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My Situation - 23 Years Old
Old 09-24-2011, 02:00 PM   #1
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My Situation - 23 Years Old

Hi Everyone,
I need some advice in my situation...

I am 23 years old, In 2009 I started a computer business that has grown to 200k+ sales so far in 2011. Before I started my business I was enrolled at college but had to leave due to the time commitment of the business. I currently am half-way through my undergraduate education with about 60 credits remaining. I do want to finish my undergrad.. But I am also making much more money than my peers and saving a whole lot more. I have been heavily investing this last year and my investments are as follows

25K - Sep IRA
11K - Roth IRA
75K - Total Stock Market Index
Total Investments = 111K


If I go back to school now, I may not be able to easily juggle school and the business.. and I wont be able to save as much...

What do you think I should do?
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Old 09-24-2011, 03:39 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nik32
Hi Everyone,
I need some advice in my situation...

I am 23 years old, In 2009 I started a computer business that has grown to 200k+ sales so far in 2011. Before I started my business I was enrolled at college but had to leave due to the time commitment of the business. I currently am half-way through my undergraduate education with about 60 credits remaining. I do want to finish my undergrad.. But I am also making much more money than my peers and saving a whole lot more. I have been heavily investing this last year and my investments are as follows

25K - Sep IRA
11K - Roth IRA
75K - Total Stock Market Index
Total Investments = 111K

If I go back to school now, I may not be able to easily juggle school and the business.. and I wont be able to save as much...

What do you think I should do?
I think you need to ask yourself what you are hoping the education will do for you. For some it is an important accomplishment. For others it's a means to greater income over their lifetime. For still others it's a social thing where you gain lifetime friends and fond memories. You have done great with your savings. Whatever you do make sure you are balanced between work and play.
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Old 09-24-2011, 04:12 PM   #3
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If I go back to school now, I may not be able to easily juggle school and the business.. and I wont be able to save as much...

What do you think I should do?
Look for ways to juggle. Shop for a school and look for a college counselor who can help you find a way to finish school, eventually, while still tending your business.
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Old 09-24-2011, 04:27 PM   #4
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Your school may offer night and online courses. Always something to think about. Or is taking a class or two each semester an option for you? If you're working for yourself, the appeal of college schooling isn't quite the same as someone trying to impress an employer.

I have friends who didn't go to college, or dropped out early and have been very successful. When we worked crap jobs to help pay for college, they were getting solid experience that helped them later on in their career path. If your business is hot, keep at it, there's no guarantee college will get you that much further.
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Old 09-24-2011, 06:39 PM   #5
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I have worked in the tech sector for 27 years. I have also developed two successful businesses from scratch...reached FIRE in my early 40s and pulled the trigger at 47.

If I was in your position, I would stick to the business and put college on the back burner if it was an engineering program. If it was business, I would look to night and distance learning to work forward.

I'm not trying to lessen the value of a college degree, but you learn a much broader skill set with a business and after you've gained much of this experience, I think you'll have less value for a college technical education. You'll be more fulfilled, likely happier and richer. The if it makes you happy, go back to school and challenge those smug professors with real life examples!
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Old 09-24-2011, 06:41 PM   #6
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Unless getting a college degree will somehow help bring in more business, I don't see the point in going back now.
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Old 09-24-2011, 07:55 PM   #7
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I have a friend who dropped out of college and started a computer business about 20 years ago. He did fine until a few years back when things went bad, and he ended up out of the business and unemployed. Though he had a lot of technical knowledge, he found it hard to get a job, and now that he has one, he cannot move up without the degree. So he is finishing the degree part-time, and hating it.

While I would not put a successful business on-hold to go back to school, it may be worth trying to finish up the degree now on some kind of part-time basis, just to have it done. Never know what the future may hold and it can't hurt to have the credential. And, it may be easier to be in a student role now, than when you are older. Of course, that depends a lot on your personality and the kind of program you are doing.

good luck!
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Old 09-25-2011, 08:49 AM   #8
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While I would not put a successful business on-hold to go back to school, it may be worth trying to finish up the degree now on some kind of part-time basis, just to have it done. Never know what the future may hold and it can't hurt to have the credential. And, it may be easier to be in a student role now, than when you are older. Of course, that depends a lot on your personality and the kind of program you are doing.

good luck!
That is my sentiment on it too. I started my job (law enforcement) with a two-year AA degree, goofed off for a few years, started the BS taking one class at a time, stopped for a few more years in the aftermath of a divorce, started again, again one class at a time, and finally finished it. DW followed a similar path.

In the future the degree may or may not help you. But it is certain that it won't hurt. A lot of places want a degree if for no other reason than to show you have the perseverance to finish a project, and some don't even care what the major is. Law enforcement is one example because the agency wants that wide range of expertise. When I had a cattle rustling case the guy with the degree in Animal Husbandry was the one to go see.

So my suggestion would be to keep your foot in the classroom door and if all you have time for is one class per semester then do that.
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Old 09-25-2011, 09:11 AM   #9
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I do want to finish my undergrad.. But I am also making much more money than my peers and saving a whole lot more.
Ever hear of Michael Dell or Bill Gates?

There is more than one road to Dublin (as Taylor would say, on the BH board).

I'm not saying you should not have that degree, but a degree does not necessarily measure success in life...

Good luck to you.
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Old 09-25-2011, 09:23 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by nik32 View Post
Hi Everyone,
I need some advice in my situation...

I am 23 years old, In 2009 I started a computer business that has grown to 200k+ sales so far in 2011. Before I started my business I was enrolled at college but had to leave due to the time commitment of the business. I currently am half-way through my undergraduate education with about 60 credits remaining. I do want to finish my undergrad.. But I am also making much more money than my peers and saving a whole lot more. I have been heavily investing this last year and my investments are as follows

25K - Sep IRA
11K - Roth IRA
75K - Total Stock Market Index
Total Investments = 111K


If I go back to school now, I may not be able to easily juggle school and the business.. and I wont be able to save as much...

What do you think I should do?
Do you have to choose between the two? If you have a successful business you can set aside college money and then continue to run your company. If your schedule permits take one course at a time. If not, continue with your business as long as it fulfills you. If you set aside the financing for your studies you can complete them any time. You can get your college degree 10 or 20 years from now - there's no mandate or age limit.
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Old 09-25-2011, 12:14 PM   #11
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Congrats on a strong start!

As another posted mentioned, is your educational track engineering or business? If you're halfway through an engineering curriculum, it will only become more time consuming and difficult in the 2nd half, with different labs/projects, etc. Business programs will also be time consuming, but group projects are easier to schedule and divide up work around than lab time (where you have to sit at a bench and make observations).

Either way, it can be possible to finish your degree. First step I'd suggest is meeting with your college advisor, and explain your situation. Hopefully they can let you know what your options are at that school.

Second suggestion: Look at what school you're at now. And think about what you want your life to be like down the road. Do you want your educational degree to help get your foot in the door at different positions down the road to reach FIRE? If so, I'd suggest possibly considering upgrading your school (if it's not a top-30 tier), and look into on-line programs from top-notch schools that you can do at night and on the weekends.

With a business like yours, and the success you've had in this economy in the past 2 years, don't underestimate the value of your success in an educational admissions perspective.

As an extreme example, Vanilla Ice applied to Graduate School at U Penn's Wharton Graduate Business school, perennially ranked in the top 5. Do you think his experience and perspective was considered an asset in the eyes of the school? Likewise, if you are thinking of changing schools, seek out the Entrepreneurship instructors. Talk to them for advice on how to juggle the two. If they think you might be coming to their school, after one meeting with you they'll be beating down the doors of the admissions office for you.

Oh, and by the way, great job on having a SEP IRA as a self-employed individual. It shows you know a hell of a lot about the tax code and running a business. And by extracting that much cash out of your business and investing it, you don't have to worry about your business running on hard times and losing everything, since you don't have all of your assets tied to the business!
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Old 09-25-2011, 12:16 PM   #12
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You can get your college degree 10 or 20 years from now - there's no mandate or age limit.
There is, however, one huge caveat with this: some (many?) programs will not accept courses for credit if they are more than so many years old. You could possibly test out, but make sure you check into the different rules before completely pulling the plug, if you think you will one day want to finish.
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Old 09-25-2011, 08:12 PM   #13
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College is for the majority of people (like me) who need a crutch to be successful in this world. From the sound of it, so far you don't need it.

Now, if they start setting age limits on when you can enter college, I'd say don't risk it and finish college. Until then.....

This guy's business could eventually fail and then he could start a new one. Big deal, right dude? I wish I were you! I'd be scared out of my mind to start my own business, and I almost make 6 figures working for someone else.
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