094: The Wrong Reason to Go (Back) to College [Podcast]

Recent graduates are faced with disappointment in a college experience that implicitly promised them a marketable skill and good money. Unfortunately, the ROI of a traditional degree pales in comparison to the alternative.

The Wrong Reason to Go (Back) to College

For generations, a college diploma was a ticket to a better life. You finished high school, attended a university, got a decent job, started a family, and lived the dream.

If you wanted to level up your career again, all you had to do was go back to school for your masters. This typically bumped you up a few rungs on the ladder and accelerated your career.

Today, many graduates, burdened with student loans and disillusioned by their prospects in the job market, are returning to school under the false notion this will help them circumvent the real problem. A broken system.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Andy and I talk about alternative options to higher ed and how a customized educational experience can lead to greater success on a shorter timeline.

Listen in as we discuss the proven benefits of online courses and why it’s never too late (or early) to start learning differently.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email or RSS, please click here).

Skip the student loan debt

One night, my wife and I sat down to calculate the costs of sending our toddler to college some day. The results were staggering.

Given the rate of inflation, rising tuition, and estimated market trends, it will cost roughly $180,000 to send our son to a 4-year, in-state school when he’s 18 years old. And that’s just for one kid.

It’d be cheaper to pay the tycoons on Shark Tank to let our son shadow them for six months and learn first hand from their successes and failures of running multi-million dollar businesses.

While that sounds outlandish (or awesome depending on your feelings about Mr. Wonderful) the truth is not far off. Many experts and thought leaders in every field imaginable are willing to share their knowledge through online courses.

You can learn just about anything online. Either on YouTube, via a course library, or directly from a professional who has created a deep dive experience on a given topic.

One of the things I find most interesting and valuable about online courses is the practical application. In stark contrast to most college classes, in an online course you learn a principle and immediately can turn around and apply it.

Wherever you are, there’s an opportunity for you to find the skills you need to do the kind of work you want to do. Usually for far less money than the cost of a college degree.

Show highlights

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How online courses differ from online colleges
  • Why college is still a formative experience
  • The value of focused learning versus general education
  • Debunking the stigma of “making a buck” products
  • How an 18-year-old Tribe Writer skipped college and built business
  • Keeping the promise you made to yourself as a kid
  • The best thing you can do if you want to be the best at what you do
  • How do you do what you love and pay the bills
  • Alternatives to consider before you spend a dime on more education

Quotes and takeaways

  • Great work is it’s own reward
  • Find ways to share your gift with the world.
  • It’s an incredible feeling when you’re doing the work you were meant to do.
  • Reject the excuse of not having enough time, money, or resources.
  • Don’t go back to school just because you don’t know what else to do.


How are you choosing to educate yourself? What’s the best way to educate future generations? Share in the comments