Why a Graduate Degree Could Be the Worst Financial Decision You Make

by | BiggerPockets.com

It’s that time of year again. Winter is fading away. The birds are chirping, the flowers are blossoming—and the stress level of college students across the country, many of whom will be throwing their caps in celebration after a laborious four years, is reaching its peak.

Congratulations to the class of 2017!

After a couple of months, the caps will have been gathered, the celebrations will come to an end, and then it will be time to enter the “real world.” What does that mean?

Many of the recent college graduates will quickly throw themselves into the first job they find and will receive a significant pay increase from their internships. This is a great way to start out, but just remember to live below your means and save!

Others will quickly be in pursuit of their next degree. Law School. Med School. MBA. Masters in Underwater Basket Weaving. The works!

Few will take a step back, think about the cost of this graduate degree, the time and effort they will put towards that degree, and what their lives will look like upon completion of that degree. Few will realize that the degree they are pursuing is significantly prolonging financial freedom and what they really want—to live a happy life and provide for the ones they love. Read on so we can explore this together.

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Reasons for a Graduate Degree

Before we take a step back and decide whether graduate school is for us, I want to start by saying this.

The decision ultimately depends on YOUR goals.

Do you want to spend countless hours each week litigating and writing contracts? Or do you want the paycheck that ensues?

Do you TRULY want to spend 50+ hours diagnosing sicknesses and prescribing medicine? Or do you want the paycheck that ensues?

Do you want to spend 100+ hour weeks in an Excel spreadsheet? Or do you want the paycheck that ensues?

My point is this: If you are truly passionate about the former of my last three points, start applying now! If you are doing it so you can make 6+ figures, if you are doing it to provide for the ones you love, close out of that grad school application and keep reading!


Related: Out of College, Should I Invest in Real Estate or Retirement Accounts?

Bachelor’s vs. Graduate Degree

Graduate Degree

Meet Jane, a 27-year-old law school graduate who just landed her dream job as a lawyer in New York City. Finally, all of her hard word has paid off! She makes $150,000 a year, rents a nice apartment in Manhattan, and frequently finds herself with her co-workers and lawyer friends enjoying a drink at the rooftop bar in midtown.

After five years of hard work and networking, Jane is now 32 and has risen up at her law firm. She has DOUBLED her income. Yes! She now makes $300,000 a year. She has married the man of her dreams (a lawyer as well), moved to the suburbs into a beautiful new home, drives a luxury car to work, and her first child is on the way. Sounds like a great life, doesn’t it?

While this may seem great, what this American “success story” fails to reveal are the costs associated with such luxuries.

Jane has a mortgage of $800,000, student loans of $200,000, and a car loan of $50,000. Sure, Jane works a great job and has the ability to “afford” these things with the help of a bank. Her friends and family think she is well off.

In actuality, this lavish lifestyle has inhibited her ability to save. She saves a minimal amount into her retirement account each month as recommended by her employer. Even still, with her mortgage, student loans, and car loan, she actually has negative net worth.

Yes! The smelly, unkept man with an overgrown beard shaking pennies in a Dunkin’ Donuts cup is worth more. Who would have thought?

Jane is consistently working 100+ hours per week. She has no time to spend with her loved ones, and her stress levels are through the roof. She is stuck in this situation until a change happens. She either needs to scale back her lifestyle (psychologically draining) or increase her income by working harder (physically draining).

I wish Jane the best of luck!

Let’s visit Jimmy.

No Graduate Degree

Meet Jimmy, a 22-year-old college graduate who just landed his first full-time 9-to-5 position as a financial analyst at a Fortune 500 company. Jimmy makes $55,000 per year, has $60,000 in student loans, and quickly realizes there is more to life than working his tail off in a dusty cubicle to make his boss 10x richer.

He NEEDS to make a change.

He starts reading! After reading a few of the classic personal finance books, Jimmy knows what he needs to do. He needs to purchase true assets—assets like real estate and high yielding dividend stocks that consistently pay him. In order to do this, Jimmy needs to save.

In his first two years, Jimmy lives well below his means. He lives in a small apartment with roommates. He’s purchased a used vehicle. The purpose of this vehicle is twofold. It is used for his commute to his day job as well as driving for Uber in his spare time. Over the course of two years, Jimmy makes minimum payments on his student loans and saves $40,000.


Related: Why a College Degree is Overrated & Unnecessary for Many Americans

With this $40,000 in savings, Jimmy uses $20,000 to purchase a $400,000 multifamily property using a FHA loan. He lives in one unit and rents the others. Jimmy is now living for free while his tenants pay down his mortgage. Saving on rent has eradicated Jimmy’s largest expense.

With his added savings, Jimmy’s life does not change. His budgets remain the same. The only difference is he has increased his savings so that next year he can do it again, at a larger scale.

The next year, Jimmy refinances his first property and purchases two more—one through an FHA loan and the other through conventional financing. Over the next five years, he continues to snowball his rental property portfolio.

Now Jimmy is 30 years old and VP of his team, making over $100,000 per year. He recently married and now has a rental portfolio of over $1,000,000. He is earning enough money through his rental properties to cover his living expenses such that his W2 income goes straight to savings.

Jimmy is officially free from the rat race! Next stop: Hawaii!

Not so fast!

Post Freedom

Jimmy quickly realizes that if he does quit his job now, he will no longer be able to contribute to his savings. He will be limiting himself to his current lifestyle—no children, no nice house to shelter his wife and kids; just the multifamily properties he has have been living and investing in for the past few years.

What Jimmy does realize is that he has an option to continue working.

Does he want to quit his job and focus solely on doing deals to grow his rental portfolio?

Or does he continue to work for a few years, increase his W2 income, and pick up a few more properties each year before elevating his lifestyle? That way, when he’s ready to forego the W2 income, he can transition to focusing solely on growing and maintaining his rental portfolio.

I will leave that decision up to Jimmy.

Either way, Jimmy will likely be set to “retire” in his mid-30s. I put “retire” in quotes because he will still have to manage the properties and will still be looking for deals to expand his portfolio. However, he has gone from working 40+ hours a week making someone else’s dreams come true to working just a couple of hours each week while living his dream.

He can now dedicate his time to what matters most to him: his wife, his newborn children. He can travel with his family. He can go to every little league game, every dance recital. The possibilities are endless.

And all of this without a fancy degree!

Let Me Ask You This

Who would you rather be? Jane? Or Jimmy?

For me, it’s a no-brainer.

What’s your opinion: Is a graduate degree usually worth it or not? (Or does it simply depend on the situation?)

Weigh in with a comment!

About Author

Craig Curelop

Craig Curelop, aka thefiguy is an aggressive pursuer of financial independence. Starting with a net worth of negative $30K in 2016, he has aggressively saved and invested to become financially independent in 2019. From sleeping on the couch and renting out his car, he was able to invest in two house hacks in Denver and a BRRRR in Jacksonville. He plans to continue to investing in both Denver and Jacksonville for the years to come. Craig's story has caught the attention of several media outlets, including the Denver Post, BBC, and many other real estate/personal finance podcasts. He hopes to inspire the masses to grab hold of their finances and achieve financial independence. Follow his story on Instagram @thefiguy!


  1. Ryan Schroeder

    I’m guessing the writer of this piece doesn’t have a graduate degree. As long as we’re writing stories the better one would be not to go to college at all and just inherit a large sum of money or win the lottery…let’s all pursue that path!

    Just too much bias in this piece for my taste. Jane doesn’t have to have an $800K mortgage. She can also house hack if she wishes and with her $300K income which I’m going to assume is matched by her husband she can buy a $400K property Every year and before you know it she is a multi millionaire with all of her properties paid off and after purchase of 10 properties she has $150K of depreciation expense each year.

    Meanwhile Jimmy is mortgaged to the hilt and doesn’t have enough debt coverage, finds himself having to replace his roof, he cant afford it so his tenants all move out because they are getting wet and the City condemns the property and his whole portfolio is at risk.

    • Craig Curelop

      Hi Ryan,

      Thanks for reading and I definitely appreciate your feedback. You bring up a great point. This could be completely backwards in which you’re right, Jane would be better off.

      However, many of those extremely motivated individuals seeking graduate education, do not take a step back to understand their financials situation. They are too busy pursuing their degree. Could Jane live below her means as a lawyer? Absolutely! Though, I think it will be much tougher for her driving around in a used Prius when her friends are driving around in the newest Mercedes or Jaguar.

      This assumes that before hastily applying for grad school, Jimmy took a look at his financial situation, and figured out what he had to do to become financially free. He found that the degree would put him 3 years and ~$100k+ behind while making him “more employable” rather than having the financial prowess to save, invest wisely, and retire at a much younger age.

  2. Jade S.

    I think we have to be careful to not equate getting a graduate degree with pure lifestyle inflation. I’m sure if we drew a Venn diagram, there might be some area of overlap. But I’ve also seen plenty of high school and college grads at the associates and baccalaureate level who have managed to increase their incomes over time draw from the “Keeping up with the Joneses” well. Having completed a PhD in the biomedical sciences, I would propose getting a graduate degree can certainly be worthwhile IF you know how to execute a rationale financial plan.

    • Craig Curelop

      Hi Jade,

      Thanks for reading! I certainly agree. Many students who have a bachelor’s degree do inflate their lifestyle once they get that first “real world.” Those are the people NOT like Jimmy. They did not take the time to understand their financial situation and see how they can accelerate their way to retirement.

      I commend you for completing a PhD in the biomedical field. That’s quite the feat and it is absolutely worthwhile if that is a career you feel passionate about. No arguments there. My argument is that graduate school may not be the fastest way to accelerate your way to retirement. It sets you back a few years and in many cases hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  3. Bill Goodland

    I think you have to look at investing in yourself with a graduate school education, or any education for that matter for what it really is, an investment. With any investment you should be looking at its ROI and how it affects your quality of life. Personally, I currently work in health care making a very reasonable salary at 23 years old. I chose the graduate school route and chose Physician Assistant school which I will attend next year for 2 years which will essentially double my current salary and give me the flexibility to work full time long shifts 3 days a week, 9-5 M-F or any combination in between with overtime opportunities. Could I continue to save, aggressively invest and hope to double my income in 2 years without graduate school? Maybe, but not very likely. Could I have chosen to pursue medical school and potentially increase my salary 5-10x what I’m making now? Maybe, but putting myself in that kind of debt and giving up that many years of my life doesn’t seem like the quality of life I want in my younger years, even if on paper it pays off over time. Plus, if the ultimate goal is to have complete financial freedom by replacing your income, it is a lot harder to do that as the high income W-2 doctor, lawyer, etc. It’s obviously different for everyone, but I think the point should be, do what you want to do with your education as long as it pays off, and not because you think you have to or are supposed to do it.

    • Craig Curelop

      Thanks for reading, Bill. You make a valid statement here.

      I just encourage everyone to THINK about these decisions rather than just doing it because professors, parents, and their peers tell them it’s the right thing to do.

      In my opinion, if your goal is financial independence, there is a much easier and quicker way to reach that goal than going to graduate school.

  4. Douglas Skipworth

    I agree that graduate degrees aren’t right for everyone, but for me it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Specifically, I gained valuable skills that I have used throughout my career. Plus, it allowed me to get a credential (i.e., CPA) that is recognized worldwide as an achievement and a validation.

    But, what I’m most proud of is the way I “house hacked” it, to borrow a BP word.

    Here are three things I did that I would recommend to all students.

    1. I worked full-time and went to school at night.

    2. I received tuition reimbursement assistance from my employer.

    3. I received scholarships from the graduate school.

    My out of pocket expense for earning a Masters in Accounting from a private university was less than $2,000 and I took no time off of work! That’s the BP way to hack a graduate degree!

    • Craig Curelop


      I love the creativity behind your “education hacking!” I am also happy that you are happy with your decision of seeking that graduate education. I know many people who are not thrilled, are in lots of debt, and are not putting it to use.

      My argument here is that many people seek their graduate degrees solely to advance in their careers so they can make more money so they can afford nicer things. Sure, this may be true in the short term. However, those who seek these graduate degrees tend to have jobs that work much more than the standard 40 hours per week and will rarely have time to enjoy these things. If they were to invest at a young age, take the time to invest in true assets that provide passive income, they will be able to afford AND enjoy these things.

  5. Jerry W.

    Hopefully you did such a bad article just to get a lot of folks posting. The bias is so overboard it really has no value as an article. I just hope you don’t get some folks to drop out of college to end up in a $30K a year job and no insurance, and never able to scrape together more than a $100 bucks a month to invest with. I have no beef with the frugal lifestyle to get ahead, or to berate those folks with 4 year basket weaving or women’s studies degrees and over $200K. You can go to state universities, who have reasonable tuition, work part time and get a few scholarships, and be careful how you spend in college. My degrees are too old to use for comparison as I graduated with only about $5K in debt with a law degree, my daughter who graduated less than 5 years ago with a business degree owed less than $5K in debt as well. She got a lot more scholarships than I did.
    By the way, how many properties do you own? Is your portfolio worth more than $1 million? Do you have any college degrees? Where did you get your credentials to write a column giving advice on this subject?

    • Craig Curelop

      Hi Jerry, thanks for the comment! I appreciate your blunt and honest feedback. Let me start by congratulating you and your daughter for finishing school with such little debt. It’s not easy.

      Secondly, this is article is focused on graduate school. I think an undergraduate degree is valuable in that it is a nice transition into the real world. What is learned in an undergraduate degree is far beyond what is learned in the classroom. I can almost guarantee that if anyone were to go back and take an exam that they aced in college, they would do significantly worse now.

      I am in no way saying that one should drop out of college. This article is talking about obtaining a graduate degree. A bachelor’s degree is sufficient enough to easily obtain a nice paying job where you can save adequately if you don’t live above your means.

      My point is this. Rather than take 3 years of your life and hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, doesn’t it make more sense to do the following? Take that job right out of college. Work hard, make as much as you can, and save diligently. Take your savings, acquire real estate by doing a few house hacks while your young and mobile in your mid to late 20s, and reap the benefits of early retirement in your early to mid 30s?

      The conventional way of thinking seems to be educate, educate, educate. Get out of graduate school at age 27, get a job making $200k per year, work your tail off for 40 years, and retire nicely at the ripe old age at 67. I encourage you to challenge the conventional way of thinking and see that it is very possible to live financially free without a graduate degree.

  6. Cornelius Charles

    I know you meant well by writing this article, but I think it could have come across better. In my opinion, the two examples you provided have nothing to do with their degrees. The lawyer could have done the same thing that Jimmy did, and would have probably been in a “better” situation sooner than Jimmy would have. Everyone who earns more money doesn’t necessarily spend more money. I think there are too many factors to consider and am not a big fan of the “don’t go to college” articles. I agree that getting a degree just to get one, without having a plan of what to do with it could be a mistake. But you’re going to have a hard time selling me that you will be in a worse financial position if you obtain a viable degree than if you don’t.

    • Craig Curelop

      Hi Cornelius,

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate your feedback.

      You make a valid point. Jane could have actually done the same thing Jimmy did. It’s just a lot harder driving around in a used Prius while your friends and colleagues are in a Mercedes. It may be hard living amongst blue collar workers on the opposite side of town as all of your lawyer friends. That was my point with the increased expenses.

      The point I was trying to drive home was that a graduate degree is not needed to be financially free and retire at a young age. Setting yourself back 3+ years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to obtain such a degree is a HUGE setback.

      Let’s assume Jimmy graduates undergrad at age 22 and purchases his first property at age 24 (2 years out of college). Fast forward to age 27 which is when Jane gets out of law school. At this point, he has 5 years of savings and at least 3 rental properties generating “passive” income while still working his W2. At age 27, Jimmy is definitely better off.

      If Jane is savvy, she probably purchases her 3 rental properties by age 29 or 30 while Jimmy is snowballing his extra savings and buildup of equity in his properties to purchase real estate at an even faster rate. Jimmy, who worked much less than Jane (lawyer) will be able to retire at a younger age, without the burden of graduate school debt. If Jane continues to be savvy, she may not be too far behind, but the graduate school degree still set her back a few years.

  7. Vitaliy Volpov

    I agree with the other commenters. The examples given have nothing to do with whether or not it makes financial sense to get a graduate degree. Jane is living above her means and not investing and Jimmy is living below his means and is investing.

    If you have Jimmy’s mentality you can definitely get to financial freedom faster with a graduate degree. I can relate to Jane’s situation. I know people in the legal world who are doing exactly what her example describes. But, obviously it doesn’t have to be that way.

    I got out of law school in 2010 with $130k in combined undergraduate and law school debt. It is now down to $33k. In this time I have acquired several rental properties, I max out all of my retirement contributions, drive an inexpensive car, and live in a reasonably priced house.

    Did I make the right decision by going to law school? Absolutely. I enjoy the work I do, I am surrounded by highly motivated people who constantly push me to be better, and I am able to turbo charge my retirement.

    Grad school is definitely not for everyone. But, as long as it fits within your overall plan, it can definitely be a huge help.

    • Craig Curelop

      Hi Vitaly,

      Thanks for reading and I appreciate your comment!

      I am glad that you are happy with your decision to pursue the law degree. It sounds like you are on your way to early retirement because you took the time to think about your financial situation from early on. This is unlike many others.

      However, my argument is that even as a savvy investor, you would likely be able to retire even earlier if you had not taken the 3+ years and tens of thousands of dollars to go to grad school. By investing in real estate at a younger age, it makes it easier to house hack, and accumulate more properties. That snowballs until eventually you have a significant portfolio that produces enough passive income to make you financially free.

      A few people that I know, have done this, and are retired in their early 30s.

  8. Dede Christensen

    In my opinion, this article is valuable for people who are undecided about committing to a professional degree or credentials, regardless of age. For young adults and AP level high school students, those professional goals are usually well thought out far in advance, and those people generally have the family support to realize those career aspirations. I know this article is directed at those beginning their earning years. It is, in my opinion, equally valuable to baby boomers like myself, who grew up in a robust job market, and suddenly feel the pain of age discrimination and possess obsolete degrees and skills. To get an MBA or a CPA certification for those over 50 may be necessary to compete. This is a reminder to them (myself included) to count the physical, emotional and spiritual cost of a higher degree/certification if a person seeks to work 50-60 hours a week while taking night classes. Life is short!

    • Craig Curelop

      Hi Dede,

      Thanks for reading! My point here in this article is that if your goal is to be financially free at a young age, graduate school may not be the right decision. There are faster ways to get there. You just need to think outside of the cultural norms of graduate, get a job, work for 40 years, then retire.

    • Craig Curelop

      Hi Andrea, Thanks for reading! I’m glad you are happy about your decision.

      My point in this article is that, while it may be useful, it is certainly may not be necessary. If it’s not necessary, then maybe it isn’t worth the money. A graduate degree sets you back 3+ years and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

      If your goal is to make more, work less, and retire early, a graduate degree may not be the best decision.

  9. Mary B.

    wow, Chris, that title, which from what I’ve heard is not selected by the blogger but is selected by BP, really got you in between a rock and hard place. I get what you were trying to say though. Its doesn’t matter if one is making a big annual salary if they don’t spend wisely it can still result in slave labor and even those who went to college for 6 to 8 years aren’t always making wise life decision budget wise. that’s one of the reasons that our school system from jr high no later than high school should have classes in basic finance. of course that would lead to less debt for at least 1/3 of the 99% and less profit for the 1%. …maybe that’s why they haven’t implemented this course of action as of yet and probably never will. my coin.


    • Craig Curelop

      Hi Mary,

      Thanks for reading! The title is chosen by me, not BiggerPockets. I appreciate you seeing my viewpoint, which is clearly not a conventional one.

      Essentially, one could start investing at a relatively young age (24 or earlier), continue to accumulate assets that produce passive income, and have that passive income support their lifestyle. That can be done significantly quicker, if not being set back by 3+ years of graduate school and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

  10. David Goossens

    Craig, I think you offended quite a bit of people who went to graduate school! I think the point of this article is to address the preconceived notions people have in regard to the traditional career path. The pursuit of higher education is not a prerequisite for success. One of the top goals people state here on BP is the intense desire to quit their day job and invest in RE full time. I bet you there are quite of few people here with graduate degrees (and mountains of debt) looking to do the same. All Craig is doing is challenging the traditional career/ education path. Consider reading Scott Trench’s new book, Set For Life. He dives into all the numbers, and gives both a philosophical and mathematical explanation on how the average person earning $50k per year can invest in real estate, accumulate substantial wealth, and otherwise succeed financially.

    • Craig Curelop

      Hi David,

      Thanks for reading! My intentions are not to offend anyone, but to make those thinking of graduate school to be aware of the financial repercussions it may cause in terms of setting yourself back a couple of years and the debt that will be accumulated. While it is still possible to have a graduate degree and retire early (likely the case with anyone graduate degree holders reading this article), I would argue that it is a hindrance. Especially with the increased hours one typically with a graduate degree opposed to one with just a bachelors.

  11. Nathan Carter

    Craig, hats off to you for responding in a positive way to the criticism. It is true that this article simplifies the potential benefits/drawbacks of choosing to attend graduate school, but it does encourage people to weight options before jumping into something as expensive as graduate school. It is worth noting that sometimes education can lead to unanticipated benefits. Personally, my first year in law school gave me the knowledge to successfully negotiate a real estate deal that more than paid for my law degree. I wrote a detailed post about the deal on my BP blog if others are interested in learning from the experience. There are benefits from formal education that cannot always be quantified from the outside. I think it is great that BP articles can spark these types of discussions and we all benefit from the debate.

    • Craig Curelop

      Hi Nathan,

      Thanks for reading! I’m glad you understood the point I was trying to convey. I am not saying that a law degree is BAD to have. Especially if that is truly what you want to do. I just want the recent college graduates to be aware that there are other options outside of a post graduate education to seek early retirement. In fact, the graduate degree could delay financial freedom with the 3+ years of schooling and college debt on top of that.

  12. Bryan Lee

    I have to agree with Douglas. I also am receiving tuition reimbursement fro my BBA. I believe in some cases it is a good idea to earn a graduate degree. My reasons is to move up in the company I currently work for to have more capital in starting my real estate business. My wife is also going to school to be a RN. That we have to pay for. But for us to almost triple our income in the next 2-4 years is a no brainer for us.

    • Craig Curelop

      Hi Bryan,

      Absolutely. In some cases it makes sense. I am glad that you are happy with your decision as well. However, in many other cases, it sets people back given the 3+ year delay and additional debt. It really depends on your goals. I just want people to be aware that there are other options than graduate school to achieve financial freedom.

  13. I have a graduate degree – a law degree — and have worked at a NY based mega firm. I also live below my means have a multi-million dollar real estate portfolio and could care less about the nominal student loan debt it took me to get here. More important is that it was law school, not undergraduate, that taught me to think like a lawyer. More than life skills, being surrounded by the best and brightest and focusing on how to analyze and solve problems is an invaluable change in my life that will carry me and my kids for decades. My family has invested in real estate for generations and each generation retires younger than the last. Yet, we still value the benefit that the educational system can bring. This is is true education not just pursuing a piece of paper for your wall. My kids will get their doctorates and then be gifted the equivalent in property to make about 50k a year. They will reinvest that until they are 30 and making 100k and can then decide what they want to do in life. But they will get their education and be better for it.

    • Craig Curelop

      Hi Stan,

      There’s no question that education is valuable. This article was meant for people (specifically, recent college grads) who are contemplating grad school in order to make more money and retire early. I was trying to convey that it is entirely possible to retire young and live the life you want without a graduate degree.

  14. jonah Freedman

    Hi Craig,
    I love this article. I agree with you that not enough people really look at the financial benefits/ hardships of attending any type of college. I think it is part of the middle class trap go to whatever college grad program you want and don’t worry about the cost. I know that is how I was brought up. This is coming from someone who did their masters in education and taught for 5 years. I quickly realized it was not going to get me where I wanted and started investing in real estate and in 5 years more than replaced my income only making 40k a year. To each his own.Cheers.

    • Craig Curelop

      Thanks, Jonah! I think it goes without saying that I agree with you. Everyone has their own story and grad school can be great for intangibles (i.e. connections). However, I think everyone should be aware that it is completely possible to live a prosperous life without it.

    • Dede Christensen

      Yes I agree! I could have gone the post grad route. To each his/her own! There seems to be a middle class bias against entrepreneurship as it was before the internet age, and the trades (I was a special comm technician) , which was my career path. That “trade” knowledge helps me immensely when I work with my electrician, architect and a/c repair person.

  15. Tyler Chartrand

    I got my MBA and then a job with a Global 50…worked in a couple different cities but in the end was not for me. Came back to Arizona and got a 90K job with a company i thought i loved but the same thing happened. 2 years and i was out on my own. While i have about 80K in student loan debt i do not regret the decision because the skills learned mostly teach you how to think and operate a business so I have the knowledge to go my own way.

    It definitely is not for everybody and I don’t recommend the corporate/law firm route as the stress will age you incredibly.

    Thanks for the post!

  16. Craig Curelop

    Hi Tyler,

    Thanks for reading! Everyone has a different story and it seems that yours is working out for you. Working for someone else your whole life can definitely be daunting. I’m glad that you’ve decided to go your own way.

  17. Whitney Tutt

    Craig – Thank you for this article! I am sorry you’re receiving some backlash over it. I actually get the point you are trying to convey. Like you stated, a graduate agree is for some people and isn’t for others. I received my undergraduate degree and was going to go back for my graduate but wanted to gain work experience first. Because we all know that most companies won’t just hire you due to you having a graduate degree but no actual work experience in the field.

    However, a few months after entering the workforce, I realized a graduate degree was not needed in my field. It would be a nice addition but there was a certification that would get me further. Then less than 2 years later, I realized I didn’t even need the certification because even though I am staying in the same job field, the path I am going down doesn’t even need that…at least not at this point in time.

    I did not go to a big name school and come out with tons of student loans. I actually received a great education, scholarships and grants and came out with right under $20K in student loans. I earn a great living, have a nice house, 2 nice cars, travel when I want, buy expensive items when I want, no credit card debt etc. In addition to my W2 job, I own a small business that does well and to top it off, I will officially be an RE investor within the next few months.

    The path I chose worked out perfectly for me and I would not change it for the world. Through high school – up until my first month as a freshman in college, I wanted to be a dentist. Until this day, I never regret changing my major to business. And it’s funny, my Chemistry professor in college used to talk about how deep in debt his daughter and her husband were in student loans and how they could not enjoy any of their money. I believe they were doctors. My mom also owns a resume writing firm and is always telling me stories about her attorney and doctor clients who are extremely deep in dept and/or not able to find the types of jobs they imagined with their high level degrees.

    All in all, it comes down to what’s best for you. Again, appreciate the article. 🙂

  18. Adam D.

    I think Jimmy’s story, and a story it is, has taken the fast track of fiction. There is little chance that Jimmy could after only 1 year as the fairytale goes, refinance out of his FHA multifamily property, meaning there’s at least 80k (20%) equity in this property, plus the 20k (5%) for the next FHA property, PLUS the 80k (20%) required for the conventional loan required for the third property. All these of course assume the 2nd and 3rd properties are also 400k in price. So within one year the first property has appreciated from 400k to over 560k to give the funds, minus the closing costs, required to buy the following two properties?! Yeah right! 40% appreciation in a single year according to these fairytale numbers.

    A more realistic, yet still stretching reality, set of numbers would be that Jimmy could refi after 4 or 5 years to pull out enough for the 2nd and 3rd properties. Similar to what my wife and I did. Too bad these numbers are so far from reality. I think the overall point of the story could have made some impact with people if it were more real.

    As to Craig’s point of the question of a graduate degree, i totally agree! I myself was considering going to law school after a few years as an engineer. Everyone, please calculate the costs before you make such a decision! After figuring out what I would likely earn as a lawyer, I found that my break even point would have been age 55-60. In addition to the tuition, lost wages for the 3 years of full time school, and having to start as a lawyer probably earning less than I do as an engineer for the first 3-5 years, I would have missed so much time with my family and watching my kids grow up. I didn’t want to miss those years with family and bust my hump doing something that might someday pay off huge. I didn’t do it. I’m comfortable, happy, with that decision. The point of the article is to find your break even point and ask yourself if it’s worth it. For me, it was a NO.

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