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Me, Myself, and My Overpriced Education

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 2 2

$100,000 and Counting

It used to be that not going to college was destining yourself for a life of flipping burgers and mowing lawns. The mindset of most people is still that way; although it isn't because it's true, it's because it is habit. 

Going to high school, and then college isn't something that you question. Questioning this process is the equivalent of questioning the necessity of washing your hair every so often if not even more frequently. 

However, both of these activities are absolutely unnecessary to your success (and smell) in life. 

I went to college. I also washed my hair for a long time, but that's a subject for another day. I spent four years studying Biomedical Engineering. Four years later, I was $100,000 in debt and working for a prestigious company making just enough money to pay my bills, including the monthly $1000 student loan payment. 

Top Education
Credit: www.ybragin.com

$110,000 and Counting

You quickly learn after working 9-5 for any amount of time that you aren't nearly as stimulated as you were in college, and you spend most of your time playing politics with your boss and colleagues. 

I came, I saw, I suffered intensely for the time I was there, and I left. I'd accumulated quite a bit of interest in my loans while I was in college, and the payments I was making weren't putting a dent into the principle.

It wasn't too long there after that I came to terms with the fact that I would probably be paying off this debt for the rest of my life, or until the end of existence, whichever came first. 

After coming to terms with this depressing fact, it was much easier for me to proceed. Instead of finding another 9-5 job, I decided to do what I could do on my own. I created sites on the internet, I blogged, I created websites for others on Elance and Odesk, and I made more money than I made as an Engineer. 

The big questions is: was college it worth it? 

Why go to college to be an engineer, just to end up an entrepreneur just like dozens of other uneducated moguls? 

The answer may surprise you. 

Traditional Education Is Dead

It was absolutely worth it. Not because of all the engineering principles learned, but because college taught me how to think. It taught be how to be a leader, and most of all, it taught me how to make impossible deadlines on 3 hours of sleep and a hangover. 

College enrollment is declining everywhere. A lot of reports say it is because of lack of funding, or because of the declining economy. [4034][4035]

Whether or not anyone knows it yes, this isn't the case at all. You find many students asking themselves if four years of their life and thousands of dollars of debt is worth it? Your answer should be 'yes, it is worth it' without hesitation. 

The reasons, however, are different than they were 5 years ago.

It is not because it increases your chances of success, or it makes your future more secure, or because you have a better chance of getting a job (this is true but not a good reason to go to college). 

It's not even because going to college will make you more educated and enlightened. 

It is because the college experience, if approached in the right way, is absolutely invaluable in teaching you leadership skills, business smarts, and real-life negotiation. Most of all, college teaches you how to think, and not what to think. 

If you are going to college, you should do just enough to get decent grades. Nothing that you learn there is going to be directly applicable in any job you get. At least not 1 to 1. You are learning how to think.

The importance of this last fact can not be stressed enough. You aren't learning that F=ma. You are learning that if you know why F=ma, you don't have to study anymore than three hours for a test.

The rest of your free hours should be spent in organizations and extracurricular activities.

You should be running to be president of XYZ society and then try to enforce change within that organization. There are so many other ways to spend your time that are more valuable than studying. 

Create a movement on campus.

Campaign for a spot on the school board. 

Challenge some widely accepted tradition or policy. 

Petition for a change in your curriculum. 

Try to get a swimming pool built on campus (if you don't have one already).

These are only a few things that you can do that are 200 times more beneficial than spending your time studying to make straight A's. What you learn by challenging long-standing beliefs, trying to start change, and becoming a leader, can't be measured in terms of money. You only have one opportunity to spend the majority of your time doing things like this, and that's in college. 

This is why it is worth going to college. This is why the declining enrollment should not be met with traditional solutions. Nothing about it is traditional anymore. The sooner that is accepted, the sooner we will get our enrollments back up again. 



Jun 6, 2012 8:00pm
I recently read that the co-founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, held a contest to find over 20 students who would agree not to go to college for two years and in exchange they would spend their time working on scientific and technical innovations. Oh, and in addition, Mr. Thiel will pay each person $100,000! Now that's an incentive not to go to college. I, however, have two children currently in college and like you, still believe it is important. Interesting article.
Jun 8, 2012 8:12am
Wow that's incredible! I hadn't heard about that before. I'll have to go look it up.
Yes don't get me wrong, I agree it's important that you make sure you're getting decent grades, but I just wanted to point out that it can be so much more.
Perhaps I can convince this Mr. Thiel to pay off my student loans.
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  1. "Report finds declining enrollment at UC and CSU related to budget cuts." The Daily Californian. 6/6/2012 <Web >
  2. "REGION: State’s money woes cause college enrollment decline." The Press Enterprise. 6/6/2012 <Web >

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