My $40,000 Experience: Was It Worth It?

It’s the inevitable post-college question:  Was it worth it? Four years and $40,000 later, I still say:  maybe.

I never questioned whether or not I would go to college. All of my friends were going, and I didn’t have any other plans. Although, I didn’t quite have a plan for my college career, either.

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My parents are both entrepreneurs. My father went to a technical college to become an electrician. And my mother went to beauty school to become a hair dresser. At one point, they each owned their own businesses:  Rino’s Electric and Karen’s Styling Salon. Later, they took on a joint venture:  KaRino’s Restaurant.

My parents never lacked for business ideas, but at 18 years old, I didn’t have the spirit to pursue an entrepreneurial path. Maybe that’s not it. Maybe it was that I didn’t know that pursuing an entrepreneurial path was a viable option. I sat in a classroom where everyone talked about applying to college, and getting a career. No one talked about becoming an entrepreneur. So, I hopped on the bandwagon and went to college, even if I didn’t know what I wanted to do or be yet. Mistake? I think so.

The College Experience

I don’t want to look back and regret my college experience. I had many fantastic opportunities to explore, meet new people, study abroad, and learn things I otherwise would’t have. College opened my eyes to diversity, culture, and new ideas. For the first time, I got to experience independence. I lived on my own and managed my own schedule. I went through four years, pursued a double major in Journalism and French, and walked off the campus for the last time in 2012, diploma in-hand. I was ready for a career.

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But, College Isn’t the Only Path

Despite my experience, my stance is that college doesn’t always have to be the only, or even the best, path to a career that you love.

In high school, I was under the impression that it was. College is where you go if you want to be successful. But, looking at my parents, neither of whom obtained a four-year degree, have each launched their own successful businesses. And I know they aren’t alone. In fact, some well-known college dropouts have struck massive success:  Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Ellen DeGeneres, Mark Zuckerburg, Natasha Beddingfield, to name only a few. But they got there because they are insanely self-motivated and disciplined…not the case for everyone. If you’re motivated  enough to pursue your passion, you could redirect college tuition funds to startup your very own business.

So…Is College Worth It?

The answer to the question is completely dependent on who you are, what you want, and how you decide to get there.

If what you want is to pursue a degree in Nutrition to become a Registered Dietician, then pursue it! College is the way to go. You’ll need a degree and certification. If you’re floating through college, switching from major to major in an attempt to “figure out what you like,” then maybe college isn’t ideal. Instead, you could job shadow, gain real-life work experience, or travel! You’ll still gain tons of experience, and hopefully a better idea of what you really want to pursue.

In other words, college can be worth it if your dream job requires you having a degree. Statistics do suggest that college graduates make higher salaries, on average, than high school graduates. However, there’s no harm in putting off your college degree one, two, or three years until you can concretely say, “this is what I want to pursue.”

Now that the $40,000 experience is over, it’s time to focus on the next step:  getting rid of debt. If you’re in a similar situation, stop back in to read my next blog about top tips and tricks to pay down your student loan debt faster!

Make sure to share your thoughts:  What do you think about college? Was it worth it for you? Do you have any regrets? Or, did you not go to college to pursue your own path? Share your experiences!

Thanks for reading,
Casco FCU