Is a degree worth it?

19 Replies

I should first start out with my situation/background.

I'm 18, currently in my 2nd semester of college studying Electrical Engineering. I am also really interested in real estate investing. I have been exposed to it by my dad, I've worked lots of summers and weekends on homes with my pops to fix them and sell them/rent them. I really want to do this immediately when I graduate school (3 & half years) from today. I'm studying Electrical Engineering, I really like it and I'm pretty sure I can get a job and decent salary out of school 65k+ and immediately start throwing as much as possible into investments(In an area where Home prices are lower than average in the U.S.). But is it worth it to waste my time now not making money ( school is too demanding to have a job at the same time), or to drop school find a job and save as much as I can living with my parents, then go in to real estate from there? I feel like I could get a head start taking the no-school option and since most people quit their jobs to do real estate investing full time eventually what's the point? So do you think the college degree is worth it? ( I think it would be helpful to say I would be graduating with zero debt since I'm on full ride scholarship as long as my GPA stays above 3.0)

Sorry if this is a childish question for biggerpockets or the wrong place to post, I've been reading alot here and was just looking advice from the people with experience here.

I just want to be really successful and make my mom and dad proud.

Miguel, I would say a college degree is well worth it, especially since you are on full scholarship in a high-demand and high paying field. When you graduate in a few years you will have the ability to get a good job and save money to get a great jump on real estate investing. Sure you could get a little head start now, but I think with the earning potential you will have you will be able to make up for lost time very quickly.

I am a part time investor and graduated 5 years ago and I will tell you, my good paying W-2 job has been crucial to growing my company. Sure I plan on going full time at some point, but I do not think I would be where I am today had I not finished my degree and been able to secure a good job. I am sure others will chime in with different experiences.

Also, it is nice to have other skills and be marketable in another field in case you decide real estate is not what you want to do with your life.

Everyone who wants to be a real estate investor can be a real estate investor. An engineering degree in EE will open doors in places that not everyone can go.

If at the end of 3 years you can get a 65K a year job with your degree, you will most certainly have not wasted you time.

Any successful investor is diversified. Having a rigorous technical degree from a 4 year university is a very strong hedge against your other investments.

Getting a full scholarship for maintaining a minimum very B average (hopefully you are doing better than that) is a gift from heaven that you should get down on your knees and be thankful for every half hour that passes.

There are other intangeable benefits to a college degree that cannot be realized in any other way than getting a college degree.

Most people do not quit their jobs to invest in RE full time.

Miguel Vazquez, I had the same question. I'm 21 and I've been working part time as well going to community college part time. I'm in the same boat as you. undecided to go into one field or the other which is going for a real estate brokers license. I can only offer this advice; if you choose to go to work and school at the same time get all your stuff in order. two years of W2's or taxes, (or less if you go with the right agent/lender) a good downpayment, no debt, and if your family has given you investment properties put those in too so you can qualify for more cash. Source: my personal experience. Glad to see that there are other young people here who want to this this too!


I agree with James. An electrical engineering degree is in rather high demand so it is one of relatively few degrees that are with the time and money. Besides, it will absolutely come in handy in the world of RE.

I studied of 7 years before doing my first deal. It sounds as though you have an opportunity to do the same. Study RE on the side while you are in school on the side. Understand yourself and set your goals. With W2 income you will be well positioned to throw some punches in a few years. Be active on BP. Ask questions. Good luck!

I struggled through Mech Eng with a minor in EE.
Then ended up in drive control automation & traveled the world on contract jobs.
But that minor in EE saved me a lot of $$$ when renovating homes esp splitting the services for myself & others.
If you're serious about RE investment an engineering background will save you a fortune & give you valuable insight into structural re-design (assuming you take some design courses) when you blow out the walls etc of an older home or add a room above an attached garage etc.
It's a great discipline & you will never regret finishing.

Couldn't agree more with all those that said get the degree. You hear success stories of those who are tremendously successful without a college degree but they are few and far between.

I have a Mech Engineering degree and went into sales after college. I have been very successful and am in a position now where I do have access to capital that I would not otherwise had. I just wish I had the foresight to start into real estate in my 20's instead of late 30's.

Get the degree, no matter what you decide to do down the road it will be of benefit to you to have it.

Some pretty good reasons to stay in's another one

If I were your father and you quit, I'd kick your tail out of the house and break your plate! :)

Originally posted by Bill Gulley:
Some pretty good reasons to stay in's another one

If I were your father and you quit, I'd kick your tail out of the house and break your plate! :)

Be very glad Bill is not your father...I know I am! :)

I would stay in school and finish up, especially since your on a full-ride. I recently got into real estate investing after completing my doctor of pharmacy residency. Although I do have a nice earning potential, the amount of money I spend each month paying pack loans really limits my ability to try to fund my own deals. Having the ability to have a nice earning potential without having to pay back any student loan debt will only help you more down the road.

Stay patient and learn as much as you can and try to do what deals you can on the side.

Originally posted by James Vermillion:
Originally posted by Bill Gulley:
Some pretty good reasons to stay in's another one

If I were your father and you quit, I'd kick your tail out of the house and break your plate! :)

Be very glad Bill is not your father...I know I am! :)

LOL, I do understand, but my sons seem to think there are some benefits....

I tell my children all the time..... An education is never a waste of time!! Education is an investment into your future!!!

LOL @James Vermillion

Miguel Garcia We have A LOT in common. My father was a successful real estate investor and I grew up spending my summers working on houses. I knew at an early age that I wanted to do real estate above all else.

But, I had the foresight to complete college and get a good paying W2 job. My degree is my security blanket - If I go broke doing real estate the worst that could happen is that I'd be stuck doing my 9 to 5 gig for a couple years until I got back on my feet.

Stay in school, get that good earning paycheck, learn as much as you can about real estate while in school. When the time comes for you to start investing, you'll be so much more ahead of the other guys as you will have a trump card - a good profession to fall back on. Believe me, when it comes time to put up or shut up and make the big decisions in real estate, having that degree and knowledge will allow you to make bigger moves faster than your competitors.

Theres no rush and don't ever think you're missing out on a deal because you're staying in school.


I work with guys who went on to finish the electrical engineering degrees, got their PE licenses and became forensic engineers making between 200 and 250 an hour. Maybe some get 150. This is where they got to about 10 years out of college, working at it and making money on the way. These are real numbers. I authorize the payouts. I thought of doing it myself. I even got accepted to go back to school at a Purdue engineering program. I chose not to as it would be a 10 year journey for me that way and frankly I can make just as much by then doing things I already do without having to restart something new. You're 18 though. You have 18 more years than I do.

So, is making between a quarter of a million to half a million dollars a year worth it for you to stick to it and finish? Can you do some very interesting REI with that kind of money coming in?

Look beyond what a "standard" engineer makes and look for the high paying niche. That's when it gets sexy and starts to motivate you.

I would like to thank all of you for the advice and now the motivation to finish up. I will definitely be continuing school.

I will be reading around and in a couple of years you should see me reporting back here with my first deal.. see ya'll soon.

I completely agree with all the advice given here. The one suggestion that I'll offer is that you take some classes that will help you in the future should you wish to go down the REI road. Take those accounting courses so you understand and become comfortable working with spreadsheets and numbers. Maybe do a minor in business management.

So much of what I see here is emotional investing. "I like this property, what should I do?" Very few have the knowledge and discipline to look at a property by the numbers to make a sound financial decision. I'm an artist by trade but what has helped set me apart from my starving brethren is my ability to make sound business decisions.

Good luck in your schooling and your career!

I'll jump on the bandwagon here and agree with everyone else...

I got my electrical engineering degree (glad I wasn't smart enough to get the Physics degree i really wanted) and got a good job out of school. One job led to another and a few years later I had the cash to quit and pursue real estate (or whatever else I had wanted).

My big regret is that I didn't start investing while I was doing the 9-5 thing.

If I were you, I'd finish up the degree, get a job you like and start investing with the cash you earn. In a few years, you'll have the choice between keeping the job (if you really love it) or leaving with a nice little nest egg to get you started (plus a bunch of RE experience that you can leverage if you decide to do that full time).

Worst case, you finish school and decide to try RE full time. At least you'll then have a degree to fall back on if you find that you're not happy and/or successful.

My just $.02...and what I would have done had I known then what I know now...

I agree with @James Vermillion and Brian Hoyt (and everybody else for that matter). A college education is a privilege and a great experience that not everybody has the chance to do. If you've got the opportunity to obtain an asset that you can take with you for the rest of your life - you should do it.

I always get a little bothered when I hear people downgrade the benefits of a college degree. Seems like it's usually coming from those who never went through it from start to finish (either by choice or circumstance).

Will it guarantee your success? Of course not.

Will it deeply enhance your knowledge, academic intelligence, conventional wisdom and communication skills (to name just a few)? Absolutely.

Given how indispensable these benefits are, I'd say that staying in school is a no-brainer.

I agree with everyone's advise
I'm not sure which degree is which...but in my REI investing
I had to pay
$$$ for architect stamp...
$$ for a drafting company stamp
$$$$$ for structural engineer services
I currently have to fork over $$$$$$$$$$$$ for engineer to help me do site revision on commercial

So get your degrees it will help you and your networking

I went to an engineering school, too bad all my friends aren't local, I was business major.

Originally posted by Brian Hoyt:
Getting a full scholarship for maintaining a minimum very B average (hopefully you are doing better than that) is a gift from heaven that you should get down on your knees and be thankful for every half hour that passes.

Truer words were never said, Brian. It’s one thing to second guess a degree that burdens you with the enormous financial debt many graduates end up with. It’s another to be fortunate enough to get a free ride in a field that can be fun, challenging, and lucrative.

Originally posted by @Account Closed :
But is it worth it to waste my time now not making money....

Is not making money a waste of time, Miguel? Are you questioning the choice you made for your major or are you just impatient to start earning money? Patience, grasshopper. That time will come.

I strongly encourage you to consider a job as an intern or co-op student where you can apply your skills and get some real world experience right now. It will give you a flavor of what you getting into, whether you like it or not, and how to tweak your degree to suit your interests. The government and many large high-tech companies have programs like this that will enable you to develop your focus.

There was a thread here recently I wish I could find for you, where many successful RE investors volunteered their education and formal degrees. It was amazing how many had engineering and other technical degrees.


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