Since I started going to college in 2014, I’ve developed a bit of a love-hate relationship with it. I love learning new things and the information I’ve been exposed to has certainly benefited me in many ways. I'm not very fond of how the classes are structured though. I don’t think colleges should make all the classes the same length by putting time restraints like semesters to play. Some subjects take longer than 4 months to get a good grasp on and some only take a few weeks.
The Road has Been Longer Than it Should Have Been
Although I’m only going for an Associate’s degree, I’ve let obstacles get in my way to make the process take 4 years. For the first two years, I was living with my parents in a very rural area. I drove 30 minutes one-way to work and my girlfriend lived 45 minutes away. For the classes I took in person, the only campus I could take the classes at was an hour away from home. Work, girlfriend and school were all in opposite directions. This was a good formula for taking up every waking hour I had in the day.
In 2016, I got married. Although that eliminated my commute to my fiancé’s house, I found myself devoting more time to my relationship and learning about homeownership and living independently from my parents.
I can be a bit of a procrastinator and never had much of a drive to knock college out as fast as possible. Due to my lack of ambition, I took several semesters off and only took two classes at a time some of the semesters. This is why I still don’t have my 2-year degree 4 years later.
2+2 = 4… Right?
Another thing that slowed me down is my terrible math skills. I can calculate money concepts in my head exceptionally well but am terrible at calculating anything higher level than elementary algebra. This resulted in having to take remedial math classes.
I almost let math kill my chance of getting a degree. The remedial classes were structured so that if you didn’t get to a certain checkpoint by the end of the semester, you would get an F for the entire class. I didn’t make it to the checkpoint twice. I decided to take a break from math and figured I would put it off until I had completed all the other courses I needed for the degree. Thankfully, I passed all the other classes relatively easily and then in fall of 2017 got my first job in IT.
I got the job, What's the Point of Going Back?
I decided to take a break from school when I got my first IT job and have questioned going back ever since. I wouldn’t have gotten the job if I didn’t have the college experience on my resume. I’ve heard that real-world experience trumps a college degree though, so I couldn’t decide if it was worth it to struggle through math just to get the piece of paper stating I had completed my education.
Getting a job in the IT field was the only reason I started going to college in the first place. I already got a job so what’s the point of continuing? Well, I’ve been thinking about it and it just isn’t in me to leave that chapter of my life incomplete. I’m doing my future self a favor and getting the silly piece of paper, so I don’t have to have regrets concerning college later in life.
What it Will Take to Complete the Course
So, that brings us to present time. Over the past few months I’ve looked into what was needed for me to graduate. Thankfully, I won’t have to do anymore remedial math classes (although I never completed them) because I switched colleges and was able to retake the entry math test. I squeaked out just enough points to pass. So now, I only have to take college algebra and 3 other classes to graduate.
You Gain More Than Just a Better Career With College
Looking back on things, I’ve realized that I’ve gained more things from college than just a better job. Being forced to exercise my brain in ways I wouldn’t have outside of school is something that will probably benefit me for the rest of my life.
How Will it Affect my Career?
I don’t know how useful the degree will be for my future career. While an Associate’s degree is better than nothing in the eyes of employers, it isn’t much better. I might not even stay in the IT industry for the entirety of my working years. If this blog starts earning money and I continue to grow my eBay business, I’ll probably say goodbye to working for anyone other than myself for good.
So, at the end of the day, I’m only going back to school because I have one semester left and I don’t want to regret not finishing the program. I think it’s important to not give up on things just because they’re not particularly enjoyable. Building up your brain's capacity to break down mental barriers is certainly useful in all areas of life. I utterly despise the thought of studying college algebra, but I know it will be good for me to fight through it.
Funny thing is, I’d probably be making more money than I am right now if I had started blogging and building my eBay business 4 years ago instead of going to school. Such is life, we learn as we live.
What's it Going to Cost?
So, what’s it going to cost me to finish my degree and how much will the degree boost my income? Since I don’t qualify for any kind of financial aid other than student loans, I get to pay over $2,000 after buying all the books and everything associated with college. At least I can write it off on my taxes and can pay for it in cash with my eBay earnings. I honestly don’t know if it will boost my income at all over the course of my life because I might end up becoming self-employed anyways.
Should You go for a College Education?
The way things are going, I’m not sure that having a degree is going to automatically mean you will earn more over your lifetime. While it’s still true today, things are changing quick and companies are learning that people can be smart without going to college. I’m certainly not against college but I never plan to stop learning so I’ll continue my education regardless of whether it’s formal or not. If you’re going to go into a huge amount of debt for school, I’d think long and hard before doing so.
Nathan has been a personal finance writer since early 2018. He and his wife reached a net worth of one hundred thousand at the age of 25 and are on their way to financial independence. His favorite way to make money is selling things on eBay and has grown his eBay business to earn five figures selling part-time. He loves sharing what he learns about finance and any eBay tips he comes across. If you’re interested in becoming an eBay seller, check out his reseller Facebook group.