Do You Really Need A College Degree? Really?

By Richard Reis

The Case For A College Degree

Whenever there’s a debate about college degrees, all roads lead to Steve Jobs.

Higher Salary

According to the Pew Research Centre, college graduates earn about $17,500 more per year than people who only have a high school diploma.

Higher Employment

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 2.5% of college graduates are unemployed. This is compared to 5.3% of people without a college degree who are unemployed.

The Case Against A College Degree

Now let’s talk about the bad side of college.


After all, this is a financial blog.


I’m sure you’ve seen some of the college controversies on the news.

“Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense.” — Jonathan Haidt

It seems like campuses are becoming hotbeds for political indoctrination. The proof is that these types of controversies tend to happen over and over again in the same places.


Another issue (for most subjects) is the 4-year obligation.

Poor Quality

Take a moment to read this excerpt from Steve Wozniak’s autobiography, iWoz: Computer geek to cult icon.”

Possible Alternatives

“Humanities majors may well learn a great deal about the world. But they don’t really learn career skills through their studies. Engineering majors, conversely, learn in great technical detail. But they might not learn why, how, or where they should apply their skills in the workforce.” — Peter Thiel

Whether you go to college or not, you will always need skills.

1. Fill Skills Gap

I’m sure you hear a lot about the unemployment rate.

“I get hundreds of letters a week from parents whose beautifully educated snowflakes are back home sleeping on their sofa. Beautifully educated but completely unqualified for any of the work that’s available.” — Mike Rowe

2. Find Direct Paths

You already know college simply is a system to prepare you for the workforce (albeit, not perfect).

  • However, going to college increases your risk of incurring debt, becoming indoctrinated, wasting too much time, and encountering bad teachers.
  • Two of the best alternatives to going to college are filling the skills gap and finding a more direct path.

“Number 1: You need to finish high-school.

Number 2: You need to get married before you have babies.

Number 3: You need to get a job.

That’s it. You do those things and you will not be permanently poor in the United States of America.

According to the Brooking’s Institute, 2% of Americans who followed these rules are in poverty, 75% have joined the middle class.” — Ben Shapiro

See you next week (follow the series here to be notified).


Personal Finance Series by Richard Reis

Learn (in 52 letters) the finance basics used by early retirees.

Richard Reis

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"I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other." - Epicurus

Personal Finance Series by Richard Reis

Learn (in 52 letters) the finance basics used by early retirees.