Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Most Expensive Degree Ever


The Most Expensive Degree

Do you know what the most expensive degree you can get is? I’ll give you a hint, it isn’t medicine. No, it isn’t law either. Fine, I’ll give you another hint; it’s one of the most common degrees in America; in fact, 48% of all college graduates have this type of degree.

Give up?

Okay here it is. The most expensive degree is…

(Drumroll please)

…the degree you don’t use.

That’s right; the degree you don’t use is the just about the most expensive degree you can get.  I recently read an article on Forbes that stated that 48% of bachelor level college grads in the U.S. are working in jobs that don’t even require a four year degree. That’s almost half of all college graduates that went to college and got a degree only to ignore it completely.

It makes sense though.

At 18, high school students are being ushered into the higher education system with very unclear plans for their future. Honestly, how much time do you think most students get to spend with their guidance counselor?

How much did you spend with one?

Have a Plan

A lot of young adults are getting ready to head off to college without knowing what they want to do.  They are going because it’s the path of least resistance or maybe they are going because they’ve been told it’s the key to success. They are kind of right. A degree is important, but it’s not the key to success it’s a key to success, and it’s only a key to success if it aligns with your passions and your talents and if you have thought of a feasible way to make money using the degree after you get it.

You don’t want to be one of the 48% of graduates who spent 4 years and a boat load of money on a degree you aren’t going to use.  Have a plan in place. Identify your passions and talents. Choose a degree that is necessary to get you to where you want to be. Spend some time thinking about what you want to be doing with your life before you start filling out college apps.

There’s no such thing as too early to start planning for your future.

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Hope: Your Biggest Enemy

Hope is Bad?

I was listening to an interview on the EntreLeadership podcast this week and heard a phrase that really caught my attention:

“Hope might be your biggest enemy.”

I heard that and instantly thought; rubbish! How can hope be anything but noble and wonderful?  It’s a virtue and something we all should be full of. Like me, maybe your mind went to the Bible verse 1Corinthians 13:13 about abiding in faith, hope, and love. Maybe you thought about President Obama and how his entire campaign centered on the theme of hope. Perhaps you thought of the acronym “Hold On Pain Ends” or maybe some other encouraging quote or phrase.  How could we possibly think of hope as anything but a positive thing?

The podcast was an interview of Dr. Henry Cloud, author of Necessary Endings, and he says that hope might be your biggest enemy because hope placed in the wrong thing can be disastrous. It can take you in the wrong direction for far too long. Hope must be based in reality and in truth. Take for example Jim.


Jim decided at 16 that he wanted to become an astronaut when he got older. He loved the idea of studying the stars and maybe even traveling to space. He wanted to use a giant telescope and discover new planets.  It’s all he had ever hoped for. Unfortunately, he hated math and he hated science.

Not only were Jim’s grades not very good in those subjects, but he also had little interest to study them or improve his grades. In his mind and in his dreams, however, Jim imagined himself as an astronaut. He held out hope that his dreams would come true somehow.  Jim hadn’t even thought about doing anything else. He continued the rest of his high school career planning on becoming an astronaut. When it came time to apply for college his grades held him back from getting into any college that had an aerospace program, but he never lost hope.

After graduating, Jim moved to Florida in an attempt to get a job working for NASA. Jim hoped that if he could just get hired doing a menial job he might just be able to work his way up the ranks. He held onto hope through the tough times and when he became discouraged he imagined himself standing on the moon with the American flag in his hand. Jim did this a lot as he mopped the halls of the Kennedy Space Center.

It’s a fine line between being delusional and being hopeful. At what point should Jim have given up hope?  Is it safe to say that he isn’t going to become an astronaut? How much happier would he have been if he could have stopped placing his hope in an unobtainable dream and instead allowed himself to imagine a new dream. Hope is a good thing, but there are times when realizing something is hopeless is necessary.

Should I Be Hopeless?

It would be impossible for me to come up with a formula or easy explanation for you to determine if your situation is hopeless. Everyone is unique and their experiences are unique; however, there are some simple questions you can ask yourself to help you decide if you’re on the right course.

  1. Am I passionate about the direction I’m going?
  2. Do I feel that I have the ability and a special talent for what I am doing?
  3. Am I full of anticipation and excitement? Or am I dreading the path ahead of me?
  4. Are the steps needed to get to my goal measurable and obtainable for me?
  5. Can I define what a successful outcome will look like?
  6. Do I have a timeline to reach my destination?

Don’t Stay HopelessStubbornness

Hopeless is not a destination, so don’t stay there. Take a minute and look at your situation. Look at where you’re at and the results you’re getting. Be honest with yourself.  Do you need to change directions?  If you are heading in the wrong direction, then stop. Turn around and start plotting a new course. Don’t mistake stubbornness for determination.

The quicker you can ditch your delusional hopes and change course, the quicker you can arrive at your new destination.  Imagine if you were driving your car east in an attempt to get from New York to California. It doesn’t matter how hard you work, how determined you are, or how much you want to get to California.  It isn’t going to happen until you realize you made a mistake and you need to turn around and head west.

It can be scary when you realize you need to change directions, you may feel lost and desperate.  It doesn’t have to be like that.  Let feelings of hopelessness work for you. Embrace them as guideposts and as opportunities for you to examine the path you’re on and start a new and exciting journey.

So here’s to the hopeless!

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…and a little funny.

The young lady, Rachel Canning of New Jersey, who recently became famous for suing her parents for child support and tuition, has moved back in with mom and dad.  (In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, read the attached article.) Tuesday of this week she officially dismissed the complaint against her parents and there will be no more legal actions taken. Case dismissed.

And all the sane people around the world let out a collective sigh of relief.

Common sense prevails, for now.

Family Dinner

I can’t imagine sitting down for dinner as a family after this whole fiasco. How incredibly awkward and uncomfortable would that be? “Mom if you serve Brussels sprouts one more time for dinner, so help me… I… I will sue the pants off of you!” The whole thing is just weird.   Who needs sitcoms when you can just watch the news?

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Dual Enrollment in High School

If you know that your career path includes going to college then why not consider dual enrollment? Ever heard of it? Dual enrollment allows you to earn college credits while still in high school. It’s great for students who want to kill two birds with one stone and get both college and high school credits at the same time.  Dual Enrollment

Five Benefits of Dual Enrollment

1. Exposure to College

Dual enrollment allows you to experience what college level classes will be like. It can help you understand what to expect when you are in college full time.

2. Saves Money

Earning college credits in high school can help you to graduate faster. As an incoming freshman you may not have to take a lot of the entry level classes. College is expensive. Getting through it faster is a great way to save you money.

3. Cures Senioritis

Senioritis, if you didn’t already know, is when a senior loses interest in school and checks out mentally. One way to fight senioritis is to challenge yourself by taking college level courses. It can help you to renew your sense of purpose and increase motivation at a time when it may be a struggle for you.

4. Builds Confidence

Taking college courses in high school can help you to build confidence. Once you start passing college level courses you will feel like you are able to conquer the world.

5. Previews the School

Hope fully as a junior or senior in college you’ve already taken a few college tours. Maybe you’ve spent some time visiting campuses or even spent the night. Taking college courses gives you yet another view of the college and will help you make a better decision about which school to choose.

How to Get Started

Sounds great right? So how do you get started? Well, most of the time it’s as simple as visiting the websites of your local community colleges.  On their websites they will have a section for high school students looking to enroll in their dual enrollment programs. Usually you will have to submit your official high school transcript and fill out an application.


Have you ever taken a dual enrollment class? What did you think? What did you gain from it? If you haven’t taken one and you’re in high school do you plan on taking one? Share your thoughts.

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Should I Live at Home or on Campus?

Home vs Dorm

To Dorm or not to Dorm, that is the Question

So you’re going to a local college. It’s close enough to live from home, but you could also live on campus if you wanted to. This is your first chance to live independently. Should you take it? You’ve been sleeping in the same room since you were 2 and now’s your chance to finally get out on your own. Living in a dorm is at the heart of the college experience. It’s where life-long friendships are made and world renowned fun times are waiting to be had. Yes, it’s going to be expensive but it’s all part of the college experience right?

But wait.

On second thought, do you really have to move out? Your room is nice. It’s free. It’s bigger than a large closet. It has carpet that isn’t just 9 different shades of stains. It’s yours. It already has all your stuff in it. It has a fully stocked kitchen at the bottom of the stairs. The laundry machine doesn’t take quarters. It doesn’t sound like a rock concert 24/7.  Oh, and did I mention it’s free?

Pros and Cons

Now you’re faced with a tough decision, “should I live at home and save a few bucks, or should I live in the dorms and get the full college experience?” Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.

Living in the Dorms


Convenience: When you live on campus you can walk to classes, cafeterias, computer labs, libraries, and any other buildings you might need to go to. There’s no driving time or worrying about a vehicle.

Ease: Living on campus is very easy. You don’t have to worry about the bills. You don’t have to worry about utilities, rent, or grocery shopping. Everything is taken care of for you.

Social life: Living in the dorm is a great way to make new friends. You will be constantly surrounded with other people your age and will have a lot of opportunities to meet new people and establish new friendships.

Exposure: Living on campus will bring about a new level of exposure and will enable you to learn from people who come from different walks of life. Being surrounded by so many new people can provide opportunities to make valuable connections and learn new interests and passions.


Less Privacy: If you like having time to yourself and need a lot of personal space, then living in the dorms can be a real challenge. You will have to share your bedroom, your bathroom, and your living spaces. There will be almost no privacy.

Small Rooms: You’re dorm room probably won’t be nearly as nice as your bedroom at home. Dorm rooms are usually tiny and you will have to really limit what you keep with you at college.  You may have to buy new (smaller) furniture to be able to live in your dorm.

Difficulty Studying: The huge increase in social activities and being constantly surrounded by friends can often force high achieving students to lose their academic edge. Some student’s grades drop dramatically due to difficulty focusing and not being able to personally enforce good study habits among the distractions.

Exposure: You cannot control your environment when living on campus. You may find yourself constantly surrounded by people with drastically different world-views than your own. Dorms are often full of activities that may go against your beliefs or that might make you feel uncomfortable.

Costs: Living in the dormitory can be expensive. This cost is usually wrapped up with the student’s loans and it’s easy to forget about them. Living at home is much, much cheaper.

Living at Home


Independence: Living at home doesn’t always mean less independence. A lot of dorms have strict rules that students must live by while living on-campus. These rules are nonnegotiable. Living at home allows you to establish those rules with your parents. You can be a part of the discussion on how to best increase your independence as you transition from high school to college.

Increased Privacy: Living at home can provide greater levels of privacy. Chances are you won’t be constantly surrounded by other students at home. Chances are there won’t be parties 24/7 either.

Improved Grades: When you live at home you will be studying in the same environment that you did in high school. It will be a very smooth transition. There are a lot less distractions at home and you can have a greater amount of control over what distractions you allow in your life.

Social Life: When you live at home you can still have a great social life, and as a bonus benefit, you can have it on your own terms. Living at home allows you to go out and engage in social activities with friends and then take a break when you need to focus on your studies.

Control: Living at home allows for a greater amount of control of your surroundings. If you don’t like a situation on campus or feel uncomfortable, you can easily remove yourself from that situation. You also can choose the types of people you will surround yourself; and as you know, people tend to become like those they surround themselves with.

Costs: Living at home is cheap if not free. Who doesn’t like free?


Independence: You may feel like staying home during college is cheating you of a valuable experience. It is easy to feel like you aren’t really living independently while living at home.

Transportation: Driving to and from school takes up time. It also costs money and requires that you have a reliable vehicle or mode of transportation.

Isolation: Developing connections is an important benefit of attending college. If you tend to isolate you may miss out on some important connections living at home.  But remember, you don’t need to become a party animal. Being an introvert is not a bad thing.


It’s a really big decision, but like most decisions it isn’t just option A versus option B.  You have more options than choosing between the college-experience or saving money. There are a ton of different options.

Maybe you will…

  • Live at home for a couple years and then finish on campus.
  • Live at home, but spend the majority of your time studying on campus.
  • Live on campus, but go home on the weekends to be alone or catch up on projects.

Don’t Forget

You need to remember why you’re going to college. Is it to make friends and live it up? Do you really need to pay for that experience? If you think about it that way it sounds kind of lame doesn’t it. But, that’s exactly why a lot of students decide to live on campus, so they can make new friends be a part of the scene. Imagine that scenario outside of the whole college experience mentality. “Can I give you a bunch my money and in return you let me hang out with you and go to cool parties?” Lame.

What would you do with an extra $30,000 at your college graduation? If you can save room and board fees of $7,500 a year over four years you have a nice chunk of change at graduation.

As someone who lived at home, on campus, and in my own apartment during college, I can say without hesitation that living at home is by far the most cost effective and easiest. My social life wasn’t hurt in the slightest by living at home and I was able to give my full attention to my studies. Dorms are expensive. Apartments are even more expensive.  Home is free.

If cost isn’t an issue for you and you really feel the need to live on campus, then go for it and enjoy. But, whatever you end up choosing make sure you choose it because it is what’s best for you.  Don’t simply take the path of least resistance. Don’t follow along blindly doing what everyone else is doing. Figure out what you need to do to get you where you want to be and do it. Be creative, remember normal is mountains of student debt and a degree you probably won’t use.

Don’t be normal.

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How NOT to Pay for College

There are many ways not to pay for college, this is one of them.

That is all.

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Free College

How would you like to go to college for free? No, I’m not talking about getting a full ride athletic or academic scholarship. I’m also not talking about college being free to you thanks to mom and dad’s 529 college savings plan. I’m most definitely not talking about college being free today thanks to student loan debts tomorrow.  I’m talking about going to a four year accredited university completely tuition free.Free College

Free college.

 It sounds mythical, almost like a fairy tale doesn’t it? Unicorns, leprechaun’s gold, big-foot, cold fusion, free college.  The words free and college shouldn’t even be able to coexist in the same sentence.  But, with the cost of a college education rising at over twice the rate of inflation, it’s seems like a pretty reasonable thing to look into. 

As a side note I will be sharing how to find a leprechaun’s pot of gold in a future post.

College of the Ozarks

Back to getting a free college education. Although it sounds too good to be true, there are a few accredited colleges that are completely free to students. Really, there are.  For example the College of the Ozarks offers a four year education at no cost to their students.  This excerpt from their site explains it pretty well.

“Each student participates in the on-campus work program for 15 hours per week and two forty-hour work weeks. Earnings from participation in the work program, plus any federal and/or state aid for which students qualify, plus a College of the Ozarks Cost of Education Scholarship combine to meet each student’s full tuition charge.”

Or if you’re a visual person, it breaks down like this:

Cost of Education: $17,900
College of Ozark Work program: -$4,116
College of Ozark Cost of Education Scholarship: -$13,784

Total Cost to Student: $0.00

Curtis Institute of Music

Another college, the Curtis Institutes of Music also comes at no cost to the student. Here is what they have to say:

“Since 1928 Curtis has maintained an all-scholarship policy. The Curtis Institute of Music provides merit-based full-tuition scholarships to all undergraduate and graduate, students, regardless of their financial situation. For the 2013-14 school year, the annual value of this scholarship was $37,600 for undergraduate students and $50,100 for graduate students. These scholarships are renewed each year of a student’s enrollment. No financial aid application is required for the full-tuition scholarship.”


Berea is yet another example of a college offering a free education. All individuals admitted to Berea get a full four year tuition scholarship. According to their website, for most students, the 4-year tuition scholarship amounts to nearly $100,000.  How do they do it?

We are able to provide this level of financial assistance due to the generous support of alumni, friends, organizations, and others who believe, as we do, that a student’s income should not dictate their outcome. So when you enroll at Berea, your scholarship will be provided by people you don’t even know who believe in your potential—and who know that Berea is well-positioned to help you realize that potential.”

 These colleges are not alone. There are others that offer similar deals to their students. Is this the norm? Definitely not!  To be honest, it can be very difficult to get into some of these colleges. Curtis is an exceptionally elite school. Berea and Ozarks also have very limited availability.  But there are other options available for a free education.

 West Point and other military academies offer tuition free education; however, you do have a required period of service following graduation.  Here are some other examples of tuition free colleges:

Alice Lloyd College
Webb Institute
Deep Springs College

College doesn’t have to be a massive financial burden to you. There are ways to go to college without taking on a ton of student loan debt. Time spent looking into alternatives is not time wasted.








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