Is A College Degree a Waste If You’re Self-Employed?

Is A College Degree a Waste If You're Self-Employed?A question that I am often asked now that I am self-employed is if I think my college degrees were a waste. I sort of wrote about this last year in Is a Business Degree a Waste?

As a reminder, I have three degrees – my undergraduate degrees are a B.S. in Business and a B.A. in Management. And then I also have a Finance MBA.

I understand why people are asking this. I mean, technically I do not need any college degree to do what I do since I am my own boss. I also spent a lot of time and money (I had $40,000 in student loan debt at one point!) towards my college degrees.

Here is why I don’t think my college degrees were a waste of time or money:

 

I think my college degrees led me to where I currently am.

I won’t lie, I believe if I didn’t work towards my college degrees, then I probably never would have started blogging and freelancing.

Keep in mind, that I started freelancing online because I wanted to pay off my student loans. So, if it wasn’t for my student loans, I’m not sure if I ever would have even thought about freelancing online.

 

A college degree can help give you experience.

Unless you know exactly what you want to do when you are fresh out of high school, a college degree can give you good experience with what you want to do. College isn’t completely useless either, you actually learn about different things as well!

For example, if you want to start your own business, you may not start it right away. Instead, you may decide to work for someone else and gain experience and industry knowledge through that position – but, in many cases you will need a DEGREE to get that position.

Don’t get me wrong, I think experience is always a great thing, but sometimes in order to get that experience, you need a degree. Funny how that works, eh?

 

My college degrees help me talk about finance.

Since I have multiple business/finance degrees, it helps me talk about finance on my blog and the websites that I staff write on. My degrees will also help me work towards certain financial certifications if I decide to go for them in the future.

No, having a college degree is not a requirement for personal finance blogging, but it did help me learn and understand financial topics that I may not have thought about until I came across it in my personal life.

My degrees also help me with the backend of my business as well, as I know a decent amount about how to run a business, the accounting side of it, and the legal side of it as well (my financial analyst job that I used to have, had to do a lot with business law). All of this really makes it a lot easier to run my business efficiently and effectively.

 

The networking is great.

No, I did not go into $40,000 in student loan debt to hang out with other students, but it is a small benefit of going to college. The contacts that I made in college helped me when I had my financial analyst career, and they are also helping me with my current business as well.

Depending on the business or industry that you are in, networking when you are in college can really help your business. Some people don’t put any effort towards networking, and I just don’t understand that!

 

What do you think?

Are college degrees a waste of money and/or time if you’re self-employed?

 

Image via Flickr by Tamuc

 

We have $200,000 in Student Loan Debt

We have $200,000 in Student Loan DebtHey everyone! The other day I received an e-mail from a reader who wants your help. I left out some identifying information because she wants to remain anonymous.

Just as a refresher to any new readers, I recently paid off around $40,000 worth of student loan debt.

It wasn’t all fun and games though, and I am glad that we put everything we had at the time towards them so that I didn’t have my student loans floating over my head.

I have 3 degrees (I was a double major in undergraduate school, and I also have my Finance MBA). Below are my posts on the subject.

How to Pay Off Student Loans Fast

My Student Loans are GONE

 

 

“Hello Michelle!

I have stumbled upon your blog today in the desperate search on how to start paying off my student loans more. I was wondering if you could give me any advice on where to begin.

Short description, I went to a private university to get a degree in a field I am passionate in (Computer Animation). I am now about $90,700 in debt. Now I actually work at the school that I went to school at. I now teach students. But I don’t make enough to even keep afloat lately. I only make about $32,000 a year and I live a very humble life.

And here is the kicker, my boyfriend ALSO went to school here and ALSO works here and he has even more debt than I do because I had 8 Scholarships going into school. If I would of went to a state university it would have almost been a free ride! Kicking myself.

So in reality together we are about 200,000$ in debt just because we went to school to do what we were passionate about.

In all honesty, I’m terrified. It has stifled our lives. We can’t even think about getting married or having kids.

We can pay my bills now but at the end of the month we have nothing to put into savings. I’ll get 300$ saved up (I direct deposit 10% of every pay check) and then a month goes by where things are tight or I have to pay most expensive loan and then I have to use that savings again. I’m absolutely frantic to find a way to pay this debt off.

All of your posts are so insightful and obviously you know what you are talking about but along with all my stress I absolutely do not know where to even start. I’m so nervous about emailing you but I am willing to try anything. I hope you are able to give me some insight. Sorry for such a spew of my situation. I’m sure you get TONS of emails. I really appreciate any time at all you have to email me back. I hope you have a wonderful day!

A few things I have already done and looked into are:

I am in the process of starting a blog to document this journey and sharing the fails and successes I come across. I am looking into sites where I can use my skills as an artist to make extra money (e.g. Etsy, Shapeways, Redbubble). I also put in an application to Zirtual because I have a pretty open schedule while at my job. I have signed up for auto payments on my smaller loan to get the 0.25% interest discount. Which is scary because there is no guarantee that the day it pulls I will have gotten paid in time and that I might not overdraw. But hopefully I’ll start making side money enough to not have to worry about that.”

 

If you have anything that you would like to say to help out this reader, please leave a comment below! I know she is very excited to see what everyone says and she will try to reply to comments as well.

 

Attending College as a Non-Traditional Student

Femme Frugality writes about money as it pertains to young adults, brides, parents, Pittsburghers, and, of course, college students. You can read her blog here.

Recently Michelle shared that W was returning to school, and asked for some tips for non-traditional students. I recently graduated, and now my fiance is going to college for the first time.

We’re about as non-traditional as it gets, both being far beyond “traditional” college age, and having children. So I’ve got a plethora of tips that have been helping us get through this stage in our lives. And Michelle was kind enough to let me share them in a post.

 

Work as Little As Possible

I know that sounds crazy. As a non-traditional student, you’ve got very grown-up bills to pay. But trust me. If you’re serious about your degree, trimming down your work schedule will help not just your grades, but your overall mental health. I am not suggesting you go into debt in order to go back to school. (Both my fiance and I are doing this without any loans.)

What I am suggesting is that you sit down and look at your monthly budget. Look at your bills, how much you’ll need to be contributing to your emergency fund, how much you’ll need for other essentials such as gas and groceries, and a realistic entertainment category (though it might not be a bad idea to trim it down a little bit if you can).

Figure out the lowest number you’re willing to commit to (be realistic about this) for your overall monthly budget.

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