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Why you shouldn't go back to school

How much is too much to spend on an education?

Image of Don't Go Back to School: A Handbook for Learning Anything
Author: Kio Stark
Publisher: Kio Stark (2013)
Binding: Paperback, 214 pages

We don't just waste money on little things. We throw money away on big ticket items, too. Take education. This week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published a report that identified student loan debt as a roadblock to what it calls "a full financial life for consumers." It seems the burden of paying for college is preventing a whole generation of educated, young people from owning homes, saving for retirement and becoming entrepreneurs.

With all that in mind, we asked you to tell us whether you've ever thought your costly college education wasn't worth it. And plenty of you were quick to tell us that you considered your degrees a waste of money.

Our Facebook friend Kat Gregor has thought a lot about the value of her degree. She went to art school in New York City and graduated in 2008. But today, she's still trying to pay off over $200,000 in student debt.

"It was one of the greatest periods of my life," says Gregor. But from a monetary standpoint she has her doubts. 

So how much is too much to spend on an education? And what choices are out there for people who think a traditional expensive education is a waste of money?

Kio Stark has some ideas about this -- she interviewed scores of people wrestling with these questions for her new book, "Don't Go Back to School," and they came up with lots of alternatives.

"A lot of people think that they need to have the structure of school in order to learn," says Stark, "and one of the things that was important to me in writing the book was to give people a sense of how you can accomplish that without the structure of school to give models and techniques." 

Stark says it isn't easy, but it is definitely cheaper. And she's found that alternative education pays off in the long run too. 

"I think people always worry about, 'will I be able to get a job if I learn outside of school, if I don't have a degree.' And all the stories that I collected show that people have every opportunity to find work without having a degree," says Stark. "So I think five years from now, given the economic situation we're in, employers are going to have to respect people who have learned outside of school and their credentials are their experience."

Do you agree that education is a waste?

About the author

In more than 20 years in public radio, Barbara Bogaev has served as the longtime guest host of NPR’s flagship program Fresh Air with Terry Gross, as well as host of APM’s news and culture magazine, Weekend America and the weekly national documentary series, Soundprint.
Image of Don't Go Back to School: A Handbook for Learning Anything
Author: Kio Stark
Publisher: Kio Stark (2013)
Binding: Paperback, 214 pages

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