There has been a lot of conversation lately about whether college is still worth it. There are some notable people, like Elon Musk and Grant Cardone, who think that college is a waste of money. Coming from two successful entrepreneurs, that’s not a surprise. Musk believes that success in college may be a good indicator of success in business, but does not believe that college is what makes someone a successful entrepreneur. Cardone is trying to sell books and workshops thus his motivation for denouncing college is more self-serving. So, what is the answer? Is college worth the price and time? That mostly depends on the person. First of all, college is extremely expensive, too expensive in my opinion. I believe everyone in this country should have equal access to two things: quality healthcare and a great education…but that is a slightly different conversation.
Today, private undergraduate colleges can cost as much as $300,000 for a four-year degree. Even a public college education will typically cost more than $100,000. This price tag makes some parents wonder if they would be better off saving the money, staying out of debt, and instead investing the money they would have spent on college for their kids. It’s a reasonable consideration. My opinion is that if your only reason for going to college is to make money, then there are probably more cost-effective ways to educate yourself enough to start a business or get a high-paying job. However, in my view, there are still some strong reasons for college:
Most professional careers require a degree. I think most people know that many professions require a college education, and some require advance degrees. If your goal is to become a doctor, lawyer, nurse, accountant, teacher, or professor, you’ll have to go to college. A degree is also generally required in order to work for almost any major corporation. Bottom line is that without a college degree your professional options will be limited.
Experiences are the most valuable things in life. Money is very important, but what makes it important? I have always preferred to spend my money on experiences rather than possessions. My wife and I love sports, theater, restaurants, and vacation destinations. I won’t think twice about the cost of flying to Texas to see my son play college basketball. Conversely, we spend relatively little money on things like cars, clothes, furniture, and jewelry. College can be one of the greatest experiences in anyone’s life. Beyond the academic experience, a good college can provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a young person to experience people from a diversity of social and economic backgrounds, develop their interpersonal skills, compete in a variety of activities including intercollegiate sports, socialize, and just have fun. If you have the means to provide your kids a world-class experience they will cherish for the rest of their lives, I think its money well spent.
Connections. Some colleges are better at this than others. But the more prestigious the college, the more likely it is to have a robust network of alumni that can provide you with an invaluable career boost. Ivy League colleges have alumni networks all over the world, but many other colleges provide some outstanding networking opportunities as well.
Once again, college is not for everyone, and you can certainly live a great life without a degree, but college still provides extraordinary value if you’re clear on your objectives and take advantage of all that it offers.
Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to speak at the T3 Conference in Florida…I surprised the audience when I explained how the issue of diversity has been framed incorrectly, and has for the most part alienated the business community.
Elon Musk dropped by the Real Time with Bill Maher show recently for an interview with the host. Maher, who considers himself a liberal is an obvious fan of the CEO of Tesla and Space X. The centerpiece of their conversation was their discussion regarding what Musk called the “woke mind virus” or what I prefer to call “cancel culture”.
People sometimes get me wrong. They think that because I talk a lot about giving back and living modestly, I must not care about money. On the contrary, I care a lot about money because I understand how our system works.