Rich Dad Scam #1: Higher Education

There are all sorts of scam artists in the world. Most of the time we can spot them, like those emails that promise us millions if we’ll just give away our bank account numbers. Sometimes we don’t spot them until it’s too late or they make a mistake, like with Bernie Madoff. And sometimes we don’t know we’re being scammed at all because we’re conditioned to think from the cradle that something is the best and right advice for living.

Over the next few posts, I’m going to explore the scams that most people never know about in a series I call Rich Dad Scams. The first one we’ll explore is higher education.

The “school = success” scam

When I was young, my poor dad always told me the best path to success was to go to school. He felt that was the best way to get a good job. The problem was that my poor dad was one of the most educated people I knew, but he was always complaining about money and how unhappy he was with his work.

My rich dad, on the other hand, didn’t have a college degree. Yet he was very rich and successful. Rich dad said, “School teaches you to be an employee. If you want to be rich, don’t count on school.”

So, from a very young age, I learned that the promise of higher education for success was one of the biggest scams around. That’s why the first Rich Dad Scam identified is higher education.

Going to school doesn’t make you financially smart

Because I’m outspoken against the school system, I’m often accused of being anti-education. Nothing could be further from the truth. But “go to college” is one of those things people point at as a way of being successful without ever stopping to think if it’s true.

The Rich Dad Scam that school will make you a success is perpetrated everywhere and all the time. What will make you successful is not going to school but rather financial education—learning how money works and how to make it work for you—is what will make you successful, and, unfortunately, you can’t get that in school.

When it comes to money, going to school won’t make you smart.

Understanding value

This doesn’t mean that education isn’t important. The basic education you get in your K-12 years is important to everything that comes after. And if you want to be a teacher, a lawyer, or a doctor, then obviously you’re going to need to go to college.

But what you won’t learn in school is how money works. Education, particularly in America, doesn’t teach students how to live or be self-sufficient. Instead, it teaches us to be employees instead of our own bosses. It makes us workers instead of innovators. That’s a big reason why we call school a Rich Dad Scam. In fact, the rich use school to keep poor people poor.

Different types of intelligence

One of the worst things about school is that it recognizes only one type of intelligence—book smarts. If you aren’t book smart, you are very quickly labeled smart or stupid. As a child, I was not book smart, and I was labeled stupid. But I wasn’t stupid. I was just interested in different things. And I was bored. For instance, no one could tell me when I’d ever use calculus in my real life! Yet, I was told to comply and learn. I was being trained to be an employee.

My rich dad wasn’t book smart either. Yet, he was very smart. He had street smarts, which he used to become very rich. School doesn’t teach you to be street smart. I had to learn that from my rich dad. My poor dad thought school was incredibly important, and he was very book smart. But what did it get him? He struggled financially most of his life.

That’s another reason why we label higher education a Rich Dad Scam. The so-called experts tell you that you need it. They tell you it’s important. But it doesn’t actually do anything for you except make you a good employee.

“But I studied money in college!”

Tom Wheelwright, my Rich Dad Advisor on taxes, went to school to be an accountant and got straight A’s. He will also gladly tell you that he got no practical financial education. He learned what was needed to do a job but not how to successfully manage his own finances. And he went to school to learn about money!

People often say they learned about money in school. You may learn how to balance a checkbook in school, but you won’t learn how money really works. That’s not an accident; it’s a scam.

The rich use school to train us to be good employees. We start out being told what to do, and are rewarded for compliance. It’s very easy to transition from a school to a company where you’re told what to do. And that leads us to trust and hand things off to the government and the rich bankers who handle our 401(k). The rich use education to make themselves richer and keep you poor, and when you realize that, it’s not hard to see why it’s one of our Rich Dad Scams.

Think for yourself

The people who fall for scams are typically those who are conditioned not to think for themselves. Unfortunately, Rich Dad Scam #1, Higher Education, robs us of the independence to think for ourselves, to think like an entrepreneur, an innovator, and an investor. It instead teaches us to be dependent.

You need to learn to speak the language of money to be successful. That takes financial education, which opens up a whole new world, a world where you can succeed on your own terms. Unfortunately, our schools don’t teach that language. They teach you the basics, and then they either teach you a specific trade or skill, or they simply train you to be an employee.

Today, it’s time to start thinking for yourself. Don’t fall for this the scam of higher education. Instead, start your financial education today, and begin your journey to financial freedom.

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