Young people: here are five (OK, six) alternatives to heavily indebting yourself

March 31, 2015
Sovereign Valley Farm, Chile

Yesterday we discussed the utter insanity of the debt-based education system—the trillion+ dollar explosion of student loans out there that may very well be the next bubble to burst.

It’s a completely ridiculous system which saddles 22-year olds with tens of thousands of dollars of debt before they even have a chance to start life.

But this has become the norm. DEBT has become the norm. Like everything else in our financial system, debt dominates.

Government finance. Consumer spending. Pension programs. Higher education.

All of these systems are based on debt.

And anyone who wants to break free from this needs to seek unconventional alternatives.

So if you’re a young person looking for other options other than debt-based university, consider the following:

1) Attend a foreign university. If you absolutely MUST attend university at such a young age, consider top quality universities abroad.

Most importantly, you’ll have the unforgettable experience of living abroad… something that can not only be life-changing, but also set you apart from your peers.

It’s also a great way to learn a foreign language (even though the courses at many foreign universities may still be taught in English).

Plus, studying abroad can be a LOT cheaper.

L’Ecole Polytechnique in France, for example, is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world. Yet first year tuition is less than $4,500, and they have a special program that’s 100% English, including even the admissions process.

Even for advanced education, the English-language Masters programs at top-ranked EPFL in Switzerland can run as little as $1,350 each year, literally 95% less than in the US.

If you are American, this is a no-brainer while the dollar is strong. You can save tens of thousands of dollars on the cost of your education while still attending a tier-1 school.

2) Travel. Get out and see the world. A budget as low as $5,000 can get you a round-the-world ticket and finance your living expenses for several months as you immerse yourself in rapidly growing economies.

(Note: travel ‘hacks’ such as maximizing the use of free airline bonus miles are very useful in keeping to budget…)

You’ll learn more about how the world works in four months on the road than in four years of university.

More importantly, you’ll meet people and be exposed to countless opportunities that will prove invaluable when you’re trying to decide what direction to take your life.

3) Join a startup

While traditional university education is a great way for young people to heavily indebt themselves before they even get started in life, joining a startup is the exact opposite—a potentially game-changing way for young people to build wealth.

Aside from the tremendous business experience and the life lessons in creating something from scratch, this route has the added benefit that eschewing college for a startup is socially palatable.

Naturally you’ll need to go to a startup hive—places like San Francisco, Austin, Berlin, Bangkok, Santiago, etc.

While anyone can realistically do this, joining a startup is a great option for young people precisely because you’re young.

You have no attachments. No family to support. No mortgage. Nothing to tie you down. And very little to lose.

4) Find a mentor. This used to be the way people learned their craft—by studying under someone who was doing it.

Seek out someone you admire who has all the success traits that you desire and make yourself indispensible to that person.

Offer to be an unpaid intern—use a small fraction of what you would have paid for a university education to finance your living costs. Then learn as many valuable skills as you can directly from someone who has mastered them.

5) Above all else, learn. Even if you can’t go abroad, or you don’t have enough scratch saved up for any of the above options, spend at least an hour a day improving your financial education, learning a language, or developing other marketable skills.

6) And yes, apply for our summer entrepreneurship camp.

Every summer I bring in some of the most successful entrepreneurs I know to teach young people exactly how to build a business and create value in the world.

But probably the biggest benefit is the alumni network that the students join—young, like-minded movers and shakers from around the world.

Our entrepreneurship camp is free—I finance it myself. And our goal for the past six years has been to essentially combine each of the options I outlined above. Education. Travel. Entrepreneurship. Mentorship. Etc.

Attending our camp is highly competitive. We receive applications from all over (this year we already have applications from places like Burkina Faso, Philippines, Moldova, Algeria, Kazakhstan, China, etc.), and we have limited space available.

But if you’re interested in what could potentially be a life-changing experience, take a look at our website:

The application deadline is TONIGHT at midnight.

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