For the past few months, the topic of school-based education seems to have been continuously brought up when discussing entrepreneurship and success, and while you may have heard the power of real world education as in the Third Circle Theory, we have decided to ask our founder to write a piece for all of you on school-based education and its impact on your life.
It was only ten years ago that graduating from an accredited university meant opening doors just about everywhere. Today’s job market, global economic climate and changes in the way we do business certainly have changed the entire business world’s view on education and not only its impact, but its necessity to achieving a successful lifestyle. More and more businesses leverage experience over education and more entrepreneurs take pride of being able to have succeeded without a college degree or the debt associated with it. I, myself, achieved a level of success above the average and yet chose to not go to college. I explained in detail my observations that allowed me to succeed in the Third Circle Theory instead of the traditional school route. So does today’s education system truly live up to the potential debt you most likely will accumulate by finishing and is the alternative truly a better option?
As I think of education, I don’t necessarily associate it with school-based education but rather education as a whole, which encompasses much more than teachings done in a classroom setting. Since school-based education is a topic we could argue about for quite some time, I decided to break this topic into four core categories.
1. Why is college losing its appeal.
2. Who should go to college.
3. What values college can teach you.
4. Is the cost worth the outcome.
Since I never graduated from college, many will believe that I naturally will side against school-based education. This highly inaccurate assumption should not be made until you have fully read my thoughts and understand my views on the whole concept first. This is especially important as many younger individuals who have yet to go to college are reading this, and are themselves on the verge of making a life-changing choice.
As I describe in the Third Circle Theory, your observations are your best source of education, above and beyond all else. I broke down for all of you the power of what you see rather than what you hear or learn from others. To date, there has yet to be one person who has disagreed with my theory. More importantly than my theory is how this applies to today’s education system. Think about how all schools advertise their courses and their institution. Many guarantee job placements, while others focus on those who are unhappy in their current role only to tell them to work in a technical field instead, and one of my favorites — the one that tells you that you will be more valuable to employers with an online degree. All these target different aged groups individuals all with different objectives and different goals but ultimately promise the same thing: a better lifestyle than the one you currently have. The education system has ultimately evolved to become a giant and profitable business and the accreditation they provide is ultimately their only piece of cheese left. If you take away the accredited piece from all those online based education systems, then you certainly have a large void, as the content taught and the way it is taught is outdated and not relatable, but certainly not as relevant as we would like it to be.
Should entrepreneurs go to school?
Everyone — every single person — should go to school because we all need a minimum level of compliance to the society we live in, regardless of how many ways we disagree with it. We must learn to function within our society before we can learn to outsmart it and shift its rhythms. Going to school enables us to understand how to do that, which again is assuming we are paying attention. This teaches us the basics we need to survive within this so-called society we have created.
In order to innovate society and shift the rhythm of how others think, we as entrepreneurs, must understand how others function and why they are that way. By going through the system, we get an inside scoop as to what is going on around us and what others in our environment deem as common sense. Once we belong to the system and are learning through the school-based education system that was put in place, we start to understand the dynamics of how things work and must choose when to detach ourselves from this system to pursue a new level of education. What makes entrepreneurs different is their ability to see the world for what it can be, not what it is, and it only makes sense that at some point or another we feel that we no longer belong to that environment we work within. This might very well be during our college years or past our college years. The important factor here is to understand that if you choose the less conventional way of doing things, the world only gets harder and obstacles become larger. This happens because you are venturing down an unpaved road, rather than one that others have paved for you. It should be clear that as a result you are likely going to be faced with obstacles that will test your strength and ability to look past your fears much faster than those who followed the safer route and remained in school.
Keep in mind that, in addition to the fact that we should all go to school, we should ensure that we stay in school as long as we personally see a benefit in it. Part of the reason more and more high school students are failing and need constant mentorship is the fact that they spend their time in school disengaged and feel as if it is an obligation rather than a personal choice. This disengagement is the result of poor parenting and home dictatorship that simply forces young individuals to go to school rather than take a few years putting in their heads the importance of the material being taught. Most parents even agree that they themselves either loved or hated their high school years based on the status they held in school and hardly speak of their own learning through the years. Once you graduate high school, you are faced ultimately with two choices: the choices are not about going to college or not, but rather to continue the traditional education route or to take that less traveled path and experience life. If your goals lie in a technical field like medicine or law, then the road has already been paved for you, and you are not allowed to yet venture out into the world. Instead you are faced with the need to continue remaining part of the system for another few years, because those occupations require compliance to the system of society and venturing out of it becomes very difficult. For everyone else, who instead wants to go in the world of business, marketing, or simply wants to chase money (which is what we are taught to do our entire life no matter what the reason), you can choose to venture off and seek a different path than conventional school based education, but must realize that continuing to learn should never stop. Rather, how we learn is the only variable that changes.
Entrepreneurial minds are often quick at choosing the adventurous way, but are often not conditioned to survive the hardships of doing so. Many of these people simply believe their worth is above others’ because they see a bit more of life early on, but are far from realizing the difference between confidence and arrogance. And so despite being quick to jump out of the system, only find themselves faced with the exact opposite of what they envisioned, they consider further education, as the road they chose was harder than they had expected. As a result they re-integrate into the school-based education system as a fail-safe option.
For those of you that continue to seek higher school-based education, you simply go to school to attempt to absorb the content and often fail to realize that the actual teaching is more than the textbook – the interactions and discussions. Those of us who have been programmed to feel that school is mandatory put even less emphasis on learning and rather go just to earn a diploma. We simply forget that a diploma won’t get us the lifestyle we want, but rather our ability to apply what we learn will. Making our time in school highly invaluable and forcing us to once again seek more direction by an employer. The system is almost killing our entrepreneurial sense with each day that goes by. The purpose of this so-called school-based education system is to always find a way to lure you back in as it becomes a false sense of safety, the entrepreneurial euphemism for mediocrity. All it is ultimately doing is making you delay your entry into society, into the real world.
Why the disengagement?
What once used to be a pre-requisite to living well and successfully is slowly losing its appeal – but why?
BUY IN – The lack of buy in to what the school system teaches is what is missing. Right from the beginning, students go into the educational system not believing in its value.
As long as the economic climates allow for continuous growth, then the same old rules apply, but if you think about quality, it diminishes. It diminishes because more unprepared individuals come out with degrees, but are placed due to a market need, rather than a position need. We saw a great example of this during the rise of banks around 2001 and the rise of real estate that went along simultaneously. But we also saw the adjustments of the economic climate with layoffs of unqualified people in the years to follow the crash of those same markets. Many people may have felt those companies weren’t doing well and therefore got rid of those they couldn’t afford to pay, instead think of it as these companies needed lots of people to work there and no one applied, so the first few that applied got away with a better job than they expected (or were qualified for). Since most, however, believed that their past experience earned them their role, in reality, the lack of talent did. They stopped learning and became complacent even if they weren’t very good at their role.
The same can be said about the educational system. The overcrowding due to the growth of the population makes supplies scarce and demand high, but drives the prices of existing accredited schools higher, making it harder for people to attend. As a result, the market calls for alternatives to allow everyone to go if they want. The issue is that similar to the problem above, the system is now forced to measure up to demand with all these additional online and technical-based schools to supplement its lack of man power. As a result, the quality diminishes and ultimately turns what we believe to be a need to be successful into a business for someone else to gain from. The market changes the rules on you, and you are forced to settle for less than you want and ultimately turn getting a degree into a means to an end rather than a learning experience. And so we go to school to guarantee better jobs and come out disappointed when that outcome doesn’t occur. We never take the time to self-reflect and realize that education doesn’t guarantee success but rather we do.
The school-based education system has simply lost its appeal, and it has lost it because it is no longer relevant to what others want to do with their lives. Think of it in the simplest of forms. People from Generation X who learned a certain way and applied certain experiences are teaching Generation Y whose interest, ways of learning, and rationale is very different. Furthermore, the practices taught no longer apply in the real world. This creates disengagement and makes those students lose interest and buy into mediocrity, and as a result cannot be sustained for 4 whole years with any enthusiasm.
Think about how free information is in today’s marketplace and how accessible it is to all of us. Think about how many of us rely on the internet on a daily, maybe hourly basis to understand the answers we seek to just about anything. That’s the reason why our generation is learning early on that instant gratification is a way of life, simply because we are so used to getting what we want. In education, the same can be said with why we lose, why we give up, and why we buy into more time in school. If we are set on accounting as a major, we have to still learn about biology and chemistry and it is clear that we don’t care at all for these subjects. Yet we still continue to be exposed to it, forced into memorizing numbers, figures, facts. Since we find no value and it is not immediately quantifiable, we lose interest and lose buy in into future learnings in that class. What we fail to realize is how much more education teaches us than just its content. But we are not programmed to know this at that young age. Things like patience, discipline, learning to deal with things we dislike, learning to express our opinions, understand the power of influence and peer groups and most importantly, learning to interact with one another. All of these behaviors are taught all around us but our core focus in school is to pass the class because those of generation X teachers only understand that your success is based upon a grade you earn, not your participation or understanding of the matter.
So is it worth the cost?
Well, that can be subjective and depends largely on what you plan to get out of it. If your plans are to simply go for guaranteed employment then save your money and instead invest in coaching classes on resume writing, interviewing, and start gaining experience by working entry level within a field, you are more likely going to move up through the ranks faster than 4 years and will earn money along the way. On the other hand, if you are going because you lack education in a field or want to take in information about a specific field (even if non-technical) then college might be the right place for you to gain knowledge and interact with others in similar positions but it will not teach you much unless you actually put in some serious effort and expand your field past the learning in the classroom. You must think of the teaching as a baseline only geared to appeal to your curiosity, and it won’t be until it is applied in the field or further studied that you will understand the core of the subject.
Here is the dollar-and-cents argument. The average college costs $9000 a year to attend if you live off-campus. That’s about $36,000 for the 4 years. Now, if you account that you are losing $36,000 for the 4 years, you are mistaken as you are also losing the time you could be working elsewhere each year earning $30-$40,000 a year plus the fact that in 4 years you will be entering the workforce while others already have 4 years of experience in the role. The reason experience outweighs education is because experience showcases your ability to function in a peer group and your understanding of the applicable functions of the role. A good example of this is a finance degree. Those with finance degrees do not make great bankers in all cases and in most cases actually wouldn’t like the role of being the banker. This is a perfect example of why someone who graduates with a finance degree is less likely to get the role of a bank manager versus someone who actually has been in banking for 4 years. The skills needed to succeed in banking are sales, service, and leadership and while these are touched on in the finance curriculum of most schools, they are not the focus nor the final outcome of the degree. Someone who has been in the role 4 years without a degree will have demonstrated that ability to interact with clients, sell products and services, and lead teams in various scenarios. This is a not to say that those with degrees and those without degrees are looked at equally all the time, but rather to say that if the individual is self-motivated and capable enough to own their success, the degree will not be the determining factor of their success.
For those of you who understand the power behind the understanding of your environment and comprehend based on reading the Third Circle Theory that your observations are the key to unlocking your potential, then you are not bound to a college education in order to actually succeed.
For everyone else…
College and further education has a lot of value, but because of the inconsistency in the teaching, the methods being ancient and outdated, and its lack of focus on teaching practical real life methods makes its true value hidden to the untrained eye. The argument remains that if the goal of college is to train to open your eyes to the world then how can it be effective if its true value is also hidden.