Are you thinking about college? If so, what is your focus- what to major in, where you want to live, the environment, girls/boys, the weather, sports, scholarships, what is it?
Have you thought about college as an investment and compared colleges based on that premise? If not, you should.
No matter what you choose, and what you pay/do not pay, college is an investment in your passion, money, and/or time. What you decide can ultimately position you for the life you want or lead to major stresses down the road.
One of the advantages my team has, working with families and multi-generational planning, is that college can be planned for effectively and in many ways, you and your family are unaware of. For instance, I often hear families talk about specific investment vehicles, scholarships, financial aid, etc. You know how much of the time they are properly mitigating cost and getting to choose effective colleges? Slim to none, and it is scary.
People know me based on exposing The Retirement Myth, the fact that the government and large companies brand “retirement” as a concept everyone should want but however are indirectly teaching us to defer time, money, and passion “for someday” while they use our time and money to their own advantage.
College is no different; it is sold primarily as a vehicle to put you into a job and work hard for these institutions so you too, can “someday live your dreams.” Does this mean I am saying college is negative, of course not! It can be one of the best investments you ever make (or the worst). The point is you should carefully consider what it is you want, access, plan, and take effective action. If you and your family do not do this, you could end up learning the hard way and paying for it for years down the road.
I remember one of my first essays in college was to answer the question, “Is College a Waste of Time and Money?” I took some offense to this question because it would have to be an emphatic, “No, college is a great investment, otherwise why would I be here!” It seemed to be an insult to my intelligence to even ask such as question! Today the answer would be completely based upon someone’s objectives and execution of those objectives to answer the question.
Unfortunately many families lose out on saving a lot of time, energy, and positioning themselves to live the lifestyle they want because they simply follow the same plan as the person next to them, getting college loans, paying higher costs than necessary, and going somewhere they really did not want to go to save money. Parents are often times in a dilemma of saving money for themselves or you. However, many do not know that if you have an effective plan many times you can save the cost of college and keep money in your parent’s pocket (or give it to you for something else).
Wouldn’t it be nice to position yourself to live the lifestyle you want every day? Well you can. College may be a great vehicle to get you there if you understand how to leverage it to your advantage and not the institutions.
What you need to know is that institutions count on you being conditioned the same way each generation has been conditioned back to The Industrial Revolution. You are simply taught that “college will allow you to get a good job” as if that in and of itself will dictate your dreams. WRONG! That is how we are taught so we give up our dreams many times, trading it off for security (false security that is) until “one day” once “we have paid our dues” working.
With that said, start thinking about what you want your life to look like if money, time, and college were irrelevant. What do you really want once you are 18, an “official adult?” Why do you want it?
I ask you this question, because it is a big transition to be on your own. You will have more independence and more responsibility. Both require making decisions and to do that, you need to first know what it is you are after. Then, we can look at ways to get there.
A second trap institutions try to get you to buy into is that college loans are okay because they are good investments, have low interest rates, can be deferred, and they won’t matter as much down the line because after all, you will have a great job to pay them off. They even try to leverage your parent’s because this will “be a good way to make you successful.” WRONG! College loans are terrible and should be avoided as much as possible both as parents and students. While student loans may be necessary to get from point A to point B, generally much of the cost can be avoided. College loans guarantee that you actually get a pay decrease before you even start your career because all of a sudden you are stuck paying interest. Doctors, lawyers, and some of the highest paid professionals all have the same problem. The higher income does not matter because of the volume of interest paid on debt. There are many other factors that are negative too but let’s keep it simple.
What is highly recommended is that you bring to your parent’s attention that there are quality ways to avoid student loans altogether (you and them) and actually do the opposite, use other people’s money to your advantage learning tips that I would say well over 95% of people do not know about.
To make college a great investment for you, and more importantly to position yourself for a better quality of life, it is important to be the captain of your ship. Let your parents know how it is important to save you and them money.
Let them know you want to be part of a conversation about college with professionals. The more you know what it is you want, how to execute a plan, and how to constantly adapt, you will have more security, control, and options than you thought were possible.
Hats off to you for being a young leader that wants and will make a positive difference for yourself!
About the Author: Troy WEST is one of Your Monthly Mentors, the CEO of Lifestyle Financial Planning (LFP) and an avid lifestyle entrepreneur based in Denver, Colorado. He was recently recognized as one of “America’s Premier Experts,” was inducted into The National Academy of Best-Selling Authors, was a Thought Leader Summit Award winner, an Expy award winner, and was inducted into The National Academy of Experts, Writer’s, and Speakers. Troy recently co-authored The Road to Success with Jack Canfield, is about to release another co-authored book called “The Better Business Book,” and is in negotiations for a full book on The Retirement Myth. Troy has been seen on ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, BRAVO, and A&E. Read More…