College Myths & Alternatives

By Jessy Huang
What else can you do besides college?


 I am not going to college immediately. Well, not a traditional, 4-year college. 
Not because I don’t want to learn, not because I decided to be lazy. But simply because it wouldn’t fit with what I want to do in life – become a remote working serial high-tech entrepreneur. 
Here are the reasons and my point of view on busting college myths. 
Myth 1: The underlying thought process of most people – going to college will at least give you a degree, the “essential” item to apply for a job, making it the safest route. Wrong. Seriously, in today’s world, we have an overflowing amount of college students, who are often underqualified for their jobs. You can easily beat that by showing your employers what you can do. In my case, starting lean startups like Pieter Levels will provide the best resumes. Nowadays, companies and clients value experience more than education. Even by creating a simple, yet awesome site about you will present them with the best resume. 
My goal is, however, not to be employed by someone, but instead become “unemployed” by establishing sources of passive income. 
My second argument for such is that in this ever-changing world with so many disruptive technologies, no one can be safe to assume anything. In fact, the most dangerous thing is to do nothing and follow the norms. Reason being, pretty soon, the “norms” will also be disrupted. Even the elite universities have to conduct significant reforms to save their asses from future competitions. Well, I guess they still have quite a while before everyone starts to realize that their fantasized illusions of higher education don’t actually fulfill their needs. These occurrences are not science fiction; they will become a reality before you know it, so might as well start something new and test things out while you can. 
Myth 2: Going to college will give you connections. 
The truth is, becoming a digital nomad and traveling around the world to meet people who are not only experienced in life and careers but also are as passionate and bold as you are is more likely to give you much more meaningful connections.
Secondly, “connections” is not what you need, but friends, friends who share the same visions and values as you do and who will guide you through adversities. This is something that’s much more effective than mere materialistic associations. Update: I changed my opinion on this after experiencing how powerful and efficient connections can give you. Furthermore, friends are often made through those initial connections. 
Thirdly, a simple trick involving an email permutator with a free plugin called Rapportive can get you connected virtually anyone in the world (as long as they are on LinkedIn). There are other ways too. The only problem is explaining to the person how you got their email, without creeping them out. 
The bottom line is, a genuine relationship can only happen when you provide value to others. People will automatically come to you when you have that value, and people will leave you sooner or later when you don’t.
Myth 3: College has been proven to be great. Statistically speaking, more successful people came out of college than those who didn’t. There are two components to this issue that have been overlooked by people, and some misconceptions have to be cleared before accepting this delusion. 
First, you are comparing two groups of people. Generally, those who are motivated to achieve greatness for themselves – who attend college, and those who lack the will or opportunities to plan for their future – who don’t attend college. Because of the problems of the TYPES of people when compared, perception is often skewed by merely looking at the statistics and history of college grads, instead of why it is what it is. 
Second, extending the first point, what matters is the people, not the college. Especially for big-name colleges, they have a system to FILTER people that are very likely to become successful, based on their past histories and records. In other words, those who graduate from highly selective colleges already HAVE the ability to be great, before they even attend the university. Yes, going to those elite colleges will be beneficial, but can the same be achieved even with higher value in other ways, with more efficiency and less cost? Some ways could be taking a gap year after high school and exploring what you genuinely want to do, starting a company to provide value to others, or starting a nonprofit for a better cause. 
Myth 4: College provides knowledge and teaches people how to think. True. But please don’t tell me you don’t know that there’s such thing as online learning platforms, where you can quickly go in your own time to freely reflect upon what you think.
Also, people post the lectures of big-name colleges like the Ivy Leagues and Stanford online, such as Harvard’s Positive Psychology 1504. Furthermore, it works to sneak into those universities’ lectures because no one is there to catch you. Even better is if you go and talk to the students there and make friends with them so that they could bring you into the lectures.
Moreover, living and using the knowledge you’ve “learned” is unarguably the best way to educate yourself, not to mention how this way teaches you how to think in both real-life terms and creatively. 

My Dream Schools: Despite all this, I will be applying for this school: MinervaStudents stay in San Francisco the first year and go to 6 other cities around the world the rest three years, one city per semester. I sincerely believe that Minerva is the school of the 21st century.

Part of it is a higher education with the open-mindedness to transform all of its students into global citizens (I am a wannabe digital nomad who believes that global remote working is the future trend). Part of it is its attitude to evaluate its candidates holistically, rather than how most other colleges are with test scores and GPAs – something I believe to have less importance today. Part of it is its forward-thinking attitude about guiding students the mindset to think critically and grow exponentially, instead of teaching mere theoretical knowledge. And part of it is having a lean model of ridding the unnecessaries – buildings and tangible barriers, and replace it with a game-changing system – online learning platforms where everyone can be easily connected (which reflects a degree of Minimalism that I resonate with).

I can just feel myself becoming so happy and alive seeing those who currently attends there, even on the other side of the screen when I am researching about them. I can only imagine surrounding myself with those people in college and becoming so inspired and satisfied with my decisions to the path of higher education.

I guess I am just a nonconformist.

Alternative option: 
But, what if I don’t get into that school? Something feasible is to take off for a year or so as a gap year and travel around the world to test things out! Money, you say. How is it feasible to travel around the world without money to start? Well, to solve this issue, I would either decrease my spending and limit liabilities (anything that takes money away from you) or increase my income and generate assets (anything that gives you money). 
  • Decrease spending and limit liabilities: when you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on schooling, that’s a big plus and relief from paying off the student loan. Also, there goes the nomadic way of leveraging different existing markets to achieve productivity more economically. That is, by living in developing countries like Thailand and working remotely, you can earn a developed country paycheck, with a bit of trade off on, perhaps, the quality of goods that you would get in a developed country. Or, you can become a minimalist and simply be homeless, car-less, and possession-less, which is a great way to skip the pressure of getting a secured job and paying off liabilities that make you in debt. Plus, you can trade those materialistic burdens for mental and physical freedom, so why not? Humans are not made to take and possess things, but to give and serve; you’ll likely feel much more fulfilled if you did the opposite than what one would normally expect.  When is ever enough? When we think it’s enough.
  • Increase income and invest in assets: Like I mentioned before, the goal is to become unemployed by establishing a source of passive income. This can be established by investigating and purchasing value-based stocks at an early age to selling information such as courses online or setting up a system of automatic drop-shipping. If you want to be more personal, you can go from starting a simple niche blog of your liking or a Youtube channel. Furthermore, there’s always the option of learning a specific skill – programming, web design, etc. to become a freelancer. Also, if you don’t know already, working abroad for 330 days (you can still spend 35 days with your family at home) will eliminate at least partially of your income tax – FEIE , that is, for those in the U.S. 
P.S. These can all be achieved by becoming a world traveler and digital nomad. 
Our time period has changed. Humans have progressed from the Industrial Revolution of standards – knowledge and skills are valued, to an era of digital democracy – original ideas and open-mindedness are valued. And those who bluntly shut their eyes and pretend the change is not here will ultimately be flushed out of the new system. It’s like trying to race to a destination with a horse against someone who drives a car and races a car against someone who flies an airplane. A short destination, you say, that the horse and car will win. Sure. But my guess is that focusing on long-term growth is much more substantial and impactful – analyze the systems of society and think through what’s best for you. Rather than ignorantly chasing the short-term immediate results of “being realistic” – get a degree, get a 9-5 job that’s secure. This is a major mistake made by most people in the world because it is the turning point of their miserable life. As many become so lost of themselves later in life, they start to ponder why didn’t they 
think through their decisions earlier and act bolder. 
Bottom line is, I am not trying to persuade you that college is a waste of time since it obviously depends on what you want to do and whether you have something of true value to offer to society. College is what you make it and only what’s right for you is right for you. What I am trying to say is that those deceptive norms society tells us can be manipulated to our own advantage, if we are aware of their existence and become freethinkers. 
Here are the links to some awesome online learning and freelancing platforms in no particular order. 
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