University: most expensive mistake of my life

Alright, this is going to be a controversial answer, and definitely a bit of a risky path, but far less risky than putting yourself in non-dischargeable debt for life (in my opinion).

I went the community college to real university path, while working to put myself through it. It led to less time for my classes, and a longer path overall, but in my second year the tech bubble popped and the call center tech support jobs dried up. I could have taken out loans and continued school, but most of what I was learning was in the library (with exception of an amazing logic professor), and I needed to move to chase jobs that paid more than minimum wage.

I ended up on a train with two bags that had everything in the world I owned. Worked literally anything I could find until I landed another support job at an ISP. Learned some basic scripting to make parts of my job easier, got really good at finding root causes, diving into device log files, and writing scripts to automate all of the tedious parts of that. In my off time I started watching MIT lectures online for free, finally was able to grasp calculous thanks to the amazing professors at MIT (they did nothing aside from put lectures online, but they are fantastic teachers).

Fast-forward a few years of the same slow upwards slog, and I'm a Systems and Network Engineer for a Fortune 50 company, building and repairing the infrastructure that supports tens of thousands of hosts and a lot of networking gear all over the world.

I can't say if never getting a college degree has held me back at all professionally, but it doesn't seem that way. My colleagues are graduates of Ivy League schools and are brilliant people that teach me new things every day. I wish I could have afforded to go to one of those schools and not worry about anything but my studies. However, I am happy I did not go into debt. I think as a country we are shooting ourselves in the foot by allowing people to gouge students for huge profits. And hopefully we can change that soon, but yeah. If you can prove you know how to do a job, a degree may not be necessary at all, and an excellent education can be had for free now days.

/r/personalfinance Thread