How to do college wrong


There were parts of college that I did pretty stupidly.

I mean, I guess everyone is stupid in college in some way, but I mean that I made some decisions (or rather, didn’t make some decisions) that I would never do if I were in that situation today.

In fact, if I were advising someone on how to make college a successful and opportunity-maximizing experience, I would take what I did and suggest pretty much the opposite.

So here are some ways to do college wrong:

Go to an out-of-state public college

The most cost-effective type of college one can attend in the US is a public college. And people who to a public college that is in the same state of their residency get huge discounts. In one study, in-state tuition saved on average over $13,000 a year.

But instead, find a public college you like out of state and go there, not worrying about changing your residency so you can qualify for in-state tuition. Pay the extra tens of thousands of dollars for this (in student loans, of course).

Don’t think about your major

Major in something that you haven’t quite figured out how to benefit from. Something that doesn’t have obvious earning potential attached to it. Don’t think about how graduates who end up in “overeducated” jobs will cause an income hit throughout one’s working life. The point is to focus on something that you enjoy.

And if you do come up with a major that’s in a lucrative field, decide toward the very end that you don’t actually want to work in this field after all, causing you to have to start all over after graduation.

Don’t graduate

(Note: I didn’t do this one, but I almost did, and either way I couldn’t resist adding it in.)

Spend a few semesters working toward your degree, and then get fed up with it and throw in the towel and drop out. Bonus points for the closer to graduation you do this. This way, you get all of the student loans and most of the experience, while not getting one of the most primary societal values of going to college: the degree.

Have no plan

Go to college just because that is what people do. Everyone knows what’s best for you, right? Don’t take any time off to figure out what you might really want (or to establish residency, of course); just dive into it. You’ll figure it out as you go.

And while you’re at it, get so wrapped up in college that if you graduate, you do so without having idea what to do next.

After all, just because something costs upward of six figures doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be left to chance.

But enough about me. What other wrong advice would you give to those thinking about college?

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