College is a waste of time and money.
Twenty five years ago, college was less expensive by a factor of ten, even after adjusting for inflation. You could pay most of your costs by working for minimum wage part time and full time over the summer, and the degree opened enough doors to make a credential a pretty good investment. (…)
The benefits of credentials have declined over time, but the costs have increased dramatically. It’s basic math: the higher the cost and the lower the benefit, the worse the return on your investment. (…)
College credentialing has become a luxury market. Students (and their parents) aren’t really buying education – they’re buying social status. The credential is seen as a straightforward path to prestige. (…)
Make no mistake – credentialing can certainly open doors, but it can just as easily close them if you pay too much. If you finance your credential with student loans, you can quickly find yourself in a position where you’re paying the equivalent of a mortgage. (…)
Taking on loans to finance a credential can make becoming a successful person more difficult than it really needs to be. Debts make it difficult to change course, even if you find you don’t like your new life as much as you thought you would. And, just like credit card debt, they can quickly overwhelm you if you spend more than you can pay. Know the risks before you sign on the dotted line.
Never forget that colleges, universities, and student loan providers are businesses, and have a vested interest in maximizing the total amount you pay for a credential. The more you pay, the more limited your options and the lower your return. (…)
In a recent New York Times article, Allison Brooke Eastman, an aspiring photographer, revealed that she racked up $170,000 in student loan debt pursuing a photography degree – a situation so bad her fiance broke off their engagement when he found out.
No matter how you slice it, Eastman’s credential was a waste – she could’ve learned just as much (if not more) at a fraction of the cost by picking up a top-of-the-line camera, buying a computer and a Photoshop license, paying for tutoring with a pro, and shooting pictures until her shutter wore out.
That’s what Mark Cafiero, a professional wedding photographer in Denver, did – he’s a self-taught photographer who’s been shooting photos for most of his adult life. Mark regularly charges over $4,000 to photograph a wedding, and he’s booked solid. He has also created two other successful photography-related businesses on the side. No one cares whether or not he has a degree – his skills speak louder than any piece of paper can, and he has more work than he can handle.