Seven Reasons Not to Send Your Kids to College

Imagine a retirement where you could have an extra $1million to $3 million in the bank with basically no effort. Now imagine telling your kids that you aren't going to send them to college. And, you go on, you want them to immediately start a business or get to work as soon as they finish high school.

These are difficult things to imagine because we've been so scammed by the "career industry" that tells us we need college degrees in order to succeed in life, regardless of how much money we spend for those degrees or what we actually do with our lives during the four to eight years it takes us to get those degrees.

But in my view, the entire college degree industry is a scam, a self-perpetuating Ponzi scheme that needs to stop right now.

Here Are Seven Reasons to Say "No College" to Your Kids:

1. More than 60% of people entering college take more than four years to graduate. So whatever you think your kids are going to cost you to go to college, add 20% to 100%.

2. The cost of the average college tuition has gone up nine-fold since 1976 versus seven-fold for health care and three-fold for inflation.

3. The differential in lifetime income between a college graduate and a non-college graduate over a 45 year career is approximately $800,000 (read on).

4. If I put that $200,000 that I would've spent per child to cover tuition costs, living expenses, books, etc. into bonds yielding just 3% (any muni bonds) and let it compound for 49 years (adding back in the 4 years of college), I get $851,000. So my kids can avoid college and still end up with the same amount in the worst case.



5. If smart, motivated, ambitious kids (the type of kids who get the most out of college) avoided college I'm sure the differential would be a lot less than $800,000 and may even be negative (i.e. they would make more if they avoided college and started going into the business world earlier).

6. The average debt burden of a college graduate is $23,000. Up from $13,000 10 years ago. Students with professional degrees can see their debt burden go higher than $200,000. Total student borrowing has topped $75,000,000,000. It's too much for young adults just starting their careers.

7. Alternatives to spending $200,000 per kid so they can waste four years of their lives:

  • Give them $20,000 to start one to five businesses. Most businesses fail but that's ok. The education from the process lasts a lifetime and the network you build when you start a business will lead to many future jobs and possibilities.
  • Travel the world. That would be an education that pays many dividends and is much cheaper. Your kids can then go to college with a much more mature view of the world.
  • Work. They won't get the best jobs but they can make money, network, get a "hands-on" education, learn the value of money and go to college in their 20s when they can afford it -- and make every dollar worth it. Plus your kids will have a more clear idea of what they want to do in the world.
  • Volunteer. Let them see a side of life that is harder and where they can add value. An education like that is invaluable.
  • Do nothing but read. Get the benefits of a college education without paying the $200,000. I'd be happy to support a child that wants to home school a college education.

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The Pearl

Drop # 4. It's irrelevant to 99% of college kids out there. I think hilary's case is a much more accurate representation of the average college student. It's the same case as mine basically.

As tough as it is to afford getting an education these days, most of us can't afford NOT to get an education. Unless you're a Mark Zuckerburg, you should really try to stick it out and get the most you can from it. I resented going to class plenty of days, but don't be so quick to totally discount it. I could pull out plenty of stats in favor of having a degree. College isn't the only way to invest in success though. Surround yourself with good people, invest in them, and they will invest in you.

And if you're going to talk about a self-perpetuating ponzi scheme, you should take a look at our social security program... now there is a ponzi scheme! It can no longer sustain itself... just kept getting bigger and bigger and until it was out of control and falling apart at the seams!

June 13 2011 at 3:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
KRCUBE

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May 02 2011 at 11:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lindsaygravina

Strangely enough, this article is actually VERY GOOD advice for rich parents. (It's rather useless advice for the majority of us, however.) I'm a college student, and in my life I have met some very dysfunctional kids. I have found that many of the most dysfunctional of the dysfunctional students are rich kids. A large part of the reason behind their dysfunction is their upbringing: rich kids can get too used to their problems being solved for them. They never learn the true meaning of failure and thus they struggle learn independent decision making skills. If you are the kind of parent who can afford to throw several thousand dollars at your children and instruct them to fail at several businesses rather than going to school, I say go for it.

August 22 2010 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
klynn2you

This article is completely ridiculous. Really how many people actually pay $200,000 for their child's college education? And if they do then they don't need an article like this telling them how to save that extra money for their retirement because they already have more than they need (perhaps this author is in that camp?).
My parents paid something like $10,000 for my college education as well as buying me a used car for $8,000. I lived at home for 2 years to get my AA (and paid for it myself by working evening shifts at a local hotel). I also have a Master's degree that was paid for in loans.

August 18 2010 at 1:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hilary

I agree with the overall sentiment of this argument, but I don't like how the author assumes that all parents are paying for their kids' college educations. I'm in my fourth year of school. Amount my parents/relatives have contributed to me: $0. Amount they would have contributed to me to "start one to five businesses" after high school: $0.

August 13 2010 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
elephantgun00

The essential problem here is that the author is assuming parents have the financial capability to not only to continue to support their children after high school but to also give them THOUSANDS of dollars to "open a business" or "travel" or "volunteer." I would have loved to have that opportunity, and I'm sure my mother would have been willing to give it to me had it been possible. The fact of the matter is that for most people, it is not. I recently graduated with my B.A. and my entire education has been financed by grants, scholarships, and student loans in my name. My parents, unfortunately, are not in the position to pay for my college, let alone hand over 20k or even 5k for me to essentially play around.

I agree that college is incredibly overpriced (I've got 50k in student loan debt to prove it), and I'm fairly terrified that I won't be able to find a decent job. However, college not only provided me with an education and experience, but I was also able to have an internship, travel, and study abroad (all financed by student loans)--- things I never would have been able to do if I had simply tried to find employment after high school.

August 12 2010 at 10:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ftzdomino

You're totally ignoring the time value of that $800,000 income differential. If the differential were invested each year after paying back loans, the argument would not come out in your favor.

This argument works only if you ignore one of the most basic principles of economic decision making.

August 10 2010 at 12:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
luckefelo

The counselors should tell the kids before entering college what jobs are in demand before just taking the money. I have no problem with college as long as my kids go to school in a field like engineering, medical etc., jobs that are in demand. If they are going to college for business forget it, then they could go out to work for a company that will pay for thier edumacation once they get employed. My kids are really miss lead that you have to have the diploma to get a job. If your child is a leader in life they will do just fine, but if they are a follower, no business would be good for them. College today is a scam, if colleges did not B.S. the kids to going to school, the colleges would go Broke. Like any other scam tell the kids they have to get a degree to get a good job and they all run to the college, only thing good about the college is the teachers get paid and your kids lose at the end.

August 10 2010 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mamelo007

for me, it's completely different case then you guys :)
I live in middle east and I got scholarship in some institute
and I got guaranteed job after graduation 'cos we signed a contract to work with the company which gave us the scholarship.
p.s, we get salary every month if we do well.

August 10 2010 at 8:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mamelo007

for me, it's completely different case then you guys :)
I live in middle east and I got scholarship in some institute
and I got guaranteed job after graduation 'cos we signed a contract to work with the company which gave us the scholarship.
p.s, we get salary every month if we do well.

August 10 2010 at 8:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply