NOT going to college, what should I do?

103 Replies

Greetings BP,

I'm 17 years old rookie investor. I got into real estate almost a year ago, I've read the classics (Rich Dad, Poor Dad; Think and Grow Rich; Richest man in Babylon) and many other more real estate specific books. I devoutly listen to the BiggerPockets Podcast, while I work as a home construction repair guy. And now I've accumulated a little over $2,000 up to this point.

But, that is my problem. I’m sick at this point and not entirely sure of the next best step.

My opinion on college is that it would kind of be a waste of time and money. I think about all I could do with four years and $40,000+ dollars to invest. Also, I believe with the extra time I could spend more time getting the right kind of education ( real estate investing).

But, I still don't know of the best opportunities outside of college. There are trades like plumbing/ electrical; and also beneficial jobs like a salesman or real estate agent. I'd want to move from Denver, to possibly a more cash flow friendly market like Indianapolis or Kansas City. I'm curious to hear what would be the suggested path, and what has working for you guys. I'm grateful for any thoughts, thanks.

Hey Josiah, I did go to college and I feel the education I got was not worth the price and time I paid for it. That being said there are a lot of contractors who are very busy and could use the help. Working with one would give you great experience if you were planning on managing your own properties and would generate a decent income to start with. Get out there and network with people to find opportunities or try looking at online job boards. 

If you follow bigger pockets, you are also probably aware there are a ton of ways to start investing with very little or none of your own money. Brandon Turner has even wrote a book on it called "Investing in real estate with No (or low) money down." Check it out and get started when you feel you have enough knowledge and time.

Originally posted by @Josiah Patrick Zebarth :

Greetings BP,

I’m 17 years old rookie investor. I got into real estate almost a year ago, I’ve read the classics (Rich Dad, Poor Dad; Think and Grow Rich; Richest man in Babylon) and many other more real estate specific books. I devoutly listen to the BiggerPockets Podcast, while I work as a home construction repair guy. And now I’ve accumulated a little over $2,000 up to this point.

But, that is my problem. I’m sick at this point and not entirely sure of the next best step.

My opinion on college is that it would kind of be a waste of time and money. I think about all I could do with four years and $40,000+ dollars to invest. Also, I believe with the extra time I could spend more time getting the right kind of education ( real estate investing).

But, I still don’t know of the best opportunities outside of college. There are trades like plumbing/ electrical; and also beneficial jobs like a salesman or real estate agent. I’d want to move from Denver, to possibly a more cash flow friendly market like Indianapolis or Kansas City. I’m curious to hear what would be the suggested path, and what has working for you guys. I’m grateful for any thoughts, thanks.

Are you a good salesman? You can make 6 or even 7 figures as an agent. Myself I've sold over $125M so am doing rather well income wise from commissions. One thing to note though. I am in Ohio and in order to start my own brokerage a 2 years of college was a state requirement. So if starting your own brokerage is in your plans you should look into what the requirements are for you to sit for the Broker exam.

 

hello @Josiah Patrick Zebarth

I just graduated from college last summer spending 4 years getting a degree in Business Administration from Marywood University. To be honest, I only went to college because I thought I had to go. It was just the "right thing" to do after you graduate high school. I finished college with around $25,000 in student loan plus an additional $4,000 in credit card debt buying books or for school-related things. Looking back though, I do not regret going to college. It was fun, I met some really cool students, meet some really great teachers (and poor ones), and had some good experiences. However, because I attended college and couldn't work a full-time job along with paying for my expenses, I was not able to save a whole lot of money.

On the other hand, I have two buddies who did not attend college for their own personal reasons and they have worked full-time jobs since they graduated high school. They were smart about their money and saved up a few thousand dollars throughout the years. Because of that, it leaves them in a much better position to invest in real estate since they have the capital.

But luckily, it has worked out for all of us. During my time in school, I was learning all I could about real estate investing (on my own) and they've seen the knowledge I have and they want to partner up so they can start investing. It has turned into a situation where both parties are winning.

Like I said, I don't regret going and honestly, I would do it all over again. However, if college is something you do not want to do- don't do it. Keep working hard, get as many overtime hours as you can, save up, and invest that money into real estate all while you use BP to learn about real estate investing. Possibly look for a multi-unit property that you can use an FHA loan on. That way you are investing in real estate while working a full-time job.

Hope this helps you make a decision on your next step. All the best!

@Marcos Paulo Cerra

Hey, thanks for the help. Just wondering, how helpful do you think your degree is going to be for getting a job? Will you be making a lot more than your friends who didn’t go? And I’ve heard the networking is great in college, did you feel that was true in your experience.

@James Wise

Hey, thanks for the response. I have read a book on sales but otherwise not really. I heard that real estate agent income can be very inconsistent and fluctuating. Did you experience that? Also, is it harder in your opinion, to be a real estate agent in a bigger city? Thanks.

@Adam J Lang

Hey, thanks for the response. Do you feel like the degree boosted your jobs pay and ability to save up for down payments and such? What would you rather have done than go?

@Josiah Patrick Zebarth

It's not going to be helpful at all since I want to work for myself and not get a job working for someone else. I think It depends on what you want out of life and what career you want to get into that will answer the question will a degree be helpful. I did learn some life lessons early on from teachers that are very helpful that I think I would have not learned if I didn't attend college. And for that, I'm forever grateful I attended, loved the experience, and would do it again.

As far as college graduates making more than those who don't go to college, there is some research out there that I believe provides evidence that college graduates do make more than those who did not attend college. I'm sure the information is online for you to lookup. College is a great way to network. It's not just the students that attend your college but my college would have networking events where different majors came together, different schools came together, and local business owners came together to meet up and network. I never really went since as soon as I was done with class I was on my way to work but there are great opportunities for networking.

@Josiah Patrick Zebarth College is a terrific way to learn a lot of skills that can be applied in many ways - writing, speaking, critical thinking, math, economics, how the world we live in works (usually from a somewhat liberal perspective!)etc. But it is not for everyone. Based on what you shared and without knowing really anything about you, I think your comments on the trades would be worth digging into. In most markets, if you invest the time to learn one and get good at it you will never be short of work or income - and you will eventually make plenty of money to pursue real estate investing, and likely be better at it than if you didn't know a trade.

@Josiah Patrick Zebarth . There are lots of paths to success that don’t involve college. I will have spent over 100k on my education (for 2 degrees) by time I’m done but I work in a field where I earn that money back very quickly.

If you study generic business or something else from no-name generically school, then you’re probably wasting your time.

If you don’t go to school your best options will be sales (like RE agent) or being a contractor. In your case, I think a contractor is the way to go.

I met a guy today, at a property of mine to bid some foundation work. He moved to the US when he was a teenager, and never went back to school. Never finished HS.

Owns and runs a construction company that has at least 15 employees. I don’t think he’s even 30 yet. All he does is estimates. He doesn’t do the work. To me that’s pretty successful. College isn’t for everyone, but understand without it, your best bet will to become a small business owner. If you’re not the owner, you’re the laborer and there’s much much less money in that. Just my 2 cents.

Originally posted by @Josiah Patrick Zebarth :

@James Wise

Hey, thanks for the response. I have read a book on sales but otherwise not really. I heard that real estate agent income can be very inconsistent and fluctuating. Did you experience that? Also, is it harder in your opinion, to be a real estate agent in a bigger city? Thanks.

 9 out of 10 agents fail. 10% stay in the game and the top 1% make a ton of money. If you put in the work you can (like myself) break into that 1% category in your market and inconsistent income will never be an issue. You need to treat it like a business though. This means investing a ton of money into your infrastructure. Most importantly your marketing. At the end of the day this is really a marketing business. Those who market the best will win out with the clients.

@Caleb Heimsoth

Hey, thanks for responding. I like what you said about becoming a small business owner instead of just working. That is something which could even become scalable (ie. 4 hour workweek) and which could still allow me to invest time and money into RE. It is most likely going to be difficult in my area, Denver has a decent amount of competition, but maybe I can go somewhere else and start it there.

Hey Josiah,

I'm in a pretty similar situation myself. I'm looking to invest in real estate at a young age, but I'm also not too sure on what my next steps are (outside of listening to the podcast and reading books). I personally think that college would be a good plan B to fall on just in case real estate doesn't work out. You could also use money from a job to supplement your real estate investing. I definitely get your concerns on price and time though. If you can get scholarships and/or go to a community college, then I think that you can still get a college education while cutting down on the time and money put in. I plan on going to college myself. Good luck on your endeavors!

Originally posted by @Josiah Patrick Zebarth :

@Caleb Heimsoth

Hey, thanks for responding. I like what you said about becoming a small business owner instead of just working. That is something which could even become scalable (ie. 4 hour workweek) and which could still allow me to invest time and money into RE. It is most likely going to be difficult in my area, Denver has a decent amount of competition, but maybe I can go somewhere else and start it there.

Get rid of the 4 hour work idea nonsense if you want to be a contractor.  The guy I met today works 6 days a week and covers huge territory.  You may get to the 4 hour week years into your journey but it won’t be anytime soon. 

 

@Josiah Patrick Zebarth I'm going to give you a different perspective.

I understand you might be tired of school but you are also 18. If my only option would have been to go to college in the states I would have not gone either. However, I had the chance to study in Europe. I paid $1800 for my whole education as elementary school teacher. I then transfered my degree to the us system for $200 and every school accepted without any problem.

My suggestion, consider trying college in Europe for at least one year.

Perks

- Travel

- Learn a language

- Meet a different bunch of people

- Party it hard

If after a year it doesn't work, follow another path.

In countries like Malta, Spain, Portugal among others you can live in cool cities for $300 a month. They have English programs.

I know international students pay a bit more but not that much, just make sure is an official degree and you'll be fine.

If it works, you will have a back up degree and stories to tell for the rest of your life.

I don't know man, making money and adulting fast is good but I wouldn't change those years of my life for nothing.

What do you have to lose?

@Ryan Huynh

Hey man, I like what you said. Even if, we don’t go to college now, why not a few years later as a solid plan B. I also, like your idea on community college it seems like the best alternative to 4 years of straight debt. I’m actually interested in investing in KC, how is the market there?

@Joaquin Camarasa

Wow! That actually sounds really cool. $1,800 is insane. Do you that works if you don’t live there first. I agree, the experience and network + degree are the best parts of college and would be pretty invaluable. How could I find out more about this? Is this a four year degree?

@Josiah Patrick Zebarth I am a Spanish citizen but I know there are Americans that go study in Europe for these reasons.

Google simply...

Get a bachelor's degree in Europe being American and start reading as much as you can. There are forums with a bunch of info. Try to contact somebody that has done it before. I know it is possible.

Then you can Google...

WES that's the company that will make your bachelor in Europe official here in the states. There are others as well.

Yes, 4 years degree and fully accredited here in the US. Works perfectly.

@Josiah Patrick Zebarth

Just do what you love... just kidding.

Great choice. College is a waste of money and time. And even worse it teaches you how to not be successful with money but think that you know everything at the same time. Bad combo.

Just take action and remember that you’re above nothing. Becoming successful isn’t sexy. It’s usually boring and repetitive. But the progress is exciting.

Ideas: House hack with FHA loan, become sales pro and make a ton of startup cash (HARD), do Airbnb, raise money, etc.

Here’s what I’ve done over the years: 1. Made as much money through tradition work as possible and saved all of it. 2. Built scalable business in my off time. 3. Put all of that money into real estate. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Good luck!

Hi @Josiah Patrick Zebarth,

A lot of people think college is a waste of time, which it can be sometimes. But, going to college also means you can learn a lot more about subjects that will enhance your knowledge and be useful later in life. For example: History, economics, accounting, management, etc.

If your going to go anyway, you should get a degree that will enhance your knowledge for later in life. For example: A major in economics and a miner real estate, or something like that that will give you more knowledge later in life.

Sure, there's a lot of ways to learn in the world. If you read two books a month on two different subjects, you would be pretty smart after a few years! But, will you actually do it? Most would say sure! But two months later quit to do something else.

Community college is a great way to get credits and not be in college yet. Some colleges even take life experiences for credit! Hint, hint. ;)
A 14 year old I know takes CLEP tests, which are real college tests that you can do anytime at any age. He's completed over four and has a lot of credits, and will enter college at 15 years of age with a year of college done using CLEP and graduate at 19. He's homeschooled. (The best type of school!)

The point is you should never stop learning! EVER! The reason why Warren Buffett and others are so smart in a lot of areas is because they read, read, read! You should never stop learning about your nations history, law, and other subjects like economics, accounting, literature, etc. Most students get out of college thinking they don't have to learn anything else or read anymore! But life is about learning.

Lastly, let me sum up with these to wise quotes:

"Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought after with ardor and attended to with diligence." - Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams.

"Learning is not a phase in your life, it is your life." - Me

Nobody has mentioned it yet but have you considered the military? There's a lot of opportunity to learn skills in different areas and then of course there's education benefits as well. It's not for everybody but something to think about.

I personally think too many kids out of high school go to college for no particular reason, aren't really "ready" for it and it can be a big money suck. I'd recommend a trade school in the building trades which will give you invaluable skills, a means to earn money and help you advance your real estate interests. Then of course you can always take classes online or in person here and there to get a degree once you have a target. I think college is good for some but not a requirement to make a good living. There's plenty of HVAC technicians and plumbers that earn more than people with masters degrees.

 @Josiah Patrick Zebarth My full time job is as a structural engineer so I could not have gotten the job without my degree and the pay is pretty decent which helps with investing but I would go into sales straight out of high school like @James Wise suggested if I had to do it over again.

@Josiah Patrick Zebarth

Go into a trade for sure instead of school.

School is good if you’re going to be a lawyer, Dr, architect, or something very specific that you need specific knowledge.

If you don’t want to go to college go to a trade school and become an electrician, plumber or study to become a general contractor... you will make more money that way than following the latter in corporate America