There is a common myth that only Steve Jobs-like geniuses and cheese puff eating flunkies should opt out of college. For college to be a poor fit, you’ve either gotta be sitting on the next billion dollar startup idea or sitting on your mom’s couch. This is nonsense. There is a large and growing group of smart, hard-working young people who are way too good for the rigmarole and time-wasting conformity of even elite colleges. I’ve met lots of them.
These are what I call “blue collar entrepreneurs”. They’re quick, curious, eager, and in-touch with their core values and goals. They want to learn about themselves and the world and won’t wait for permission. These are the people for whom college is the biggest waste.
The mediocre, the minimum acceptable regurgitators, and the mildly enthusiastic are those who get the most value from college. After all, their degree signals that they are about as good as all the other degree holders; average. But the most ambitious young people gain little from such a signal. In fact, a degree that lumps them in with all other degree holders undersells them. They’re too good for college, and they have the power to send a much more valuable signal outside of the one-size-fits-all system. They can create a better credential than the off-the-shelf version that takes four years and six figures.
“There’s no question that increased formal credentials can give you an advantage. The question is, is it the best advantage you can buy with the amount of money and time you’re going to spend?” –Michael Ellsberg
How to know if you’re too good for college? Here are five signs to look for…
1) Your classmates frighten you.
You look around the classroom and it dawns on you: these people will walk out of here with the same credential as you. All this time and money just to buy a degree that says, “Hey, I’m at least as good as the snoring sleeper next to me in Psych 101”. Not only that, but your future accountant, doctor, marketing director, or editor might be sitting in that classroom. You read the essay they turned in last week. It wasn’t pretty. If it’s clear this education isn’t preparing them for the world and the thought of them living and working as adults gives you a start, you might consider separating yourself from the crowd.
2) You feel a little annoyed being treated like a burden instead of a customer.
You might begin to feel most of your professors don’t see you as a customer, but a hindrance they’d like to get out of the way with minimal interaction and deviation. Sure, there are always some good profs, but how many of them act annoyed at a teaching load of a few classes per semester, or give minimal and inconvenient office hours, or don’t seem to care if their lectures are boring, or get angry when you challenge their ideology or assumptions, or shame students on Facebook for asking questions about the syllabus? You’re the customer and are right to wish to be treated as such. You can always take your business and walk.
3) You learned more about how government functions from watching ‘The Wire’ than an entire year of political science classes.
The cat’s out of the bag. Pandora’s box is open. Whatever metaphor you use, the university is not the font of wisdom it once was. Books have always been there for the curious, but with online courses, podcasts, audiobooks, eBooks, streaming videos, and social networks, you might find yourself eagerly consuming information relevant to you everywhere but the classroom. The learning method at universities is older than the wheel, and it’s a crap-shoot whether you’ll get a decent teacher. If you get your learn on outside of the graded conveyor belt already, why keep taxing yourself with class?
4) Your degree is the least impressive part of your resume.
If you’ve already done a lot of things, or you’re capable of doing a lot of things, that are rarer and more interesting than getting a BA, why get one? If you’ve started a business, worked for a year or longer at a good company, traveled the world on your own steam and your own dime, built a website, written some articles, sold products, learned a foreign or programming language, or any number of interesting things, those will be more valuable on your resume and in building your network and reputation than a generic degree. Ask yourself what you’d want an employee to bring to the table if you owned a business. Can you get those things right now, without school?
5) You’re happy when class is cancelled.
What an odd thing that students pay up front for a university education and then get excited when the service is not provided. What other product is treated this way? If classes are a distraction from running student clubs or newspapers, working, blogging, hobbies, startups, or other things that make you come alive, why not get it out of the way? The idea of a degree as a fallback is pretty weak. It’s not going to magically lift you out of poverty or aimlessness. You’ve got to do that yourself. Why not start now with all your energy and not have nagging classes and exams hanging over your head?
If you see yourself in these signs, you might be too good for college. Jump off the conveyor belt and create your own path. Fortune favors the bold, so break free.
If you know you’re worth more than college but you’re not quite sure how to plot your own path and discover what makes you come alive, we can help. That’s what Praxis was created for. Contact us or Apply today!