College Degree.... Is it helpful? (want your opinion)

25 Replies

Hey BP Nation! 

I wanted to get your 2 cents on whether or not you felt it is beneficial to have received a college degree (preferably financing) in your investing career? 

I believe college degrees are great for people trying to get a good JOB working for someone else, but that isn't my plan. My plan is to grow a business, my own business. My goals are to net in the single digit millions. At some point I see myself having to get outside investor funding and was curious if investors see a "Finance Degree" as an added layer of security. 
Also, if the Finance Degree might actually help in my business operations. 

A great track record (school of hard knocks as someone once told me) is probably the most important factor for any funding investor. 

Anywho, your opinion is really valued so please chime in! 
:D

From an investing standpoint, No. I think it doesn't hurt to have it, but I wouldn't prolong starting a business for it. In this business there is no degree required to get funding, besides the degree would probably become a nice wall ornament in your home office.

Thanks @Thomas Weir  ! The degree would be a nice pat on the back wall ornament, ha!

I will definitely not have the "analysis paralysis" of this get in the way. I am already on my way forward, but I am just trying to look out at the 5 year goal look ahead and if it will worth it.  

I believe the answer is it depends.   What do you really want from real estate investing?

A small lifestyle business?  Then probably no college needed.   Work a Realtor or mortgage broker gig and go from there while you accumulate assets. The CCIM institute offers a crash course in finance with no degree required.   The Urban Land Institute offers development education as well.

If your interested in commercial real estate or development with an eye toward accumulating substantial wealth I think undergraduate work in finance and economics is mission critical.    

I am a huge fan of starting at a community college to get the average weighted cost of the undergraduate down.    State school from there and on down the road.   A great way to achieve the objective in my mind.

The knowledge you gain from school is big help.  The actual degree is worthless.  

I quit school to start my first real estate business in 2005.  I had 3 classes left to graduate with an economics degree.  Don't regret it one bit and I have no intentions to finish.  

@Joe Demonte  Think HIRE education, not HIGHER education.

What you need now are intelligence and the right education (money helps, too, but we are limiting the scope here :)

You've probably got the intelligence.  And you can read, shadow people, intern and get mentors for your own education.

But once you start growing, if you need skills or credibility or anything that you do not have, you can hire it.

That said, I am all for college.  It is a wonderful, enriching experience, both educationally and socially.  But you don't need it to become a successful investor.

Thanks @Douglas Dowell  . Substantial wealth is definitely the goal. I too am a fan of going the community college route for an undergraduate. 

Thanks @Ryan Mullin   for your input. 

Thanks @Larry T.  . Very true. Hiring the right people that have the background to make the company well rounded is definitely a huge key in succeeding big. This can not be skimped on. Hiring people that are experts where I am not, and compliment my skills are important. 
Personally, I am not trying to do it all. I also understand that we all have certain skills and abilities & should focus on growing those specific skills & abilities.

Great insight so far! :)

Originally posted by @Joe Demonte:

Hey BP Nation! 

I wanted to get your 2 cents on whether or not you felt it is beneficial to have received a college degree (preferably financing) in your investing career? 

I believe college degrees are great for people trying to get a good JOB working for someone else, but that isn't my plan. My plan is to grow a business, my own business. My goals are to net in the single digit millions. At some point I see myself having to get outside investor funding and was curious if investors see a "Finance Degree" as an added layer of security. 
Also, if the Finance Degree might actually help in my business operations. 

A great track record (school of hard knocks as someone once told me) is probably the most important factor for any funding investor. 

Anywho, your opinion is really valued so please chime in! 
:D

I enjoyed college, and I did learn some (although I think I've learned much more being out of college and working/studying on my own). With regards to real estate, I think it's been very close to useless. 

@Joe Demonte  Joe, I have degrees up the wazoo, and I don't think that they really have helped me at all in the real estate investing business -- EXCEPT in one critical area.  When a potential investor looks at your resume, having a degree may make a difference to their impression of you, especially early on.  This also depends on who you're dealing with.  Someone with a college degree is far more likely to trust you if you have one, too, and when it comes to investors, let's face it, more likely than not, people with the funds to invest with you are going to be college educated, the way this world works.  However, the longer you are in the business, and the more of a track record you have, the less and less your education will even be an issue.  In other words, when you lack a track record, your education will be a partial stand-in.

However, if you read through these forums, you will find a lot of people got their start investing while in college, so pursuing a degree should not necessarily delay your real estate career.  And, if you decide that you want to go the institutional investment route when you finish your degree, having done your own deals will certainly not hurt . . .

@Joe Demonte  My take on degrees is pretty straightforward. Most degrees build a body of knowledge that could quickly be obtained by pro-actively learning. I think the value of a degree is threefold:

One, all degrees show people that you have the diligence and dedication to sit down for 4+ years and study a specific body of knowledge. 

Two, certain degrees are useful in that they can teach you to think in a structured and systematic way (especially hard sciences and to some extent business/finance programs, I'm sure I'll get slack for this from the soft science/art types out there!) 

Three, they can hedge against your business failures in that they provide a fallback career (assuming a professional degree). 

I think if you're the type that really puts yourself out there, you can do very well without having to rely on a degree. 

I'd have to say my opinion is diametrically opposite from: "The knowledge you gain from school is big help. The actual degree is worthless." -@Ryan Mullin  . I went out and read MBA textbooks before starting my undergrad degree and there's nothing stopping you from doing the same. A degree is just a certification that you read the right books and understood them to a certain extent. 

That's my two cents! 

Hindsight is 20/20 but I truly believe that if I had to do it over again I would skip college.  I could have started my RE investing career 5 years earlier. I'm a bookworm and pick-up on things relatively quickly. I learned more about RE and finance in the six months after I graduated than I did in the 5 years I was at college. It was fun and I loved playing baseball for the school but reaching my goals 5 years sooner would have been even more satisfying. If your disciplined and focused you can do whatever you want with your life and be successful at it. Just my $0.02...

@Andrew Syrios  Thanks! Was it a business degree of some sort? 

@Jonathan Twombly  Thanks for your input! I could see the value of the degree early on with investors. Especially if they are much more experienced & successful in other investment avenues. Since you have the day to day experience of this, I really appreciate you chiming in. 

Thanks @Alexander Lafreniere  ! That is exactly how I have been looking at the degree. Having that relatable factor with investors,  a backup plan, & networking with the right people put someone in a really good spot down the road. 

Thanks @Daniel Miller  ! Do you think it would have made any difference if you were to start your investing career and go to school together? I wont be putting my investing career on hold, but rather getting it while I am investing. 

I understand that the energy, money, and time used for schooling could be used for the real estate business, but that is where many people differ on the subject. 
It is really interesting getting everyones opinion. I take it all with a grain of salt. 

Originally posted by @Joe Demonte:

@Andrew Syrios Thanks! Was it a business degree of some sort? 

@Jonathan Twombly  Thanks for your input! I could see the value of the degree early on with investors. Especially if they are much more experienced & successful in other investment avenues. Since you have the day to day experience of this, I really appreciate you chiming in. 

Thanks @Alexander Lafreniere  ! That is exactly how I have been looking at the degree. Having that relatable factor with investors,  a backup plan, & networking with the right people put someone in a really good spot down the road. 

Thanks @Daniel Miller  ! Do you think it would have made any difference if you were to start your investing career and go to school together? I wont be putting my investing career on hold, but rather getting it while I am investing. 

I understand that the energy, money, and time used for schooling could be used for the real estate business, but that is where many people differ on the subject. 
It is really interesting getting everyones opinion. I take it all with a grain of salt. 

 Yeah, I got a degree in business administration

I have never heard anyone say " I have too much formal education." In fact, I have only heard the exact opposite. I read a book by Ron Popeil, the set it and forget it oven guy, pocket fisherman etc...he explains he could have made hundreds of millions more if he was formally educated in business. I believe him.

thanks,

Matt

Depends on your goals and how you want to reach them. That being said we are buy and investors in Class a areas. Having great salaries and W2 incomes have been the key to our success. We live on one income and invest the other. 

My masters degree and undergraduate degree in finance and accounting. Has provided me the skills to work for others learning on their money and time.

@Joe Demonte  I earned a business and psychology degree. Maybe if I earned a Finance degree I would like at it differently? Tough to say. I still say I'd pass on it. I thought my college was watered down though. As for real estate and college simultaneously, I still think jumping in is the best option. Real Estate knowledge and finance is so specific to real estate.

 I came right out of college and into real estate making nothing and I wouldn't change it. If you make the jump there is no safety net. You are forced into almost an instinctual natural selection where you view every deal, potential client, and real estate happening as a life or death situation. If you truly love it and are confident that you can make it, not leaving yourself an out is the best choice you can make.

I educated myself. I would guess I've read forty real estate, real estate finance, finance and corporate strategy books in the last three years of being self-employed. I heard a perfect quote on one of the podcasts, "Do right now what you wanna be doing for the rest of your life". I love that quote and that's kind of what I did. You get a lot of no's along the way because you don't have much credibility or money but eventually the yes's come more and more frequently and it all starts to domino. 

@Matt R.  Sink or swim, right? "Do right now what yo uwant to be doing for the rest of your life" is an awesome quote! 
That is encouraging to hear. I have read before "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the 2nd best time is now"

Thanks everyone! 

Joe, my masters was the number one reason I got my first break into 90% residential and 10% commercial. My first break and the knowledge I gained was the catalyst for the new job I was just offered on Thursday 100% commercial.

Honestly their are lots of ways to gain experience. I personally love play with someone else's money learning the trade making money that I can invest into mine at the same time. Think of it as paid mentorship.

Just how landlords screen tenants with minimum qualifications, you will get screened (by partners, lenders, clients, etc.) with minimum qualifications. I think a lot of people see having a college degree nowadays as a minimum qualification. When you are first starting out and do not have a track record of succesful deals, that degree might get your foot in a door you otherwise wouldn't be able to.

That being said, I think the cost of college tuition is the biggest scam perpetuated on this generation of Americans. If you're a hard worker and are confident in your ability to sell your skills, it's not necessary to succeed.

In an ideal world, and the educational world I think the founding fathers were trying to create, college would teach you to think. These days the thinking part has taken a backseat to the degree and social experience.  We really need to come up with alternative ways for young adults to "grow up".  Putting 18-year-olds living away from home for the first time together for 4 years is a relatively new tradition. Seems like there could be other ways.

I say continue to focus on your RE and business goals.  But use college to learn new things and expand your mind.  Don't focus on the degree, focus on the learning.  Go somewhere within your means and don't go into debt for your education.  Since you are in California you can take advantage of a cheap or virtually free education. Community colleges allow you to transfer to a Cal State or UC. The Blue & Gold financial aid program pays all UC and Cal State tuition for families or emancipated young adults with incomes under $80K.  

This article below by a former Yale professor has a lot of interesting things to say about students in the Ivy Leagues these days. The author's biggest concern is that our best and brightest students aren't learning to think. Or to be creative.  Or to be service minded.  But he still thinks college can be a great experience: 

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118747/ivy-leag...

OP: IMO, it's the degree that matters, not the knowledge.  Knowledge matters but you don't need a degree to get it.  I've spoken to two MBA graduates, one from Wharton and the other from Harvard.  Both say the same thing, education didn't help them much but the networking as a result of the Ivy League schools help them tremendously.  Personally, I'm at a point where I'm starting to raise money for RE projects.  I can tell my degree matters, it's in engineering, people don't seem to care that the degree is irrelevant to real estate, only that I have a degree, I hear it in their comments and in their tone.

@K. 

Kristine Marie Poe undefined

As wonderful as programs like Blue & Gold are, it's the middle class that suffers.  Family's that make over $80k in CA can't afford to send their children to a UC or Cal State, yet they are forced to pay taxes that fund these programs.  $80k may seem like a lot to non-californian's but it's not enough to put food on the family table AND put kids through college.  The article you referenced says "In fact, the group that is most disadvantaged by our current admissions policies are working-class ...".  He was referring to the fact that only children of the rich, of all races, can afford Ivy League.  I would add that the working-class are further disadvantaged by the fact that they have to pay for the low income folks here in Ca.  I'm not arguing right or wrong here, only that there are two sides to the story of a free education.  Regarding community colleges being cheap or nearly free, it's actually better than free, many students get paid to go to CC, not just tuition and books, but living expenses as well.  I could go on about the abuse of the that money but won't as I'm too close to the topic to speak rationally. 

For sure Joe, in the Popeil case, he explains how he could not understand how taking his company public would increase his value. He was offered many times per invention to do that and his lack of education on going public was the obstacle. He still did extremely well but reflecting back he said that he missed on at the least 100 million per decade simply due to his lack of education. 

thanks,

Matt

I just graduated college and I have a good job as a result of having my degree which is in Accounting and Finance. That being said I think it would be more advantageous for you to take everyone's advice on here and take a alternative approach to obtaining knowledge and wealth which involves working and saving money rather then going into debt or paying for knowledge. I agree with @Larry Turowski post. 

Just my opinion. Good luck, I'm sure you will do great either way since you seem very motivated! 

I just wanted to chime in on this. I am attending college starting next week and am majoring in finance. It is definitely not necessary but I view college as the perfect buffer. It is a four year time where I can build my portfolio and not have to worry about major living expenses. Basically I will be saving all cash flow for rentals I buy during college to continue purchasing and expanding my portfolio.

Hope this helps!

Nice plan @Michael Westberry  ! Best wishes on the cash-flow & experience. 

Account Closed ! Funny, I see & hear about people selling their skills and its helped them move up the ladder quickly. 

Its great getting different opinions from different backgrounds. I realize this, having the degree wont hurt, but may distract while growing a business. Its always a great backup plan to have. Some people value and feel more comfortable working with you when you have earned a degree, but others could care less. 

Regardless, hard work & building your solid business is one of the most crucial, fundamental steps.

Thanks you all! 

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