Don’t Go to College (It’s Probably Not Worth It)

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 2.07.51 PMThe Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg.

Thanks to the internet, all of the world’s knowledge will soon become available online. The cost barrier has been lowered so much that the gatekeepers to traditional formal education are becoming obsolete. From the richest citizens to the poorest, knowledge will soon be available to any student motivated to learn. What does this mean for the current formal education system in the developed world?

The education bubble is about to pop.

It is not uncommon for today’s college graduates to amass student debt of $50K or more. But what do they get in return? The value of this pedagogious learning (‘curriculum-directed’ as opposed to androgogious ‘self-directed’ learning) is becoming more and more ineffective and irrelevant. Institutional education has become such a ubiquitous tool in society’s idea of success that students rarely consider the alternatives.

What’s worse, the formal schooling system often inhibits creativity, and puts students on ‘autopilot’ (where they in effect ‘stop thinking’), trusting that the ‘education’ will give us tools to create a successful life. However, statistics on student debt and the current unemployment figures tells us that this simply isn’t true. Despite this, it’s still culturally tabu to question the value of formal education.


The riskiest thing you can do is play it safe.

In today’s complex, global information economy, knowledge is power, and all knowledge must come from self-learning. The people with motivation and an understanding of the current system are the ones who will succeed. Following orders (a.k.a. the Employee Mindset) is no longer the best way to secure one’s future financial success. Taking action, standing out, taking risks, and creating value (a.k.a. the Entrepreneurial Mindset) is.


The world cares about results, not credentials.

Higher education today often teaches advanced, theoretical skills, which are useful for those who want to work for corporations. This was a useful way of educating people in the past, but in today’s economy, it is ineffective at best. The reasons for this shift is explained beautifully in Leaders Eat Last (synopsis coming soon).


The resume as we know it is dead.

Too many college graduates with stellar resumes are getting lost in swarms of job applications. There are too many ‘doers’ in the world, and not nearly enough people hiring the doers. We must show initiative, creativity, leadership (adopt an Entrepreneurial Mindset) in order to make a living.


Adaptability is the key to survival in a new and interconnected world, where global trends and Black Swan events are becoming the norm. In order to become successful, we need to create a body of work and cultivate the skills needed to market and sell ourselves.


The “I’m above learning how to sell” mentality is the bread and butter of higher education.

A powerful myth in our higher education system today is that ‘if we become better we at our craft, we will become more successful’. This is a fallacy. Sales and marketing are often seen as sleazy way to take advantage of people, but science has shown that this is only true of poor sales and marketing – slick, sleazy salesmanship does not work.


Good sales and marketing is about providing real value.

Getting something valuable to someone who needs it is the essence of good sales and marketing. In fact, withholding this value is stingy. We need to view sales and marketing not as ways to push products onto people who don’t want it, but as a way to connect people to things they need. The best sales and marketing is all about human connection on a genuine level, with integrity and respect at every level.


The 7 lessons of the book.

The author provides a roadmap to getting yourself an effective education:
1. Do meaningful work without going broke
2. Finding great mentors
3. Learning marketing
4. Learning sales
5. Investing in your own human capital
6. Building the brand of you
7. Entrepreneurial mindset vs. employee mindset


The world is changing, and the future generations need the skills to secure the future of our world.