Many people see it as one of the most important decisions you make in life. In fact, how you do in college will define most of your future:
- Where you’re going to work, and how
- Who may become your new friends
- What you learn, which changes how you look at life
- What your future goals will be
- How early you’ll retire
I know all this may sound far away. After all, we’re just talking to someone who just finished high-school. Or maybe you’re already studying there. In any case, you will find many hidden gems in this article.
People make a good image of college. But is it worth the time and money? Yes? No?
None of the answers sound certain. But to give you a better idea, take a look at what happened recently: the pandemic.
Countless people have closed and sold their businesses. Physical companies now receive less money, which means they have to cut costs and fire employees.
It’s funny how students believe they’re “building” their future through education. What we’ve seen these months is an example of how easy it is to bring down the whole system. Upon the economic uncertainty, families now see their jobs at risk.
All while our students work for a future that may not exist.
Nobody has the right to say that college is or isn’t a waste of time and money. But we know one thing for sure: we’ve underestimated what it takes to have a good career.
That neither means we can’t do anything. You can regain control of the situation today. No matter what happens in the world, only you own your time and money.
Now, the average college cycle takes around $100K and 4 years of your time. Is it worth spending that much on college?
- College is a Waste of Time and Money: 6 Myths You Need to Stop Believing
- What are the Best College Alternatives?
- How to Make the Most Out of Your College Years
- Your College Exit Strategy
- The Bottom Line
College is a Waste of Time and Money: 6 Myths You Need to Stop Believing
First, let’s look at some of the facts people have told you about college. But before you rant, remember that all these people truly wish the best for you.
The world changes pretty fast. Which means that there are still many people out there who live in the past. What they say was probably true years ago, but it may no longer be today. So what worked for them won’t work for you.
That doesn’t mean college is the worst decision you can make. But you certainly can’t approach it with the same optimism people did in the 80s.
“It guarantees you a high-paying job”
At the end of the day, companies are doing what’s best for their customers and profit margins. You can’t just hire every single person that shows up with a college certificate.
- There must be enough market demand to open job positions
- If there is, you have to choose the most exceptional student among the hundreds of graduates
- Only your work performance determines your paycheck. And if it’s a corporate job, it’s the number of years you spent working
- If Artificial Intelligence can replace your role or cheaper, you’re out of luck
It’s not very realistic to guarantee anything in an uncertain economy. We’ve witnessed more change in the last 20 years than in the last 50. And when it comes to education, we’re still using methods invented two millenniums ago.
The format may change, but the methodology didn’t.
If that’s not enough, we can go back to our first example. Do you think people are hiring more this year? Maybe, but definitely not college students.
“It prepares you for the real world”
You don’t need to be very self-aware to find out. College has little to do with the real world.
To put it simply, preparing for the real world is about:
- Organizing and learning how to work
- Pursuing career opportunities
- Managing your time wisely
- Building relationships
- Build skills
College doesn’t do any of these directly. If students want to improve, they inherently learn that they need to work hard, build their skills, and be resourceful. College doesn’t do that; you do.
If you don’t have that self-awareness, you’re going to spend those years in a bad way instead:
- Spending mindlessly and piling up debt
- Partying way more than you should
- Rushing through the lessons in the last minute (instead of learning intentionally)
- Ruin your sleep with all-nighters
- Skipping classes, thinking you got everything “under control”
Maybe college wakes you up. But these good practices aren’t enough to justify 4 years and $100K of student debt. You can learn that now by yourself and for free.
“College helps you find your purpose in life”
Since going to college became the status quo, this has changed. There’s an unbelievable number of kids getting into debt because their parents told them so. Love it or hate it, but that’s what you’re supposed to do in life!
Do you know what students get the most value from college? Those who see it as a path to follow your passion.
- If you like coding games, you’re going to have a lot of fun with your fellow classmates
- If you like learning about history, even the most boring classes can be memorable
- But if you’re there because you have to, however, how do you expect to be motivated?
If you don’t know what you want and feel forced to study, you’ll do one of two things:
- Take the “easiest” career if you’re not very intelligent
- Take the highest-paying career if you’re smart
But none of them have anything to do with your life’s purpose.
“It teaches you to think better.”
Perhaps the ancient philosophers invented universities for this reason. As for today, most of these have become just another step to employment. You don’t learn for the sake of learning. You learn what your employer wants you to learn. You don’t have time for anything else.
Because of it, it’s not their priority to develop your thinking skills. Most of the time, professors tell you to do one thing simply because that’s what others told them to do. Who knows when was the last time someone updated those textbooks?
Look, most students don’t have time to think, and they don’t want to, especially the disengaged newbies. The temptation is real: one would rather have fun for the whole semester and grind all the exams in the last week. And when you’re rushing through the material, you’re not really learning anything.
You just want to pass the exam and move on.
“It provides you the best life experiences”
In college, you’re going to live experiences you don’t live anywhere else. Which also means they have little use in other contexts.
If that’s not true, try to sell that to your employer. “I have four years of college experience.”
Great, but they’re looking for someone with work experience.
Anyway, most people agree that college can be one of the best states of your life. But what kind of experience requires you to pay nearly $100K?
- If it’s to meet friends, there are many better ways to meet them
- If it’s for the career experience, you’ll learn much more by yourself or in a job
- If it’s to visit new places, well, you can travel around the world
No matter what experiences you live in college, they’re certainly not worth the $100K. Literally, any productive activity gives you experience points. It doesn’t make college special.
“You can network with smart people”
Smart people will likely spend most of their time either studying or doing productive things. So unless you know how to spend your time wisely, you won’t get the chance to meet them.
That doesn’t mean smart people don’t party. But the real geniuses will likely want to get through college asap. And that means studying full time, getting the best grades, and graduating two years before everyone else. If they can work twice as hard as everyone else, they’ll do it.
Most of the networking happens outside of academic contexts. That’s why colleges have sports teams, student residences, and cafés. But you don’t spend that much only to meet a handful of people. Meeting people in the local bar shows more promise, and it doesn’t take a full semester.
What are the Best College Alternatives?
Aside from the college myths, the worst about this situation is the context. Say you’re a seventeen-year-old student with no skills, no net worth, and no credit score. You never worked in your life, and you may not even know how to work productively. Why on Earth would a lender offer $100K for tuition?
Here’s the concerning question: How can this type of person earn back $100K with no income streams, all while studying for hard exams for four years? Simple: don’t go to college in the first place. Avoid the problem.
Let’s say you want to beat the odds. You want to prove to the world you don’t need a college degree to live a great life. Or maybe you simply prefer to take another path. What are your options?
A. Community College
For those who think college is too expensive, community college can be a better promise. It’s not as glamorous as grad school, but it’s what most students need: get educated in two years and land a job the next month. It’s the minimum formation you can take to get a decent job.
Most of these are skill-based, which means you can learn at your pace. And unlike traditional universities, here, you learn lessons you’re going to use in your job a few months later. You don’t start with extended introductions or theory.
Not only does it take less time but is also far cheaper. The whole cycle should cost between $3,000 and $10,000, depending on where you study.
Also, it’s much easier to qualify than to apply to universities.
B. Get a Job
Plain and simple. People are always hiring somewhere, especially on the Internet. You won’t have to look long enough before you find one.
Some students believe they can’t get any jobs without a degree. Others don’t like the fact they’re working on low-pay jobs they hate. But if you really want to save money and time, this is a nice place to start.
As a seventeen-year-old, it may sound hard to get a job. But as soon as you start to live alone, your monthly expenses push you to find a solution.
The bad news is, it only pushes you just enough to pay for rent and basic needs. How much you earn depends on what you do after you finish your 9-to-5.
Yes, you saved money from your college.
Now you need a plan to stop wasting time on a job.
C. Invest In Passive Income Streams
If you’re not going to college, you now have to decide what to do with all those savings. You’re not just going to keep them in your bank account, are you? Your money is useless until you give it a use.
You can spend it, or you can make it work for you. Making money online may sound mystical at first, but it’s not as complicated. Definitely easier than studying for an exam.
If you saved over five figures, try to get some return-on-investment (ROI) of the money you don’t use. You can invest it in bonds if you want to play it safe, you can play with stocks, or you can deposit the funds on legit HYIPs (these can pay up to 20% ROI per month).
However, it’s too risky to keep money without a plan. So your first priority is learning to avoid scammers. They always seem to find you right when you have the big bucks:
You can also start working on your financial future. Open as many credit lines as you can handle your build up your credit score.
D. Online Courses
Just because you quit college, that doesn’t mean you should stop learning. It’s very right that you make the decision to invest your time and money better. What’s NOT okay is quitting college and laying on the couch all day.
Your mind has the key to your dream future. As you learn more (useful) things, you start to recognize the many ways you can achieve your goals. And everything you learn will translate into your earning ability. Who said you need a degree for that?
Let me tell you something better about online courses:
- Most of them are priced based on demand. No matter the topic, new releases cost $300-$500, and the best versions cost $1500. We’re talking of LIFETIME access to the course AND updates. If you pay $2000 or more, you can also get lifetime mentorship in some cases.
Compare that value to the $20,000 you pay for college per year. You got a good deal here.
- The instructors want to sell as much as possible, which is why they try to make the best courses they can. The length is the same as the average video game: 30-50 hours. Most video-lessons take less than ten minutes and include file attachments.
So if you’re really serious, you’re good to go in less than three days. And that’s how it’s supposed to be because the selling point of a course is the RESULTS. That’s why every minute recorded is 100% PRACTICAL.
- The best courses have networking opportunities. You usually access a private online group where you can meet people from all stages. The instructor often organizes weekly Q&A calls, sometimes even meetups. Nobody judges your success, and everyone is willing to help.
And here’s the last feature your college will never have:
- All courses have a 30-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked! You email the guy, and they refund you the next business day, no hard feelings. You don’t need to go through endless paperwork. They even refund you the transaction fees.
Did you know? If you work for a boss and your course is considered as “professional training,” you have the right to request your employer to pay for your course partially.
E. The Freelance Way
If you ever dreamed of living by your own rules as a kid, this is the simplest way to do it. Here you choose:
- What you’d like to learn (as long as there is demand)
- How much you want to work
- When to work, and where
- How much you want to get paid (if you want more, you offer more)
- How you balance life and work
This means much more than you think:
- If you earn enough in a few weeks, you can take months of vacations
- You can spend more time with family and making new friends
- There’s no more Monday-through-Friday mentality. Every day is Saturday
Of course, not everything is sunshine and rainbows. You’ll need to create some rules so that you have more freedom later. And it’s not easy to have that initiative when you’ve been following someone else’s rules all your life.
But if you really wanted, you could start right now:
- Pick a high-demand skill all businesses need (web-design, coding, copywriting, video-editing…)
Remember that you don’t need a degree. Your work quality and samples speak for themselves. And you don’t need clients to build your portfolio. You can invent one.
- Go to a freelance site like Upwork, PeoplePerHour, or Guru. Find all the people who want the exact service you’re providing
- Get back to Google. Learn how to position yourself to get interviews and show your best work to potential clients
- Talk to these people. Forget about what you want and simply try to be helpful. They will tell you what they want
- If you can deliver, great! You landed the job. If you do even better, that may be a long-term contract. As long as it’s the work and price you like, that’s a win.
That’s that. You simply repeat the process again until you’re booked full. And by that time, your skills have increased. You’re ready to raise your prices accordingly. You market yourself better.
But if you want to make the BIG bucks, you need to stop trading hours for dollars.
F. Start a business
The whole point of skipping college is to save time and money. But how are you going to use that opportunity cost?
You see, when you have limited time, you’re not going to get very far. Instead of working for money, work for a system, and then the system makes you money. Preferably passive income.
I don’t know what your goals are. But financial freedom is integral to living a meaningful life: travel to different countries, spend more time with the people you love, work on your passion.
Now, there are many business models, most of which require money to start. If you never started one, you’ll likely waste your money. So before you bet on those, try free-to-earn businesses first:
- Dropshipping/Arbitrage: You research the market to find a high-demand product you can sell for cheaper to someone else. You create a listing on a standard-price platform such as Amazon. And whenever someone buys it, you just order it from another site and pocket the difference.
- Drop-servicing: You research the gig market until you find high-demand skills at a lower cost (e.g., voice acting, copywriting, coding). You then go to a high-end platform (like Upwork) and offer the service at the standard price. When a client orders from you, you order from the cheaper freelancer. You keep the difference as profit.
- Affiliate marketing: You sign up for a few affiliate programs. Join forums and offer helpful answers (including the affiliate link) or create review videos. Every person who buys from that link earns you a commission.
Don’t expect to earn much as an affiliate. But because your content stays on the Internet forever, that gives you earning potential. Weeks later, someone may find your video on social media and buy.
Also, always send affiliate links if there’s a platform you all want to sign up for. Almost every major company has these reward programs.
As for real businesses, all models work. Choose any one you like as long as:
- There is enough market demand and hasn’t been satisfied yet (low competition)
- It’s hard for new sellers to get into (to prevent saturation)
- You control the business, including your product, marketing, or customer lists
- You have a massive market potential (e.g., local stores VS Internet international stores)
- You can automate or delegate most of the tasks (AKA exit strategy)
How to Make the Most Out of Your College Years
“Hey, that sounds great. But I’m ALREADY in college. What do I do?”
You have two options (and both are good):
- You can drop out and find a way to get by in life (risky)
- You can try to make college your best investment possible (safe)
Let’s start with the safe strategy. Don’t worry if you are at school already. That doesn’t guarantee you’ll waste your time and money in college. Remember? You decide what value you get from your investment.
Maybe you hate college, maybe you love it. Anyway, here are the goals:
- Get through college as fast as possible
- Earn enough money to repay loans after the graduation
- Enjoy the process
Sounds difficult? We’ll show you exactly how to do it. And if you do it right the first time, you will save invaluable time and money.
Now, this path assumes you have what it takes to grind your way through college. So if you’re ready to work, here’s the best way to do it:
Is it possible to study from home? If you’re responsible with your time, this can save you hours you’d otherwise spend in classes. While your classmates take a semester to master the course, you could learn it at your pace, maybe in three months.
Staying at home is comfortable and allows you to work how you like and whenever you want. As long as you know what you’re doing, it’s all pros.
If your college offers this, great. But if they don’t, is there any way you could skip classes? If they require you to stay in class 60h in the semester, you can spend the rest of the time at home.
Accelerate your learning
If you have strong productivity habits, you will likely go through the year without much effort. And for a smart person, it’s utterly boring to just sit there and wait for the course to finish.
If you’re doing so well, don’t do that. Increase the load instead, and you could go from four college years to three or two:
- Take classes on summer
- Take the maximum amount of credits. If you can pay to exceed the credit limit, that’s free money. Do it
- If you only need to pass an exam to complete the subject, do it as soon as possible
It IS possible to skip years. And every year you save is $20,000 you save on average (excluding costs of living) and one more year you don’t study.
Passive Income Streams
Speeding things up in college creates another problem. If you borrowed, you need to pay back the principal six months after graduating. While you’re studying harder, you also need an income plan.
It seems impossible when all your time goes into preparing for exams. But a passive business will keep making money while you sleep, 24/7/365.
All the free time you have should go into building this income stream. Preferably, choose one that requires no money to start.
For students, the info-product model works very well. You learn some skills people would like to learn, you create video-training, a private Facebook group, and you promote it with an Optin/webinar/sales page.
Let’s say you’re studying hard to accelerate college and already created passive income streams. If you still have some free time left somehow, use it to earn to try other make-money ideas.
For example, you can register into focus groups where they pay you $100+ per hour.
Feel free to experiment, but careful to avoid work-from-home scams.
And if you study because you want to apply to a particular job, maybe you could join as an intern already. If you take online classes, then you have your schedule free to work on that career.
Your College Exit Strategy
Here’s another scenario. You got into a university and find out it’s a mistake. So you want to get out while still living with freedom.
The answer here is tricky because it’s hard to recover what you’ve already invested. Moreover, your college may require you to pay the loan even if you didn’t study for all those years.
And to make things more complicated, you now have two areas of focus:
- You need to work on your escape plan
- But you also need to stay in college while your plan isn’t ready
It’s not smart to drop out unless you have an effective income stream in place. To exit the system, you would do the same we’ve mentioned before: take online classes, generate income, and try the college alternatives.
Now, we’re talking of 17/18-year-olds who have no income experience. We don’t even know if they have the work ethic necessary (let alone the motivation). Although this plan makes sense here, is it possible for you?
You will never have enough energy to do it unless you invest in yourself. So before you choose whether to quit college or not, make sure you’re working as hard (and smart) as possible.
- How do you choose to spend your free time?
- How do you set goals and organize your work?
- How can you stay in the flow state for as long as possible?
- Do you have an emergency plan in case things don’t go as expected?
- Have you optimized your diet, sleep, and exercise to get more energy?
- Do you have what it takes to overcome procrastination?
- How do you stay relaxed when there’s so much to do?
It’s okay if you don’t have the answer to all of these. But that’s what a productive person looks like. A person who truly worries about their time, money, and results. And if you’re not there yet, you should do one of two things:
- Accept you’re not as productive as you thought. You’re not ready for that, so it’s better that you stay in college.
- You don’t accept the situation, so you choose to improve yourself. And once you become productive, that’s when you question staying in college.
The Bottom Line
When you turn 18, things happen fast. You may haven’t realized it yet, but you have more control over your life than you ever thought. If you want to get the most out of your time and money, put the responsibility on yourself:
- College can be either super-valuable or worthless, depending on how YOU use it
- If you choose to stay in college, don’t think too hard about the things you don’t like or can’t control. Instead, focus on the skills you’re learning or the people you’re meeting
- Get rid of financial stress. Start working on your money from year one so that you can graduate joyfully
If you’re about to start college and don’t have a plan, it’s recommended to make money first and drop out later. You can quit right now anyway, but without a plan, be ready to waste years trying aimlessly.