More and more, I've been hearing people talk about why college is a waste of time. Who needs a degree to work as a barista? While not everyone will be making coffee for their peers during and after college, many, many college grads will be faced with entry-level, low-paying jobs upon getting their degrees. So, why spend upwards of $30,000 per year for a piece of paper that won’t yield an awesome job?
Steve Jobs dropped out of college and went on to make a fortune — not to mention one of the biggest, trendiest, most successful companies in the world. But, Jobs sat in on classes after officially ending his enrollment; clearly, the man valued education.
One of Jobs' biggest competitors, Bill Gates, also dropped out of college — Harvard, to be precise. And, like fellow Harvard dropout, Mark Zuckerberg, Gates already had a business plan in mind. The two are actually very similar people: they both come from fairly wealthy backgrounds, performed very well in high school, and like Jobs, are incredibly intelligent.
While all three entrepreneurs had luck on their sides, Apple didn't take off until after it almost went bankrupt, Microsoft became huge as a result of IBM and Facebook beating out MySpace in the social media revolution will be a topic of discussion for future historians. Let's not forget that none of these entrepreneurs created these companies alone — so, while we should definitely look up to Jobs, Gates and Zuckerberg, they should not embody our models for success.
There are several options available to the college dropout. Entering the workforce directly is possible, but most high-paying jobs require at least a basic degree. Most jobs available to dropouts likely won’t provide the necessary wages to make a living on one's own a viable option. Upward mobility is likely limited past basic manager positions. While certainly better than not having a job at all, getting a low-skill, low-pay job won’t ensure amazing future success.
You could start your own business, like the three aforementioned entrepreneurs; dropping out of college would certainly provide more time to focus on your business. Or, take a lesson from Zuckerberg and start a business while you're in college. If it takes off, you can drop out knowing that you've created something that’s worthwhile.
A lot of the what-ifs associated with dropping out of college aren’t in one’s favor, so reflect on why getting a college degree in today’s world is useful. If nothing else, your college degree will communicate to employers that you are able to commit to tasks for the long haul.
Getting your degree may mean taking classes you don't care to take and spending nights studying rather than partying. All the valuable things you can learn will not take place in the classroom. A life-changing LSD trip at the Grand Canyon won't fit on any resume, but being a college student and getting real-life experience aren't mutually exclusive.
Your college degree is an investment that's not just valuable based on the time and money you put into it. For many of us, it's still a prerequisite for a well-paying job. If you feel that you're wasting your time, start something – a business, a website, or something else – and see if it takes off. But don't think that dropping out of college will suddenly improve your life. If college were such a waste of time, then the job you want wouldn't require you spend years there.
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