The Danger of College Education | Your wealth is equal to your level of knowledge

The Danger of College Education

Success starts with financial, not higher, education

This month, Vice published an important article that every young woman should be aware of. The article, “Student Loan Debt Is Leaving Women Broke and Vulnerable,” starts out telling the story of Erika Stallings, a 30-year old woman who attended Georgetown University Law School and graduated with $115,000 in student debt.

"I'm probably as well-off as someone age 30 can be," says Stallings in the article. "But even I feel the panic of knowing if I lost my job today, because I've been trying to pay off as much debt as possible, I don't have the Suze Orman emergency fund. If I were unemployed for a while, trying to keep up with these $1,000 a month payments would be terrifying."

Erika’s story serves as a visceral example of the plight of millions of women who leave universities saddled with mountains of debt in search of a high-paying, white-collar job.

Some sobering statistics from the article:
  • Women make up 62 percent of the students at the most expensive colleges in the nation
  • Women make up a larger percentage of first-generation college students than men and are more likely to come from a poor family without financial education
  • 68 percent of women graduate with student debt compared to 62 percent of men
  • Women are more likely to make less money after graduation than men (“One year out of college, women working full-time made just 82 percent of what men who graduated the same year made.”)
  • 47 percent of women spend more than the recommended 8 percent of their total income on servicing student loan debt compared to just 39 percent of men

Money does not make you rich. Financial education does.

Perhaps most interesting is that women are more likely to major in humanities and “soft” studies that don’t translate directly to the marketplace, “fields like business, engineering and the sciences, which usually lead to better-paying jobs after graduation.” This most likely contributes, at least partially, to the lower pay that many women receive after graduation.

The myth of college = success

But all of this is indicative of a bigger problem: The blind faith in the old adage, the myth of “go to a good school and get a good job” as the way to be successful in life.

As Erika’s story powerfully illustrates, school creates the bondage of debt, and that debt makes you a slave to that good job. As she shares later in the article:

"I don't have a familial safety net….If I didn't have this student loan debt, I could start building my own safety net. There would be more money for me to send home. I could switch careers. Last year I had major surgery—adding those bills onto the student loan debt is scary."

The reality is there is nothing wrong with going to college. There are many benefits that one can gain, such as social skills, study skills, and the beginnings of a powerful social network. Additionally, many women begin to discover themselves and their strengths in college. But what is dangerous is looking to college as your ticket to security. As the Vice article shows, often it’s anything but.

So, what is?

Invest in financial education

At Rich Woman, we believe with every fiber of our being that it’s financial education, not higher education that leads to success.

If you’re a young woman ready to start college, I want to encourage you to supplement your higher education with financial education.

If you’re a parent, relative, or friend of a young woman ready to begin college, please share this article with her. Better yet, sit down, have a coffee, and walk her through it.

Ladies, changing our default future starts with changing our mindset today! Don’t rely on college for success. Take your future into your own hands and see how far you can soar!

Original publish date: August 20, 2015