Nine days. That’s how long we have left in the student-loan-payment-free world we’ve all been living in since March of 2020.

Three and a half years later, it’s easy to understand how the typical $350 monthly payment has been long forgotten. The takeout, entertainment, or clothing spending that took its place? Hard spending habits to break.

Economists are focused on whether the sudden drop in “spending money” in millions of pockets will have any big impact on the economy. But at Biz Kid$, we think it’s a good time to raise an age-old question that’s grown even louder in recent years: is college worth it?

The hot-button issue has been the matter of dinner table debates for generations. Yet as the cost of college increases, and the value of some trades does too (e.g. coding, plumbing, and construction), the question is more relevant than ever before.

Source: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/rising-cost-of-college-in-u-s/

By one assessment, a quick glance at the world’s most successful companies would suggest that a college degree is by no means a prerequisite for success. (“If you don’t need a college degree to make it on the Forbes’ billionaires list, I don’t need one either”!)

But another metric tells a different story. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, a person with a bachelor’s degree earns $630,000 to $900,000 more over the course of their lifetime than a person with a high school diploma.

So where’s the rub here? Perhaps it has more to do with focus or ambition than a piece of paper. In addition to sharing a lack of letters after their names, Zuckerberg, Gates, and Winfrey each scrapped university for something else: a specific plan.

Oprah went into broadcasting, Zuckerberg focused on Facebook, and Gates ventured to his garage to invent the PC and the software that runs on it. In each case, the void that could have been occupied by college courses was occupied by focused ambition instead.

That’s what’s special about entrepreneurship. While it requires drive, tenacity, and courage, it doesn’t require a degree.

But what if self-employment isn’t your jam? There are plenty of other lucrative careers that don’t require university training. According to U.S. News and World Report, the highest paying jobs that don’t require a college degree include patrol officers, executive assistants, sales reps, flight attendants, electricians, and plumbers. Some are helped by a simple trade school, while others can be learned on the job.

If there’s a bottom line to this discussion, it’s that any path you choose includes a need for diligence – and possibility for success.

Want to dive in deeper to the debate of college? Check out our episode, “College Bound.”