The $15 Purchase That Can Change Your Life
The cheapest alternative to college you’ll find.
College is way too expensive and we all know it. It’s a system designed for mid to upper-class citizens. Even though many ivy-league schools have diversity, financial aid, and scholarship programs, they are very hard to come by, and the chances of actually receiving a scholarship are tiny.
A four-year degree at a private college in the U.S can cost as much as $130,000 or more if you’re unlucky. That is a lot of money to put down for a degree that might not even get you a job afterward. As a result of most people not being upper-class citizens or having parents that saved up their entire life, they are forced to rely on copious amounts of student loans. And these loans for that matter aren’t designed for your benefit, instead, they are designed to benefit the banks.
When you take out a student loan in the U.S you are setting yourself up for many years of debt. The average interest rate of a student loan in the U.S is 5.8%. If you aren’t familiar with interest rates, be assured that this is a very high-interest rate. And all you want is to get educated, not rack up debt for the rest of your life.
The $15 Purchase
Now you are probably asking yourself how $15 can outrank the college degree which by all means might not be worth the high price but definitely costs a lot.
A non-fiction book costs roughly $15, depending on the type of book. Books are usually packed with knowledge and experience. Many books are written by authors who are experts in their field with years and years of experience. Imagine now that they have taken the time to distill this experience and put it into a digestible 300-page format. If that doesn’t amaze you, I don’t know what will.
Imagine reading a book like The 4-hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. That book contains a step-by-step guide with lots of tips and tricks on how to build yourself a side-hustle and start managing your time. That book is currently priced at $18 on Amazon. By implementing the knowledge and ideas that you gain from that book, it can change the rest of your life. Imagine this book leading to you building a side-hustle or perhaps even starting a new company of yours that you work on full-time.
This is just an example, I’m not by any means affiliated with that book.
The Self-taught Degree
To give you another example, let’s say you wanted to study marketing or programming. These are subjects that you can teach yourself without needing an institution like a university to back up your degree. This is of course different when it comes to certain fields like law and medicine.
There are hundreds and hundreds of books on programming and marketing. So much information that you might in fact not know where to start and what path to take. The structure is one of the benefits of attending a degree program at a university. But there are actually quite a few guides out there on the internet that gives you a clear outline of the path to take when studying a certain subject on your own. If you can’t find any of those, you can always check out the curriculum for any university program in your area of interest and look at what books they use and what the learning goals are, etc.
In terms of teaching yourself computer science and programming there are a few well-recognized guides out there such as Teach Yourself CS and Open Source Society University: Computer Science. These are just two out of the dozens of resources out there. Google and Reddit are your friends here.
Let’s Talk About The Social Aspect
Now the reason many people go to college isn’t solely to spend 8 hours a day studying only to pass that final exam, although if that is your reason then that’s okay too.
There is another aspect besides education that you get when attending an in-person degree at a university, and that is the social part. You get to meet new people and perhaps create new bonds for the rest of your life. There are often after-school activities, parties, and clubs that you can join. These all exist to make what otherwise would feel like endless studying more bearable. We are after all social beings that rely heavily on companionship to survive.
While it might be hard to replicate the social opportunities that you get when attending a university, you can do quite a lot to get close to the equivalent experience. If you live in a big urban city, then this won’t be a problem at all for you. There are often many meetup groups and it’s likely that there is one within your field of interest. They provide great opportunities to network and meet like-minded people with similar interests. Although this might not be possible to the same extent during this pandemic, there are many virtual events instead.
If there isn’t an existing meetup group within your field of interest, why not create one yourself? People who don’t take initiative rarely get anywhere.
Many companies see being self-taught as an advantage these days. It is becoming more and more popular and thereby gaining recognition at companies. It’s a great indicator that you have passion for what you do because without passion you wouldn’t have been able to get through teaching yourself that subject. As most people go the university route, you have a unique opportunity to stand out amongst the crowd. The hard truth is that it’s most likely going to be many long days and low points as you enter into the realm of teaching yourself a certain subject. Good things come to those who persevere. Remember that consistency is everything here. If you stick with something long enough, there is a high chance that you will be successful.
Stay curious and keep learning!