How Your Children Can Hack College

I’ve written a lot about how to use real estate to pay for college. (A book and several blog posts)

Well, in this post I’m going to share a few ideas from a great book titled, “HACKiversity – The Secrets to Achieving More by Doing Less in College.” The book was written by Kyle Winey.  If you have children who may be going to college or are in college now, GET THIS BOOK!

Winey graduated from law school with significant student loan debt. In the book, he shares several mistakes and lessons he learned in school. In fact, he will show you and your children how to apply the 80/20 Principle to college:

“HACKing college is all about results, and in particular, achieving a higher per hour output. By focusing on the things that matter most, students can accomplish more with less time. This is difficult for most to accept because we live in a culture that rewards personal sacrifice instead of personal productivity.”

When Winey graduated at the top of his class from Penn State College of Business, one of the best businesses schools in the country, he couldn’t get a job. He had zero job offers after studying his ass off and graduating with close to a 4.0 GPA. Because he couldn’t get a job, he ended up going to law school taking on $100,000 in additional student loan debt.

One of his buddies who slept in, skipped class, and only studied the day before a test walked away from college with a great job from an elite Wall Street bank. He had better grades and worked harder than his buddy, but remained unemployed after graduation. Why?

Well, his buddy focused on getting an internship instead of getting the best grades. The connections his buddy made during his internship led to the great job.

Watching this happen opened Winey’s eyes about how to succeed in college. In fact, he began to ask himself a very important question:

“What is the purpose of college?”

There are numerous answers to this question, but the most important answer Winey shared was: TO GET A JOB.

I’m personally not a JOB guy. Most JOBS suck and limit your income. I told my daughter to go to college, have a blast, build a strong network, look for opportunities to start her own business and make her own movies. However, I agree with Winey. The purpose of college is NOT to get an education. Anyone can get an education for free online. There are hundreds of free college classes online anyone can take right now. I have learned significantly more after college by reading, networking, and taking action than I did in college.

Winey wrote:

“By knowing, from the start, that the purpose of college is to score a job, students can invest 100% of themselves in activities that help them reach this goal and trim away everything else.”

The BIG problem with college is that too many young adults now have degrees. Because there are so many college graduates with degrees today, they’re less valuable to employers. This means our children cannot follow the basic plan we may have followed, which was…

Go to a great school, get great grades and you’ll get a great job when you graduate. This plan simply doesn’t work anymore. 🙁

Winey suggests a different path. His path reverse engineers the entire college process starting with the lifestyle they want AFTER college.

“In fact, the lifestyle you want after college determines the choices you should make in college…. No one ever told me the importance of lifestyle. They were too focused on having me choose a career path first, then leaving it up to me to squeeze out a lifestyle around whatever salary I would later make. As I discovered too late, the order of this decision-making process is backwards.”

I made this same mistake in college. I changed my major to accounting simply because it offered better job opportunities. I didn’t think about the lifestyle an accountant lives. I didn’t think about how many hours a week I would work during busy season. I didn’t think about how I would be stuck sitting in an office at a desk ten hours a day. I didn’t think about how I would be forced to travel 50% of the time. I didn’t even think about how I didn’t enjoy accounting. I simply chased the best job opportunity and ended up hating life after graduation.

Looking back now, I can easily see what a mistake this was in my life. It’s far better to start with the end in mind. Design how you want your future to be and then create the action plan to get there.

This book might be the most important book our children can read. It may impact the rest of their lives and save them years of grief and thousands of dollars in unnecessary student loan debt.

Here are a few important ideas I found in the book on how to hack college:

  1. The purpose of college is to get a job. This means your children should optimize for a job, not for the best grades. He actually suggests they shoot for a 3.0 GPA and use the extra time networking and looking for internships. In the chapter on grades, he shares strategies your children can use to get better grades with less work. This was the first chapter my daughter read! She applied the 80/20 principle without even realizing it!
  2. You should structure college so that your children graduate with a maximum of $10,000 in student loan debt. He shares several ideas you can use to help achieve this goal.
  3. Young adults should experiment with many job and volunteering opportunities to see what they enjoy doing. This will help them pursue work opportunities they’ll enjoy.
  4. College students should put more effort into classes where they have strengths and less effort into classes where they struggle. I found this advice to be extremely helpful. He wrote the following about one student: “Rather than working really hard to “succeed” in the classes where Dave didn’t naturally excel in, he just threw in the towel. He didn’t care how he did in those classes. In fact, he hardly tried. Is that reckless? Not at all.” The reason why this didn’t matter is because no one cares how Dave did in classes that tested his weaknesses.
  5. He shares how important internship opportunities our for our children and includes a chapter on strategies they can use to get an internship.

As I write this post, I’m realizing it has become a sales letter for this book. I guess it has! I do not know the author and my link to the book on Amazon is NOT an affiliate link. I AM trying to sell this book and this is because I believe you’ll find it extremely helpful for your children. I honestly can’t believe how little effort most parents put into the entire college process for their children. The most the average parent will do for college is to attend the financial aid meeting at their kid’s high school. This is at least a $100,000 investment per child. Wouldn’t it make sense to put a little more effort into it?

College is a critically important time in their lives. It can literally make or break them.

Before wrapping up this post, I wanted to share one more idea from HACKiversity:

“Leverage is the idea that a disproportionately large amount of outcomes are predictably concentrated in a disproportionately small amount of inputs. The 80/20 Principle is that there is an imbalance in cause and effect, regardless of the exact ratio… Unfortunately, many college students believe that working hard at one thing is just as important as working hard at another. However, college students who ditch this belief and use leverage can free up so much time and accomplish what others can’t. As a result, the secret is to know where the high-leverage points are inside the college arena.”

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