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Why a College Degree Doesn’t Create Income

Why a College Degree Doesn't Create Income

A while back, I posted this on Proofread Anywhere’s Facebook page:

A while later, a PA reader wrote in and asked:

Cassondra email

When I read this email, I let out a loud “YES!” — because I had that new post marinating in my mind about “true job security” and that a degree isn’t really necessary to succeed (read: make money!) in today’s digital world. I just hadn’t finished writing it yet… but when this email came in, I knew it was time to get ‘er done.

It’s gonna be a LONG post, but I think it’ll help wake up some more of my cyber friends — and help them realize who’s really in control of their success.

[Note: the audio Cassondra’s referring to is found in this post: Why Proofread Anywhere Almost Never Existed [FREE DOWNLOAD]]

My College Experience

I graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida in December of 2009 with a degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, and I have a minor in German. While I was in college, I lived with my parents and commuted 30 minutes each way. I worked a part-time job most of the time earning between $7.50 and $8.50 per hour.

In 2007, I took two semesters off from my degree program to live abroad in Germany where I took German-English translation classes and traveled to 13 different countries. This is where I got my start as a proofreader working remotely. While I was there, I proofread college papers for German students and got paid online. I think this experience was also when I subconsciously made the resolution I wanted a flexible life. I wanted to work for myself.

If you listened to the interview with Jodi, you learned about my first post-college corporate job experience. It was my first — and last — “real” full-time corporate job, and it was enough of a disaster that I knew I never wanted to go back to that life or anything that even remotely resembled it.

Did My Degree Help Me Make Money?

My honest-to-God answer is NO.

The degree did not teach me anything I needed to know to do what I’m doing today.

Everything I know today I learned after I graduated with my bachelor’s degree.

My résumé writing skills got me an “A” in my professional writing course… but I didn’t learn those skills in that course because I already had them. My résumé is what got me my first corporate job, but guess what? I got that job three months before I graduated college — I got the job without a degree.

One might argue that communication is applicable to everything, but to be frank, I chose that degree because it was broad. I was also on full scholarship “and then some,” which means I got money back each semester because my scholarship paid for more than what I needed.

(And speaking fluent German is fun and awesome, but let’s face it: it’s useless unless you’re helping tourists… who already speak English ;-).)

I knew I didn’t want to do anything technical like medicine, computer science, or engineering. I knew I liked communicating with people. I knew I hated being ordered around by someone else (a boss). And I knew I wanted to work for myself somehow… I just didn’t know how.


Here’s What College Didn’t Teach Me

My degree did not teach me how to proofread. It did not teach me how to build a website. It did not teach me how to write riveting blog posts like this one for Proofread Anywhere. It did not teach me how to market myself or find clients. It did not teach me how to use social media.

I needed to know all of those skills to really succeed in my online ventures… but I learned them on my own with various online resources that were either free or cost a tiny fraction of what my degree cost. If I was not on scholarship, my degree would have cost me a ton of money (about $30,000 for in-state tuition… not including books or supplies), and I can honestly tell you that if I’d paid it out of my own pocket, by the end of the four years, I would have been pissed that I’d paid for it. (Pardon my French… but I mean it!)

Many of my college courses were fluff taught by professors who were worn out and just there for the money or the tenure. Half of it was literally the same stuff I learned in high school: astronomy, anthropology, US history, algebra… I spend two years re-learning the same stuff I learned in high school, and a solid 85% of it I have never used.

I think back and wonder if I’d spent those two years learning social media, marketing, blog writing, website skills, and started my business while I was still in college, what would’ve happened?

I’ll tell you what would’ve happened: I would’ve dropped out.

Why a College Degree Doesn't Create Income (1)The Fable of Corporate Job Security

Many people still believe in the ever-popular fable of corporate “job security.”

They think you’re “secure” if you have a “stable job” with health benefits. Some people genuinely have that — especially if they’re tenured or have some kind of contract in place that prohibits their employer from firing them. But the rest of the poor souls working for someone else, even those who love their jobs and are in the most secure job situations, fail to realize they’re still working for someone else — someone who can literally make up any reason they want to take your job away, or if you’re in an at-will employment state, they don’t need a reason at all.

Maybe you’re reading this thinking, “Oh, my boss would never do that to me!” I hope you’re right; I really do! Then you just need to ask yourself, do you really want to work for someone else? You’re a tool in someone else’s shed that’s helping them finance their cars, their kids’ college tuition (#irony), and their credit card debt. Who knows what else?

You’re spending the best hours of your day writing their story.

Why not write your own story?

Corporate Culture Ain’t What It Used to Be

Before the internet, things were different. My husband’s parents worked for the same company for forty years, and they loved it. They were grateful. But they didn’t have much of a choice back then — the internet didn’t exist and it was much harder to create your own income. Now they’re playing a bit of catch-up and are absolutely fascinated, even dumbfounded, at how my husband and I have been able to create income for ourselves using just our laptops.

And working for the same company for decades on end, well, that just doesn’t happen anymore — not because people don’t want to work that long, because many do (although with the early retirement trend, that’s changing too!). Companies have become more cut-throat financially, and they’ve realized that the system is creating a virtually never-ending supply of eager 22-year-olds willing to work for peanuts. It’s cheaper to fire long-timers who’ve accumulated lots of raises over the years, replace them with fresh, blank-slate college graduates, and pay them half of the long-timers salary — with an income cap so there’s no way that college graduate could ever hope to make what the long-timer was making in that same position… which eventually forces them to quit, opening up the position to another brand-new college grad about five years later, and the process begins again.

So the long-timer, who likely has never done anything else but their job for the last decade or more, is suddenly out on the curb with only the skills specific to that particular job and industry.

The long-timers can’t always fall back on a degree if it’s been that long, either — if a potential employer sees you’ve been in the workforce for quite a while and it’s been a while since you’ve been in school, you’ll often get the “you’re overqualified” pleasantries.

Companies simply do not want to teach what they consider “old dogs” new tricks.

Stay-at-home moms often experience a similar phenomenon when they attempt to re-enter the workforce. It’s tough to find a traditional job that will pay you more than peanuts if you haven’t worked in the corporate world for so many years. “Things change at lightning speed,” they say. What they mean is what you knew 10-15 years ago just isn’t relevant anymore.

And they’re right.

It’s the OPPOSITE of Hopeless

Things have absolutely changed at lightning speed.

But that doesn’t mean your situation is hopeless. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

Companies may not want to teach you new tricks, but you can teach yourself new tricks!

Things have changed for the worse in the traditional job market… but things have also changed for the better for those who can’t get hired in the “real world” or for people who just hate working for the man (like me :-)) — all thanks to the internet.

The internet offers infinite possibilities… but not everyone has realized it. A lot of folks still have a tragically narrow view of their own potential when it comes to creating income for themselves and solving their problems. They still think the only way to make real money is with a degree and a job working for someone else (or you get lucky and win the lottery) — some folks even have a useless degree already and think the only way they can solve their financial problems is with another degree!

Don’t fall into that trap.

You see, real job security isn’t about degrees. It isn’t about “who’s hiring.” And it definitely isn’t about “the economy.” Real job security is about skills.

If you have skills, you have power.

That power can change everything.

College Doesn’t Create Income

Why isn’t college the key to job security? Because college doesn’t create income. You do.

Do you have the same bachelor’s degree that everyone else has (a non-specialized 4-year degree, like mine, is about as useful as a high school diploma these days), so you can compete with everyone else for the same entry-level jobs? Or do you have a repertoire of in-demand skills to create income for yourself without the help of “the man”?

Many of my students don’t stop with proofreading. They realize they’ve learned one skill — without going to college for it — that they can use to create income, and then it’ll kind of dawn on them. Why stop here?  “I can add in other skills to my work-at-home arsenal that are useful to people all over the world and create even more income.”

So they do.

Proofreading, just as an example, is related to several other easily marketable skills — transcription, and even digital reporting. Once you know the industry, you can build on what you know to offer more, earn more, and best of all, never depend on a company for income again. If work’s slow, you know exactly what to do to drum up new business. If you want to take a vacation, you can choose to take your work with you, put an assistant in charge, or go off the grid completely.

Learning Changes Everything

You know how I always say: “Learning changes everything.” ??

Well, it’s true.

Don’t be roped into the victim mentality that the system is out to get you; the jobs just aren’t out there where you live; or that nobody’s hiring right now.

Hire yourself. And fire the ridiculous notion that you need someone else to give you the privilege of creating income. You don’t. It’s all you.

Don’t chain yourself to a desk working to finance someone else’s dream. Invest in your own by learning in-demand skills you can use to earn income from anywhere whenever the heck you want.

Obtain skills. Create income. Be free.


BONUS  It’s not just me! The country’s broken student loan system is a hot topic right now. Check out the cover of this month’s issue of Consumer Reports:

consumer reports cover

You don’t need to buy the magazine to read the headline story, which is actually an abbreviated version of this article from Reveal News. It’s super long but super good. Happy reading!

UPDATE: Did you have a positive experience? GREAT! I didn’t.

I got this email on September 27, 2016 from an angry university faculty member (click to enlarge):


Ouch, right? I did feel a bit insulted to have been looked at through what seemed like a dirty window, but I felt it necessary to reply respectfully to clear the air on the issue. I don’t want to fight with anyone, and it’s never my intention to insult someone who’s had a positive experience with college. I’m using my platform to communicate with people who, like me, haven’t had a positive experience.

Here’s my response (click to enlarge… and YAY for paragraphing!):


Your Turn

Did this post resonate with you? Do you have a similar college or first job experience? Ready to throw down the gauntlet and make some big changes? Have a story to share? Comment below!

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  1. Fantastic blog! And everything you said is 100% true. I’ve never used my degree either (BA Economics, Political Science and Business Administration). I wish I’d known about the opportunities in proofreading, transcription and scoping years ago. It makes perfect sense to build on the skills you already have. I’m excited for the next chapter in my life and so thankful to finally have a direction I believe in.

  2. I agree that the emphasis on college degrees is becoming outdated, but luckily I am one who got to use mine and whose degree has had a positive influence. I was able to freelance after the birth of my first child, and still get a full-time position after the birth of my second. That job (my current one) took my design skills and opened me up to the world of editing and proofreading, which (surprise!) I love and led me to this course. I think having this full-time job has given me the drive and focus that I lacked before when freelancing.

    Just wanted to share my personal story in case there are those who feel resentment over their degrees — perhaps having that “piece of paper” will open up a door you never thought about!

    1. That is awesome, Ashley!! It sounds like you got a great and useful degree. I’m VERY glad to hear positive college stories. They are not the norm and are a breath of fresh air 😀

  3. I’ve long been an advocate of apprenticeships – I was born and grew up in Germany where they are highly valued and have a long tradition – but whenever I explained them to an American, I was greeted mostly with “Oh, like a BOCES; they are for high school drop-outs or people who can’t get into college.” I heartily disagree.
    However, there’s been this decades-old trend in the mindset of Americans that one must go to college in order to become successful and/or accepted in society and “blue collar” workers are second-hand people. That needs to change and will take time.

    I have worked as a secretary/executive assistant for over 25 years. I am good at what I do, and I actually like my job. My salary is solidly middle-class.
    When I check out job postings for executive assistants in NYC, I do see that many require a college degree OR work experience. Looks like, at least in my field, work experience is valued equally to a degree.

    1. I’m soooo with you there, Britta. In Germany, everyone’s job seems a lot more important, too — sogar im Supermarkt! Blue-collar jobs are often higher paying positions than “white-collar” administrative jobs! I’d have made more as a plumber than I would have at my first “real” job as an administrative assistant ($12/hr –_– haha). Plumbers, mechanics, electricians, etc. need mad skills to do well at their jobs. Not everyone is cut out for them. Out of curiosity, can you comment on what kind of degree would be required (if there is no work experience) for executive assistant positions?

      1. Hi Caitlin, here is a link to a recruitment agency (they do admin. staffing and HR recruiting). Under “Openings” you’ll see a bunch of assistant positions, mostly senior level. I randomly clicked on three exec. assistant ones and they all say “xxx amount of years experience or college degree required” or “preferred” so not sure what specific degree they are looking for – which is crazy in itself. What, you just want a random degree so you can say your staff is college-educated? http://mkgsearch.com/openings.php

        BTW, I also applied to take the civil service test for local county admin. jobs and was rejected because I did not have a 2-year BA degree (again, no other specifics on that degree). I really do believe this college-degree requirement is a cultural thing rather than job-related specifically in this field.

        And I like that in Germany the supermarket cashier gets to sit down while doing her/his job 🙂

        1. Wow, thank you!! I agree; not all degrees are created equal!! After I returned from Germany, I really wanted to go back but had a huge problem finding any kind of job for which I qualified because “all” I had was a bachelor’s degree, and it wasn’t enough. And YEAH… how unfair is the cashier thing!? My first job was a supermarket cashier and it was so uncomfortable standing for so long I got hemorrhoids! At 16!! LOL 🙂 But I digress…

  4. I would never preach that earning a college is outdated or not worth the time or money. Because of my graduate degree, I am able to teach online accredited college courses from home with the freedom to pursue other efforts.

    Shortly after earning my degree, I went from payroll clerk to managing a small staff. Everyone will have a different journey and what worked for a few does not necessarily work for many. College is no different than any other endeavor, it’s what you make it.

    A college degree is more than a means to earning a huge salary, it’s about being smart.

    You can learn website development if you take the course. You can learn entrepreneurship if you take the course. You can learn about investments and money management if you take the course.

    Thank goodness that technology, e-courses, and self-help books are available for people who choose to opt not to earn a degree.

    1. Sounds like you are one of the lucky ones who got a useful degree that allows you to do something you love and get paid for it 😀 That is awesome; I’m happy to hear positive stories. I wish more folks had the same result, but instead, the job for which their degree qualifies them doesn’t bring in enough to ever pay off the debt (like the poor nurse in the Consumer Reports article)… OR they get a popular degree that puts them in the exact same competitive field as thousands of other undergrads and can’t find work (common with business administration degree holders)… OR they get a piece of paper but didn’t really learn anything new because of poor instructors (as was the case with me). I was fortunate to graduate with my relatively useless degree and no debt. I’d definitely be far worse off (and angrier at the whole system, ha!) if I’d graduated with a useless degree AND a mountain of debt.

  5. Caitlin! Your post spoke VOLUMES to me, especially this part, “So the long-timer…is suddenly out on the curb with only the skills specific to that particular job and industry.” I just left a job I’d done for the past 15 years, and have felt the pressure of either needing a degree to get an interview, or having a skill that is easily marketable. Admittedly, I’ve just enrolled in college, and should have little-to-no payout since I’m on unemployment, but I am still keeping tabs on your page. You make a lot of sense, and I already completed your 7-day course. Time to make decisions!

      1. I spent my adult life climbing what I could of the Retail corporate ladder. I ran various depts, including sales and support, and finally experienced burnout after finalizing divorce and realizing my two kids weren’t getting very much of me! It’s hard to make a career switch, though! I decided to go to community college and start toward a degree in General Business, but I am flexible with changing it if necessary. Your program has also appealed to me, and I might just do both once I get up and running and see my work load. I’m only taking 3 classes this semester, so we shall see!

  6. It’s very true. I thankfully went to a community college that was only $2500 a year and took business (I refused to pay the prices for our University), it was a lot of hands on training and I did a lot of accounting and marketing courses. The Accounting still helps me to this day as I do my own bookkeeping as well as others.

    I must say the best thing to happen to me is to have my son, not just cause of how much joy he brings me but because he made me step back and look at how I was making my money and how my dead end jobs were stressing me out. Since having him (he’s only 16 months) I am now making more than I did as a manager, able to live my life fully, and able to stay home and raise my son. If I think I need money I just drum up some more business but I’ve built up the business so much now that I rarely go looking for work, but often it’ll come and find me.

    I’m so thankful that I found sites like yours when I needed it the most and every chance I get I share it with anyone who wants to change their life and live freely and not have to struggle financially.

    1. This is awesome, Calyie!! And you made a SMART decision going to community college. Think of the money you saved 😀 Plus, you chose very useful courses.

  7. I went to college for three years and got a bachelors degree. I became disabled shortly after graduation and was unable to work. The little amount of Social Security disability I get has enabled me to live in low-income housing and unable to afford any payments on my now $64,000 in student loan debt. My credit is now beyond bad and I can no longer afford to fix up my clunker, let alone afford payments on a good used car. So I’m jobless and carless, and went through a divorce where I couldn’ t even afford to fight for half my exes pension because I had no money for court fees, let alone a lawyer. I wish I was making all this up instead of living it. Oh, and on the student loan problem: I might be able to get the student loan forgiven on a disability claus , but the wonderful IRS would then consider the $64000 taxable income and I don’t know of any way I could pay taxes on that income even if I took years to do it. So when potential students want to take out student loans for school and then find out that the wage they’re earning might not be enough to pay back their loans I want to say NO NO NO, please don’t get any student loans. If things get so bad financially that you have to declare bancruptcy your student loans will not be forgiven. It’s all a crock of crap and my degree would have not been very useful if I wasn’t disabled as there are at least three school cranking out young students out ever semester, for which the job market is already saturated. I wish I could stop somebody from making the same mistakes I did. The only schooling that I have determined would be useful to me would be your proofreading course and I think the only one I can afford. I feel it’s going to be the only thing that’s going to be a positive thing in my future life.

    1. Hi, Karen. Thank you for sharing your story here! Crippling student loan debt is now all too common, so if just one person can read your story and change course, it’s well worth it. This course can indeed be exactly what you’re looking for to climb out from under all that you’ve been struggling with. It’s flexible work that you can do from home, around your disability. I wish you all the best!

    2. Karen, An option that may benefit you more than the disability discharge, or to ignoring it and letting your credit get worse, is to apply for an income based repayment plan. If you are legitimately disabled and would qualify for the disability discharge, then you would also very likely qualify for an income based payment of $0.00 per month. This payment of $0.00 would last indefinitely so long as you are unemployed with a minimal adjusted gross income on your tax returns. After 30 years of making zero payments, your loan would be discharged and you would still have a tax bill, but that bill would not arrive until after the thirty years is complete. And you don’t have to have it discharged if you don’t want to. So you could still continue on the $0.00 per month.

  8. You still have to find someone who’s going to pay you. If you don’t have a job, how do you convince someone to pay you so that you don’t need a job?

    1. One way to create income for yourself is to learn a skill with an attached value that someone will pay you for — proofreading is a great example!

  9. I had a rocky start to my college career… and finally dropped out with two courses left after being in and out of two different schools over the course of seven years. I was pursuing a degree in Computer Programming and Game Development and with one class and the internship to go, I realized I had limped through most of the courses and didn’t really possess the skills to excel in an internship, let alone hold a job for very long. So I finally gave up.

    I had some great teachers. At ITT-Tech in Portland, OR, they have fairly high standards of what they expect their teachers to be doing. Most of them are active in their field. At Lane Community College, the teacher who was in charge of the computer programming section of computer science was not only active in his field but also working closely with many of the technology companies in the area to make sure what was being taught in the degree programs was wanted by the local companies who might hire the graduates. Together with many community members, in and out of the college, he was working on building the Silicon Shire.

    I had a lot of teachers who were supportive and caring, and sometimes helped me personally in some way when I encountered a problem. I had a personal relationship, though not close, with several of them. My negative experience in college had nothing to do with the teachers. Yet still, I ended up with a lot of debt and a lot of college experience and not even a worthless piece of paper to show for it.

    I had a lot of growing up to do, and during the seven years in and out of college I had a lot experiences that really helped me develop. I met some great people, not just teachers but other staff and other students. I had some great experiences. And all of this helped form me as a person. I don’t regret it (just the debt!) but it also didn’t help me earn money.

    I ended up, through chance and fortune, working for a friend who has kids with disabilities. Technically, I’m working for her kids. No part of this job has anything to do with anything I learned from any school, college or otherwise. As someone who has never seen themselves as being a parent (Ever), and as someone who has social anxiety, and also as someone who is an introvert besides… the job is very taxing for me, far from ideal, and far from fulfilling. But it makes ends meet.

    My difficulty is in teaching myself new skills (on my own). I do best when I have a teacher to guide me, tell me what types of things I need to know and need to practice, and generally shed some light on the path. I have no problem with self-directed courses (like TP:TP here) but left with nothing but time, relevant reading material, and the ability to practice, I would have no idea where to begin or what to do.

    It’s time to learn some skills, to give myself the confidence in knowing what I’m doing, and to get started on living a life I can enjoy.

    Thanks for the opportunity, Caitlin.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story with us! Many people have had rocky college careers too and are not where they envisioned they would be. But it’s never too late for a new start. The course provides you with all the tools to be successful, but it’s up to you to use them. 🙂

  10. I went to UCF as well and myself and a bunch of friends who received the same degree have exact experiences as you did. I was an out of state student with a scholarship but I’m still severely in debt. Thank you for the truth!

    1. Thanks for sharing! And we’re so glad you enjoyed the post, Jasmine!

  11. Hi Caitlin,

    OMG, what an awesome post! It totally resonated with me! It was like I was writing this post, I totally agree with you on everything. College (University) has totally unprepared me and hasn’t made me any worthwhile money from my degrees.

    In writing this as I am in my late 40’s, just to show you how far college education has gotten me. In high school way back when, I did fine, I received good grades. I always done my homework and would work very hard to complete everything. So, I was taking electrical classes and a friend of mine suggested that I go a nearby University in the States, as I am from a Canadian border town. So, I thought about it and joined up and went. It was a four year degree in Electrical Engineering with an extra year of an Associate Degree in Computer Engineering. So, all together five years. Those years were very long years and the material was hard. Although, I studied hard with many sleepless nights to four or five o’clock in the mornings and up again at six am to get ready to leave for 8 am class. Anyway, I graduated and received my degrees! Should be excited right, wrong, there were absolutely no jobs to be had. Living in a small Canadian town, I was young, didn’t really want to leave town or family so I stayed in my city. Nothing at all was to be found in jobs anywhere. In the meantime, I worked as a grocery clerk in a grocery store here locally. The pay was terrible and the managers weren’t great either. I hated working there and always thought, “what am I doing working here, I have two university degrees and working for minimum wage taking orders from these idiots”.

    Anyway, I continued working at a variety of different menial jobs over the years, but nothing that I have gone to school for. All that time and money spent for nothing. The good thing was for me was that my parents paid for my university. Still, my parents had spent all that money for nothing and I could see they were saddened to see me working at dead end jobs and they knew I wasn’t happy.

    So, roughly ten years go by and this time my sister suggested I go back to university and get an Education Degree to become a teacher. I was totally reluctant, because of my situation with my first university experience and the two degrees I already had, but nothing to show for it. Anyway, she and other people and friends had suggested that teaching was a very good profession to get into and teachers were being hired all the time, so they all convinced me to go. Maybe they said, “it would change my situation in life”. So, I went out of town and graduated after one year and received my teaching degree. Things were looking a little better for me; I found an occasional teaching job with the board out of town and worked there for two years. Although, I didn’t know this before, but the kids were terrible, it was always party time when there was a supply teacher in the class. Those were a tough two years. The good thing was the pay for pretty good the days I would get called in and having the summers off was great. Although, I still had a part-time to work throughout the whole year. Due to a family emergency back home, I resigned and moved back to my home city.

    Now, back at home and in my city, there wasn’t any chance of getting on with the local school board and honestly, I had enough with all of the lack of respect for supply teachers, so I really didn’t honestly want to get hired with the board. I found out that supply teachers where I live are only called in like one maybe two days a week. How is someone supposed to live on that? I mean, I didn’t go to university all those years and graduate to only work one or maybe if I am lucky, two days a week and have a second job in the evenings and weekends. I thought I went to university to better myself, not to end up working three or four evenings a week and have my weekends shot. What was the whole point of going to school if I still get to work dead end jobs for minimum wage and work with or take orders from teenagers. I definitely wouldn’t have went back to university to become a teacher if I knew I may be working one day a week or possibly two. Doesn’t make any sense to me at all. So, I started working dead end jobs again, but as usual I wasn’t happy working at any of these places. Down deep inside of me, I knew that I wanted better for myself, but I hated going back to teaching, because of my past experience. I always thought, “I can’t believe I am working the same job with 16 year olds”. That was all I could get.

    A break happened, when I applied for a job in the local college, not in teaching, but helping students writing notes for classes and helping students with learning disabilities. The jobs were great and the pay was good also, but again, both of these jobs came to an end, because I was told my contract couldn’t be renewed for the following semester. I was devastated. Both positions came to an end, first one year then the next position the following year. So, here again I was unemployed and I still am. It looks like I will have to go again and look for another one (or two) dead end job (s) to support myself.

    So, really, in my opinion and from my experience, college or university education has definitely not paid off at all. I am unhappy and more likely depressed, instead of enjoying life. I mean, I am reaching 50 soon and I haven’t anything to show for it really. College has just been a big waste of time and effort for me. I also have to basically argue with parents as they just don’t understand and say, “but you have education, you should be working as a teacher, why do you want to take on part-time minimum wage jobs”? I answer them, “I don’t want to take on part-time jobs, I really don’t have a choice”. Basically, I feel, I become a teacher to work one day a week and then go off to my “real” job to work at a dead end job for very little pay. If I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t go to college and just take skills like you mentioned in your blog post that would help me to work for myself from home and not rely on a job or employer to hire or end my job as he or she sees fit. Currently, I am looking into some home based business ideas so that I could possibly work from home and etch out my own “career”, and income.

    Thank you, Caitlin


  12. I’m just starting out in a community college taking courses towards an AAS in accounting. All of my classes are 100% online. But to be honest with you, I feel they really don’t teach you much as there are absolutely no lectures (only individual/group discussion posts and assigned textbook readings), while these teachers ask the most “simplistic” questions on tests! No brain teasers or anything to help make you think about the info in practical ways. I honestly don’t remember anything beyond the basic bookkeeping theory from my first few classes! AND the info I learned from my management and technology courses? You can pretty much forget it! I’d like to offer my services as a full-charge bookkeeper after I’m finished, but I honestly feel my understanding of management and technology are very weak! I feel I will either need to “re-learn” all the information that was taught over my two-year education, or ditch my whole program entirely! I’m just glad I don’t have to pay a penny towards my degree as I qualified for the full Pell Grant and other in-state aid. But yeah… I’m pretty much questioning whether I’ll have a useless degree! I just don’t know what else to do as I still really love bookkeeping. 🙂 Thank, Caitlin, for telling the whole “college racket” story like it is!

  13. I have read quite a few blogs about different topics that were relatable. This blog is by far the best one! So inspiring and 100% true. Your response back to the professor was on point. Your personal experience is the reality of what most people go through. I do not have a degree but I have experienced the various routes that have been discussed. I always wanted to work for myself but did not know how to get started. Reading your post has made me come to realize that it is possible to work for yourself, work from home, and have a flexible happy life away from working for someone else. Well, step one! to my new journey. 🙂 Thank you,

  14. Think of it, the entire population of Asiatic lions in the wild is confined to just few thousand square kilometers

  15. College was a positive experience for me. The degree can be a calling card. I managed to secure a job in my major. But the corporate experience was less than satisfactory. You have a good point. The lesson is that we must keep our skills and interests up-to-date with the times to continue to grow. Success does not require a degree.

  16. This was fabulous, Caitlin. It’s like you sat in my living room for the last year & watched as my life imploded from the typical corporate job to … nothing. We have struggled to find footing & hear often, “Over Qualified”. You have encouraged me greatly! Thank you.

    1. I’m so glad to hear it was encouraging to you, Karen!! And I can definitely relate to life imploding. It’s so weird; we’re taught how to be by our parents and teachers, but then when we are in the real world later, we realize that there is no instruction manual… and we really do have to figure it out on our own in so many ways!

  17. Your post did resonate with me, but I still feel that my college education was important for my personal growth. Thankfully, there are much better(and cheaper) ways to accomplish that growth now, with the advent of the internet. But, college was the only route available to me at that time (I'm a bit older than you :-)).

    I received my first degree (B.S. in Commercial Art) in the early 1990s and did not go into a related line of work. Sadly, job offers in that field didn't pay as well as the jobs I worked while making my way through college. So, I chose pay scale over degree utilization. Despite this, I still believe that the time I spent in college helped shape me into the person I am today. I lacked so much direction in my youth. I was the first in my family to go to college, so I was the trailblazer. I helped set the path for my sister, nieces, and nephews, and it allowed me to provide them with perspective that I was not afforded (like, do your research on degrees and pay scale, don't take out loans the profession you chose won't allow you to repay, and more). My college experience helped push me outside of my comfort zone, and it showed me that I was much more capable and intelligent than I ever believed. The fact that I did not incur any student loan debt probably helps me appreciate that experience (my college had a deferred payment program, where you paid tuition in installments over the course of the semester. So, I worked a full time job to pay those installments while going to school). I might feel differently about the experience if I were still paying for it.

    After earning that degree, I worked my way up doing accounting and made a great income. But, after 17 years, I needed a change. I wanted to make a difference and leave a legacy. So, I decided to shift gears. I left the corporate world I received my second degree (Post Baccalaureate in Elementary Education) in 2014. Again, I did not incur any debt (thanks to the GI bill). I absolutely loved teaching and adored my students. However, I just could not get over the amount of work required that I wasn't getting paid for. In the corporate world, I was paid well for my time. Spending evenings and weekends doing work that I wasn't paid well for was a very hard pill to swallow. When the pandemic hit, I developed some health issues that kept me from returning to the classroom and decided it was time for me to have more control over my life!

    As you can see, my college experiences guided me to the place I am today. If I could go back, knowing what I know now, I would definitely make changes. But, this is the path that has led me to the place where I feel confident to start this new journey.

  18. I went to college as did my family and friends. We ended up becoming engineers, lawyers, teachers, nurses (me) and we all did well in our professions. College was a great experience for me and was much more than just a degree.

  19. You definitely did not come off as angry to me, you were just sharing your personal experience which I found very interesting. Just love that you lived in Germany, it’s my favorite country. My dream is to live there and that is why I’m motivated to start this journey. Thank you!

  20. This post is so spot on! Bridget thinks she "schooled" you (pun intended) but the reality is she just proved the whole point of college tuition and employee pay rates for individuals with degrees do not add up in this country. She literally admitted to having a degree, working for a university, and still not being able to pay for childcare… How is that a good college experience? Unless your standards are that low. Sounds more like Bridget was feeling insecure, like many American college graduates, about how much she struggles after gaining a degree, while still trying to feel accomplished… Just sayin'.

  21. I really appreciate this, and other posts by Caitlin, on the subject of what it means to have an enriched life. I don't have a degree and am still finding my way through life in how I can live the way I want – or just *live* in the basic definitions of the word. It's fascinating to me how many people, usually of the previous generations, who think I need to get my life together and that only means returning to school. It feels like they look down on me for being ten years out of high school and working part-time at a wine shop while learning to develop the life I want for myself. I love learning, I'm constantly thinking of returning to higher education, but simply because I love languages and arts and it allows me structure. I've started learning Japanese on my own – I don't need school for that. I don't need school to know how to write novels, either. Youtube and trial-and-error is also a great mentor for learning how to paint. I *just* love to learn. But now I've realized I just need to shift my mindset, get out of the fear I've been fed by generational trauma, and learn how to turn my interests into skills. While I certainly had trepidation over Proofread Anywhere (gotta watch out for those scams!), I'm grateful that I did the research and realized how genuine Caitlin's program is – I still have a lot of fear to work through, but this is certainly helping!

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