The importance of a college education is higher today than ever before. Also higher than ever before is the romanticism of the self-made entrepreneur; young tech wizards such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Evan Spiegel of Snapchat have changed the game of getting wealth, status and power in their early 20s. While most people are still in college or graduate school, these tech gurus were starting their own companies in their dorm rooms that would transform an entire generation. The days of waiting until your 40s to become a millionaire — or, in the case of the aforementioned techies above, billionaire — are over. What’s even more is the ability to combine one’s passion and lucrative monetary gain into a large tech company.
So, what’s the problem? Entrepreneurs just don’t think school is as important as hands-on learning.
“The numbers are stark. Entrepreneurship classes and programs in colleges around the U.S. have quadrupled in the past 25 years. Meanwhile, rates of private-business ownership for households under 30 have declined more than 60 percent during the same period. So, the more we teach entrepreneurship, the fewer young people actually start businesses. This has profound implications.”
What? If you tell somebody how to do something, they’re likely to do the opposite? Go figure.
Why Schools Don’t Work For Entrepreneurs
More entrepreneurs are more action-based instead of knowledge-based. Entrepreneurs don’t care if they don’t know how to do something that is taught in school — they are more likely to find a creative solution around that or to connect the dots in an innovative way that still gets the job done. The rigid format of schools provide the opposite — things must be done this way, every time, by the book, and if the textbook doesn’t say you can, then you can’t. This is not the way of the entrepreneur. It brings to mind what Mark Zuckerberg said: “Why be studying it when you could be doing it?”
With notorious C- student entrepreneurs such as Gary Vaynerchuk making a fortune off of online ventures including advertisements, Instagram sponsorships, YouTube ads and more, to squander years of your life and tens-of-thousands on a traditional education seems almost pointless.
In its place, many entrepreneurs find it profitable to learn on their own terms. To replace a formal education, entrepreneurs are getting information online for the great price of free-99. It is possible in a way never before seen to rise up the ranks of financial attainment in a short period of time — that is, of course, if you have the goods. Computer Science grads make among the highest starting salaries of any college graduate.
However, computer science can be learned online — Harvard and Stanford Universities have free, semester-long tutorials for programming in languages such as Python, C++, Java and HTML. Don’t want to learn from two of the best schools mankind has to offer? Sure — just log onto the University of YouTube. There is a tutorial for anything and everything on YouTube for free. Khan Academy is one of the many resources available to guide students through tough subjects.
The Value of Online Learning
What’s the catch? There is none — all of these websites are free and require only an investment of time and energy. But in a generation where 6-second Vine videos and 15-second Instagram videos have capped our attention spans, the question is can people can be dedicated and diligent enough to put what they are learning into practice? As shown above, many students cannot utilize their education in a substantial way, even if they have the resources right at their fingertips.
If young entrepreneurs can utilize the tools at their disposals and actually learn by doing, they can bypass the need for a traditional education and become successful within their own ventures, even if they weren’t A students. Just take it from George Bush, who said in his commencement speech to Southern Methodist University: “To those of you who are graduating this afternoon with high honors, awards and distinctions, I say, ‘Well done.’ And as I like to tell the C students: you too, can be president” — or in this case, entrepreneur.
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