Sometimes we do things just because we think we’re supposed to. Getting a college education can definitely fall into this category. Thirty years ago, sending a kid off to a college campus to “find herself” in the “college experience” did not cost what it does today in tuition or opportunity costs.
Things are changing. For one, the job market is becoming much more specialized so a general degree with mediocre grades gets very little traction. I would argue there are many kids sleep-walking through college who would be better off on a different path. We have a local employer who is desperately seeking out high school graduates interested in learning how to program and maintain industrial robots. Four years later, the same kid will have highly marketable skills, a VERY nice income, and money socked away in his retirement plan.
Bottom line: we need to ask our children why they want to go to college, and they need to verbalize a desire with sound reasoning in order to justify current costs. The price is around $150,000 all in for four years away at school. $150,000 can pay off a mortgage, help fund retirement, or heck, maybe buy two really nice BMW’s. There are some creative alternatives to a college education popping up.
Quick final note: Michael Dell was one year ahead of me at the University of Texas. College was not his thing so he dropped out to assemble and sell computers. By the time I graduated, Dell Inc. was a listed public company on the NASDAQ. He had a great idea but more importantly, his timing was perfect. The opportunity costs Michael would have paid for finishing his college career just because “that’s what you’re supposed to do” are staggering.