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Why You Shouldn't Go to College

by Sean Ogle | Last Updated: June 16, 2011

In the past I’ve written a fair amount about my dissatisfaction with the current model for higher education. Posts like “Create Your Own College Education” and “How to Get Your Education for $48,000 Less Than I Did” sum up my thoughts pretty well.

That said, I want to reframe things a little bit in a way that might hit you over the head a little bit more.

I understand the majority of my audience is out of high school, and most of you are out of college.  However, if you know someone who might benefit from looking at things in a different perspective as it comes to their education, I encourage you to share this with them.

You Just Won the Lottery

Just for a second imagine someone placed $50,000 in a bank account with your name on it.  You can do anything you want with this money.


It’s all yours.

You can travel, build a business, invest it, or spend it on a 4 year college education.

Now, traditional society would obviously have you believe that the college education is the best bet.  I question whether or not that is still true.  With tuition rising, and job placement out of school being at dismally low levels, is it really the sure thing it once was?  Your parents may think so.  Your grandparents probably think so.  But things have changed, and I don’t think it’s the investment it once was.

I mean think about this. If I gave you $50,000 and told you to turn it into $100,000 in the shortest amount of time possible.  What would you do?  Get a 4 year degree?

Doubt it.

It would take you 4 years, and at that time you would have nothing in the bank, and be lucky if you could get a job paying $50,000/year.  Throw all of your expenses on top of that, and you’re looking at the better part of a decade before you actually have $100k in the bank.

$50,000 for school is real money. This is the fact most college students don’t realize.  You do have to pay that back, even if it is at a low(ish) interest rate.  It’s just like someone handed you $50k and you spent it all.  They’re called student loans for a reason.

I’m still paying mine off.  It’s the only debt I have left. $121 a month for the foreseeable future.

If you’re in high school or college I want to encourage you to go against the masses for a moment.  Think about why you’re in school.  Is it to learn something you can’t learn elsewhere?  Is it to get a piece of paper so you can go to work for Goldman Sachs?  Or is it just because it’s what you’re supposed to do.

I bet you a buffalo head nickel it’s the latter.

And that’s the wrong answer.

For way less time and money you can get a more useful education that will allow you to be an entrepreneur or freelancer.  If neither of those interest you, by creating an education custom tailored to your interests, not only are you saving money, but you’re setting yourself up for a life that you’ll actually be happy to live.

This isn’t play money.  This is an investment in your life and future.  I just question if it’s the best investment you can make.

The Business School Fallacy

A month or so ago I received an email from a guy who said he “wanted my life”.  He wanted to be an entrepreneur and work from anywhere.  He emailed me because he wanted my opinion on whether or not he should get his business degree at Wharton or pursue something else.

For those of you who don’t know, the Wharton School of Business is one of the most prestigious business schools in the country.

I gave him my two cents, which were this:

“If you want to be an entrepreneur, there are a million better ways to spend $100,000.”

He agreed with all of my points (which went in to a bit more detail than that), and then finished by saying “so I think I’m going to go to school, and then pursue my goal of being an entpreneur.”

This is what’s wrong with traditional education.  If someone gave me that kind of money to spend building a business, the options would be limitless. Instead this kid is going to have to deal with $100k in debt while he tries to build a business later on in life, in which his schooling has not prepared him for.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems with the concept of school in general.  That said, you need to tailor it to your goals.  My college education did nothing to prepare me for what I wanted to do. Yet, if I’d put more thought into it and been more willing to go against the grain, it had the potential to be.

If you’re considering going into higher education or going back to school, think about what you really want to accomplish.  And please, for the love of God, don’t let the answer to that be “I want to get a piece of paper (MBA) so I can get a job or a promotion.”

Wrong Answer.

Do it because you can’t learn a certain skill set anywhere else. If you want to be a nurse or a lawyer for instance, then by all means, go to school.  But if you want to be an entrepreneur, don’t fool yourself into thinking that will get you there.  Entrepreneur’s do things on their own, save some money and start doing that now.

Or just try and land one of Peter Thiel’s $100,000 fellowships for dropping out.

While I learned some of the fundamentals of business while I was in school, I learned way more about how a business actually works by owning a house painting business during my years at school. Management, marketing, accounting, you name it.  If you don’t have a way to get hands on and actually apply your skills and make mistakes on your own, you’re not actually learning much.

I realize I’ll probably get a fair amount of negative feedback for this post.  Telling someone not to go to college is still a pretty taboo thing to say.  But mark my words, over the next decade we will see a dramatic shift in the way the education system works and they way it’s perceived by potential incoming students.

Stop doing what everyone thinks you should do.  Do what makes the most sense for what you really want to get out of life.

If you’re serious about making personal strides in your own life be on the look out next Monday because there is going to be a really special offer here that doesn’t come around very often.  I’ll tell you right now, this is the most excited I’ve been for a deal in a long time, so if you’re looking to make some fundamental changes in your life, come back on next week to see what’s up 🙂

If you enjoyed this post check out my free ecourse over there in the sidebar.  If you want a little more Location 180 goodness then hit up the Twitter stream and Facebook page.  And if you’re serious about building a business, you’ll want to hit up Location Rebel.

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
Build a Lifestyle Business Giving You Freedom You've Always Wanted

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