To be or not to be a college grad is the question
A New York Times article about students dropping out of college to pursue careers raised the emotional stakes of the conversation with a provocative illustration of four students wearing sweatshirts spelling out “College Is for Suckers.”
The article is a trend piece but it resonates because the U.S. indeed has the highest college drop out rate in the industrialized world. Some leave because they weren't prepared for the academic rigors of college; others leave because they're drowning in student loan debt.
Students doing cost-benefit analysises about college are often persuaded by an anemic job market to take a gap year or join the UnCollege movement.
The "college is for suckers" piece adds another reason: tech dreams. Much like athletes who see college as a pit stop on the way to the NBA or NFL, the article posits that a growing number of students are leaving college to make the leap to tech billionaire. Steve Jobs, who dropped out of Reed College and Bill Gates, who dropped out of Harvard, are among the prominent examples of billionaire dropout role models. Even Mark Zuckerberg's time at Harvard is seen as less about education than a campus-based launch pad for Facebook.
The future belongs to job creators. Young people these days need business development plans as much as they need resumes. But I'm unconvinced that a lack of a degree will not hold you back in some way. In an economy where job seekers outnumber jobs, professional credentials still matter. Perhaps the better way to embrace the tech version of hoop dreams is through good old-fashioned internships. This report points out that employers still expect to hire college grads that have job experience in the way of two or three internships under their belts. A good place to start would be my colleague Brier Dudley's look at Seattle's tech start-up environment accompanied by a glowing headline: Seattle tech forecast: Cloudy with showers of cash. If at the end of your internship, you're asked to stick around for a salary that surpasses what college grads are making, by all means reach for that brass ring.
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
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