Drop Out and Get Schooled: 4 Bad Reasons to Go to College
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This article is an excerpt from Entrepreneur partner Patrick Bet-David's new book, Drop Out and Get Schooled.
In most homes, we are told to go to college by married parents, step-parents or single parents. Our relatives and friends echo this sentiment. Setting aside the professions that require college, why does the answer seem to be that everyone should go to college? Is it tradition or aspiration? Social expectations? Or something else?
Ask enough people and a diverse list of reasons from logical and emotional viewpoints begin to form. These include the following:
1. You need college to get a good job.
This is usually a statement talking about a job in general rather than a statement about a specific college major or line of work. While I agree about college when it comes to science or medicine, spending money on a degree while you possess a complete lack of direction is a waste of time and money (your parents' money or worse, student loan debt!).
The truth is that you don't necessarily need a college degree to excel in many professions in life.
2. College is a time to mature and figure out what you want to do. You can always change your major as graduation (or sobriety) comes into focus.
A delayed decision punctuated by partying and an extended adolescence allow you time to get your act together. In fact, some schools are known simply as party schools (they know who they are). Major websites and magazines actually publish celebratory rankings of the best party schools!
3. My parents or friends and family said I should go but didn't explain in deep detail.
I am concerned that too many college decisions are made as if we are robots programmed and influenced by external peer pressure. Too often we "just do it" because we accept the notion that we are supposed to "just do it." Peer pressure often clouds our thinking and prevents us from processing whether we should "just do it." Legacy or entrenched thinking like this can come from a variety of places but, personally when it comes to college, I think this pressure mostly comes from other students, our parents and the education industry itself.
4. You will network and meet friends that you will have for life and make contacts with the alumni association that will help you in your career.
If you need to go to college to make friends or useful life contacts in a world equipped with LinkedIn and Facebook, there's something very wrong. Before connected technology and the myriad social media sites, college did present a platform that acted as a hub from which new relationships are formed. These relationships are spawned in individual classes, fraternity and sorority memberships, campus clubs and, yes, alumni associations. Today, relationships are still formed this way. But, to say that's a reason to spend a ton of money on college is wrong-headed and myopic.
Let's pick an overly simple example. Suppose a woman wants to be the founder of her own company. She can join groups on LinkedIn, follow founders on Twitter and use both to actually start an active, personal dialogue. If she is persistent, she may get a detailed email with advice or, better yet, a 30-minute phone call from a CEO/founder who is impressed with her persistence and zeal for knowledge.
Now let's bring her to life. It's June 2016, and Juliana from Germany is going to visit the U.S. She sends me a thoughtful email about wanting to learn through being a free intern while she is in the U.S. Her logic is this: She's already flying across the Atlantic Ocean to the East Coast, so a couple more hours to Dallas is not a big deal.
That's exactly what she did. She arrived at my office with nerve and enthusiasm. She stood in the lobby and boldly said, "I have watched your videos, and I simply wanted to learn in person. I am ready to be an intern for two weeks for free."
See? In the modern world of LinkedIn and social media, you don't need the alumni association to meet someone. This reason, in my estimation, is one of the weakest reasons to go to college, although it's one that remains well-propogated today.
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of why we go to college. It is, however, intended to begin a thought process and dialogue about why we go and who goes in the first place.