8 Alternatives to College

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When I was
19 I won some money in a chess tournament. So instead of using that
money for my college tuition I decided to drop out of college and
buy a car. I bought a used 1982 Honda Accord. I drove it around
for a few hours since they let me drive it right out of the lot.
But when I saw my girlfriend and everyone else taking their classes
I got a little jealous. I returned the car and cancelled the check
and entered my sophomore year of college. But I regret it now.

Whenever I
suggest “don’t send your kids to college” a lot of
very smart people invariably come back with the response, “well
what else should they do.” And this amazes me. I guess its
really hard to figure out what people of the ages 18–23 should
do during the most vibrant, healthy years of their lives when they
grow from being a child to an adult.

So I figure
I will help people out by coming up with a list and try to handle
the critcisms that will certainly arise even before they arise.
I can do this because I have a college degree. So I’ve learned
how to think and engage in repartee with other intelligent people.

1) Start
a business.
There are many businesses a kid can start, particularly
with the Internet. On another post I will list the possible types
for first businesses. But if you always focus on the maxim, “buy
low and sell high”, you’ll start to generate ideas.

Many people
say (correctly), “well, not everyone can be an entrepreneur”.
Its amazing to me, also, how many times I’ve answered this
question in writing and yet people still read the exact articles
and say “well not everyone can be an entrepreneur”.

First off,
there’s no law against being an entrepreneur. In fact, everyone
can be an entrepreneur. So what they really mean is: “not everyone
can be a successful entrepreneur”. And as far as I know, there’s
no law against failure either. When someone loses a tennis match
or a chess game, how do they improve? They study their loss. As
anyone who has mastered any field in life knows: studying your losses
is infinitely more valuable than studying your wins. I failed at
my first three attempts at being an entrepreneur before I finally
learned how to spell it and I finally had a success (i.e. a company
with profits that I was then able to sell).

Failure is
a part of life. Better to learn it at 18 than at 23 or older when
you’ve been coddled by ivory blankets and hypnotized into thinking
success was yours for the taking. Get baptized in the river of failure
as a youth so you can blossom in entrepreneurial blessings as an
adult.

What do you
learn when you are young and start a business (regardless of success
or failure):

  • you learn
    how to come up with ideas that will be accepted by other people
  • you begin
    to build your bullshit detector (something that definitely does
    not happen in college)
  • you learn
    how to sell your idea
  • you learn
    how to build and execute on an idea
  • you meet
    and socialize with other people in your space. They might not
    all be the same age but, lets face it, thats life as an adult.
    You just spent 18 years with kids your age. Grow up!
  • you might
    learn how to delegate and manage people
  • you learn
    how to eat what you kill, a skill also not learned by college-goers

2) Travel
the world.
Here’s a basic assignment. Take $10,000 and
get yourself to India. Check out a world completely different from
our own. Do it for a year. You will meet other foreigners traveling.
You will learn what poverty is. You will learn the value of how
to stretch a dollar. You will often be in situations where you need
to learn how to survive despite the odds being against you. If you’re
going to throw up you might as well do it from dysentery than from
drinking too much at a frat party. You will learn a little bit more
about eastern religions compared with the western religions you
grew up with. You will learn you aren’t the center of the universe.
Knock yourself out.

3) Create
art.
Spend a year learning how to paint. Or how to play a musical
instrument. Or write 5 novels. Learn to discipline yourself to create.
Creation doesn’t happen from inspiration. It happens from perspiration,
discipline, and passion. Creativity doesn’t come from from
God. Its a muscle that you need to learn to build. Why not build
it while your brain is still creating new neurons at a breathtaking
rate than learning it when you are older (and for many people, too
late).

Read
the rest of the article

February
11, 2011

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