On Post-College Debt

It’s been about seven years since I graduated Northeastern Business School in Boston, and if there is one thing that I’ve learned since then, it is the fact that college is a huge burden on an entire generation of kids and families.

I’ve been expressing my dissatisfaction with the cost of university ever since I was enrolled in college. I simply didn’t understand the point of it when I first got into college and spent my freshman year in a dorm room, going to class two hours out of the day, and spending the rest of the day wondering what the hell everybody else was getting out of the experience.

One of the main reasons I went to Northeastern was because I was attracted to the idea of working while in school, a concept that was relatively unknown at the time that I went, but has since transformed Northeastern into one of the top colleges in the country.

I know person after person after person who is completely financially burdened by attending school, and it is a burden that is going to stick with them, largely, for most of their lives.

I’ve been fortunate enough to not have to deal with any student loans throughout my life, but my perspective on large loans and debt is that debt is something that is extremely, extremely dangerous.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, debt is slavery. The entire purpose of debt when it was first invented was to enslave populations into doing work they wouldn’t normally do without being controlled through force. Debt avoidance is one of my most important life philosophies. I’d rather live in a sleeping bag on the side of the road than go into financial debt, because I’d rather be free in life more than anything else, a concept that the founding fathers of America all understood, and something that too many of us today are forgetting. Debt, even when I was a kid, has always made me cringe whenever I became involved with it.

But here we are, now all of a sudden, discussing on a national scale the cost of college and how it is putting a huge burden on students. Why is this suddenly shocking to people and how could you not have known? If you go to college to study an industry where the majority of people in that industry either do not have jobs or do not make money, you are making a poor investment in terms of your education—if your goal is to make more money in the future. You are not making an investment in your financial future when you take out a loan to study pottery making, you are going on a learning vacation, and it’s a vacation that you will have to pay for.

Do I think a person with any common sense should spend $150,000 to learn how to put paint on a canvas? No, I do not think this makes any sense. Do I see the value in the pleasure that it brings? Do I see the value that it brings to society? Yes, of course I see that value, but what I do not see is justifying getting a student loan for over $100,000 for a 17-year-old kid who has no idea what the hell he is getting into. To me, this is not about enhancing this child’s future and that of society as a whole, to me this is a gross financial scam, and it’s a hard and VERY expensive lesson to be learned. Too many Americans who have fallen into debt traps have had to learn that this scam includes credit cards, unrealistic mortgages and even the national debt.

Should you go to college, yes you absolutely should, but if you cannot afford it, then you shouldn’t go and you should do something that you can afford to do.

I’m harsh on this subject, and it’s intentional, and the reason is because I’m surrounded by a generation of my colleagues and friends who have been duped and are strangled financially for the rest of their lives. It’s turned the kids who just wanted to work hard and do what they thought was the right thing to do into young adults who are bitter about the hand that they have been dealt and facing a hopeless, unpayable future. Kind of not that different than the unpayable debt that countries all across the world have placed on top of future generations.

I hope this article gets read and connects with somebody in high school who is considering their college options. Be careful out there kid, you live in different financial times than your parents did, you need to be smart enough to know that well-intentioned people will happily put you in situations that do not benefit you. It’s real money that you’re borrowing when you sign that student loan, it’s not a fantasy. Think before you sign, and seek counsel from your best financial advisor—yourself.

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