This week the USA Today reported that “nearly half of the nation’s undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don’t make academics a priority.” The article went on to state that “after two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”
The average tuition cost for a public, in-state school is around $50,000 for four years. Out of state tuition to a public school is about twice that and some private schools can eclipse $200,000. It makes you wonder if college is really worth the cost. Think about it – would you buy car if there was only a 55% chance it would get you to your final destination? Would you buy a new TV if you could only see half the picture?
Does it make financial sense to commit four years and $50,000 or more on your education if there’s just a 64% chance you’ll be smarter at the end?
A recent survey found that 53% of college students own a smart phone. Maybe that’s the answer. Instead of sending our kids to college we could just buy them all an iPhone or Droid X. The average smart phone retails for about $200. The $49,800 saved on tuition could be used to invest in a mutual fund earning 8% a year. At retirement age this investment would be worth a million bucks.
Here’s the other problem with college – much of what IS learned has little value in the real world. Ask any industry leader in finance, technology, manufacturing or real estate to name a key ingredient for success and most will have the same response – goal setting. Yet are you aware of any major university that offers a course dedicated to this subject? Goal Setting 101 should be a required course for every college student in the country, regardless of their major.
Before my partner and I started our real estate investment firm in 2009 we sat down and mapped out our short-term, mid-term and long-term financial goals. To do this we actually had to work backwards.
We set our long-term goal first – to earn $18,000-$20,000 per month in passive income from rental properties. In order to generate enough income to buy these homes we had to set a mid-term goal – to flip 5-8 homes every month for 36 months. We did the math and in order to flip 5-8 houses per month we needed $2 million in working capital. So our short-term goal became to raise $2 million.
After 18 months we’re half way to reaching our short-term goal of raising the $2 million. Not bad considering we started out with $180,000.
It’s important to set a long-term goal and then back into it. Why? For most people, including myself, the long-term goal can sometimes seem unrealistic and unattainable. By setting mid-term and short-term goals you can measure success more quickly and celebrate obtaining them more often.
I’ve thrown a lot of statistics at you here and that’s not normally my style. I graduated from Arizona State University and majored in Political Science. I did this primarily because there wasn’t much math required for the degree. I would find out later that I had to take a class called Political Statistics 301 to graduate. The professor once jokingly acknowledged that 80% of all statistics are made up. That’s good to know. Maybe college wasn’t such a bad investment after all.