I joined the Army Reserves when I was 17. This meant my college was paid for.
I attended monthly military training exercises (called “Drill”) and spent two weeks away for Annual Training. In my home state, joining the military meant free public school tuition.
My Drill pay was around $150. My GI Bill pay was $300 or so. I always worked 20 or so hours a week at another job.
During my first two years of college, my schedule went:
M-W-F: work from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
T-R: classes from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
S-S: Drill, work 2 out of 3 free weekends, for 1 weekend off.
Throw in a Drill weekend and I was up early and at work or at school for 12 consecutive days without a day off. I got one full weekend off a month.
I waited tables during my last two years of college. Most of my Friday and Saturday nights (the biggest moneymakers of the week) were spent bringing bread sticks and unlimited soup and salad to inbreds and red necks.
Between GI Bill, Army bullshit, and work, I earned around $13,000/year. Since I didn’t pay tuition and lived at home my first two years, that was all money in my pocket. I had no student loan debt and even opened a Roth IRA and bought silver bullion when silver was around $5/ounce.
I studied hard (managed to get a 3.73), got a scholarship to graduate school, and took the same habits from college to succeed after school.
College is only a scam if you’re a petulant child who thinks “showing up” means something to anyone other than your mommy.