Quora Answer: What are the Benefits of Not Going to College?

There are a variety of benefits to not going to college. College is an expenditure of a number of resources — time, energy, money, etc. If you aren’t using those on college, you can be spending them elsewhere — namely, on something that’s in more direct alignment with your goals.

A few tangible, easy-to-measure benefits:

  1. You save money. Even if you’re working with scholarships, college is expensive; $20,000-$60,000/year is a steep price to pay as you’re starting your adult life. It isn’t guaranteed to pay off.

    Debt is a limiting factor in your decision-making process. You have to make choices that accommodate that debt until you pay your bills off — which will take years. Nearly 40% of students default on their loans.

    Not carrying the burden of debt means you’re able to make strategic financial decisions without factoring for your student loan bills. You can take a lower-paying but more strategic jobs. You can use that $20,000-$60,000 a year on something else — cars, a house, travel, other training resources, etc. College is a general investment. What specific investments might you make with that money?

  2. You save time. Why spend four+ years in school when you could be spending that same amount of time getting four+ years of working experience?

    In a lot of careers (especially in the business world) experience makes you more valuable than a degree does. Getting four years of experience means you’re four years ahead with savings, earning potential, competence, and status.

    Arguably far more valuable than four years of theory (but no real-world, tangible proof of your ability to create value in the workforce).

Those two quantities are objective and easy to measure — but there are a lot of other variables to measure, too.

College is a very general thing — a one-size-fits-all formula for launching your adult life. While it’s more specified than high school (different majors, etc.), it’s still a generalized system moving you towards generalized goals. There’s a lot more room for customization if you’re following a unique and specific path.

If you want to run a travel photography business, college might help you get there — but there may be much more direct ways of obtaining that goal (picking up photography gigs, building a presence online, networking with people already established in the space, establishing mentors, funding your own trips to build up your portfolio).

If you want to work in business, you might be able to get a degree in business from college — but going and working for a couple companies, gaining resume experience, building skills, obtaining references, and building your real-world competence is a much more direct route.

You’re working with finite energy and resources. The benefit of spending those resources on the most direct route to get you where you want to go is very high. If college isn’t the most direct route to get you where you want to go, then the benefits of not going to college will be substantial.

And as an extra bonus — not going to college makes you interesting. The world is becoming more and more friendly towards people who aren’t traditionally educated (the questions around college are becoming more and more prevalent) — so people will be tolerant of your decision, but they’ll also be interested, because you deviated from the norm and did something unusual.

Unusual = interesting.

Interesting = the formula for a good story.

Humans are storytelling creatures. We’re compelled by good stories. So on a human-interest level (and most of our interactions are impacted by human interest), you’ll get people’s interest when you tell them you didn’t go to college — and that’s beneficial too.

Read the full Quora thread here.

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