College is Unnecessary

At school today I was talking with some classmates about our plans for our future careers.  Almost all of them planned to go to a four year college and eventually become teachers, psychologists, physical therapists or some other fairly common job.

A couple planned to get two year degrees and become nurses or dental assistants, but not a single person from the group had any interest in pursuing a career that didn’t include some form of further schooling.  Except me.

When I told them my future plans didn’t include college, they acted as if I just told them I was the second coming of Christ.  They were absolutely shocked.  They warned me that if I didn’t go to college I was going to end up spending my whole life flipping burgers.  They warned me that if I didn’t go to college I would never be able to live up to my full potential.

So, I asked them why going to college was so important in insuring I had a successful financial future.  One of the kids started quoting statistics about the average income of high school graduates vs those with four-year degrees.  I asked him to explain to me why he thought those income figures were causation, rather than correlation.  He couldn’t.

He had never considered the fact that college graduates tend to have character traits that would result in a higher income regardless of whether or not they had received a higher education.

Nor had he considered that these statistics almost always fail to include those who attended college, but failed to graduate.  For statistics being aimed at potential college enrollees they’re quite misleading, because they’re only providing income information based on a select few “success” stories.  These statistics are about as credible as the infomercials for workout equipment where everyone effortlessly loses 50 pounds and feels better than ever before… For only 3 payments of $19.99!

Perhaps the worst thing about college is how much more productively the time could have been used.  College is seen as a stepping stone to success rather than an institution to increase your knowledge.  A place to regurgitate information on exams rather than learning.  A place to learn theory rather than real world application.

If being a lawyer (or some other career where college is a necessity) has always been your dream and truly resonates with you on the deepest level than by all means attend college.  But if you’re just going because society expects you to, or you don’t know what else to do, don’t.  You can do much better than that.  Live your own dream.

I could continue with more examples, but I think you get my point.  People immediately get defensive when you talk about college being unnecessary because they’ve never considered a future without college.  They’ve never considered that it may be possible to make a living without a small piece of paper because they’ve never thought about the true nature of money.

See, money is an indicator of value you’ve provided to society.  Provide lots of value and you’re going to experience financial abundance.  Provide little value and you’re going to experience financial scarcity.  The better you are at providing value, the more handsomely you’ll be compensated.

Most people operate with the mindset of trying to make as much money as possible while providing as little value as they possibly can.  In the long run this almost never works because you’re not providing a fair value to others in exchange for their money and nobody likes being ripped off.

I’m not sure why, but very few people ever consider anything besides the first approach, which is unfortunate because there’s a much more effective way to make money.  It’s actually quite simple.  Provide more value.

You don’t make money because of a small piece of paper you’ve received for sitting in a classroom for four years.  You make money because of the perceived value of that piece of paper.  That piece of paper is unnecessary to make a living.  All that’s truly required to achieve financial independence is to provide people with something they perceive to have value.

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