Friday, November 30, 2012
College and Debt
College is the best thing ever -if you can get someone else to pay for it. If you have to go into debt to cover expenses, it's a bad deal.
Yes, there's all these arguments about good jobs, special skills, personal contacts and all that crap. I'm not going there. Plenty of other people go there.
I graduated from High School way back in the dark ages of 1976. That's back when college was supposed to be affordable. It wasn't for me. By working my butt off all summer, I was able to pay for one semester at the local community college -not including books. My parents were in that interesting financial bracket too “rich” for financial aid and too poor to actually pay for college.
Mom always wanted me to be a doctor, but not so badly that she actually saved any money for medical school.
I dropped out before incurring any college debt. It's one thing to go into debt to get that career of your dreams. It's another to go into debt when I wasn't even sure what I wanted to do. Even at 18, I looked at student debt as a trap. Many High School kids don't think of student loans as real debt. It's money they can spend now. Some stranger, “future self,” will get stuck with the bills.
19 years later I had the opportunity to go to college on someone else's nickel. I was being rehabilitated. That was great. I took a wide variety of courses as I had a whole college at my disposal. There were cool and interesting people to meet. It was loads of fun. Of course, going to college at 37 is a bit different than going to college at 18. College students went to college to drink and get laid. I went home to drink and get laid.
I've no regrets for dropping out of college at 18. My life was really interesting. I read a lot of books and learned a lot of things not taught in college. I got married at 20 -and I was ready for it. That didn't stop the adventures or the learning experiences. Financially, I'm probably no worse off than if I'd gone to college. It's hard to judge these things. One way to look at it: I was working and earning money those 4 – 6 years when my friends were in college. Some are better off financially, but nobody else takes a few months off in the winter to go sailing.
If I was graduating from High School today, I'd probably have to make up some story to satisfy my parents. Maybe I'd head out to hike the Appalachian Trail and just keep hiking. Maybe I'm say I'm biking across the country and just not make it back in time for fall semester. Perhaps I'd kayak down the Intra-coastal Waterway all the way down to Key West. Once I hit Key West the odds are I'd be of no use at all to corporate America.
People think it's some sort of rule that if you've got the grades, you have to go to college. Nope. In fact, you might be too smart for college.