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A college degree is not a guarantee of the good life

This is a repeat of an article I posted in September 2020. The subject matter is still relevant and worth repeating. Enjoy!

Author of “Gross National Happiness” Arthur C. Brooks wrote a column about how college is not a guarantee of a good life. He is an expert on good lives, having done much research on and written about good lives in multiple best-selling books.

In my book, “Say No! To College Debt”, I started with the question of whether college is right for someone. After years of teaching, I’ve met many students who didn’t really belong in college. Their hearts weren’t there, and they seemed to be just marking time until they could do what they wanted. That is not only a waste of their time, my time, and someone’s money (hopefully not using debt), but it’s a shame to spend all that effort on something that isn’t right for them.

Brooks said that college is often regarded as an investment in the future. The statistics show that those with a college degree will earn more in their lifetimes. Of course, that data is historical. Things are changing quickly, and many with college degrees still look for jobs in their degree field or anywhere else. Brooks pointed out that in 2019, only 66% of college graduates were in jobs that required a college degree.

On the flip side of the earnings is the debt that is more often than not built up. It’s hard to enjoy those extra earnings if they are mostly paid out in school loan payments. That 66% above leaves 34% in jobs that really didn’t require them to spend 4-5 years in college building up debt. And to top that off, many don’t graduate. That runs to the tune of 36 million Americans who started college and didn’t finish.

Brooks writes about happiness and says college graduates tend to be happier. He also indicated that if there is college debt, happiness goes down. He said, “The happiness benefits of college are mixed.”

Brooks was writing about his own experience. His son didn’t go to college and got involved in a community of “honest, hard-working people.” The son loved it.

I also dropped out of college. I did so to become a musician. I loved it and did it for a decade. At the end of that decade, I felt that there was more to life and went back to college as a wiser, more disciplined person. I earned an AA, a BA, an MBA, and a Ph.D. through the many years following my musical career. And by doing those degrees in a less-than-traditional manner, I graduated with each of those degrees with zero debt. My happiness was not marred by payments.

Author and podcast host Ken Coleman often says that your sweet spot is the intersection of your greatest strength and your greatest passion. If that requires college, go for it. But don’t do debt. The debt could easily force you away from pursuing that passion. Take your time and do it without debt.

Source: A College Degree Is No Guarantee of a Good Life The Atlantic. July 2, 2020 https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/07/will-going-college-make-you-happier/613729/

#Happiness, #CollegeDebt, #CollegeLoans, #SayNoToCollegeDebt, #ArthurCBrooks, #KenColeman

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