There is a bubble in higher education.
We’ve reached a point at which the skyrocketing costs of tuition no longer provide a good return on investment. Say what you will about ivy covered campuses, multiracial student bodies abound with bold ideas, and “learning how to learn” (whatever that means)…..the bottom line is that most students enter university because it’s been the logical “next step” after high school and the job market discriminates against people who do not have bachelors degrees.
In this turbulent global economy, Gen Y is being hit particularly hard. That does not bode well for current university students and grads to be. They are undoubtedly looking at their post-grad prospects with somber eyes.
The bad news is that graduates coming out of school for the next 5-10 years probably won’t be facing a better domestic unemployment situation. The good news is that the enterprising ones who pursue international careers and entrepreneurship will excel much farther than graduates ever had in the past. There has never been a better time in history to launch your own business – particularly if you have web design and web development skills.
Thus, it’s become more important than ever to make sure that, if you decide to go to university, you design a curriculum that will best provide you with practical entrepreneurial skill sets that will be useful both at home and abroad. Unfortunately, university education does not prepare you well to adapt to the real world. It largely only prepares you well to impress professors and speak intelligently at dinner parties. If you get a high GPA, it will help you get a job. Beyond this, most people do not get much else out of their college experience, particularly if they want to launch a startup.
You have to make sure that you will be able to excel both within the context of your own scrappy startup and also inside a Fortune 500 company. Fortunately, the “entrepreneurial skill set” encompasses a range of personal traits and tools that you can acquire or gain through experience. Ironically, some of the most useful skills that you need to get a business off the ground and running can be acquired for free (or at least cheaply) off of the internet. Examples include Udemy, Codeacademy, Lynda, Rails for Zombies, Copyblogger, and much more.
One year of progressive and intensive self-education in web design and development topics can be more profitable over your career than four years of anthropology or management theory – because nobody is going to pay you $2000 dollars to hear your SWOT analysis about US windmill manufacturers or your argument about comparative British literature.
Trust me, nobody gives a crap. It’s great for you to know this stuff but it’s not going to convince strangers to hand you cash.
Thus, you should begin mentally identifying the education for your university degree as “scholarly and academic learning” and the scrappy practical skills you pick up off the internet as “hustler tools.” Scholarly and academic learning might include essays about Kant and Plato, presentations about General Electric and Jack Welch, and multiple choice tests about psychology. Hustler tools include making logos and infographics, learning how to cold call and close deals for cash, learning how to screen and acquire talent for your business, and how to raise capital.
There is only way to learn these things – to get your hands dirty and try them out. You will fail. You’ll question yourself and wonder if you are doing the right thing. Nobody will be grading you so, by the time you know if you were right or wrong, you might be out a lot of cash or quite a few months or years of your life.
However, you will grow immensely personally and professionally as a result of venturing out, taking a risk, and seeing what happened. You can take the plunge now or later but eventually you’re going to have to do it. You should do it when you still have nothing to lose.