Is it irresponsible of me, in the long run, to not get some form of higher education if I think I can afford it?

I really don't enjoy learning in a classroom setting. I've tried college level courses before, and I could do them if I had to, but I'd rather save the money and try to educate myself. Is that unrealistic?


Matthew Clemens, Physics and Math Teacher, Parent, and Tutor

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Well, educating yourself is fine, and I like your intrinsic model. In the marketplace, though, there are expectations when it comes to education. There are many ways to get a degree--or a certification--that don't require you to be in a classroom. Not everyone should feel the need to attend some kind of four-year school, but that doesn't mean that you should continue your education in some capacity.

Manya Whitaker, PhD, Developmental/Educational Psychologist; Assistant Professor of Education; Educational Consultant

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I have a slightly different opinion than Eric. A lot depends on how old you are and if you already have a career. If you are someone who's established themselves on a career path without a college education, then the only reason to get a degree would be self-fulfillment/interest. Despite having the money, if you do not want to get a degree, it's a poor choice to use your money that way. Many students who are just not interested in college end up wasting their money. I would suggest that if you can afford to, and you value higher education in general, consider sending someone else to college.

Now, if you are young and don't have a career just yet, I agree with Eric. Almost all jobs require a degree or some type of training/certification. I always recommend that people work backward from their career goals to determine the type of degree/training/certification they need. Many lucrative careers do not require a college degree (e.g., welding) but may require a 9-12 month certification program. Some career paths (e.g. chef) require on the job experience more so than in-class coursework. Internships are a great way to figure out what you want to do and to talk to people in the field who can advise you about the type of qualifications you need.

Good luck!

Anonymous, Former graduate student

I wouldn't use the word "irresponsible", but I think that 9 times out of 10, higher education is worth the investment, especially if you can afford it. Yes, there's always exceptions and there's a fair share of people who have become successful without a college education. However, for the grand majority of the population, I would definitely recommend a college education.

In terms of educating yourself, this is definitely do-able, especially in today's age of technology. It is becoming easier to teach yourself college courses though resources such as khanacademy and even YouTube. I believe MIT has offered a range of free college courses. While I would definitely encourage using these resources as a supplement to higher education, I would hesitate in stating that this can displace a college diploma, even if the quality of education is the same.

Ultimately, to get your foot in the door, you would have to present a resume. Frankly, to my knowledge, having a college degree on your resume, especially from a respectable university, looks much better than not having a college degree. You could learn the same exact material on your own without going to college, but in the end, it's the credentials that the college provides you with that helps you land that job. The money you spend on higher education gets you the education, but it's ultimately the diploma that you have to show for it. I hope this helps you out. Best of luck in making your decision.

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