Saying No to College
A college education is no guarantee of success- or is it?
There are legions of entrepreneurs who dropped out of college or never went to school and made fortunes. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg made billions. There are lots of nameless millionaires who struck it rich in the tech business, sans college degree.
There are also legions of college drop outs who have managed to fail in every endeavor they try.
Of course, financial security is only one reason to go to college. What value ought to be placed on education itself? An undergraduate college degree does not confer any real expertise on the student. Instead, the new graduate is expected to understand the question which need to be answered and to recognize and discern between various answers in the quest for knowledge.
For a select few foregoing a college degree is a practical alternative. These are the rare individuals who unique visions, drive and talents. They do what needs to be done and accomplish goals.
For the rest of us a college education helps us get a leg up and succeed in a world of challenges. Not a bad thing.
BENJAMIN GOERING does not look like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, talk like him or inspire the same controversy. But he does apparently think like him.
Two years ago, Mr. Goering was a sophomore at the University of Kansas, studying computer science and philosophy and feeling frustrated in crowded lecture halls where the professors did not even know his name.
“I wanted to make Web experiences,” said Mr. Goering, now 22, and create “tools that make the lives of others better.”
So in the spring of 2010, Mr. Goering took the same leap as Mr. Zuckerberg: he dropped out of college and moved to San Francisco to make his mark. He got a job as a software engineer at a social-software company, Livefyre, run by a college dropout, where the chief technology officer at the time and a lead engineer were also dropouts. None were sheepish about their lack of a diploma. Rather, they were proud of their real-life lessons on the job.
“Education isn’t a four-year program,” Mr. Goering said. “It’s a mind-set.”
The idea that a college diploma is an all-but-mandatory ticket to a successful career is showing fissures. Feeling squeezed by a sagging job market and mounting student debt, a groundswell of university-age heretics are pledging allegiance to new groups like UnCollege, dedicated to “hacking” higher education. Inspired by billionaire role models, and empowered by online college courses, they consider themselves a D.I.Y. vanguard, committed to changing the perception of dropping out from a personal failure to a sensible option, at least for a certain breed of risk-embracing maverick.
Risky? Perhaps. But it worked for the founders of Twitter, Tumblr and a little company known as Apple.