Have you been told you need a College Degree to be a Success?

I think everyone at some point or another has been told they should get a college degree. A college degree will get you a job, a college degree is necessary to succeed, a college degree will make you more money, are just a couple subtle deceits that we've been brainwashed into thinking. The truth is the only thing a college degree provides is a piece of paper and that paper is a lot like currency, it only worth as much as we will pay for it.

Unfortunately as a nation we've been taught to pay way too much for it. When we can't afford it we are taught to take out loans to pay for it. Finally, when we have our degree and are ready to hit the workforce running, we find out that the average job is paying $30,000 a year, our rent is $12,000 a year, our car to get to work is $3000 a year, our taxes are $6,000 a year, and our loans are $10,000 a year so we move back home just to be able to afford food and insurance.

Does that feel like success?

Fortunately it's not my story, but the story of somebody really close to me and it makes me angry just having to hear it. My friend comes from a middle class family, her parents household income is about $75,000 a year. Because of how much her parents made she wasn't eligible for any financial aid. If she was an only child, she wouldn't have needed help, but she had siblings that needed providing for and her parents had bills to pay. My friend was determined to be successful, to make sure when she had children they wouldn't want for anything and with that in mind, took the $10,000 she had in the bank and enrolled in college. She worked hard and had good grades. She took out loans and worked part time and summers over her four years and finally ended up with her BA.

She then got a job getting paid $30,000 a year. To her this was a lot of money compared to the $9 an hour she was making while in school. She was thrilled and got herself an aparment and began saving. Soon after she met her now husband and got pregnant. During this time her loans started repayment and she changed completely.

She started looking for new jobs. Her and her husbands loans together took up almost $15,000 a year out of their income, hers being about $10,000 of them and virtually paying interest only. On top of that once the child was born they paying $8,000 a year in childcare. Their degrees were useless in helping them out and they both ended up moving back in with their parents. Since neither of their parents could house all three of them, they had to be split up.

To this day they've never missed a loan payment, but they feel more than anything like college ruined their chances at having a happy life.

Why didn't college bring them success?

What people want to hear is that they did something wrong, they did something stupid, or they are a freak occurance, but they're not. They are the tragic result of a broken system, a system that teaches college degrees will equal success and puts so much emphasis on it that they take out loans. Banks will give student loans virtually 100% of the time because they are one of the only loans not eligible for bankruptcy. This means that any bank can comfortably loan out huge amounts of money that they KNOW people won't be able to pay back.

So how can they turn it around?

In the end I gave her this advice for where she's at. She needs to prioritize paying off those loans as fast as possible. Sell both of their cars and buy junkers to drop their loans and car insurance rates. Buy smarter and start cutting coupons, shop at goodwill and thrift stores for clothing. Finally, don't save a penny. They won't make close to as much in insterest saving as they will be charged on leaving those loans around. Given the math they should be able to have both of their loans paid off in three to four years. She balled her eyes out.

How can college degrees equal success?

They can't. They're just pieces of paper saying, to quote Good Will Hunting, "you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a fuckin education you coulda got for a dollah fifty in late chahges at the public library."

Your actions dictate your success or failure. As for my friends, I'm confident they will end up as successes, and it will not be because of their college degrees. They will become successes because they are hard working and committed.