University: A Huge Investment Taken Lightly

I was checking out a variety of personal finance blogs today and stumbled upon a post by James Petzke from This is Common Cents called Making the College Decision Cost Effectively. And to be honest I thought it was a great post, one that covers a really well thought out and meticulous look at the college decision making process. I wish everyone would think like that, and take a little bit of advice from him, even I wasn’t that intense in my  decision making process. Now I know a lot of my readers are currently in school already but I still really wanted to discuss the topic and maybe help out some readers who haven’t made their university choice yet.

Going to university is an experience, a place where you will spend at least 4 years of your life, make a ton of friends, party, go to class and all those other fancy things. We carefully examine the program choices available, or some people don’t at all and go on a whim while others just go because it’s “what we should do”. Whatever your reason, I think there is a different way we should be looking at our decision to go to university.

Think about it this way. University is a 4 year investment, where you are pouring thousands of dollars to get a return at the end of that time period and most often that return is a degree that can help you get a job and start making some dollars. But why do we make this decision so lightly? Why do some students choose a school simply based on the “experience” they will get and not based on the amount of money you will spend over those 4 years and the end product (a degree) you end up with.

Simply put, why do some students go to school thousands of kilometers away, pay $800 in rent a month? AND go to a school where you can receive a comparable degree that can be obtained at a school within the same city you live with no rental costs (living with the parents). Would you pay double the money for an iPad? I think it’s a similar decision. And I don’t have an iPad nor would I pay someone twice what it’s worth.

I know that university is a much more emotional decision, but I think that’s what we’ve turned it into. You can make university great wherever you may end up, what’s important is that the thousands of dollars you invest get’s you an end product that will help you get the job you want. Put in the research like any other decision you make, but make it based on the degree you will receive PLUS the money you will put in to get that degree, I think sometimes we forget the money aspect.


I think a university education is a huge investment that is taken lightly, what are your thoughts?

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  • I think it’s a lack of maturity coupled with poor advice. Many parents encourage terrible decisions and teens are quick to “get outta town.” 

    Heck, I made the decision to leave town and attend a “liberal arts” college for a semester before I wised up. It was an expensive mistake!

    • I completely agree with you. It’s an insane investment decision for people who are facing pressures from a variety of angles, including their parents. And hey, it’s a good thing you realized that early though!