Nate Baker is currently a Praxis participant. This piece was originally posted on his blog.
I was a college student for three years. I could walk around any part of campus and hear students talking about how busy and stressed they were.
Even in college, I knew this was nonsense.
I was busier than most college kids. I presided over two student organizations and worked two part-time jobs in addition to being a full-time student. My grades were never top-notch, but my plate was certainly more full than almost anyone else I knew. Despite this, I was still aware that my college plate was nothing compared to the workload necessary for me to achieve my ambitions. Every day that I met a successful entrepreneur, I became more aware of that truth.
Success is extremely difficult to attain, and it requires constant work and sacrifice to maintain. Everyone thinks they understand this, but college is practically designed to insulate students from this reality. Not only do students have no idea how their classes will translate to any job they may land (they won’t), but they get accustomed to a marginally challenging workload that they are told is heavy. These combined factors yield wasted leisure time and perpetual procrastination. Why? Because students are not getting any tangible value from college. Students are simply hopping through dreadfully boring hoops at the last minute to get one course closer to that disappointing piece of paper. They are applauded for this “accomplishment” and for their 4 years of “hard work.” Only after this do they approach the daunting task of actually producing value for the first time.
College is cushy.
Four years of meeting mediocre standards is a perfect set up for a harsh beginning to a career in a tightening job market. Your college debt has given you an artificially high standard of living relative to your daily effort and discipline. You have been given just enough work to require spans of focus and effort, but enough leeway and time to complete that work at your leisure with little time sensitivity. This work is largely focused on meeting arbitrary standards in an environment entirely divorced from the concept of value creation. The only high-stress pressure cooker situations are self-made through procrastination. In the worst case scenario of college, you fail a test, maybe a course. A similar poor decision in a career could cost you your job.
Many students are aware of this in the back of their minds, but experiencing it is a whole new level. Deschooling was a process I looked forward to in the same way an addict must detox from drugs to live a healthy and happy life.
I knew that in order to build the life I wanted, I had to rid myself of the insulating life bubble that is college. It is much better to make the decision to deschool consciously than for the reality to blindside you at 100mph upon graduation.