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TMFBro (< 20)

College is a big, fat, hairy rip-off!



March 09, 2011 – Comments (12)

That's the topic of my latest post on But, despite the evidence, I also think people who have procreated should still save for their creation's education, most likely through a 529 plan (I explain the pros and cons in the article). 

How much of what you learned in college (at least the stuff you remember) actually helped you later in life?

Robert Brokamp, CFP®, is the senior advisor for the Fool's Rule Your Retirement service.




12 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On March 09, 2011 at 3:06 PM, alstry (< 20) wrote:


Many of you guys are starting to talk like me....

and I got way more education than most of you;)

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#2) On March 09, 2011 at 3:17 PM, miteycasey (28.91) wrote:

It's not about the education.

It's about the sheep skin.

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#3) On March 09, 2011 at 3:50 PM, alstry (< 20) wrote:

I gotta a lot of that tooo....


But I paid a whole lot less than most of you Fools....

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#4) On March 09, 2011 at 4:46 PM, Melaschasm (69.35) wrote:

Is college a rip off?

 For me there are two different questions:

1.  Does college teach what you need to learn?

2.  Is it cost efficient?

My answer to question one is that a student can choose to learn what they need, or take mostly worthless classes.

My answer to the second question is no for most majors. 

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#5) On March 09, 2011 at 6:49 PM, checklist34 (98.39) wrote:

this is definitely an interesting topic and I ... i'm skeptical about the value of higher education. 

super expensive parties for so many students

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#6) On March 09, 2011 at 10:26 PM, russiangambit (28.67) wrote:

> How much of what you learned in college (at least the stuff you remember) actually helped you later in life?

I learned in college how to learn anything on my own. This is because they insisted teaching us in a lecture format and I tune out in 10 min. I have to either read or see to learn something, hearing it doesn't do me any good. When it is only sound input, I then picture whatever it is in my head and that is exhausting. Plus, soon I start picturing all kinds of more intresting things.

The second benefit of college was meeting the people, networking and being challenged to perform and deliver. Actually, this is what you need to work for in  a workplace as well. If you get too comfortable it means it is time to look for a new job.

Would I pay for my education if I didn't get it for free? It is hard to say. I probably would but I'd go to a cheaper place.

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#7) On March 09, 2011 at 10:27 PM, russiangambit (28.67) wrote:

>work for in  a workplace as well

Look for

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#8) On March 10, 2011 at 7:08 AM, outoffocus (22.87) wrote:

The return on the investment of college education these days is vastly lower than what it was 30 years ago.  I would argue that its hit the negative territory because the cost of college has gotten too high compared to the rewards of having a college degree.  These days you have students graduating with a bachelors degree, 10s of thousands, sometimes over $100k in debt, and a $30000 /year job at best.

In most cases people are better off either going to a state school or doing their first 2 years in community college then transferring to a four year school in order to make the cost even remotely worth it. 

I stick by my belief that college tuition costs are in a huge bubble that needs to pop.  But we'll see what happens. 

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#9) On March 10, 2011 at 9:26 AM, OneLegged (< 20) wrote:

I lived in my car during the summers to avoid taking students loans.  I graduated with only $5000 in debt.  Its a good thing too, as I never was able to make one red cent on my college "investment".

One of the problems with the 4-year university system is too many esoteric (general education) classes.  The only function of taking many of these is to keep you in the system longer thereby costing you more money.

 After 7.5 years of college and a B.S. in forestry plus 2.5 years  in an engineering program, I wonder why I have a sore back.

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#10) On March 10, 2011 at 10:44 AM, lemoneater (56.61) wrote:

I'm a professor's wife so this is a potentially charged topic for me, but I will try to be as objective as possible. I'm still idealistic so I think a college degree should mean that you have gained skills and knowledge and are equipped with the tools you need to continue learning your whole life.

Too many people have the attitude that all that matters is the sheepskin. My husband does his best to disabuse his students of that idea. He makes them earn their grades. They usually end up respecting him and asking him to recommend them for their first jobs after college.

However, I agree with outoffocus that college tuition costs are a bubble that needs to pop. Luxurious buildings and too many highly paid administrators are part of the problem. (Colleges get attractive facilities to attract students, but then the facilities cost so much that tuition goes up and turns students away.) 

It is interesting how online degrees are starting to be offered by credible institutions. Just as I believe hybrid cars are a practical step on the way to energy solutions, I think that we will have hybrid education solutions: students will take numerous courses online, but finish up their capstone course work on location.

I think my education has best suited me to encourage and help my husband. I also draw on it at times for my day job although it wasn't listed in the job requirements.

Also if it weren't for the research skills gained in college, I doubt that I would have the ability or the tenacity to evaluate stock information as well as I do.

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#11) On March 10, 2011 at 6:30 PM, Option1307 (30.66) wrote:

Fantastic article, thanks for sharing!

I'm a recent college grad (2007, holy geez that was actually 4 yrs. ago!) and definitely understand what you are alluding to. Most kids just blindly go to college without thinking twice about it. Is it a good idea/investment/what do I want to do/etc.?

Young adults need to seriously think about these things before making the decision to enter college.

More importantly is where to go to college. I attended a small private school which was great for me personally. However, it is certainly not the best idea for all types of students. I had many peers that graduated with 200K in debt and yet are becoming 6th grade english teachers etc. Good luck paying off that massive debt making 50K a year.

I know it's a lot to ask young adults to make life decisions at such a young age, but the reality of it is that what they decide at 18 will ahve serious financial consequences for the rest of their lives.

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#12) On March 10, 2011 at 8:45 PM, XXX222 (< 20) wrote:

I was talking with someone at a college party and they knew someone who worked in our college's finanical department. Allegedly this person checked to see how much it would cost the university to just keep running in perpetuity without adding anthing and the figure he got was 4.5k per student. This is coming out  from an annual tuition of 40k.

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