Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ditch College and Grab a Hold of Life

For some, college makes sense, for most it doesn't. The hypnosis of the masses about the importance of a college education is not even superseded by the hypnosis of the masses about housing ownership, pre-bubble. There's a lot of things you can do, if you are just good at it, no college degree required. In fact, if you are a great salesperson email me now. I don't care if your formal education problems started in kindergarten. Below James Altucher does some thinking outside of the "education bubble", for those to deep in the bubble to realize there are other options.-RW

by James Altucher

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 vey 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
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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.

Read the rest here.


  1. You don't need $10,000 to travel to India.
    To live reasonably by Western standards, takes money. But if you live reasonably by Indian middle class or lower middle class standards, the ticket will cost you under $1500 (RT, inclusive of all fees)
    Living will cost you about the same as in a Latin American country, traveling budget, but for far fewer comforts. However, food is cheap and excellent.

    I think an adventurous person could manage it for under $5000 for a year, excluding purchases and luxuries.

    Internal flights will stretch that, but if you stick with buses and trains, and visit only a few cities, that should do it.

  2. What is depressing is first to read the article, which encourages young people to use their god-given freedoms, not just go to college from inertia, and then go to the comments, full of people suggesting mandatory community/military service, and "jobs require degrees"...
    This is a symptom that we are no longer a free people.

  3. "there’s no law against being an entrepreneur"

    ha! thats debatable! ever heard of obamacare? or the entire IRS tax code? ;)