College or Real Estate?

30 Replies

Hey guys I'm 19 years old and am wondering what I should do with my life. I graduated 4th in my class out of 678 students, not because I was the smartest but because I worked 10x harder than the rest of the class. I didn't party and was always in tutoring to be honest I am probably the "dumbest" kid out of those top 10 but persistence is one of my strong suits. Since I was in the top 1% a lot of people including my parents wanted me to go to school to become a doctor or "something successful". However I didn't want to and I didn't want to waste my parents money and drag them down further in debt doing something that I didn't like and that wouldn't help me get where I want. I went to a junior college and got my associates in business for free through their presidential scholarship. Right now I am working at a real estate management company that I was lucky to get into because my Aunt works there but I found out about this job right before this past semester so I had to cancel my classes and not go to school this semester. My parents aren't very supportive of my real estate dreams and my thirst for financial freedom. I love them but they have a middle class mindset of go to school, get a job and retire at 65 after working that job for 40 years. I'm making 25k which I know isn't a lot and won't help me for long. My problem is that I obviously need capital to get into real estate. Even with house hacking I will need income to purchase future properties and other things. I would love to work for a business or do something real estate involved or entrepreneurial in nature to make good money but I haven't quite seen a way to do this so far for me. My parents are pushing me to go to college so I am here trying to think if I do go to college what degree should I pursue? I don't plan on working that job my whole life(but who knows) and would really just be using it to make good money until real estate can replace it. I don't want to waste what little money my parents have saved up for me and get them further in debt and get myself in bad debt with student loans unless the outcome is a great degree and job. What do you guys think about college vs real estate and/or entrepreneurship? What do you suggest or what would you do? Last but not least thank you for even taking the time to read this and thank you for any and all comments and opinions I really do appreciate them.

You could always get a degree in real estate.  I agree that you don't need to go to college (though I did) but also some states require them for certain licenses, such as your real estate Brokers license.

Possible plans, you could go to school, become a real estate agent at the same time, it would be hectic but others have done it.  You could also jump straight into things, but as you have already finding out, unless you have a source of funds its not as easy as just buying rental properties.    

@Jarrod Kohl Thanks for your input! Yes sir as much as I hate to say it you have to put your money where your mouth is and sadly that is something I have very little of. I have lot's of time and energy but money is the resource that I am lacking and desperately need for numerous reasons.

What’s up man. I’m 22 and pretty much was in your position and got my degree in finance. My take on the situation is this. Right now, you have the ability to invest in real estate or education. Because you’re intelligent I believe that you could honestly do both. Because you pain point seems to be financing deals, studying finance may be a good place to start. While it sounds stupid and gimmicky you really don’t need any money in your pocket to buy a house, especially in your situation (age, financial demographic etc) if you understand how to finance your buy appropriately. Use your educational accolades to go to school cheap, work on the side and pump all your cash flow into real estate. Just be smart about it.

Hope this helps! Best of luck,


As someone else who also graduated near the top of his HS class, I’d recommend going to college. Several of the top people from my class are all getting PHDs. Or running start ups.

I’m not saying you need a PHD but education is still the single easiest way to wealth.

Have you heard of Peter Thiel? Billionaire investor of Facebook and Silicon Valley. He has something called the Thiel scholarship that pays students 100k to drop out of school and run tech start ups. My point? He’s got two degrees from very good schools.

Go to school. Then work for a few years and go back to school part time. Study something with in demand skills, finance, math, statistics, engineering.

You have to do what is best for you.  If you aren't into partying or have a career that you are dead set on that requires a college education then there really isn't a need for college.  You can make much more money getting into sales than you can with most college degrees.  Hell you can bartend or serve on the side and make more money than entry level jobs.

College is fun but I don't believe it is at all necessary for people who want to pursue Entrepreneurship and/or Real Estate.

@Michael Guzik Hey, I'm 25 (2 years out of college) and I'm a REI working full-time in Finance. I would 100% recommend going to college. Take your time, enjoy the 4 years which are undoubtedly the best years of your life and graduate with a meaningful degree that you can use as a complement to REI. Accounting, Business, Economics, you could get into Construction Management, Real Estate as a focus...there are multiple options here.

Get a W2 job for a little so financing is easier and house hack as soon as possible. From there you can just snowball into more and more.

Just my personal opinion...don't rush it you have so much time on your side with your mindset at this age.


@Michael Guzik euless is in Dallas/Fort Worth.  I don’t live there anymore I just haven’t updated my settings lol.  

Plus you get other benefits to college, like making life long friends and networking.  My cpa for real estate I met in college is a classic example of this.  

@Steve DellaPelle Thanks for the reply Steve! Those are definitely areas I would be looking at if I went to college because you are 100% right they are so compatible and compliment so many different aspects of REI. What aspect of financing did you go into? Any recommendations?

If you got the drive and the energy... knock out your general ed either at night school/online w/ a community college. It's cheap and you can work while doing that. I can tell you this though, 19 yr old me had a lot different view of what I wanted to do for a job then the me that actually saw what some of the workforce was like. 

Take your time, find what you're good at, and do school on the side (maybe school's you're thing). Once you get a work history you can pick a degree that'd actually be beneficial and it won't take long to get since you've already been working on it...

The biggest benefit to college is all the fun times you have, working hard and having fun. You don’t get that type of freedom any other time in your life.

Wanna skip class in college? Go for it. I had friends who didn’t go to class for two months and still got an A, (classes were in electrical engineering so no joke). Can’t do that at your day job and still keep your job

@Michael Guzik

In answer to the topic, why not both?  Use college as a platform to help build your future business(s).  Instead of looking at college as something that interferes in your aspirations and dreams, use it as a vehicle to learn, network, and have fun being busy in the process!  Remember your network IS your net-worth!  

Originally posted by @Michael Guzik :

@Matt K. I actually had never thought of that but that might be the solution! Thanks for the advice!

 if you get good at something.... and you actually have a plan about college you could even get an employer to pay for it (or some of it). Or you find that you actually hate what you thought would be a cool job and want to start something new, but don't have the regret of starting over in college. 

I think higher education of some sort is extremely important. However it doesn't necessarily have to be a traditional 4 year bachelors. IMO one of the biggest problems with college is that many students go to school with no real idea of what they want to do, get a degree in something non-marketable, and then have $50k in student loans and end up working a minimum wage job after graduation because they can't find anything else.

Back in the day (i.e. our parents' generation), you could get a degree in music history and get hired by an accounting firm simply because you had some sort of college degree, and they figured they could just teach you everything on the job (with much lower tuition rates relative to income level as well...). Not anymore. You're part of "generation z". A common theme with your generation is that you grew up during the financial crisis and may have seen more of the direct impacts at home. You also don't know a world without the internet, and you understand how easy it is to learn about anything, usually for free if you know where to look. A lot more people in your generation are skeptical about the traditional college path.

I think it's totally fine for you to take some time to figure out what you want to do. Do the real estate thing for a year or two while you figure it out. At the end of the day, if you really love real estate, you can keep doing it full-time. If you decide there's something else you're into, you can shift your career focus but still keep doing real estate as your side hustle. Maybe as a though exercise over the next few months: pretend that you have to give up real estate and go back to school. What would you want to do with your career? What types of things interest you?

If at the end of the day you decide you want to do real estate full-time, I would highly encourage you to still explore going back to school for something business or finance related, or at least find some professional certifications. Also think about if there are any other skills you're simply interested in picking up, like Excel, programming, web/app design, etc. These might be useful at some point and could also help you figure out what types of things you like to do (and it never hurts to pick up additional skills and learn new things). Checking out free or cheap online courses is a great way to explore your interests while you figure out what you want to do. I'd recommend Coursera, Khan Academy, Udemy, and Datacamp - at least go check them out.

If your parents have saved money for you or are wealthy and want to help, that's a beautiful thing. I would take issue with your parents going into debt to fund your college.

I would suggest doing both. Be the fisherman who puts out more than one pole.

@Michael Guzik if it were me, I would take the necessary steps required to get your RE license and do that first. 

College will always be an available option if things don't work out for RE. IMO you're better off trying RE out and if you hate it, you can always go the more conventional route and get a degree. If you opt to try college first, you might hate it as well, but in that instance, you've already dug yourself a financial hole due to loans.

The opportunity cost of trying RE first is a few years in your early 20s. The opportunity cost of trying college first is a potential mistake costing you tens of thousands of dollars.

Good luck.

I truly think that the choice is really a personal preference. I wince at the thought of telling someone not to go to college (I am a mother), but at the same time, I don't believe that college is necessary to be successful in life.

Real Estate is an EXCELLENT career, and there are many spokes of it (Residential, commercial, finance, property management, syndication, etc). Having a degree in something that compliments your area of expertise only helps you, and can sometimes validate you to others seeking your advice, however, it isn't required.

Getting in as an investor can be as simple as buying your first home for you, using a first time home buyer program for down payment and/or closing cost assistance. Then living in the property for the minimum required amount of time.  Get a roommate or two, charge them rent, and put that away for your next deal.  Then do it all over again.  Rent out your 1st property, and buy the 2nd one for you.  Repeat those steps until you have either the portfolio that you want, or the capital and experience to move forward with an investor purchase.

I would recommend 2 things to you. 

First, read RICH DAD, POOR DAD by Robert Kiyosaki. He actually has a whole series that will really speak to you as I think you will be able to relate to his story of having a family who can't see your vision.

Second, if you really want to get into Real Estate, I would recommend speaking to someone at Keller Williams.  Now, I am bias a little bit as I have been with them here in AZ for over 20 years, and I am a vest partner (so full disclosure).  However, when it comes to training agents to think like MILLIONAIRES, there is no one better, IMO, to train, get up to speed, nurture, and grow to the next level.  

I can set you up with a team leader in your area so that you can do some information gathering if you'd like.  Just PM me.  I am happy to set it up for you.  At least it will give you some options to consider.

Best of luck to you!

@Michael Guzik get a job diggedy dude and do it well! Sales is a great place start. Learn real estate when you're not working. Use job #1 to get a better job! Start looking for ways to make income!  Read more about real estate, sales and business. Use job #2 to get job #3! Rinse and repeat. At first, work to learn; not to earn!  

Read: Rich Dad Poor Dad over and over until you see the secret to owning income property (hint: it's not being a real estate investor full time!).

Read: Sell or Be Sold by Grant Cardone

Unless you're going to college for a business degree; skip it!