With high costs that show no signs of decreasing and the frightening levels of debt that follow, more and more people are likely to find reason to debate the value of the university experience. The question is simple: at a certain point, is higher education really necessary?
We thought it might be interesting to ask that question to those who are wealthy, people who don't really have to worry about the costs of schooling and instead only have to evaluate the experience based on pure substance. So, when the Elite Daily office was paid a visit by Alassane and Ousseini Kanazoe, the twin sons of Oumarou Kanazoe (once Burkina Faso's richest man and forever an icon of wealth and grace in the African country), we did exactly that.
“We’re not sure if we’re gonna stay for our masters,” Ousseini said, before his brother threw further doubt into the equation. “I don’t think we’re going to do any masters programs because it’s a diploma we’re not even gonna use," followed Alassane.
Ousseini and Alassane are the youngest heirs to father's fortune, who passed away in 2011 at the age of 84. They are the last of 13 children, and, after coming to New York near the end of 2009, the only members of their family to have traveled to the States to complete their studies.
Now that they're on the verge of completing their undergraduate program and earning bachelor's degrees in accounting and finance, they're in the right position to give their verdict on the standard of American education and whether or not it is a lucrative investment.
"If you can, put the money in a business, you know." Alassane frankly said. "I forgot who else said that," he continued as the name escaped him, "the Zappos guy!"
That "guy" is Tony Hsieh, the billionaire CEO of shoe-selling enterprise Zappos, which was acquired by Amazon in 2009 as part of a deal worth $1.2 billion. Hsieh, who graduated from Harvard University with a B.S. in computer science and founded his company four years later, did indeed advise aspiring entrepreneurs to forego the university experience, instead opting to invest in a business.
His reasoning was pretty straightforward: even if you fail with a business, you'd learn more from the experience than you would in all of your college classes. It's a bit of logic that the brothers agree with, but they also admit that people will always be reluctant to take that route, simply because college is the norm.
"Because everybody goes to school, you have the pressure to go to college, but you know it's not going to help you very much to make it," Alassane said before his brother chimed in to offer some perspective. "It depends on what you want to make of your life," said Ousseini. "If you want to live on $100,000 a year and be comfortable, you get a degree."
After speaking to them, it becomes clear that the two brothers discuss the topic with varying degrees of cynicism. Both, nonetheless, the two are pretty much in agreement when it comes to this.
College is generally a road to practical success. But if you want to aim big, and go big, then becoming an entrepreneur should be your plan.
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