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Warren Buffett explains why he thinks going to college isn't for everybody


Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B) CEO Warren Buffett, the third richest person in the world, said in a new interview that college and business school aren’t necessary for professional success.

“Some people are going to get a lot out of advanced education, and some people are going to get very little,” Buffett says. “It depends on the person, much more than it depends on the school.”

The expense and time that higher education demands may not be worth it, Buffett said in a wide-ranging interview with Yahoo Finance's editor-in-chief, Andy Serwer. Buffett said, referring to college, “I don’t think it’s for everybody.”

“It's a big commitment to take four years, and the cost involved, and maybe the loans involved,” he says. “There ought to be a reason you're going.”

The comments come amid heightened scrutiny focused on a total of $1.5 trillion in student loan debt among Americans, a figure that has tripled since 2005. A survey this month from GoBankingRates, which polled 500 Americans with college degrees, found 42% feel that their college degree wasn’t worth the student debt it created. But 88% said that they did not regret their ultimate decision to go to college.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a 2020 presidential candidate, proposed on Monday a relief plan that would erase student loan debt for for more than 75% of Americans who have it.

Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, gestures during a game of bridge outside Berkshire-owned Borsheims jewelry store in Omaha, Neb., Sunday, May 6, 2018. On Saturday, tens of thousands of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders attended the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, gestures during a game of bridge outside Berkshire-owned Borsheims jewelry store in Omaha, Neb., Sunday, May 6, 2018 (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

‘I actually was not keen on going to college myself’

Buffett initially opposed attending college but ultimately completed undergraduate and graduate business programs.

“I actually was not keen on going to college myself,” he says.

He applied to college because his father, Howard H. Buffett, advised him to consider an undergraduate program at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

“My dad kind of jollied me into it,” Buffett says. “He could get me to do anything. If they'd had an SAT test, in those days, he would have taken the test for me.”

Buffett attended The Wharton School for two years, then transferred to the University of Nebraska, where he earned an undergraduate degree in business administration. He later received a master’s degree in economics from Columbia University.

Since 1965, Buffett has run Berkshire Hathaway, which owns over 60 companies, like Geico and Dairy Queen, plus minority stakes in Apple, Coca-Cola, among others. He holds a net worth of $82.5 billion, and has vowed to give away nearly all of it.

Max Zahn is a reporter for Yahoo Finance.

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