In Response to “Is university worth it?”

On a forum I am a regular on, a topic beaten to death was the controversy of the worthiness of an university degree. Many prospective and current students like to reference salary and income reports to base their decision, and my response:

Bear in mind averages don’t always tell the fully story, as illustrated by your intro statistics course. CFA is another example, supposingly the average (or median it was?) salary was about 240k 2 years ago when I read the report.

But like that report specifically mentioned, these figures are skewed by the large salary discrepancy. You got people with years and years of experience and skills who got in at the right time and now who are making $xxxxxx/yr, some even more than a million, who are skewing the statistics. And how about all those successful previous MBAs who already have decades of experience under their belt and now are in very senior positions, some making more than half a million every year? And then the endless horror stories of the ones stuck at 60-70k after years in an unrelated role, and that is if they are lucky. I even remember reading a post from a female poster on here about how she had both a MBA and CFA but was making around 40k/year in a completely unrelated job. So it is all over the place.

Bob there with his Ferrari and super nice suit and tie with MBA from x prestigious school makes $500k/year managing so many million dollars of assets and holds the hand of his trophy wife as they drive with the top down.

Jack there who graduated sometime in the last decade and went to school too makes $60-80k/year doing something he didn’t intend to do and breaks an arm and leg to meet his BMW payments.

Both Bob and Jack are included in those statistics. So now for you, there is still a chance you can be Bob, but it will not be easy at all, as there are many Jack who want the same thing.

That being said don’t automatically defer your life dreams because of what you hear and see, but do approach them with a realistic sense of pessimism. University isn’t ‘useless’ to everyone, but it’s useless if you don’t use it. Use as in both to aid your job search and intellectually. To this day I don’t use my university education for my work, but it has developed myself time-management skills and financial literacy that allows me to better understand many things that go on around me and to make more informed decisions in my everyday life.

For myself I still think about this every night before I go to bed (I opted to give up chasing the corporate dream of slapping on a tie, driving a Aston Martin down the road amongst tall standing financial towers, and coming to my cushy office every morning with my prestigious university degrees on my wall- to become an oil patch tradesperson fiddling with investments on the side, one day to start my own business of some sort).

If there was no financial consequence during the duration of study- both directly and from an opportunity cost perspective, I’d probably finish up my degree and work on the CFA (my original intention back in the day as a fallback if I did not get into law school). Unfortunately I don’t get money from family or have another means to enable such an arrangement.

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