Have you ever been told that the best way to get ahead in life is by getting a college degree? What they didn’t tell you is that you can also get ahead in life by not going to college. Most people think this means going into the trades such as being a welder, plumber, etc. What people don’t realize is that you can also do the same white collar jobs that most people think you need a college degree for. Some examples could include sales, marketing, customer service, IT, business analyst, or even computer engineering. There is a nearly endless amount of careers available for someone who chooses to not go to college with about the only exceptions being industries that are regulated to require a degree. Don’t let anyone tell you that you
This has only recently become possible due to advances in online education. Not too long ago the best way to learn these careers and become proficient in them was to attend college. Since then, many of these careers have continued to become more specialized and require continuous learning. This has made the material taught in college to almost always be outdated or irrelevant. Hence the skills gap.
This has also opened up the playing field for people who choose to specialize in a role by learning the relevant skills & knowledge necessary for an entry-level position. Not surprisingly, the best way to go about learning these things is not in college, but instead through a variety of resources such as blogs, online courses, YouTube, forums, etc.
There is nearly an endless amount of ways to learn a given subject for free or pocket change. You can reference the in-depth guide I wrote on how you can start your career this way.
There are 3 main ways to get ahead in life by not going to college.
1. Cost of college
Currently one of the biggest factors in deciding to go to college is the sheer cost of attending. Try calculating the tuition, fees, books, room & board. The average cost quickly exceeds $25,000 and for some as much as $50,000. The average duration of college is between 4-6 years to complete a bachelors degree.
Here are the numbers:
Average tuition = $25,000
Average duration = 5 years
$25,000 x 5 years = $125,000
Most people don’t have $125,000 sitting around either, so they take out student loans. The average student loan debt per student is around $35,000. The average interest on that debt is around 5.8% and 10 years long. This results in an additional $11,000 paid in interest at a minimum.
2. Opportunity Cost
The majority of people don’t consider the opportunity cost when making the decision to go to college. For many, this could be even larger than the cost of college itself. Think about all of the time you spent in high school preparing for college, then all of the time you spent in college preparing for a career. This could be 8-10 years of your life. Have you ever wondered how some people have a successful business or career while still being a teenager? The reason is that instead of spending their time preparing for college, they spent that time working on their business or preparing for a career.
I believe that most basic/entry-level careers in business can be learned within 6 months – 1 year with focus. Someone can spend their time in high school preparing for a career instead of college and by 18 they can start their career.
Here is what an example might look like
19 years old- $40k
20 years old- $50k
21 years old- $60k
22 years old -$60k
23 years old- $70k
3. Experience Cost
Another factor that people overlook is the years of experience someone could gain while working in a career compared to someone who spent that time in college. This experience allows someone at age 23 with 5 years of experience to be making nearly 2x what another 23 year old just starting out of college is.
Here is an example
5 years experience Recent graduate
23- $70k 23- $40k
24- $70k 24- $50k
25- $80k 25- $60k
26- $80k 26- $60k
27- $80k 27- $70k
$380k total $280k total
The total value of not going to college:
$136,000 cost of college
$280,000 opportunity cost
$100,000 experience cost
By age 27 you could be $516,000 ahead of your peers. This allows you to more easily purchase a house, go on vacations, and take risks. Someone who is really financially savvy could also invest the money they saved by not going to college in the S&P 500 allowing them to have as much as an additional $12 million by retirement. For those that want to get ahead in life, this may just be a great option for you.