I’m sure I am not alone when pronouncing the statement, “I regret going to college!”. Really, I do. Going to college was not worth the cost in any objective measure (value per class session).
Sure, you might make a little more money, but there are better ways to maximize your net worth! PLEASE, read until the bottom for full transparency.
Pay For Access
When thinking about the University system, you have to go all the way back to Ancient Greece and Rome. You know, the days of Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates. They had a very clear rationale on the role of education in society.
Aristotle believed that being educated was central to an individual’s success in life, but he proclaimed the best way to learn is through doing. This of course, was far before the dawn of the internet.
College students used to pay for information only professors knew. This knowledge was only found in vast libraries, volumes of research, or in the minds of intellectuals. BUT, now we have the internet.
The internet is the modern day printing press, and every book, lecture, or speech can be viewed within seconds on a computer with internet access. So, why do we still need professors?
I majored in accounting, and every year, there are approximately 1M students who take a basic financial accounting course. One teacher could record their lectures and educate the entire nation.
Now, we could dive deeper into tutors, questions, and homework sets later. However, let’s not mince words. Professors are no longer the education and information gatekeepers.
Whether colleges like it or not, almost every piece of information ever is currently available (for free) online. All colleges have is credentialing.
Learned More Reading Books
I have a unique gift; I can read approximately 600 words per minute (3x the reading speed of the average American). I can’t say how I got so lucky, but listening to lectures in class is utterly painful.
I listen to YouTube videos on 1.75x or higher speed because my brain can process information very quickly. For this reason, I learn so much more by reading a book than attending class.
One of my favorite movie quotes of all-time is from “Good Will Hunting”. “You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.”
During the past 2019-2020 academic year, I read every book on Austrian Economics, complexity theory, and political literature I could get my hands on.
Why would I learn from anyone other than world class intellectuals or scholars? I mean c’mon, their books are literally collecting dust on the library shelves.
This isn’t to put down my professors from Northern Iowa; in fact, my accounting and finance professors were a tremendous value-add. I just happen to learn more per minute by reading books for fun than by going to college.
Schools are a minefield of IEDs when it comes to any child possessing the slightest form of creativity. Teachers might as well take a baseball bat and bludgeon your skull repeatedly.
You will regret going to college if you possess the slightest inclination towards creativity, over black and white answers.
They rinse and repeat the abuse until you’re drained of your last drop of imagination. You are taught to think inside the box, follow the rules, and never question authority.
This couldn’t be any more evident than in my fields of study (accounting and finance). Charlie Munger (Co-Chair of Berkshire Hathaway) famously noted the garbage students were learning in school.
He questioned a professor about the ridiculous financial models they were teaching graduate students, and the professor replied, “We teach it this way because it is easier to grade”.
I had a similar epiphany when it came to the way professors measured risk for derivative instruments. I got the classic, “Derivatives are measured using value-at-risk and a normal distribution”.
I apologize for anyone who’s ever had a class with me, but I ask 10x the number of questions as my closest counterpart. I remember thinking, “The world doesn’t work according the normal distribution”.
These teachers are simplifying the curriculum, so it is easier to test or assign homework problems. There is a dramatic lack of innovation and creativity in the business programs at major universities.
I am very proud to see a newly revitalized emphasis on teaching technical skills (I guess they got that right). Ehh, who am I to judge the quality of an education program?
Work Experience Teaches
“Son, you just need a job”. Sure, Dad. I never fully grasped his wisdom until I completed my first Big 4 accounting internship. I learned more in 2 weeks than the entire previous semester of classes.
Better yet, I actually got paid to work, rather than paying some school ludicrous fees and tuition to learn useless skills, all to get a framed diploma.
Looking back, I envy my friends who went to trade school right after college and gained valuable apprenticeships. I remember vividly the details of a classmate’s welding technician gig.
He made $40,000 per year for his 2 year apprenticeship, had his welding program paid for, and would realize an existing job on the other side (making approximately $60,000). No, way?
Yes, way! I know someone who graduated with no student loan debt, an amazing job, and collected $80,000 in gross wages. This is why I am a huge advocate of most people going into a skilled trade.
Wealthy Diligence has recently partnered with Audible to provide our readers a 30-day free trial with this exclusive link (no strings attached). Reading has fundamentally changed my life, and I want my followers to have a similar experience.
I wrote an article called “Graduate Without Student Loans“, so you don’t have the excuse of joining the $1.6 trillion debt crisis. Work experience, not school, is life’s best teacher!
I ran the final tally, and my college textbook total summed to approximately $2,500 over 4 years.
I rented every book possible when I had the chance, but these damn homework codes are a scam. You know, the codes where your professors are too lazy to grade homework, so they make you buy a $250 access code.
This claim could be totally unsubstantiated, but I truly believe the schools (or professors) are getting a kickback on textbook sales.
I even had a professor who made our class buy his own, uniquely created textbook. That thing cost $200 and had nothing unique about it!
Here’s another example. A professor might require you to buy the new, $205.86 book instead of renting for $19.23. A ridiculous scam on the pockets of college students!
“Opportunity costs represent the benefits an individual, investor or business misses out on when choosing one alternative over another.”
A potential list of opportunity costs of going to school are lost wages, tuition, student debt, and your time in general.
For example, say you have $100 and can either start a business or put it in a bank that’s paying 2% interest rates (good luck in this world). In one year, your investment balance would be $102.
If you choose to start a business, your real cost is $102, not just $100. Never forget to factor opportunity cost into your rational decisions!
Value Per Class Session
Want to make yourself vomit? Well, break down tuition by class period!
At the University of Northern Iowa, I (give-or-take a couple bucks) paid $1,250 per class, per semester. Each class had 37.5 hours of in-class lectures for an entire semester.
So, every time you go to class and watch a movie you should be thinking to yourself, “Was this worth $33?” I went to a very cheap college too; a private school could be $100+ per class session.
Trust me, other than a staple Intermediate pension accounting lecture or Tableau demonstration, you are not getting your money’s worth! This was one of the real reasons I regret going to college!
Why’d I Go Then?
“You only regret going to college because you couldn’t make it academically”. Well, that’s 100% false. I have passed my CPA exams, and I will begin my CFA exams in a year.
I have a job in public accounting lined-up, and I met some of my best friends during the past 4 years. I’m just making the point I could have learned the exact same info for 5% of the cost. How do I know this?
Because the last 2 months of my academic career were online. I personally feel I sacrificed no quality in learning. Those same recorded video lectures I watched could be viewed by 100,000 people for no extra cost.
That’s all thanks to economies of scale and the permissionless leverage of technology. I simply dream of a world for my future children where they can get a good education, for 5% of the cost and be completed in half the time.
I just needed the credentials to land my dream job in public accounting.
Regret Going To College
I’m sure I am not alone when pronouncing the statement, “I regret going to college!”. Really, I do. Going to college was not worth the cost in any objective measure.
America, we can make higher education so much more affordable with simple, technology-driven solutions. I hope you made it this far!
This article is meant to be a critique on the education system, not that college is bad! I wouldn’t have my job if I didn’t go to college!
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