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INTRO Should I go to college or start my own business?

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Jun 7, 2020
I would suggest getting your degree. There are several reasons why, but many of these depend on your end goal. So, I'll just list the reasons why it can be beneficial and you can decide for yourself if these make sense for you.

1) Structured development. You can learn on your own without college, but there is value in a structured setting. The very hard quantitative courses I've gone through would not have been completed if I wasn't forced.

2) Enjoyment. There are definitely fun things you can do besides a 4 year college degree. But I've genuinely enjoyed making great, like-minded friends, and learning.

3) Start-up Fundraising. This will vary significantly on the school you go to, as well as the business you want to run. However, people from prestigious schools can raise ridiculous amounts of capital. When I was applying to start-up jobs, the overwhelming number of founders came from ivy league schools, with traditional backgrounds. Many with advance degrees (PhDs, MDs, JDs, MBAs). Last I checked, Stanford's most recent MBA class raised something like 1B with something like 30 start-ups. You can raise money without a college degree, but the large majority who successfully raise have very traditionally successful backgrounds. Fundraising, of course, is only necessary for some businesses.

4) Optionality. The college degree helps buy you options, and provides a minimum floor of what you'll earn if you'll ever need to get a job (let's say your business fails). With a STEM/business degree, that will probably be around 50k right out of college, which will be better than most backup options with no degree. I'm 3 years out of college, with a few failed attempts, but never stopped working a job. I earn six figures at my job and still learning a lot. Thanks to my job, I've saved up 60-80k since graduating that I can use as ammunition for my business. One of my friends made close to 200k with his STEM degree out of college, worked 1-2 years and saved up money to start his business. From his college degree and working, not only does he have over 1 year of living expense, he also has the prestige of graduating from a good school and a good job. He's still working at his start-up, but it has turned a profit and looking very promising. If all else fails for him, he can go back to a cushy 200k/year job and regroup for the next attempt.

5) College doesn't take that much time. It really doesn't. You don't even go to class that much. You can always use your free time productively if you want. I had about 20 hours of class per week.

6) Buys time. It's 4 years where you can spend all your free time building a business, without your parents bothering you. This might not matter to you, but for some families this might be huge. Michael Dell sold validated his business model in college, so by the time he went full time, he had much less risk.

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Ocean Man

Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think.
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Sep 26, 2018
United States
Jacob, you need to evaluate a couple of things.

- Why are you trying to go to college?
- Will the degree be worth spending thousands and up to four years (if you're planning to get a bachelor's.)?
- Can you learn what you need to learn without getting a degree? And if you learn it, are you able to get a job then without the degree?
- Is there any other reasons why you want a degree?
- Have you considered doing both? Going to school and starting a business on the side? This goes hand in hand with getting a job, learning at the business owner's expense, and starting your business on the side having acquired knowledge and skills.

Everybody has a different reason for pursuing or not pursuing a degree. Figure out your reason. Also considering checking out this thread by MJ: Tough Decision Ahead? Get Decision Clarity at + which is a decision matrix.

Business might be your ultimate goal but the reality is a lot of businesses fail. Having a backup is never a bad idea. It's a lot easier getting a degree right now (assuming you're a fresh high school graduate and don't have a lot of responsibilities at the moment) than when you have a family, bills, a mortgage and a full-time job.


New Contributor
Mar 19, 2020
Thank you everyone for your responses! Some of that was tough to hear, but I needed to hear it. After seeing hundreds of responses across multiple forums and doing through research and analysis, I think I’ve reached a decision.

I used something called the Weighted Average Decision Matrix from The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco. For those who are not aware, it involves ranking the factors that go into a decision by most important to least important. Then, rate the two separate decisions for that factor from 1-10. You then multiply the factor by the rating and tally up the results. After doing this, I decided that I will be going to college. The results showed 384-277 in favor of going to college over not going to college. In addition, the vast majority (80%) of responses to this thread advocated for college. I was able to find 11 reasons to go to college, and 5 reasons not to go. So across the board, everything was in favor of going to college.

I still believe that you can succeed without a college degree. You can learn everything you need to know outside of college and you can gain experiences in other ways than college. Nonetheless, I have a feeling that I would regret not going to college in some way or another.

It’ll be good to put my good grades and test scores to use along with my fortunate life situation to good use. A degree will be helpful for getting jobs and establishing a backup plan. The education and experiences that come from college will be unparalleled. I’ll have networking opportunities to meet future colleges, friends, and hopefully a wife. Most of all it’ll be fun!

While it may cost me money in the short term, hopefully in the long term I’ll earn more with a college degree. Plus, there will be tons of time during college and after college to travel, start businesses, and experience life.

Thank you all for being patient with a young kid like me. I really appreciate the advice that you all gave and please know that it helped in my decision making process.



Silver Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Mar 3, 2020
This theme is quite popular, it depends on what you study. If it is to do computer science, engineering, medicine, math, physics etc, go study. If it is to do gender studies, build your own business.


New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Jun 13, 2020
Hey Jacob!

I too just like you I'm graduating next year. Based on your situation I think it'd be best if you pursued a degree. Now, we can talk about the pros and cons but I think there are other things that merit consideration. Things like having fun.

It's important to remember that we're only young for so long. Forging great memories is one of the most important things to do in your youth. Do you really wanna be that guy that took a shot and failed. And as a result, lost all his friends, had his family disown him and etc?

Another thing to remember is that you can still start a business even if you're in college. Even if you can't you can still learn skills towards your business such as copywriting. You don't have to wait 5-10 to start. You can use some of that money from your job and put it towards your business.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is go to college for the memories. Do it for the experience and fun.


Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Jun 22, 2020
While it may cost me money in the short term, hopefully in the long term I’ll earn more with a college degree. Plus, there will be tons of time during college and after college to travel, start businesses, and experience life.
You'll really have plenty of time during college. I started all of my businesses during college. All of them more or less failed (at least financially). You'll have so much time for experiments. Also, you'll be able to build a network.

And don't forget to have lots of fun. And women. Felix Dennis wrote a great book titled "How To Get Rich" (I trust his advice because this guy was already extremely rich from building a business in the non-financial sector when he wrote it). He said you should get the women and the coke out of your system as soon as possible. College is ideal for that.


Apr 14, 2020
College seems like an expensive way to party. One could work in hospitality services in a vacation destination instead, and clean up with girls on vacation.

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