Chapter 5. Getting in “Serious” debt for my education

  • My challenge: My bachelor’s degree would not get me paid. But business schools are expensive
  • My choice: Follow the advice of successful people 
  • Vulnerability side of the story: Hear people from my home town telling me I was crazy to spend so much money

I got my bachelor’s degree. Yay! Big deal. Or so I thought, for like less than 2 seconds. Even before graduating, I knew that this bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Sales would not be enough for anything. Picture this: My internship during my degree was to work in a sports retail store in Paris… Not like being the manager or anything like this… I was on the floor, selling shoes and sportswear clothing… WTF. Bachelor student, doing a job that most could do without a bachelor’s degree… big deal! 

Luckily, I was in a university with a lot of wealthy kids. I am saying luckily because these kids are hooked up. They don’t face the same reality than my friends back home. You want to get a Master’s degree in a great University and you do not have the grades for it… most people would give up… not rich kids. The solution. Pay the right people to get prepared for the competitive exam and the interviews. I am not talking about an intensive year-long tutoring program. Only 1 full week of preparation is enough to multiply your chances of acceptance by like 5 to 10. You probably do not believe me. That the magic of the system. Or should I say “aptitude tests”. You know the test that people describe as “you can not prepare for it, it tests your ability”. This is utter BS. Rich kids are preparing for it. They are throwing a lot of money at it. How do I know? I did it too.

My mom was for sure not rich. So why did I follow the other rich kids? Well, rich people are cautious about how they spend money. If they do it, they must be expecting a good return on it. So I did my research. It did not take long for me to realize: a. I could work for a retail store for minimum wage. Or b. I could invest about a month worth of minimum wage into that exam prep, get accepted in a great school, and 3 years later make about 3 or 4 times the minimum wage. Everyone called me crazy when I used my savings to pay for that exam prep. And this was money well invested. It is not like they are just great teacher helping you to unleash your potential. It was an institution rather “creative” in “guessing” what questions may come up. Let’s cut the BS. That institution finds ways to steal the exam questions years after years. And they figured out that year on year the questions were not changing that much. So during that intensive 1 week course, they would show you all the questions that may come up and answer each. So much for an “aptitude test” you can not prepare for…

Ok, fast forward, I got accepted to several good schools. I need to pay for that school now. In France it cost about 16,000 euros for 3 years. It looks cheap for the US. But in France it is a big deal. Most of my friends were like “are you crazy!”. I get them 16,000 euros is almost 2 years net pay for someone on minimum wage. But I did not see that! What I saw was the potential after that degree. The stats were saying I had a good chance of earning 40,000 euros per year. I ended up earning about 70,000 euros a year because I got my first job in London, UK (and they pay a lot more there in Banking).

I learned 2 things from that experience. Do what successful people do. Don’t do what they tell you to do, don’t do what you think they do. Do what they do. Never think about how much something cost in isolation. Think about how long it will take to make back the money you invested.