Is College Worth It?

Is College Worth It?

Good morning Hank! It”s Tuesday (evil baby Genghis Khan) So last night, long time nerdfighter roxinpunch posted this to her Tumblr: I keep looking through college degrees and the jobs you could land with them and I just keep going back to how overpriced it all is. Is it even worth it? That’s a really interesting question, not just to prospective college students, but also to people in their mid 30’s still paying off their college loans, so let’s examine it. Now of course most people outside of the United States will be like, “Of course university is worth it.” “University is free,” or, at least, very inexpensive. We also have subsidized education here in the United States, but it’s much less subsidized so here, if you live in Indiana for instance Indiana University costs about ten thousand dollars if you don’t live in Indiana it costs about thirty thousand a year So is it worth it? Well let’s say you spend a hundred thousand dollars on college including like, sixty thousand in student loans With interest you’re going to pay about eighty thousand total on those loans So your total college cost will be one hundred and twenty thousand dollars Expect you will also have spent a lot of time writing papers, and attending classes, and going to supposedly epic frat parties that are never actually very fun because even as you’re dancing and drinking and talking to vaguely attractive strangers there’s this omnipresent, gnawing feeling in your gut that nothing means anything and you feel this endless existential isolation Was that just me? Right, so anyway, you’re doing all of that when you might be working That’s called “opportunity cost” On the other hand, the eighty thousand dollars that you spend will actually be slightly less than eighty thousand dollars would’ve been because of inflation I’m gonna ballpark here and just say that your college cost is like $140,000 in this example But then you have 50ish years of labor-forced drudgery to look forward to Now again we have to deal with inflation and stuff, but let’s just say that if you make $175,000 more than you would’ve made, then college was “worth it.” So how much in per hour earnings over your career does a college degree have to generate in order to be worth it? About $1.75 So over the course of your career, if you make $13 an hour on average when you would’ve otherwise made $11.25 college has paid for itself And so most studies show that on average college is still very much worth it Although I should note that there are some for-profit universities and misleading vocational training programs that probably aren’t worth it But assuming you go to a reasonably good, accredited university there are two things that are true: One- it is criminally overpriced Two- it is probably still worth it But Hank, my problem is that calculation assumes that human life is a purely economic phenomenon, which it isn’t Let me give you an example As you know, Hank, a long time ago I worked the graveyard shift at Steak and Shake, and I made about $14 an hour on average It was a great job with good benefits, there was even a stock buying program which is why I still own 15 shares of Steak and Shake stock But about once a week at 3 or 3:30 in the morning I’d walk into the bathroom and even though the toilet was fully functional, I’d notice that there was vomit in the urinal. Now Hank, I don’t know if you’ve ever cleaned a stranger’s vomit out of a urinal but let me assure you that the most intense games of rock-paper-scissors I will ever play were played to decide who was gonna be on vomit-urinal duty. After graduating from college, I actually made $1 per hour less when I started working as an assistant at Booklist Magazine, but the job was better in every way. I was surrounded by books and people who loved them I had opportunities for advancement, and in 6 years of working there I never once saw vomit in the urinal! Hank, it’s been my experience that maximizing income is a hell of a lot less important than maximizing passion and fulfillment in your life both professionally and personally When I was in college, I remember fearing that the dreary grind of adulthood would feature, like, infinitely more existential dread than frat parties had, but the opposite has been true for me. I’m much less likely to feel that gnawing fear of aimlessness and nihilism than I used to be, and that’s partly because education gave me job opportunities But it’s mostly because education gave me perspective and context Whether you’re studying electrical engineering or poetry, college is not finally about maximizing income It’s about becoming a better, and more informed observer of the universe, And for me, at least, that’s what leads to a more fulfilling life. Hank, in a world where about half of humans live on less than $2.50 a day the opportunity to learn and study in a formal, dedicated way is still a gift, even if it has become a very expensive one. I’ll see you on Friday.

100 thoughts on “Is College Worth It?

  1. Any time money comes up in conversation from now I'm going to tell people they're operating on the assumption that human life is a purely economic phenomenon just to see them roll their eyes and walk away

  2. College cost too much for knowledge that hasn't changed. when was the last time U.S. history changed or calculus? As for, informed observer of the universe. I must be meeting different grads.

  3. Universities are unequipped to teach the subjects they offer. My CS classes are a joke. Either they are so easy you don't learn a thing, or so incomprehensible you can't learn a thing. Easy As or impossible Cs. And all the while, you learn nothing.

  4. people, learn how to make money on the internet. Learn how to take advantages of websites like shopify and amazon. Learn how to take advantage of the social media phenomenon. Learn how to take advantage of youtube. Learn how to start businesses online. Of course, these all take minor investments, but you can get a job until you've found that enough money has been rolling in. Being an entrepreneur has never been this easy. If you find yourself going to college studying something you don't give a f*ck about, just think of how you will be for the next 40 years. You're not married yet, you don't have children. You can afford to start businesses right now. The only time college is worth it is if you absolutely need to go in order to do the work you're passionate about.

  5. I got kicked out of university (I was too depressed to turn up to my resits. I'm not proud that I just disappeared instead of dropping out properly, but I could barely get out of bed at that point). I'm profoundly grateful it happened, but then I'm also grateful that I got to go to university in the first place, even though university in general, and the subject/department in particular, were too much for me.
    The fact is that university is not (at least in my, British, experience) the ultimate teaching environment that teachers like to tell you it is. It's a place where overworked academics, who often don't really like teaching or have any aptitude for it, stand in front of a half-empty lecture theatre, give a lecture which may be good or bad, and then either give you a mountain of homework/research to do, or give you no guidance on private study whatsoever. The trick, unless you are super dedicated and efficient (which not everyone can be), is to find out how much you can get away with not doing, and learn how to ignore the guilt of not doing the work you're officially supposed to be doing (or the networking session you're missing, or the internship you should be applying for). Meanwhile depending on the department, the faculty, overworked administrators and out-of-touch senior faculty repeatedly waste your time, insult your intelligence and devalue your work.
    On the other hand, the student societies and even the assignments set at university CAN, and in my case DID, do all those things that John did, and more importantly the environment of academic and cultural discovery allowed me to find an enriching community of friends, and allowed me to build a life away from an unhappy home. It was (astonishingly) worth the ~£25k debt for two years' study (given the UK's relatively generous concessions on repaying that debt). It was not worth enduring another year or two of stress, endless guilt and constant messing around by the department. I just wish I'd realised that earlier.
    No-one can tell a stranger whether they should go to university.

  6. Ask my uncle who’s a auto mechanic how much money he earn a year even though he didn’t go to college.
    He told me that when he was still in my age he was earning 30k-40k not bad earnings but due to long period of experience he learned so many about his job and now he got his own business and earning about 80k-90k.

    In the end, college can make you smart but it doesn’t give you experiences about reality.

  7. he mentioned indiana university and i got shook bc my aunt and uncle teach there (i live in md by the way) and one time i stayed in a dorm room over christmas vacation

  8. Those who cannot do, teach. We absolutely need teachers/professors but mentors and books are going to be your greatest tools in life. Why wait for experience or a degree when you can go to the library and learn from OTHER peoples experiences. This will diminish so much of your time. If your goal in life is to get a "good paying job" then you're on the very wrong path. Do you honestly think that's how life works? That you're supposed to spend your entire life and energy making someone else rich? Strive for more. The top 2% aren't working "good paying jobs" they are supplying the jobs. Nothing wrong with a stable career, but never settle for less than you are worth.

  9. It's definitely NOT worth it if you value your integrity and honesty. I guess if all that matters is money and status and comfort then 👍.

  10. My first extisental crisis was when I was 11. I watched a video on extisental nihilism and the universe’s inevitable death, (you know, like you do when you are eleven and bored) and just snapped into this insanely depressing state. It was miserable but strangely refreshing. For some reason I like learning about things that give me extisental crisises. It’s weird, I know, but I just find it fascinating. The universe is incredible. And now we have the internet. This is literally the greatest time to be alive.

  11. The price of college has been so jacked up lately that they've pretty much made it an unprofitable investment in many fields. I went to an Aviation maintenance vocational high school obtained my FAA licence for fixing aircraft and got a Job at an airline that started me at 60k a year with a top pay of 100k at the age of 20 with no college degree. Whether or not college is worth it all depends on the degree and demand there is for it in the Job market. Aswell as cost to profit margin.

  12. Graduate High school get a job then.
    1. Save and Buy a few acres of land cheap / zoned for farming w cash. Roughly 30 minutes from a small town. Build a solar friendly " A frame" house using recycled materials. Learn the land sell eggs, meat and produce. Hunt and fish. Buy as many guns and bullets as you still can. Be happy and practice gratitude. Most of all be free.

  13. it is if u don't waste your money going to a college that has spas, gyms, pools, steakhouses, water parks, and golf corses!

  14. But to his end point, that gift now a days is available for free on the internet now…so back to square one is it worth it to have a very expensive piece of paper saying you know somthing… most companies need to see that piece of paper to even consider hiring you but if your saying having knowledge of somthing we're passionate about is worth more than finical gain we don't need college for that. :/

  15. The true answer is, jobs today dont care about college degree's they care about experience. They dont care how you landed your previous jobs they want to know if youve done the job before which proves to them your worth. Which means. College for all its so-called worth only truly gives you debt. College is the backbone for the system of debt, that keeps ambition people with skills from challenging the establishment. College and every degree should be about enabling the student to create their own business in their field. but instead it only provides basic entry level skills that force students to seek work, placing them in the system of the labor force. The student loan debt, makes the rich richer and reduces the middle class, since students in debt are unable to get ahead financially, their working profits going off to cover debt expenses, often lasting for 20 years or more.!!!!.

  16. if you live in america, like i do, college is probably worth it. by 2020, it is estimated that 65 percent of jobs will require degrees. why? i have no idea.

  17. It's hard, but you should look into ways to reduce your college debt. Scholarships, community college, not going to a college far away, working part-time…

  18. I'm only months away from ending junior year of high school and I'm honestly considering not attending college. My family doesn't have the income to support me even though my grades are pretty good. I also have no idea what I want to do. I'm afraid of being shamed because I'm in a co-ed advisory where college is a huge focus and I don't want to disappoint my advisors: 2 amazing people who have supported me. My family also pushes to go but it still makes no sense why a guy like me should go when he doesn't know what he wants to do. We get spoonfed telling us we have to go to college to succeed but I feel like the drawbacks cant be handled by me or my family. I'm afraid to tell them how I feel. My family has a bad history with college so they are rooting for me to attend 4 years. I'm not sure how they'll react.

  19. Education opens doors but it doesn’t guarantee financial security. Regardless, the formal education system is becoming obsolete. Go to a trade/vocational school if you want to access the immediate skilled job market. The traditional 4-year college format simply delays the path of finding a career without any promises besides debt and stress…

  20. If you're getting a degree in ANYTHING that doesn't involve math…. then you're wasting your $$$ and time in college. PERIOD.

  21. All I want to do is work in nanotechnology, but the amount of useless classes between the associates I hold, and the masters I desire is endless.

  22. If your curious as to if college is worth it, consider this. If you dont really have much of an passion for something that you wanna be in, don't go. Hell Im forced to go to college and i have no time money or passion to even go, college isnt for everyone so its really up to you whether or not you wanna be in college.

  23. For my undergrad I had to pay housing costs but tuition was free since I was poor, since I transferred costs for housing was only 2 years. Since my ug degree was in a general field I decided to continue right after graduation with a more specialized grad degree in business which I'll be finishing up by next year. I'm doing this strategically because my intended careers 'prefer' the grad degree. Though I had to take out loans to cover the tuition and cost of living for graduate studies, the ROI will be well worth it later in life. (Growing up poor is a hell of a motivation to achieve upward mobility!)

  24. "becoming a better and more informed observer of the universe". I have a question. Can I become a better and more informed observer just by going to the library or buy from Amazon and read up on a subject (history, philosophy, sociology etc. ) that I am really interested at, and then Find a meetup group in that subject to discuss ideas and thought. Would I get the same kind of education if I do that ?
    For the STEM majors there is Khan academy (free)

  25. I found the environment really discouraging in every way.I was told not read anything(even got scolded for reading Stephen Hawkins) not related to exams or not to even do poetry since it won't be asked in exams!!!wtf!!!heck my parents even had to pay over hundred thousand rupees in not-so-optional donations to college even though the fees was just 12k

  26. FYI no matter whether you’re German or not, if you speak the language and have taken 4 AP classes (I think) then you can study in Germany for almost no cost. I pay 200-300€ per semester and most of that goes towards free public transportation and the rest is just administration fees. Those four AP classes are necessary to match the German high school education level because it’s a bit higher than the American one. And if you don’t want to learn German, lots of other European countries are similarly cheap. No matter where you go, this would definitely be the chance of a lifetime.

  27. it is too risky to go to college… if something goes wrong you have to pay a huge debt for the rest of your life.

  28. My mind is blown. I've never been given a statistical point of view about the price of college. Making $13 and hour is a lot different than making $11

  29. Actually let me set the scene. It is currently raining outside I must attend class in 3 hours. I’m questioning wether or not it’s worth it to go to class. Then I realized, these classes aren’t free the not only cost money but I have to maintain certain grades to even keep what little aid I have. Is college worth it in the long run? If I want to be doctor I’ll only be making a little more than a teacher due to my debt. If I want to be anything else well starting salary is just as much as any 2 year program I can enrol in with just a few community college courses. Such as policeman firman radiology technician freaking Uber driver. College is becoming less and less pertinent

  30. I think it's worth it in many ways. I will have more opportunities at work if I have a degree, the working environment is also different. Especially, when you go to college, you will come into contact with people who have the same goals as you, learn a lot to make the basics for your work later.

  31. He forgets to speak about brainwash what surprise, since most of brainwash is to become a SJW, what we known the greenbrothers supports it

  32. Well.. or you could just take the free online courses, then get blow through community college while doing an internship. Plus you have to think about how different his time was as opposed to the current generation. The cost of living has risen dramatically, and the wages have not. He would have graduated roughly ten years ago, and ten years ago was a different time. College is much more expensive now than it was before and you now have 30% chance of even getting a job in the field that you studied. 70% of college students DON'T get hired. So going college is kinda over rated, when you could just take free online courses for the sake of learning, and get a job and prepare for college so you don't end up in debt. Plus, the system is flawed. At sixteen you decide what your gonna do for your whole life? Sixteen? Who has their life together so much that they actually know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives, at sixteen? Like what?

  33. As a dude who came from a low income family, I can not afford a college education. I did go to trade school, however, in my opinion, I would not consider it college material? I graduated, but I need to do some computer work to get certified. I'm just saying, why couldn't I get certified in school? I guess it doesn't matter. To be honest, I probably would have killed myself a long time ago for being a waste of space, but I got people who depend on me. I work an 8 dollar an hour job, and all my check goes to bills. If someone asks, if college is worth it, I'd tell them hell yeah. Years of not treating my mental disability has deteriorated my brain to the point where I'm not able to follow along with simple word problems. Basically I'm too stupid for college. I've always said, some people were made to fail, and some people were made to succeed.

  34. This is the problem with a free market model. If colleges realize ppl are getting cheap money(loan), then the price will go up , and therefore leverage will be a part of getting a diploma.

  35. I came here already knowing the answer…it is not.

    The American schooling system is a big scam. Look at text books for example:
    You spend hundreds of dollars PER BOOK and an additional 80+ on an online access code so that you can submit your homework. But it's cool because you can just sell your books to someone taking the class next semester right? Fraid not, because now the curriculum calls for the next edition (same book with some of the chapters rearranged).

    Look at your class schedule for example:
    Schools will work around your busy schedule because they know that you need 2 part time jobs just to live, let alone pay off your student loans…except that they don't lol. They may offer a class which you need to take on different days at different times but if not enough students sign up for the class they axe it and you're left holding your…pencil…until next term when they offer it again (maybe). Plus, if you're going full time, it's a nightmare to plan the perfect schedule to work around all your other classes, your jobs, sleeping/eating, forget social life, and homework/study time.
    Then there are the prerequisites which have absolutely no use except to generate revenue for the school…like going to get an associate's degree in welding but having to take 3 years of English, 2 of foreign language, and 1 year of speech…about 10 grand and all that valuable homework time for nothing…

    Look at the grading system for example:
    We are tested on our ability to retain "facts" rather than to think critically. We are taught how not to fail rather than how to deal with imminent failure as it is in the real world. We are graded on a curve so if you don't really understand the subject matter it's ok cuz you still pass the class and move on…and don't get me started on group work…

    Take room and board for example: jail cells are larger…AND THEYRE FREE!! expect to pay rental house prices for a hundred square foot shared space on a floor with paper thin walls and an RA who emulates the most hated teacher from your high school.

    Take the job assistance for example:
    Some schools will help you find that dream job…if you can beat the other 499 students in your class to it. If you're lucky like me, your school will set you up with a job that hires you for 3 or 4 small projects on and off before you realize that you could be making more driving a forklift in a warehouse…which I do now (p.s. my benefits are waaaay better than my education related job too)

    Finally take the actual knowledge gained for example:
    I left half of my classes with an education that I subsidized with YouTube or the contents of library books (some classes, I never even broke the plastic wrap around my books…still couldn't return them though :/) and the other half of the classes that I passed…I have no idea how because I do not know one god damned thing about macro or micro economics…got an A though?!?

    Side note to that, though I know some words in Spanish, I could not form a correct sentence if 50 grand were on the line…which incidentally is what my degrees cost me…

    Education is important as it ensures prosperity in society and the world…all the more reason why it should be less of a scam here…

  36. Asking if college is worth it is like asking is a gym membership is worth it – it all depends on how you use it, how much you learn and grow from it, and how determined you are. Really only YOU can make it worth it.

  37. college is a scam, here is what you're gunna do.Start up a yt channel and make a video called is college Worth it.

  38. I love how I’m watching this in 2019 and this is still entirely relevant. I still have the issue myself of feeling meaningless. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one in that boat.

  39. Hank,
    I'm currently a mechanical engineering student, and i've been very ill most of spring semester, I've had 2 surgical operations and four courses of very strong medications that have been making me feel even worse. Today, I thought to myself: I can't do this anymore. I've lost all drive for engineering, but this video reassured me: everything is going to be ok. And, you're right, life isn't solely about economic fulfillment, its about enjoying what you do as well.

  40. College is worth it only if you're already smart and know what you want
    to be before you decide to attend. If you don't know what you want to
    do, and you aren't smart enough to get at least a partial academic
    scholarship I would suggest not going to college for at least a few
    years after graduating high school. Instead get a job, and take the time
    to discover your true passion.

    When you finally figure out what you want to be in the long run I
    suggest you do your own independent studies without actually going to
    college yet. Public libraries and the internet are great places to get a
    free education.

    Only after you've amassed a great understanding of your subject should
    you dish out money for your college degree. Remember, colleges aren't
    exclusively in the business of teaching you a subject, they are more of
    in the business of certifying that you adequately understand a specific
    subject. That $10K a year buys the diploma at the end, not the education
    – the education is up to you. 

    If you go to college with a full understanding of your subject and
    actually know what you want to do before you go you will succeed,
    otherwise don't go.

  41. Hey, I'm a Hoosier! 🙂 I'm 30 and I'm trying to decide if I should go back to school.. but here's the kicker… it's for an ART DEGREE. What do you think? I mean… nursing degree at 30? F yea. Art degree at 30?!?! Now theres a mind bender.

  42. Have you considered that the vomit in the urinal was because the human body has no anatomical adaptations specifically for the consumption of animal products? We are neither baby cows nor toothy carnivores with strong hydrochloric acid in our stomachs and short intestines compared to our trunk length.

  43. It's now 2019. I researched the eduction bubble for 4 years and this college thing is not working out for 90%.

  44. I mean, I have to worry about paying bills and rent and I am going to college (around 9000ish a year for me). One thing that I would like to mention about college and the costs are that they open doors for you to HAVE opportunities, but they aren't guaranteed opportunities. However, for people such as myself who have not only applied for and been turned down for $50,000+/yr jobs at big corporations and factories and actively disliked doing work in those environments for even crap wages, college is a great choice to expand your skill set and learn more about what you want to do with your life.

    Whether or not that leads to unbelievable amounts of success remains to be seen. But through failure or success, don't be scared and always be ready for the things you want to do with your life. Because you won't have another life after this one is over. You need money to survive, maybe thrive, and live reasonably well. That's what it's for.

  45. waw amazing this video is enlightenment. more then what i got from my college. since iam a computer science student.

  46. Hmmm. If you took that $140,000 and just put it in the S&P 500 it would be worth over 10 million. Seems like a better ROI to me.

  47. Anyone else watching this 7 years later in 2019 wondering if the college bubble is gonna burst within the next decade or so, thanks to cheaper alternatives of online education like Skillshare?

  48. Training U.S. doctors faster by cutting out college:


  49. College is way overrated, overpriced and often not worth it.  Consider the absurd cost of attending, the lost opportunity cost of investing in IRAs, 401ks, much delay in marriage, buying houses and cars, not even having children and 4 years of lost wages.  College also delays young people from maturing, wasting away in the college life of drinking, sex and drugs.  Colleges need to simply charge less for their educations, stop ripping off students for many courses in liberal arts that lead to nothing more than wasted time and money.  Why not have high schoolers go to college for only two years and just get the skills they need for work and do it online from home.

  50. im going to college because I want a better job and being a better person in this world. learning new things never hurt anyone but made us smarter you never know what you can learn from others

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