College · Thoughts

What is the Deal With College?

Universities are no longer necessary for most careers.

I also don’t think we should discriminate, so I understand my desires do not match reality.

I worked in software engineering for most of my career. My Computer Science and Math degree from The University of Illinois created this opportunity for me, but was it needed? I learned more from two self-taught programmers at my company than during school.

My coworkers helped teach me about the code base that we worked on. My company got a trained employee who was grateful for the opportunity to grow. I needed to be motivated and able to learn, but in less than a year, I gained more value than my college tenure.

My unique case can’t be applied to all situations. It is specific to the career of computer science. It also asks for an employer to be willing to hire someone without a degree initially, like I had.

What are Common Career Paths?

The reason for going to college is the promise of more money. You are willing to take on debt and spend four or more years of your life in school to earn more money in the future.

For a simple example, let’s assume an 18-year-old who will live until 80 and wants to retire at 65.

If you work in the most common career with no formal education required, Retail Salesperson, you will make $30,000 a year for 47 years. A total of $1.4 million.

If you have the most common career with a bachelor’s degree, Registered Nurse, you will make $81,220 a year for 43 years. A total of $3.5 million.

But what if you become a lawyer after spending years in school? This is the most common post-graduate career and will earn you $135,740 a year for 40 years. A total of $5.4 million.

These are averages, and salaries can vary within these careers, but the point remains. Earning your degrees can pay.

Should You Go into Debt?

The current student loan rate is 5.5%.

While in school, your loan payments will be deferred. You only have to pay back your loan six months after you have left school.

54% of students leave college with student loan debt. Their average debt is $29,100. If you have a 10-year loan, you will be making payments of $316 a month. Paying $8,800 in interest.

The reason to take out student loan debt is that you have a plan for leveraging your debt into future earnings. If you are going to college hoping to find a career, you are not making the best decision.

How Much Money Do You Need?

You are considering college because there is a career that you want to pursue that requires a college degree. If you are choosing college because you want to make the most money possible, then you are chasing the wrong thing.

You need to develop a basic budget of where you want to live, what you want to have, and what experiences you want. Costs of living vary, and some people want a house on the hills, and others want an apartment in a big city. Do you want to travel? Do you want to eat expensive food?

How many years do you want to work?

There is much work to plan out the rest of your life when you still need to determine what problems you want to help solve.

You should research options and try to shadow professionals or watch videos of what a career may entail. Invest with your time before you invest money you have yet to earn.

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