But is college really worth it?
Or is a degree just a ticket to corporate slavery?
Is a University Degree Worth It?
We’re told by parents, teachers and others that we should go to college or university so that we can get a good career later on.
And then spend the next decade or longer paying off your college debt. Whilst you also take on a mortgage for a house or apartment – yet more debt.
I was talking recently at a meet up with some fellow ex-graduates from my university economics course about our time spent at university and how things are for graduates in the UK nowadays.
We talked about the changes in financing and tuition fees that have occurred. Universities in England used to be free for most students.
But over the years this system has been reformed and changed and universities now charge fees to students directly. It may sound like something out of Alice in Wonderland now, but UK students used to receive grants or stipends from the government that weren’t repayable. And there were no tuition fees for most native students either.
That system has pretty well been abolished and student loans and tuition fees are now standard for most of the UK.
As a result, graduates nowadays leave university and start their working lives with a huge heap of debt hanging over them which then takes years to repay.
For US college graduates, this situation is nothing new. College students in the US have long had it worse in terms of debt. They usually have to bear the full costs of going to college. There are scholarship programs and stipends available for some but they’re the exception and not the rule.
Anyway, my fellow ex-grads asked me if I would do my same degree course again this time round if I was looking to go to university as a new school leaver nowadays.
I thought for a moment and then gave my answer. A frank: no.
They then asked: what degree course I would choose and sign up for instead if I was entering the system now?
And I also had to answer: probably none.
Why I No Longer Think University is Worth It
I don’t think university graduation is worth the money anymore. And we’re talking about a lot of money – debt money.
In some cases a degree course can still make sense. If you want to pursue a technically specific career for instance. Such as engineering, medicine, architecture, or law. But the large majority of degree course subjects or majors I don’t think are worth the time and money.
I also have my doubts even about business studies. Most business studies courses tend to be theoretical. You spend a load of time learning about things such as “organization theory” and “consumer behaviour”.
Much of this is of little practical use in real life day to day business. And the big irony is that most business studies degree courses don’t even teach you how to run a business, let alone start one.
The other problem is that business studies degrees, like many university degrees in general, prepare you to become fodder for the big corporates. And especially fodder for the big accountancy firms. Maybe they should be called “Corporate Cubicle Studies”.
Now if you’re willing to become big corporate fodder, then fine. But it’s not for me and not what a lot of other people want.
Luckily my own degree course did provide a practical business placement program. So I spent a year with a software start-up. This taught me a great deal about everyday, real life business.
In fact I’d say the practical know-how and insight I gained from my placement year was worth more than the rest of the degree course and the piece of paper at the end put together.
But you don’t have to sign up for an expensive degree course to spend a year as a low paid intern with a business. There are plenty of businesses who will offer you that. They’ll be only too pleased to get some motivated labour at a low price for a fixed period with no further strings attached.
Of course, university can be worth attending for other reasons. Maybe just for the experience, or for the social life and sports activity.
But even then you don’t have to enrol at a university to enjoy a social life or do sports. That seems to me to be a very expensive way of doing it.
So what would I do this time round?
I think I’d do one of two things.
Attend University in Europe
If I really still wanted to go to university, but without ending up with the debt the UK and US now impose on their graduates, I’d probably sign up for a university course in the Netherlands, Belgium or Germany.
If you’re a UK citizen you can study at universities in other countries in the EU with little or no tuition fees.
Some courses in Netherlands and Belgium are even now taught completely in English, for example at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
This will sound a little fantastic to North American readers, but Germany in particular has a long tradition of providing higher education free of charge – both for native and as well as overseas students.
Germany regards higher education as a public service which should be available free to anyone who qualifies for entry. The traditional German view is that access to knowledge should not be restricted by access to money.
To study in Germany you need to have an acceptable proficiency in German but this isn’t so difficult to achieve if you’re prepared to work on it. Basically you need to get your German up to roughly UK A-level standard.
You then attend a special preparatory course in Germany arranged by the universities to bring your German further up to the required level before starting your full degree course.
Use Your Student Debt Money To Start A Business Instead
Alternatively – and I think this would now be my preferred choice, I would start a business right away instead of going to university.
Instead of getting into a heap of debt by the end of your 3, or 4 year or whatever degree course, consider using that money as starting capital to launch a business.
What’s more, you’ll have a job and an income as a result.
You won’t have to go begging with your CV to human resources departments, doing demeaning “aptitude” tests and being probed in panel interviews where you get asked to come up with 20 uses for a paper clip. I’ve been there and done that. Too horrible to contemplate a second time around.
The great thing about the Internet is that there’s heaps of practical business know-how online 24×7 for you to take advantage of.
So there’s no need to spend four years on a business studies degree program being bored out of your mind in lecture halls listening to someone droning on about top-down organization theory and vertical and horizontal markets and all the rest of it.
Learn How To Start Your Own Profitable Online Business
I’m a strong believer in the value of proper training whenever I start a new venture.
If you want to start your own business on the Web, then there are plenty of training programs out there which claim to teach you how to get started with an online business.
The trouble is many of these programs are based on little more than hype. They promise 4 hour work weeks, instant riches and similar such nonsense.
Success in business – whether offline or online, comes from identifying a need and meeting that need by providing value. That means work, persistence, and applying the correct know-how.
Instead of being taken in by the hot-air of the get-rich-quick hucksters, take a look at some of the genuine business training programs I can recommend for online marketers.
I’ve reviewed the courses I’m personally most familiar with and which offer real value. These are all solid professional training courses for beginners to online marketing – and taught by well-known, reputable, and experienced online business professionals.
Don’t waste your time chasing unrealistic claims from disreputable operators from the get-rick-quick brigade on the Internet.
Read my reviews of the programs I can recommend to you as the most reputable for newcomers to the digital economy.
They will teach you the practical know-how you need to get started with your own online business – and at a sensible and affordable price.
Say goodbye to corporate slavery – and good luck with your new entrepreneurial adventure!
Image Attribution: Courtesy of Pixabay, creative commons license.