So far outside the box you can't even see the box from here.
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Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Education, what's the value?
First some personal background. When I was released from High School I attended a technical college for one semester. I paid for that one semester with savings and working part time after school. My courses were pretty challenging so I had to quit work to have time to study. I made honors but did not feel that school was for me. Dropping out was made easier by the fact that at that point I had yet to acquire any debt.
At the age of 37 I went back to college thanks to Vocational Rehabilitation. After 4 years I received a double major in Journalism and Literature.
So . . . is college worth it? At age 18 I could easily say no, and it was the right answer at the time. I was lucky enough to get into the fire service with a high school education. That's much harder to do these days.
Was college at 37 worth it? Indeed it was, but the state of New Hampshire footed the bill. It was worth it for me, but probably not worth it for the state. There are different ways of measuring value, but if they thought I'd earn a lot more money and pay higher taxes . . . that didn't happen.
Generally speaking, college might be worth it if you need the technical training and the degree to work in your chosen field. There are no self taught doctors working legally out there and who would want to go to one? Even then, it's easy to get in over one's head debt wise. Doctors may make a lot of money, but if that comes with 300,000 in debt, it'll take a long time to pay that off. What if you discover that you really don't want to be a doctor and have a passion for the arts instead? Too bad, that doctor debt is still yours.
Personally, I think there's a huge amount of value in a Liberal Arts education. Even though I was well read before, college filled in some gaps and help organize my thinking in a more systematic fashion. It also introduced me to areas of thought and study that had never been of interest to me before, yet provided fascinating insights never imagined. The college course and environment were a huge boost to my creativity and confidence. If money were no object, I'd recommend it for just about anyone.
However, money is a huge consideration. While a Liberal Arts education can pay, for most people it won't pay in dollars. A select few may find financial success, but it's almost as likely as becoming a pro athlete. If you can get an education without going into debt, jump at the chance, but otherwise be cautious.
Here's one thing they never talk about going to college. While my friends were in school, I was working. During those 4 – 6 years I bought and paid for a car, rural land, and took out a mortgage on a house in town. It was a good time to buy a house as prices were very low. I also got married and had a couple of kids. For me, it was a lot more satisfying than spending my late teens and early twenties in a classroom.
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.