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Why Young Entrepreneurs MUST Go to College

| January 3, 2011 | 20 Comments

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While there have been articles on there being no need for young entrepreneurs to go to college and even some lists of entrepreneurs who succeeded without having a college degree (also suggesting that going to college is a waste of time), there have been a lot of confusion for the budding young entrepreneur with a lot of vigor and passion for business and the action these young entrepreneurs take will have a lasting effect on their lives.

For the sake of complete transparency I’d like to tell you that I have also battled with the idea of going to college or not with a lot of pressure from parents and others and I’m a kind of person who doesn’t change my mind once it’s fixed. I even went on to back up my argument with examples of successful entrepreneurs, like Bill Gates, who are making it as college dropouts but now I can simply say my decision then was as a result of childhood foolishness – I know a lot of people will disagree.

I’m not trying to say going to college is a must to succeed in life, far from it, but there are so many importance of going to college that I’d advice young entrepreneurs not to try to play with it.

This is not a rule and I know you have the final say on what goes on in your life, this article is only expressing my views on the subject.

College Increases the Chances of Your Success in Life

If you take a look at most of the young entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs who believe going to college is not important to succeeding in life you will also notice they’re always citing examples of great and extraordinary entrepreneurs like Bill Gates. If I may ask, how many young entrepreneurs are as extraordinary as Bill Gates? Being extraordinary is not all about having a great idea or knowledge about a subject but knowing how to present your ideas in a very effective way.

We hardly have one extraordinary entrepreneur in a million and if this is considered you’ll notice that deciding not to go to college is a very dangerous decision for a young entrepreneur to make.

We only hear about college dropouts who are successful entrepreneurs, and we only hear about them because they are successful. You have read a list of college dropouts who are successful but have you ever read a list of college dropouts who are complete entrepreneurial failures? Never! You can’t even see a list like that because most of these entrepreneurs are not ready to own up to their “foolishness”.

I have enough facts to back up my argument and I have read interviews about successful entrepreneurs who wish they didn’t drop out of college, like this one. The truth is that many entrepreneurs eventually discover their mistake (of not going to college) later in life and in order to protect their ego they still go on saying it’s a good thing to be a college dropout.

If we take a look at the numbers, very few college dropouts become super successful as an entrepreneur and many of the unsuccessful ones end up blaming themselves in the future, they end up saying something in this line, If Only I had a college degree!

It Increases Your Self-Esteem

Imagine speaking in the midst of CEO’s, highly educated people and even some uneducated people and starting your statement with something of this nature, I am a college dropout…, irrespective of your achievements you’ll still see people shaking their heads at you and asking themselves if that is a thing to pride yourself at.

It is always great to go against the norm and I am a great fan of that, but you should also realize that going to college is a life of its own and people have a separate way of thinking about those who don’t go to college. They have been taught that going to college is the only way to succeed in life and even if they love you and your achievements as a successful college dropout they will still relate with you in a different way because they can’t control that feeling of theirs with which they were brought up (that going to college is essential to success).

If you see a successful entrepreneur who has a lot of achievements under his belt start a speech with something in this line, I have a PhD in applied mathematics, but I’m happy I’ve never used it to work…because being an entrepreneur was my best decision in life. You will be filled with awe and respect for the fellow, you will begin to see the person as a highly intelligent, educated fellow who knows what he is saying, not just an illiterate.

You Have a Fallback Option

While most of the time there isn’t a need for a fallback option, it isn’t a bad thing to have it. Since there is very little guarantee of you succeeding as an entrepreneur you at least have something to back you up.

Take a look at the most successful entrepreneurs we have in history and you will notice that a large percentage of them worked on their business for at least five years before they could succeed. If you don’t have a job, if you don’t have a degree, even if you have the motivation, you should know that it isn’t easy to succeed as an entrepreneur. I am not trying to tell you to neglect your ventures and kill your dreams of being a successful entrepreneur, I’m only telling you that it takes time, it takes real time, and your college degree can be a great thing for you to get a job, funds and respect for the main time.

You will notice the use of respect in my last statement and you might be asking that of what importance is respect to success as an entrepreneur. It has been proved that over 70% of startups fail in their first year and if you imagine yourself being the founder of one of these startups and you’re a college dropout. You will have lost your public image in the first place (a dropout?) and the inability to build a successful business for years with that bad public image will make you frustrated, quit and almost think of committing suicide.

You Get More Knowledge and Experience

Many entrepreneurs will question this and eventually reiterate by saying that real experience comes from maintaining a business. That is no doubt the truth but there is some truth to what I’m saying here.

Going to college enables you take a course and with constant learning and practice your knowledge of that course will no doubt improve. You will also be able to meet a lot of like-minded people and you will be able to learn from them, you will also gain experience in networking and communicating with people.

Many young entrepreneurs have poor networking and communication skills and this will go a long way to affect their success in business and in life – going to college will help you learn a lot of things along this line and one of those things will be the ability to sharpen and improve your communication and networking skills.

A Different Approach

After taking a look at most of the entrepreneurs who supported not going to college, a common theme I noticed among them is that most of them are enrolled in courses they have little to no interest in. An entrepreneur can’t succeed in every business because interest is important, for example, a sound programmer will hardly succeed in building a diaper business – the same thing applies for going to college. Your approach must be different; going to college shouldn’t be about getting the best grades but going to learn more about what you love.

Conclusion

Without doubt, as backed by the above argument, my advice is that young entrepreneurs should go to college. Even if only to improve your self-esteem, you will be very happy you did.

Onibalusi Bamidele is a 16 year old entrepreneur living the internet lifestyle, visit his blog for practical tips on improving your business and follow him on twitter @youngprepro.

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Category: Startup Advice

  • http://www.youngprepro.com Onibalusi Bamidele

    This is awesome Jared and thanks so much for posting this. I really appreciate it.

    -Onibalusi

  • http://www.youngprepro.com Onibalusi Bamidele

    This is awesome Jared and thanks so much for posting this. I really appreciate it.

    -Onibalusi

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  • Anonymous

    Absolutely!

    Just answered this on Quora. Would be great to add your additional insights!

    http://www.quora.com/Why-should-I-go-to-college-when-theres-more-knowledge-on-the-web-than-I-could-learn-in-a-lifetime

  • http://benjaminbach.com Benjamin Bach

    Save your money, buy some good books instead. I’m a very proud college drop out, and everything I learned in business I learned outside of school – from experiences, mentors, books, and more.

    Please please PLEASE don’t take on debt for an undergrad degree. Just don’t do it

  • http://twitter.com/KratzPR Harrison Kratz

    This has been my main dilemma for the past year. While I love the entrepreneurial ventures I’ve embarked on, I think having that degree (especially in the communications industry) is an important supporter and fall back option. I truly can’t stand school, but it is a necessary at the moment.

    I agree with Benjamin in that I’ve learned much more outside of the classroom rather than in it, but college organizations and the atmosphere helped me develop the mindset I am in now, and has helped me develop a great network and support system.

    I don’t think its the same for everyone, there are people who shouldn’t waste their money and should pursue their ideas and ventures. On the other hand, there are people who benefit from college and help them grow into that business man or entrepreneur they aspire to be.

    For now, I have to get the degree but I am not letting that hinder my drive or stall me from following my passion. Its just a stepping stone to something greater!

  • http://www.vivianchenhotels.com Vivian Chen

    I’d love to see a similar article about going to graduate school. I think it would be more applicable to Under30CEO readers, the majority of which are going to college, in college, or recently completed college.

  • Francis McCarthy

    I find it quite ironic that there are several grammatical errors in an article touting the virtues of a college education. Some decent points made, however the reference to thinking about committing suicide is inappropriate at best, and irresponsible at worst. To suggest that you need to go to college in order to preserve your ‘public image’ is a pretentious, elitist viewpoint. Good on you for getting your opinion out there, however this is far from well-informed commentary.

  • Anonymous

    I noticed this post was written by a 16 yr old. I am interested finding out if he has completed any college coursework. Being a college graduate and an aspiring entrepreneur I agree with the suggestion in the article but may have to question its credibility.

    Check out out How To Make It Moments, a collection of resources and experiences of aspiring entrepreneurs and young professionals.
    http://www.howtomakeitmoments.com
    http://www.twitter.com/how2makeitmomnt

  • http://www.entrepreneurialwoman.ca Cathy

    I think there are several things to look at when deciding whether or not to go to college/university.

    First, is it a good investment? Or, more importantly, is it a good investment for you to take on at this time? Remember, there’s no reason why you can’t go to college later, if you so choose. You don’t need to do it immediately out of high school. And it’s very difficult to start out in live with a huge debt hanging over your head. Furthermore, if you are eager to go into higher education, are you choosing a good program? Whatever you want to study: business, medicine, secretarial, general BA, etc, will it get you a good job in the end? If your end goal is an MBA, or to be a Doctor or Nurse, you’ll find much better employment options than if your goal is to get a Bachelor’s degree in Old English or Philosophy. Teaching is a respectable profession, but in many places, the employment outlook is dim because there are too many already. DO YOUR RESEARCH.

    Second, why are you going to college/university? If you don’t have a good reason to be there THAT YOU BELIEVE IN, it’s not the right move for you. I have seen people start out taking classes without any clear goals or desires to be there, because their parents wanted them to go or because it was what they thought they ‘should’ do, and they’ve spent a lot of time and money doing something they didn’t want to do in the first place, putting themselves or their parents into debt, only to drop out before graduating. It’s perfectly acceptable to take a few years ‘off’ between high school and university to go out into the workforce to get life experience, and then return to school when you have a clearer idea of your life goals.

    Third, is college the right option for you? There is college, university, trade schools, technical and vocational schools, and online learning. Do you work best in a structured classroom setting or do you need have flexibility? Does the higher education you’re looking for offer work-experience as well?

    And if you’re looking at it in terms of your entrepreneurial career, then a very big question is: how will what you take in college help you in your business goals? If you plan to start a landscaping business, then taking landscaping, business, and financial classes can help a lot.

  • http://twitter.com/h4more Hunger4more

    Being currently in university and having plans to start a new venture, I can say there are two sides to the coin.

    The two big downsides to going to college are money and time. Not necessarily time in classes, but time you have to spend reading if you want to achieve a good degree. Money is pretty self-explanatory, and it hurts even more because one could have used these funds for there business.

    However the upsides are very good. The main upside is people. You find people with a similar mindset to you, who are positive and entrepreneurial. One can also learn from older people who have had a business before, such as lecturers and postgrads. Meeting these people has been very beneficial to me and is a huge advantage. Another upside is the resources that are available to you. At my university, they have a business incubator for example and if your venture is good enough you can even secure a grant. Not to mention the library, lecturers, building and of course other students as partners and potential customers.

    In conclusion I would say that so far being at university has benefited me more than it has taken away. My mindset has been sharpened by the environment and I may not have had the lans I have now without it. However, everyone is different and university also brings temptations. It is indeed a very interesting subject which can be debated forever, but I believe there is no right or wrong. If you want it enough, situations and circumstances will not stop you.

  • http://twitter.com/MontelongoMB Morgan Barnhart

    Personally, I don’t believe college is necessary. College was not right for me and my profession, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t get a continuous education. College, however, does not provide the courses necessary for my improvement. There are online courses taught by mentors and individuals that I trust more than college.

    However, that doesn’t mean that college is useless for all. College can be helpful for those that need it for their career. But that does not mean everyone. You can find more focused education outside of the standard college courses for several different career options.

    Just think about the many countless millionaires out there that never went to college, one in particular is Armando Montelongo. But there are so many others that never went to college, but got an education (outside of college), and are multi-millionaires now.

    To each their own. I am not knocking college, I do think it’s important for some professions, but certainly for for all. It’s important to evaluate whether going to college will actually improve your career or if there’s an alternative educational option that could better serve your purpose.

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  • JAY

    Hey Thanks for the info. I now have a more 360 view of college and not just 180

  • Martell8190

    I believe college is good but I also believe more than half of it is “fluff.” I’m currently in college and I see so many problems wrong with it in terms of general education. I don’t find it necessary to take certain courses such as science and calculus if some of us have no desire for those fields but our minds are in business. I also find work experience to be more valuable than a college degree because if I’m hiring someone or they’re hiring me they would want someone who has been doing what a college textbook is teaching someone. Many people can agree with me that much of our “education” comes from real life work experiences and college only provides us the theories.

  • Guest

    I agree with you totally and I find this article totally ironic because I’m a current college student and in my opinion being 16 was the life now that I think about it!

  • http://www.plantingdollars.com Ryan @ Planting Dollars

    Tens of thousands of debt is a lot, just to gain some self esteem… perhaps you could buy some friends for cheaper?

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  • NedMcSmith

    College is a bad idea because it is too expensive and the ROI isn’t there anymore.

    Welcome to the new America. Unless you’re studying Engineering or Accounting/Finance ….you’re qualified to work at Starbucks.

    For most people, college ISN’T worth it. The numbers about college grads earning more is totally skewed as most are drowning in debt and never pay it off. Those with 2 year degrees, while they may earn less, they OWE less, thus making them higher wage earners.

  • http://www.facebook.com/smalltownmarketing Tom Egelhoff

    50% of all lawyers finished in the bottom half of their class. I rest my case.