“…but Alu, won’t you eventually have to get a degree if you want to make a good living and support your family?”

This is something that I’ve been asked so many times by so many people throughout the years. Some people ask it in the condescending manner which royalty might employ when speaking down to peasants; others are friends who are genuinely curious how I planned to buy a house and raise children without a great job – something that obviously requires a college degree. 

Or does it? 

The median individual income of those above 25 years old in the united states is currently $32,000. Paramedics average 36k a year and can easily increase their worth by studying and taking days-long specialty courses like critical care, flight paramedic, etc. The median income for an electrician III is currently over 50k a year, despite in many instances, only requiring a few months of training. Labor union construction employees can make even more, despite having no formal training. A good personal trainer can make 70k, but they have no real ceiling. Per what I have heard, some elite trainers in the gym that I attend have clients who pay over $100 for 1 hour-long sessions. The list of jobs that have not yet been ruined by the education/licensing bureaucracy (read: cartel) remains pretty encouraging. It includes dental hygienist, plumber, contractor, computer programmer, pilot, CDL, mechanic, graphics designer, artist, musician, entrepreneur… the list goes on. These people all have no student debt and they have satisfying, productive, well-paying jobs. They’ve made it. Unlike the students who wasted money on school only to fail or not find a job, they have made the right choices in life. 

“But Alu, if you go to school, you’ll get a better job and pay off your debt in no time!”, retorts my friend. 

It’s saddening to learn that 68% of 2014 graduates of public and nonprofit colleges finished school with debt, with the average debt per student being over $30,000. The debt was much higher for students who attended private colleges.

It is sadder even that only 36% of college graduates in 2014 were able to obtain full-time, permanent jobs within five months after obtaining their degrees. 

This isn’t even the bad news yet. The people who really have it rough are the 41% of students who cannot complete their 4-year degrees, even after 6 years of attending college. They still have to pay off all of their debts.

“Wow, that is sad. Can’t they declare bankruptcy, though?”, one might ask.

They can declare bankruptcy if they want to destroy their credit, but that would do nothing to erase the debt to their lender if their lender is the federal government. Since the federal government lent over a trillion dollars of the 1.4 trillion borrowed by naive students throughout the US, most students would gain nothing other than embarrassing credit scores from declaring bankruptcy.

“Why has college gotten so expensive?” would be the next logical question.

Like so many issues destroying the US, the student debt crisis is in large part the fault of the federal government and its cronies. I could go on forever about how the government worked with universities across the union to raise tuition by 10x since the 1970s, but this 5 minute video may hold your attention better than the words of this frustrated libertarian paramedic.

I can’t speak for other vocational jobs/technicians, but EMT’s and paramedics in NYC and every county in the union that I know of are able to find work within days of obtaining their state certification. 

Compare that to my EMT colleague who told me that he had a master’s degree in biochemistry but was stuck working for barely more than minimum wage as an EMT. I have since heard that he wised up and went to paramedic school, and I believe he’s now working for over $30 an hour as a paramedic for a Manhattan hospital. 

Even if he was able to find a job in his field, the average person with an MS in biochemistry starts at 60k. Paramedics around here can make that, often without any overtime. With a bachelor’s in biochemistry, the average person starts at 35k. People who are not neurosurgeons, great lawyers, actors, or pro athletes just aren’t making a ton of money. My advice is to train in what you are good at or what you love and make a nice living and don’t let debt control the rest of your life. Over 40 million Americans already made that mistake. 

“Alu, the government in its infinite glory and grace offers so many scholarships, and NY is now giving free tuition to the middle class!”, the misinformed progressive exclaims.

If a student does receive government subsidies in the form of grants, loans, or financial aid, it only means that they’re passing their college bill onto taxpayers like you and me. And that is absolutely disgraceful.

All you need in order to make a living in this great country is to produce goods or services that others are willing, to pay for. In many of these cases, all you need is some training and a state certification or license. Why do you need a license to work as a masseuse or a barber? Look out for my next piece on the occupational licensing mafia that is the government…