Self-made millionaires say you should think twice before going to college

Self-made millionaire James Altucher: Don't go to college

Self-made millionaire James Altucher has some strong opinions when it comes to the value of college.

In many cases, "a degree means nothing," he tells Farnoosh Torabi on a recent episode of her podcast "So Money."

"We're in an idea-based economy and a skill-based economy, not a certificate based economy," he continues. "We used to be in a certificate-based economy. It's just not true anymore."

More and more companies are saying you don't need a degree to work for them, Altucher notes: "Ernst & Young, the top accounting firm in the country, said they're not even going to ask you anymore if you have a college degree. And Google no longer asks if you have a college degree."

Why most people should skip college

While Altucher himself went to a Ivy League school, Cornell University, he says his computer science degree "was a waste. … I put in my 10,000 hours of programming, went to graduate school [at Carnegie Mellon] for computer science and put in probably another 10,000 hours.

"Then I actually got a real job in the real world. ... My programming skills were so bad — and this is after graduate school and undergrad at the two best computer science schools in the country, or in the top 10 — they had to send me to remedial classes."

Rather than getting degrees, young people should focus on getting skills, he argues, which you can learn online, by going to the library and reading books or simply once you enter the workforce. "I have employees: They're experts on writing, finance, sales, the latest internet marketing, all of these things that are not taught in college at all because a lot of the skills were actually created yesterday and they have to keep up with them on a daily basis," he says. "What they're good at is learning what was created yesterday, and you build that on the job."

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The value of college is a relevant debate, as a college education is now the second-biggest expense an individual is likely to make in their lifetime, right after buying a home.

The average college graduate leaves campus with more than $27,000 in debt, thanks to the soaring cost of tuition. That said, college grads do earn about $1 million more over their lifetimes than those without a degree and the future is looking especially bright for recent graduates.

Altucher isn't the only self-made millionaire proposing alternatives to college. Grant Cardone tells CNBC that "most people should not be going to college. We have $1.3 trillion worth of college debt. We have more college debt in America than we have credit card debt combined. It is a crazy program."

While Altucher says to focus on picking up skills, Cardone advises establishing relationships with "the power players," he tells CNBC. "The old adage is: It's not what you know. It's who you know. That's still true today."

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