Hey—I’ve got a great investment idea for you: You give me $100,000 and four years of your life, and I give you... hmm… pretty much… nothing.
No, I’m not the devil. I’m Mr. College. And I’m here to help you finance this wonderful opportunity. I have a whole package of government loans and impressive-sounding scholarships to make it all possible.
Of course, you’ll have to pay interest on the loans, which will double the cost over time…but that’s a problem for “future you” and need not concern us now.
Do we have a deal?
Of course, we do! You want to succeed in life, don’t you? How can you do that without a college degree?
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. Are you a movie fan? We’ve got a degree for that. How about criminal justice? Be like one of the cool people on the TV detective shows. And, we offer a whole selection of minority and gender studies programs. Learn why you’re a victim and deserve to be angry all the time.
What are you waiting for? Sign on the dotted line. Classes begin in the fall. Don’t miss orientation—especially if you’re male. You don’t want to be parading your toxic masculinity around the campus. Definitely not cool…
I don’t know why it should. Millions of college students make that deal every year, usually with their parents’ encouragement and financial support.
Now, don’t get me wrong—I have nothing against going to college. I sincerely believe it can be a worthwhile pursuit under the right circumstances. If you want to be a doctor or an architect, for example, it’s obviously a necessity. But look through the typical college syllabus and it’s clear that most of the majors, not to mention classes, are a waste of time—and money.
So why do responsible adults, who only want the best for their children and are usually cautious with their hard-earned money, squander it on such a bad investment? Worse, why would they send their son or daughter to a school to learn to reject the values they—the parents—hold dear? On what planet does that make sense?
It doesn’t. It’s an old paradigm, and we need to break it. Before it breaks us.
How do we do that?
Here are two solutions that would go a long way to solving the problem.
Ask yourself if you really need to go to college.
Most of us go to college because it’s simply expected that we do so. Our parents expect it. Our friends expect it. Plus, it sounds like fun—a rite of passage; an escape from Mom and Dad and all their rules.
But none of that actually has anything to do with getting an education or earning a living after you leave college. Maybe you’re not the academic type. What’s wrong with that? Nothing.
According to a Georgetown University study, there are 30 million jobs paying over $55,000 a year that don’t require a college degree.
Learn a skill like welding or plumbing or a dozen other trades and you’ll never be looking for a job. The jobs will be looking for you. We’re talking $50 an hour or more. Six figure income after five years and no debt. Consider the military. You learn essential skills and, again, no debt. Or go into sales. You don’t need a sociology degree for that.
If you are going to college, then have a goal and a plan to achieve it. Your college journey will cost you and/or your parents a boatload of money. What are you going to get in return? Choose your courses with a practical mindset. Stay away from the silly stuff. And if you don’t really know why you’re going to college, consider answer…
Delay college for a year or longer.
If more graduating high school seniors would do this—not jump into college immediately after high school, college curriculums would improve and nonsense like “safe spaces” would disappear. Why? Because students who had spent a year or longer in the real world wouldn’t put up with it.
Get a job—any job—for a year before starting college. What’s the big rush, anyway? One year isn’t going to make a difference as to whether or not you succeed in life, but waiting tables or stacking boxes or whatever you do for a year will almost certainly change your attitude about a lot of things—like how hard it is to earn a dollar and how easy it is for the government to take that dollar away. You will also develop a new appreciation for the privilege of going to college. And you’ll be much more likely to be immune to the BS.
Don’t be a passive investor as a student or a parent. Your education is too expensive and too important to be left to Mr. College. He might have your money. Don’t give him your mind.
I’m Charlie Kirk, founder and president of Turning Point USA, for Prager University.