College is a Scam and Here’s How it Works

The little knock off universities you see on day time tv commercials are a scam. The masters and graduate degree programs pushed after your bachelors are a scam. Law school is a scam. Higher education across the country is a scam. When I say scam, I’m referring to everything (you can make a case to except med school and some training schools).

As someone who was completely taken by higher education, allow me to explain how the ruse works.

Universities and colleges thrust themselves into your field of vision. Whether you’re in high school or 40, they emphasize how important a college degree is. They’ll come at you from any angle possible:

  • Get an education to make something of your life
  • Get a degree so you can get a real job/start a career
  • Get a degree to make your parents/family proud

The beauty of these angles (from the college standpoint) is they’re laden with logical elements.  The sad reality (from your standpoint) is you will be irreparably and materially harmed.

Let’s address the bullet points in order:

Make something of your life.  Education is essential for success.  It’s true.  But formal education isn’t.

Get a job.  Two decades ago, a college degree was vital to getting ahead in corporate America (or any America).  Now, everyone has one and companies are more focused on hiring people that know what they’re doing.  True, some fields (such as medical and legal) require certification to participate but most fields don’t.

Make your family proud.  Que the stock photo of you smiling in your cap in gown with your mom and dad hugging you.  Your family will be proud of you but will you make any money after graduation?

Go Time

So now you’ve got all the reasons to go to school.  And you’re not really doing anything else with your life so why not apply for next fall?

You apply and guess what – you get in!

It’s time for celebration.  You have a family dinner to commemorate your entry into higher education.

Next comes the hard part…the money.

The tuition looks a little pricey but maybe you can get financial aid to float you an array of student loans to cover everything.

You apply… and the loans come through!  All you had to do was get your parents to cosign but it’s not a big deal because with your new education, you’ll have plenty of money to pay back your loans — you won’t need your parents to lend you any money.

1-4 Years Later

You go to classes.  Do some homework.  And before you know it, you’re the guy or girl with the cap and gown.  You did it!

Now you’re off to go get your new amazing job.

Uh oh, one small problem.  All that talk about getting a job or starting a career from your school is starting to ring hollow.  Turns out nobody cares about your degree or the school you got it from.

Also, it seems that the jobs that do require a degree also require a lot of experience that you don’t have.  And even if you did have the experience, you’re starting to find out that there’s A LOT of competition for that one $12/hour part-time position for your background.

After 6 months of surfing Craigslist and Monster.com, your confidence is completely deflated and Sallie Mae or Navient (and possibly the federal government) is hounding you for all those thousands of dollars you borrowed.  You try avoiding their calls but they’re relentless.

You finally answer and put your student loans into forbearance with the juice running.  In retrospect, you wish you would have paid closer attention to the interest rates attached to your loans.  Some of them are outrageous.  How could such feel good educational loans contain such loan shark terms?

Oh, and by the way, no one told you this but you can’t get student loans discharged, not even by bankruptcy.  Only way to get rid of them is to die.

Enough!

Finally, you end the madness.  You get a job as a waitress, a cashier, or something else you could have gotten without your fancy cream paper.  You might even move back in with your parents to save money.

You earn just enough to eek out your food and cell phone bills and the minimum student loan payments.

The Cycle of Scam

Thanks for playing the game of college.  We’re sorry we scammed you out of your money and future by giving you a very general education on a bunch of cursory subjects that have no practical value but you have to admit, you were the one who filled out the application.

Do you see what’s happening?  Let’s condense it down:

1. You borrow money from your future self with the idea that you’ll earn much more money than you borrow.

2. You spend years of your life paying that money to an educational institute to increase your marketability in the job market.

3. The education isn’t practical and nobody needs your skills.  You get no money.

4. The colleges get the money from your guaranteed loans.

5. You have to spend the rest of your life paying your student loan lenders back, lest you want to pass this burden onto your parents.

In the end, you pay tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) of dollars only to get the same job and the same pay that you could have got without college.

You were scammed.

My Advice

Don’t go to college.

If you do go to college, go for the experience.  Get drunk, go to parties, play intramural sports.  And go to the cheapest, most crowded public school you can find.

Along the way, educate yourself by practicing or reading books on stuff you’d like to do that has actual practical value.

You have to make money on your own at some point.  Learn to do stuff that people need.  Web design, algorithms, programming, etc.  To get ideas, browse the jobs posted section on Odesk.com or Freelancer.com.

The student loans crisis is the next crisis (possibly worse than the home loans crisis).  It’s happening right now.  Don’t be a part of it.

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