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Alternatives to College, But Still an Education

Three things have occurred since I went to college:

  1. College tuition has massively increased even when accounting for inflation. The average annual increase in college tuition from 1980-2014 grew by nearly 260% compared to the nearly 120% increase in all consumer items according to Business Insider. Our young adults are signing up for student loans out of high school and then strapped with between $30,000-100,000 in debt, which is a nice down-payment on a home and a wedding. This generation is delaying or opting out of both, as a result.

  2. Alternative education options have become viable and real. There are viable online and trade options for earning degrees and learning professions online and affordably like never before.

  3. Young professionals change jobs frequently, unlike our life-long professional ancestors. No longer does a graduate take a job out of college and stay there through retirement. Today, the average person changes jobs ten to fifteen times (with an average of 12 job changes) during his or her career according to Balance Careers.

It was also notable that many companies no longer require a college education if you have experience and proof of expertise.

Surprisingly, in nearly ALL of the college marketing collateral I received, colleges claim 70 -90% of students from THEIR schools graduated in 4 years. Yet the national numbers say that more than 58% of college students take SIX years or more to graduate. That's hard on the pocketbook when there are so many other options now.

As the mother of 3 teens (one in college, one entering college), I asked myself whether the ROI was there for education given these factors. For my eldest, the answer was, maybe. For my next, I said, "why not something else?"

Because I am also a business broker, I deeply believe that one of the greatest gifts is the opportunity to build on an existing success. Investing in a business is securing a foundation to grow, improve, and reap benefits of what you bring to the business to make it better.

Compared to starting a business from scratch, investing in an existing business takes the biggest hurdle away -- surviving the first 3 uncertain years. Most small businesses fail in the first 3 years, but not one that has been in operation for 10 or 15 years. Changes in management and ownership are merely a manageable transition.

Therefore, when I learned that my daughter was 100% committed to interior design and she even had the knack for it, I thought I'd turn my $120,000 college education into a $80,000 investment in a business she could grow. A great career start with a $40,000 reserve for online education and travel. (thus still earning an education at a flexible rate).

At the same time, I could help support her with marketing and business finance, giving me the opportunity to apply my own education and work together as a family.

Why not, instead, learn to be an entrepreneur through real-life training?

If this is something you might consider for your own son or daughter, think about some of the businesses that are for sale right now as examples in the Puget Sound:

  • Auto body and repair shop with acreage and a 2-story home on the property

  • Home-service businesses that have crew for everyday labor including window-washing, garage-door repair and landscaping.

  • Spa/Acupuncture/Facial facilities with trained staff.

  • Small manufacturing companies like a print/sign business or a custom frame shop or this custom kiosk manufacturer selling for the cost of buying a car. Or, for fun, how about a long-board manufacturer.

  • Several franchise options giving them even more bumpers to learn from

Personally, I would steer away from restaurants as a starter business. Unless you have family experience, they are risky to run and can fail fast.

Of course, if your son or daughter wants to be a dentist, doctor, nurse, lawyer, engineer, you'll probably be on the traditional route and that's just fine.

If you'd like to look at a business acquisition for your son or daughter, we have many creative ways to get you in with financing, training, mentoring, and more.

One additional benefit is that if you own a business and you choose to take college classes, your tuition (if related to your business) is tax deductible. If it is not related to your business, you can still take a $5K+ deduction for tuition. That's a nice scholarship!

Kris FuehrComment