The Road Less Traveled

What’s Up Thrivers! Today I’m posting some commentary sent to me by a fellow Thriver! Her words really resonated with me and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Discourse of Anna Klawitter:

Steve Jobs. Coco Chanel. Walt Disney. Henry Ford. Dave Thomas. Michael Dell. Mary Kay Ash. Thomas Edison. Steven Spielberg. Richard Branson. These are names we all know. They have been or still are famous, successful, rich, extraordinary people to be envied. You want to know what they all have in common? They're college dropouts. Every single one of them. So why is there such a huge push for college throughout America? Why, if these amazing, successful people either didn't go to college or dropped out without a degree?

According to an article written at Southern New Hampshire University, college is important for many reasons including "monetary gain, job stability, and career satisfaction." The article goes on to claim that a college degree will help you get married, live a longer life, and allow you to be a better citizen. Now, while the latter claims are obviously not directly correlated to a college degree, there must be a reason that students are paying $9,000 to $30,000 per year for a college degree.

College was originally intended to expand horizons and minds. To push students to explore new ideas and new experiences. But, in the 1970's the college system went into a huge promotional campaign. The purpose was to propagandize the entire generation at the time into believing that college was the only road to respectable and high-paying jobs. Posters were made portraying two people. One was a poorly dressed blue-collar worker looking tired and dejected. The other was a clean, sharply dressed business man with a smile on his face that clearly portrayed a sense of success. The poster was titled: "Which Guy Do You Want To Be?" This kind of thinking has extended into our generation today. "Go to college or you'll be flipping hamburgers the rest of your life. Want to be successful, happy, and rich? Go to college!" Now, in the 1970's the higher education system was actually working. The results promised ––high-level, high-paying jobs–– were delivered. But unfortunately that's just not the case today. As I mentioned in my introduction, the average cost of college today ranges from $9,000 to $30,000 per year, but that doesn't include room and board. Stack another $9,500–$10,830 per year on top of your tuition fee and your four year college education is wrapped up nicely with a sticker price of $80,000–$160,000. That figure means you will be paying $920–$1,840 per month for 10 years in student loans. A ridiculous amount of debt to be hanging over your head for the beginning of your adult life. We've always been taught to handle money wisely, and before spending a large sum of money to think about the decision for a while, right? So, with an investment of up to 160,000 students are, of course, seriously considering and researching their career choice. Sadly, that's just not the case. Many people go to college as a way to "find themselves". Their career path is not defined before they begin the long, expensive journey of college. One young college graduate when asked why he chose criminal justice as his major replied, “ On the first day of college they sent all of us freshmen into a big room. Then they announced, “If you are going into accounting, follow this lady down the hall. Advertising majors, go this way.” I looked down at the list of majors, closed my eyes, and hit the page with my finger. Criminal justice became my chosen field.” We might laugh at this example but stories like these are becoming the general rule not the exception. Young people who go into college without clear direction will not only waste time and money but will also often find that the field they eventually choose, (with eyes opened or closed) was not right for them. Ten years after graduation, 80 percent of college graduates are working in something completely unrelated to their choice of college major. According to Dan miller, author of Forty-Eight Days To The Work You Love, wrote, “In a 45- year working span a person can be expected to have 18 to 20 different jobs…The average length of a job for someone in their 20’s is 13 months.” The world and everything around us is changing and evolving at a faster pace than it has ever been before. This, in part, is a result of the increasing number of electronics and advancing technology. In the field of electronics fifty percent of what a student learns as a freshman is obsolete by his senior year. Because of the rapid rate at which the job industry is changing, in order to succeed we must have the kind of skills which are needed to rapidly adapt. There simply isn’t enough time to go back to college and get a new degree every time the job industry changes. College education is becoming less and less vital to an individual’s success. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “there will be 50 million new jobs in the next 4 years.” But they can’t tell us exactly what those jobs will be. The college degree is overrated and even scarier its inflated. Sixty percent of college graduates cannot find a full- time job in their chosen profession. Millennial’s are the most educated generation in history. They’re also the most underemployed generation in history. There is too high of a supply of college graduates with nearly identical credentials and not enough jobs to employ those graduates. (Hint: Supply and Demand) In order to overcome mediocrity we now have to spend even more money and precious time earning a doctoral degree. I believe our mindsets need to change. In order to become indispensable you need to build worth where it matters. You’ve seen why a college degree is unnecessary to develop your worth and build important skills and talents. Now let's look into what will make you successful and what will allow you to stand out from those around you.

Two words. Create Value

College isn’t going to give you real world experiences or even prepare you for a job. Who’s to say you’re going to enjoy working in your field of study if you haven’t even experienced what work is like in the real world? Want to become talented and qualified? Begin developing a portfolio of real world experiences and working on real projects. Begin something. A website. A YouTube channel. Anything. Take action. Get ahead of the game by educating yourself. Skillshare, Udemy, and Masterclass are great platforms for this. Make your portfolio speak for itself. Prepare yourself for the real world by internships and apprenticeships. These offer more hands on opportunities which will distinguish you from others. Learning through doing is the best and fool-proof way of educating yourself. Deciding to not go to college does not mean your life is going to be easier. It might mean your life will be “harder” for a couple years. By harder I mean you’re going to have to put yourself out there. You’re going to make mistakes and some days are going to be harder than others. People are going to give you weird looks because you are diverging from the accepted norm. Deciding college is not worth your time and money is not for the faint of heart. Your path will not be free of ruts and bumps just because you make the decision to not follow in the world’s footsteps of higher education. In order to succeed you must have the drive to push forward even when the world is shoving you backwards. You’re going to have to work hard, but it will be fulfilling. Instead of becoming a clone, walking among thousands of other clones with your same credentials, you will be an unique individual. Someone who has developed their exclusive talents and skills that cause you to be extraordinary and influence the world in the way only you can. Think of it this way: We go to college for that piece of paper, right? The Almighty Diploma. What does that diploma become as you begin to acquire real world experience? Just another line on your resume. Sure, it might be something. But something most of all your rivals for that job also have. But if your resume shows you took initiative, built something, and did something significant with your time, you will stand out and rise above the other applicants for the job. Employers do not care about whether or not you have a piece of paper. (A diploma.) What’s important to them is if you can create value. Employers need creativity, initiative, and confidence. They need to know you are fully capable of creating real value for their business. Building a portfolio of real world experience will prove you can create value to your prospective employer. A degree can’t do that. Don’t go to college just because everyone else is. Want to be mediocre? Average? Normal? Go to college. Want to stand out, to be like the great leaders I listed in my introduction? (But even better, someone with your own uniquely developed talents.) Build yourself. Create Value. Develop Your Worth. Take the road less traveled.

Gregory AlexanderComment