This post may contain affiliate links. For more information please read the disclaimer.

I am back baby! I hope everyone had a great 4th! Nothing like enjoying freedom in the form of hot dogs, furniture sales, and watching fireworks. It’s time to shift gears as reality sets in that 99.9% of us are still on the road for financial freedom. Today, I want to tackle the question; are college loans worth it?

Now, despite my callous feelings about student loans, my biggest gripe regarding them is that a significant majority of people that end up in debt are the ones that don’t have a clue what they want to do in life.

Moreso, it’s not uncommon to see that we are often sidetracked by doing what we really want to do because we are already in debt by the time we find our calling.

Regardless, I don’t think I’m alone when I say college loans aren’t worth it most of the time. But that isn’t always the case. I want to talk about when college loans are worth it.

No More Student Loan Meme

When Are College Loans Worth It The Trouble?

I think there are 3 major buckets that are applicable when qualifying the value of college loans.

#1: Your Career Has Always REQUIRED Collegiate Schooling

You would think that is obvious, but believe it or not, I find a vast majority of jobs/careers don’t require a degree in a specific field. Don’t believe me? Ask your parents or any adult in their 30’s at Starbucks and you’ll get a mix of responses of how they found their career.

So, which careers require a specific degree. Generally, these are the ones that need to have additional certifications and likely more than 4 years of education. Primary examples include:

  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Engineering (to an extent IMO)
  • CPAs
  • Lawyers
  • Space/NASA
  • Scientists/Physicists

“But Joseph, I hear that in order to get a top job you need to get an MBA with an X.X GPA that isn’t included in your list”. Sure, that is true to an extent. I know for a fact that I won’t land C-level position in a number of Fortune 100 companies because I don’t have an MBA, but out of the tens of thousands of major companies that exist, I would be a strong candidate.

^^This isn’t meant to brag, but it’s mainly to point out that there are so many positions/jobs out in the world that doesn’t fit the traditional mold. Especially now in a skill-based & results oriented economy.

However, all of the careers I pointed out above do require schooling and a significant level of dedication. Sure, there are some career paths that I might have omitted. But this brings me to my next point.

#2: Your Degree Brings Out A Positive Financial Outlook

Now, more than ever, having a specialized skill is likely to bring you much more money compared to a general degree.  In my opinion, a sizable number of degrees fall under this category.

At the same time, there are a number of specialized trades/schools that don’t require you to have a degree, but rather a certification that can easily replace college (for a fraction of the cost and time).

Regardless, if you took the college path you generally get an early step-up compared to the competition when finding employment.

Some of these fields are:

  • Marketing
  • Business
  • Computer Science
  • Nursing
  • Engineering (again, to an extent)
  • Management (in nearly all fields)
  • Advertising
  • Financial Planning
  • Banking
  • Actuary
  • Computer Networking
  • Project Management

A lot of these fields start paying between $60,000-$100,000+ only a few years out of college (or immediately). So even if you owe $50K in student loans, you can pay off the loans before you reach your 30’s.

“Hold up, Joseph, didn’t you get a degree in Marketing? You still have student loans.” As yes, there are many reasons why I still have debtHere’s the reality, I don’t think most people are designed to do one thing forever. 

So while it might be on paper that this option makes sense to go to college, I think 50% of us are financial freedom fighters that would rather follow a passion that supports how we live.

I got a traditional marketing degree then decided to play poker professionally and attempt stand-up comedy. All of my internet marketing skills I’ve learned was self-taught.

That’s why I think this option is almost ‘fools gold’. Honestly, if you are a teenager or someone who is considering going to college, I recommend finding a trade school or boot camp as they are significantly cheaper and faster compared to college.

#3: Your Degree Is Required To Follow A Passion

Technically, this is similar to #1. But the main difference is that I noticed most of these people already have a passion for something and a degree is ‘required’ to break into an industry or is needed but doesn’t pay well.

While some of these industries can eventually pay more, it’s not the norm. There are several types of career paths that are like this.

  • Art
  • Writing
  • Hospitality (to an extent)
  • Music/Entertainment
  • Video Production
  • Generally most ‘literature” majors
  • Social Work
  • Teaching

There are a number of careers mentioned in #1 that can count here. The main difference is the items in #1 pay dramatically more. Some people specifically get a degree simply to make more money and nothing else, there is nothing wrong with that.

But generally, the careers mentioned in #3 are catered to those who have a genuine passion for which salaries might not justify the cost of education but are worth it for overall fulfillment.

So Should You Go To College?

Honestly, this is up to you. You shouldn’t listen to advice for such a monumental decision from a random person on the internet. Ideally, you can find ways to save money on college or any educational path you take in the form of scholarships and grants.

But if you feel like you have to go to college for the sake of it, or that you will be the first person in your family to go to college, then you might want to reconsider.

I would have preferred to spend $5K and 9 months of my life to learn a specific skill instead of $75K and 4 years going to college for a degree for the sake of getting one.

But I’m only speaking for myself. There are so many careers/jobs that are out there that you might not be aware of. My goal is to help bring the light on these. Keep your eyes peeled for resources that can help you gain the skills to break into better jobs.

Related

Student Loan Worth It Graphic