better what they want to do. (And when they turn 45 and change their mind, well, they will be able to attack that goal with a vengeance, too.)

I still do not know the right answer, but I don’t think that 100% (or even 75% of the time) the “answer” is … Go. To. College. I fully supported Dan Z when he decided not to go. It was right for him. I was probably a little jealous. I knew I’d have student loans and I felt that I NEEDED the degree to get me there. I don’t however, have my MBA. I have a real-world marketing education, I have run small businesses and I help countless others run theirs. Would an MBA help me? Only if I want to compete for a corporate job against some other MBA candidate. That’s pretty much it. Oh, and I saved 8 years of post-grad night school and a lot more money, too.

Certainly Lorde should NOT go… unless she decides later – much later – that she wants to go. Maybe there are others like her out there, but even if they aren’t should they just blindly go into a Private $50,000/year institution? I just don’t know. But, I keep thinking about it… in just 2 short years, I have to help someone make that tough decision and again in 5 and 8… maybe it will change by then. I sure hope so…

~ Dawn aka Hat Girl

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