Make You Own Decisions
I just got back from a few hours of surfing in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. It's beautiful down here, but I'm somehow managing to get work done as well. 🙂
To start this post, however, bring yourself back out of Mexico to your town, where you currently live...
You're looking to buy a new car today. So, you head down to the local dealership. You see a nice Prius (my hometown is in California...) sitting on the lot.
The salesman says it's $20,000. Not a bad price, eh? The car has comfortable seats, air conditioning, airbags for safety, and it will help you get around town.
Now, what if the salesman said the car cost $200,000? No matter how cold the AC gets or how quickly it goes from 0 to 60, you know that's a bad deal. You'd be paying off that car loan for 18+ years!
The car didn't change. The difference in price turned a good deal into a bad deal.
Do people ever buy things for way more than they're worth?
It happens all the time... A recent example was the real estate crash in 2008. People were buying houses for way more than they were worth, and banks were happy to finance them into millions of dollars of debt. When the market corrected, the house value went down but the debt didn't go away. People lost their life savings.
A similar thing happened in 2001. People payed millions to buy into .com companies that were often worth little or nothing at all.
This can happen with anything you can buy with money, which is a lot of things.
I Have A Theory...
I think college tuition is where real estate was in 2007 and .com companies were in 2001. It's like buying a vehicle (a career vehicle) for $200,000, and many families are going into debt to pay for it.
Many will agree that college is over-valued, especially people who have lived in countries where it's free or costs $500 per semester, but very few Americans are taking action...
Every major news source in America has asked the question 'Is college worth it?' and you can read those articles elsewhere. This post isn't going to weigh tuition costs against increased income or networking opportunities.
I'm happy my doctors went to college (Even if it cost then $200,000) and I'm glad the guys at MIT are creating drugs that can eradicate ebola. My brother is going to film school and that stuff would be difficult to learn on his own.
Even though I left college and think it is way overpriced, I don't think college is 'bad'.
But, Let Me Tell You What IS Bad
Letting other people make your decisions for you. If you're 18 years old and thinking about college, you need to stop silently nodding and agreeing with parents and counselors just because they're older than you.
You need to make your own decisions.
If you're just leaving high school, your parents have probably made most of the 'big' decisions in your life up to now, but it's time for you to start taking responsibility.
College may be the right fit for you, and it may not be. Either way, you need to start thinking for yourself.
If you're turning 18 you can now legally screw up your life.
If you sell drugs and get caught, you're probably going to jail.
If you take on college debt, you're going to have to pay it off.
Do you know what it means to be in debt 50,000 at a 10% interest rate? That means that if you pay $5,000 per year, you'll need to pay forever. Pay $6,000 per year ($500 per month or about $16 per day) and it will take you 18 years to pay off. If you're just entering college that's your entire life up until now.
College Is A Business... Businesses Have Marketing Departments
College has been marketed so well that it's become a 'golden cow' in America. Saying anything bad about college will get you burned at the stick, even though it costs $30,000 per year, puts students 20+ years into debt, and includes 90% irrelevant information. (1 in 3 graduates is currently behind on their loans)
Business conferences, mentor-mentee relationships, masterminds, and personal coaches cost almost nothing in comparison and provide immediately applicable knowledge... but they aren't even brought up.
You don't need a degree. It's not a necessity for a good life. On the other hand, massive debt is a guarantee of a very stressful life. (See this class action lawsuit filed by debtors with 'lifetime bondage')
I don't have a degree. My parents can pay for it and I still don't want to go back.
I made $1,000 last week, which is what most people would be happy to make graduating with loads of debt. I worked on my own time, doing projects that allowed me to learn, getting paid about $40 per hour.
When I first started freelancing and made $600 in one week, my college counselor laughed at me and told me 'You got lucky, have you ever considered a real career?'
Make Your Own Decisions
If you don't start making your own decisions, you're in for a world of hurt. That's because even if you let someone else make decisions for you, you are the one who has to deal with the consequences!
Don't go into crushing debt because someone told you you should.
The consequences could look like $500 payments to the federal government every month for the rest of your life.
Whether you're 18 or 68, letting other people make decisions for you isn't smart. I'm focusing on college debt because I used to sit next to people in chemistry class who were neck-deep in it.
Please, please... think carefully before signing a legally-binding debt agreement at the age of 18, just months after you're legally allowed to tether yourself to this kind of contract.