After finishing high school I took a year-long break before I decided to pursue college. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do and I was still battling the pressure I felt inside to follow a ‘traditional path’ and get a degree. Finally, after a year of messing around on semi-entrepreneurial projects, I gave in and enrolled in a local community college full-time. It wasn’t more than a semester in when I realized I was completely unengaged and uninspired. Less than a couple months later, I dropped out of college and simultaneously found a job doing graphic design and marketing with a freshly funded eCommerce start-up. This transition was the beginning of a journey where I would be exposed to real world work experiences (with experts), build a practical, useful skill set and learn countless life lessons which equipped me with a powerful and relevant education that trumps many of my diploma holding peers. Here’s the handful of reasons why I’m grateful for not finishing college.
I have no student loan debt
I don’t have a problem with debt if it’s enabled a great investment or opportunity, but these days students are piling on enormous amounts of student debt that they’ll never be able to pay off. I’ve been able to gain a valuable education without being left with mountain of debt. In fact, I’ve lost less money in failed entrepreneurial projects than most students have in college related debt (I like to think of lost money from failed start-ups as my ‘college tuition’).
Starting a business is a great way to force yourself into a journey of intensive learning.
I gained a useful and relevant eduction
The skills I learned ‘in the field’ were learned because I needed to apply them immediately. Whether it was learning how to create a pitch deck and structure a financing round because my business needed the money or learning how to batch process 500 photo edits in Photoshop because I had a tight deadline, the skills I learned were mandatory and required immediate, real world execution. Starting a business is a great way to force yourself into a journey of intensive learning. You’ll constantly run into obstacles that require new knowledge and you’ll learn valuable lessons and make serious mistakes along that way (which you’ll hopefully never make again).
I have a job
Fortunately, I’ve been able to consistently work for myself, but as a business owner I can confidently say: Jobs aren’t waiting for young adults with degrees, they’re waiting for young adults with great portfolios and relevant experience. I know of many people my age (26) that are 1 or 2 years out of college and still can’t find a reasonable job – employers want relevant work experience, which they don’t have yet.
Don’t get my wrong, I’m not entirely against college. I think it’s a great way to get a well rounded education, but not a great way to guarantee a steady income or a successful career. If you’re reading this and you’re on the fence about college or debating what to do next with your life consider this: What are you passionate about and how can you turn it into a business?