Higher Education: Is it still worth it?

During my father’s time, an university degree is seen as a passport to a good paying job for life. He had to give up his education start work at a young age to support the family as majority of the families at that time were in poverty in the 1960s. Now, fast forward to the 21st century, as families get more prosperous, more and more students are enrolling themselves for higher education in hopes of landing that cushy job. In 21 Feb 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the US, only 27 percent of the workforce need college degrees for jobs. Yet, 47 percent of the workforce currently has a college degree. Question now is, is higher education still a good financial investment for your career?

Personally, as someone who did not go to college and started work at 23, I feel that if making a lot of money and retiring early (ideally) is your main goal from your higher education investment, you should educate yourself on financial IQ or business skills. Financial education skills like starting a website, writing content, driving traffic to that website, selling stuff on your website, or flipping items for profit are crucial for generating that passive income source for your early retirement. These real life business skills are not taught in universities. One has to depend on one’s resourcefulness to obtain training and guidance from mentors experienced in these fields.

Some people might object to investing in such business skills as they claim number one: it requires  some capital to get started and number two: the returns of the business are not guaranteed. Right. That is actually correct. But it is also true that university education expenses are not cheap either and there is no guarantee  that you are able to find a high paying job to work for life either. In fact, higher education tuition fees increase about 8% per year according to FinAid. And also, the income you earn from getting a higher education is active income. You will be spending long hours at work and the colleagues and boss(es) you work with may not be pleasant either. After work, you reach home dead beat tired and unable to do what you want to do for yourself in your meagre hours of the free time you have left. In addition, job security is fast becoming a thing of the past due to rapid changes in technology and other macroeconomic factors. Advancements in IT is threatening to make many of our jobs such as accountants, taxi drivers, cashiers, waiters and even lawyers obsolete.

On the other hand, once the initial trial and error and hard work is done in mastering the passive income source skill in financial education, the income generated is recurring with little effort to maintain it. While there are some passive income source that require extensive capital base as what many people object to due to limited finances like real estate and the stock market, there are also other passive income source that don’t require so much money. Some examples as I have covered in my post “Passive income ideas: Ways to grow your limited capital when you don’t have so much money” would include thrift store flipping, affiliate marketing, e-commerce dropshipping store like Shopify and domain flipping. In each of these fields, there are many professionals who are making a full time income out of it. There are even more fields of passive income ideas not covered in this blog. All it takes is some free time and curiosity to explore and research on Google.

In short, while it is attractive to work at a high paying job for 40 plus years, it is even more attractive to spend your free time outside your work learning the business skills to develop your own sense of financial IQ. This is especially important for married couples who wish to spend more quality time with their children or spouse and not at work slaving away to make your boss(es) richer.

P.S. I am not against higher education in terms of its intrinsic value. I loved higher education. It’s just that as a financial investment to a permanently good career , well I feel there’s got to be a smarter way to earn money. Just my two cents worth of thought.

What are your views on higher education? Come share it in the comments below!

One thought on “Higher Education: Is it still worth it?

  1. Rijing Liu

    Hi Kenny, it is nice reading your blog, and it is informative regarding the cost of higher education. As someone who took up loans for my uni studies, I can relate to the point you made on the cost of higher education. My uni studies of a 4 years engineering course cost me $30k SGD, and it took me about 8 years to pay off my loans. During this time, I had to bear with unreasonable bosses and colleagues because of the loan commitment.
    That was in the early 2000s to late 2000s, and as we wrote, the cost of Singapore uni education is at $80k per annum for engineering , science and arts and social science courses, and this will be still increasing.
    However I think a degree has its values if you are able to pick up skills while studying. Because just having a degree does not guarantee a good job as you are competing with foreign graduates in this globalized economy and are willing to work more for less, hence financial know how is more important now than our parents time when a degree was a passport to a financial successful life.


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