College isn’t for everyone. In fact, some people shouldn’t go to college at all.

I’ve worked with middle school and high school students for over ten years now. Ten years ago I would have recommended graduating seniors go on to college, get their Bachelor’s degree, and find a great internship to kickstart their career. College isn’t for everyone though, which is why trade school, apprenticeships, and my personal favorite, entrepreneurship are all great routes for high school upperclassmen to consider.

Think twice before getting your college degree - writetojoncookSince the economy downturn hit in 2008, it’s changed the way businesses are viewing candidates. It’s no longer the same subgroup of applicants pigeon-holed into consideration for a particular opening. More and more businesses encountered over-qualified candidates applying for under-paying, lower-level jobs because they weren’t finding other openings more suited for their experience, education, and salary expectations.

Five years ago I began my Master’s degree at the very bottom of the economic fallout. I withdrew after one year for a variety of reasons, haven’t returned or regretted leaving, and may never finish my Master’s. With what I get to do now as an entrepreneur, I don’t need a Master’s – what am I going to do, give myself a raise?

Think twice before going to college

Getting a college degree, whether it’s an undergrad, graduate, or even your doctorate, isn’t the guaranteed pedigree it used to be. There are several factors to consider before getting your college degree…

  • Student loans – I highly recommend cash-flowing your education, if at all possible. The average tuition cost for a two-year MBA degree in the U.S. is around $80,000. (Investopedia) Before you consider jumping into your Master’s degree, think about the financial obligation.
  • Income loss during education commitment – The average U.S. income in 2013 was $44,888.16. (SSA) If you go part-time at work to pursue your education, you compound the financial commitment in reduction of wages to offset your educational responsibilities. Of course, this isn’t a new concept, but the
  • No guarantee of increased income – Multiple college graduates over the past five years have told me how hard it is to find a job in their field. These aren’t the C-average students; these are straight-A, highly recommended students with glowing recommendations from department heads coming off excellent internships.
  • Bloated tuition costs for traditional universities and colleges – The average tuition increase for college education in the U.S. is projected to rise at a rate of 5% for the next ten years. A four-year degree for an in-state resident in the year 2033 is projected to cost almost $95,000 in tuition alone! ( Factor in that the average college student changes their major three times during their college career and it even further extends tuition costs.

Are college degrees good? Absolutely. At the same time, there are cheaper, highly effective ways to get a proper secondary education without breaking the bank or your income stream. You don’t have to go all four years to a $35,000/year state school when you can get a great Associate’s degree at your local community college and transfer to the school of your choice after your second year.

College is a fantastic experience. I enjoyed my college experience and still encourage high school grads to consider college as their first option. What’s changed is that I ask if they’ve considered other options besides college, just in case it may not be the best option available for them.

Launch Plan - CoverIf you haven’t considered the entrepreneurship route, I’d be more than happy to give you a free copy of my new book Launch Plan: Your Path to becoming a Successful Entrepreneur. This will give you all the insight you need to jumpstart your future as an entrepreneur, whether that includes a college education or not.

We all need as much wisdom as we can get, which is why I do what I do: helping people launch significant dreams to enhance the world around us. College may be a great starting point, but think twice before assuming it’s the best route for you.