Doing a 180 here & talking college life.
( Currently blogging from a VERY cracked iPhone. It’s a long story but that’s neither here nor there. So BEAR with me? ).
Ok so this post was inspired by a darling, lovely The Skinny Confidential reader named Kaitlyn Pruski, who e-mailed me & Michael.
She’s in college, feeling confused, & basically was asking for clarity. If you listen to TSC PODCAST, you know Michael & I have a…unique outlook on college. We’re very up front about our opinion: college is not always necessary. In fact, sometimes it’s a colossal waste of time & money. This obviously doesn’t apply to doctors, lawyers, nurses, you get it.
I’m talking about the people, like me, who went to college just to go to college. The old “I’m a communications major but I have no idea what the hell I want to do with my life so I’ll pretend I love communications” kind of student. College could have been skipped for me, I could have focused on building my brand.
ANYWAY! Wanted to let you in on Michael’s e-mail response to this cute TSC reader.
Here’s her e-mail broken into sections with Michael’s answers underneath:
K, Michael I need some help! You said in one of the podcasts a while ago that you were able to figure out how to graduate early and you found some smart loopholes…I’m ready to get the move on and am totally interested in what the hell you did and your advice !
Hi! Sorry to respond like this (not a formal email) but I thought I would address each point. I was able to graduate by staying in summer classes, getting intern credits, & basically going to my counselor to figure out the fastest way to get out of there. What are you studying and what field do you want to go into? Some fields require a degree ( doctors, lawyers, etc. ) and the degree makes sense, even with the debt attached, but others…not so much.
College is not for everybody, and I would say college COULD be for me… but I am actually being “forced” to get my degree . It apparently is not even an option to take a semester off to breathe apparently, at least in my Mom’s eyes. This is my third year ( technically ) I am 20 and bored as shit…I have yet to have any type of “fun super cool hip badass oh man remember that ” stories. I had a decent amount in high school but college just seems to be such a bore .
College is definitely not for everybody. What are you studying for? To get a job? Ok what kind of job? Why do they care about your degree over someone else with a degree? What does your mom think is going to happen when you get out of school? What industry are you going into? Is college doing anything to prepare you for that industry?
These are important questions to ask yourself & your mom. I think at one point in school I had to pay to take a class on “Pop Culture in Latin America.” I was also forced to take a class on “Water Management” as well as “Marine Biology.” These were required to get elective credit I think. These do not apply to my life. If I had any interest in any of those things I would read a book. If you have any of these classes I am sorry.
If you have gone three years you may as well finish, you already have 3 done and the debt ( if there is debt ) is already there. Nobody will ever care or ask about your GPA. Nobody. Just remember this is your life & not your mom’s ( parents hate to hear this but it’s 100% accurate ). Tell her if she wants to force you to go to school, she can also pay the bill. If she can’t she shouldn’t force you to go and acquire an enormous debt with no prospects yet on how to pay it back.
It’s your life, not her’s.
Also, I need some advice on student loans, I’m desperado to get out of the house with my parents but I have been sucking up my pride in order to get my business aligned, save money , and make the move to San Diego sooner than later .
I have a big problem with student loans & parents forcing kids to get them. First they are something you can never get out of, not even with bankruptcy. They have to be paid in full with interest. If your parents are forcing you to go to school, to get a job that you may not want, in a field you are not yet sure about, while also forcing you to accumulate debt; I think this is really fucked up.
What would be awesome is if you could get those same loans & use them to start a business. The business would probably fail ( that’s ok, it’s your first business ) & then you have to pay it back but I guarantee it would be a much better education & you would get a lot more practical experience.
In a few years, maybe even months you will see a conversation in the world started about why student loans are some of the biggest problems our generation has faced.
The whole idea that you need to go to school and get in debt in order to get a job to get you out of debt is insane. If I went to get money for a business & said I needed 100k to do something that I’m not sure I want to do, for something I don’t yet know exists…I would be laughed out of the room.
Our parents didn’t start their careers thousands of dollars in debt & it’s unfair for them to force you to.
College can be good for some people. If you are going to school to find a job, a degree might help in certain fields. If you are going to school to be an entrepreneur, quit right now. Your business degree is useless.
Lauryn & I obtained our degrees & have never used them once. Not once. Nobody has asked. Nobody cares.
That being said, I work for myself & started my own thing so I never had to use it. The only thing college taught me was how to get tasks done, set my own schedule, & manage myself. It also taught me how to be independent which could also be learned outside of school. Other than that, I was taught by “doing.” School didn’t teach me how to “do.”
The lessons taught in college are impractical in my experience. There is no textbook for being an entrepreneur or creating your own business, taking risks, and betting on yourself. No textbook or teacher can prepare you for that. How does a teacher who is a salaried employee, who has never created a job in their life know how to teach you to do that? They don’t. So why waste your time and money on them? Do you want to pay me to teach you how to drive a submarine? I have never done it myself but I know there are some handbooks and lessons on it. No? Ok then.
So, student loans? Advice on my situation? And thoughts?
Anyways, I would really focus on who you are. What you want. What you want to do. Then decide. Maybe even go and try and get a job now in the field you think you want to go into. That way, you get some experience and you know if you really want to pursue that industry.
You can always go back to school later. Your parents can’t make that choice for you. Don’t get overwhelmed.
I wish someone said this to me at 20.
I think I would be even farther ahead. Don’t worry about what society says about your path. If I listened to any of that I wouldn’t be doing anything that I am currently doing…& I wouldn’t have had the chance to email you!
Cheers! – michael
Lauryn here again. Ok so I completely agree with this advice. I think if you’re interested in college, look into community college first to test the waters!
College students: weigh in. Let’s discuss?
What else do any college students out there want to hear? I’m thinking of doing a The Skinny Confidential college series: topic ideas?
Ok off to bed. Going to enjoy the skinny, healthy banana muffins Mimi made me ( see the ingredients on Snapchat! ) & have a cup of peppermint tea.
See ya tomorrow, x lauryn
+ high school/college students: if you have any questions about this specific post for me & Michael, leave them below. I’ll personally make sure ALL of them get answered : ).
++ more posts by Michael on business here, here, & here.
LEAVE A COMMENT
105 replies to “Is College Necessary? Maybe…Maybe Not”
Love this post!
Thank you :))
Thanks so much for reading and your support with The Skinny Confidential Edith! xx
Thanks for reading Edith! This is my first response to this post so I am going to write a little more for others to see! I will respond to every comment on here. I wanted to enjoy the Labor Day weekend so it has taken me a while to respond. Please everyone, keep in mind… this was a response I gave to an individual who emailed Lauryn and I for our honest opinions. I thought I would share it with the blog because it will hopefully benefit some readers. With that being said… I will leave this part of one of my paragraph’s below:
“Anyways, I would really focus on who you are. What you want. What you want to do. Then decide.”
I agree! College is an expensive undertaking, and if you need to take loans to do (like I had to), & can’t fully appreciate the experience, hold off until you feel you’re ready. I do think a college degree is beneficial-in no way do I regret getting my bachelors/master’s (these were the right moves for me personally/professionally), however, I don’t think its something we should force 18years into if they have NO clue what they want. The USA is one of the few countries where kids go immediately from HS to College. In most other countries, kids spend time traveling/figuring out what they want in life. Not sure where the shame in taking time off before college came from, but it needs to go away.
Couldn’t agree more Jessica! It’s nuts how much people shame taking time off. Taking time to explore and figure out what you want to do is a tremendously valuable use of your time. Thanks for sharing! xx
Hi Jessica! Thanks for the response! A college degree can definitely help more than it can hurt. I was fortunate enough to get a degree and leave school with no debt. All that being said, I think the idea of getting a degree just to get it while accumulating debt before you know which career you want to go into is a huge problem. To touch on the US. In many other countries you actually apprentice with companies while they pay for your education. That way when you “graduate” you have a job lined up and a real skill. No shame in taking time off to see what the real world is like. Worst that can happen is you waste a year and decide to go to school.
OMG, love this advice. I also went to college just for the sake of going, because my parents wanted me to (although I was very lucky that my parents paid for my education in full, so at least I have no student loans!) Nobody tells you how many options there are for doing what you love without a degree, especially a career in writing or editing which are my passions. They also don’t tell you that you’ll probs make more money waiting tables than at your first desk job… I loved college, but I don’t think it’s necessary at all for many jobs – especially since it seems like our generation is moving away from that work-one-job-for-50-years-and-then-retire mentality.
Oh man, exactly Dana! I definitely made more bartending than I would have at a desk job right out of college. It’s NUTS! Thank you for reading and your support with TSC! xx
Hi Dana! thanks for the response. I was also fortunate enough to have my parents pay for school. There are many people in the service industry (especially in big cities) that make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. I think the conversation on skilled labor and acquiring skills really needs to start back up in this country. Not everyone is cut out of a desk job and there is definitely no shame in that!
This post hits VERY close to home for me. I wish someone would have played devil’s advocate to my parents, and told me this information! There’s SO MANY great points you both hit, starting with “It’s you life, not hers.”. I believe this is the most important thing to remember. When you are young, impressionable, living in your parent’s home, and being financially supported by them, (somewhat, or fully) the last thing you want to do is piss them off. So when they tell you that you HAVE to go to college, you have to figure out your life, and plan for the future what are you supposed to do? Say it’s my life not yours, they threaten to kick you out, and then you end up giving in anyways? My mom was EXTREMELY TOUGH, and actually DID kick me out for really RIDICULOUS reasons. I was a good kid, great grades, but the very first time I ever stuck up for myself she kicked me out! I had nowhere to go, and I was 22. ANYWAYS, my point is that I should have did what I wanted, and said “I have NO IDEA what I want to do yet, none of these majors interest me, and I think I need to explore rather than decide”. If I would have done this, I would have found out ALOT earlier I wanted my own brand, and business. I’m working towards this now, and I’m 29 with a 1 year old son! Point being,I should have stood up for myself about college, bc my mom kicked me out for some dumb reason anyway. It was just her personality, so I should have taken the wheel a long time ago and stopped letting her drive! Let’s not even talk about my debt either, ANOTHER valid point! Thanks mom for making me have almost $40,000 of debt for absolutely NO REASON, haha!
I just wanted to share my opinion, and experience on the subject. It was almost like our generation was forced to go to college, and it wasn’t helpful for me personally. ALWAYS do what is better for YOUR OWN life, and listen to your instincts! They never lie!?
Hi Monique! It’s hard to get mad at parents, your mom was only doing what she thought was the best for you! The generation before us was taught that this path (being, HS, College, Job) is the only path to success. I would argue that it is definitely one of MANY paths to success but not the only path. There will always be people who say you can’t do something without a degree. To them I would say why? Does a degree help. Sure. Does a shit load of debt help? No. Does Education help? Of course! Is college the only way to get an education? Almost certainly not. So to each his own, as long as it is a personal choice.
Such a great post and so relevant in todays business world!
xx Bree | Essential oils – Wonderfulandwhimsical.com
Thanks so much for reading Bree and your support with TSC! xx
Great advice y’all. I’m a 21 year old biology undergrad who is set to graduate early. The only reason why college is good for me is because I want to go to medical school but let me say this: my bio degree has taught me only that I have so much more to learn, and every doctor I talk to says that you forget 98% of what you learn in medical school and use mostly what you learn in residency. You know what I can do with just a bio degree? Clean glassware in a lab. Fucking awesome. My husband is a financial analyst in M&A graduating with his MBA, and the only reason that he is getting it is for credentials. He learns so much more in his career. His degrees, hours spent studying, and Summa Cum Laude in both just got his foot in the door. The rest is real world experience. College has its uses but isn’t the end all be all. Love you guys!
Omigoodness, Jordan. This is soooo on the money. I am a clinical pharmacist and got a chemistry degree for my undergraduate. I think I use maybe 5-10% of my undergraduate knowledge on a daily basis. It was a necessary foundation for understanding material in graduate school, but as for practical life, maybe not so much???? And like you your medical doctor friends, pharmacy school taught me fundamental skills. The rest of my knowledge was gained from applying those skills in a clinical setting (so about 80% of it all). When you apply for a job, no one gives a rat’s behind about your credentials, or what school you went to, or how many degrees they have. Every place I have worked wanted to know about what experience I had and what ideas I could bring to the table. Good luck with getting into Medical School!!! Let me know if you need any connections in Colorado.
Jordan- I have a BS in microbiology and currently am in medical school. You are so right! You can’t do anything with a bachelors in bio or even micro. Just like the undergrad pre-reqs for med school actual medical school is just a big test and you’re proving to the people on the other side that you have what it takes to make it in residency.
So word to the wise to all you doc, PA, and NP hopefuls- study hard because a BS in bio is pretty useless you get into a professional school.
Hi Jordan! congrats on graduating. For you this makes sense if you are going into medical school. College does have it’s uses but you are right, it isn’t the end all be all.
I agree with all of the above! But I will add in this caveat for professional minded individuals (beyond the doctors, lawyers, nurses, computer programmers, entrepreneurs, discussed). I worked at a non-profit in New York City and Washington, DC and hired many people during my time. Unfortunately, the Bachelors degree has become the new minimum for hiring decisions. At my organizations you simply will not even be considered in a look or interview for an entry/mid-level position without a degree. That’s the cold reality. I agree, my degree was pointless; however, in my employer’s eyes it showed I could do high caliber work and perform — and that’s all we cared about (side note, I saw the hiring/firing of a lot of people and a fancy degree does not equal good employee!). Similarly, I recently chose to return to graduate school because I know my career direction now and need a Masters (and like you guessed, a Bachelors is a MUST). While your advice is ON point for certain paths, be mindful readers that if you want a somewhat established path (human resources, non-profit, finance, accounting, administrative) you may have to suck it up and get a degree and all that fun debt. Though I 100% agree that we need to reevaluated this antiquated way of thinking.
Hi Sam, Thanks for the response. That is unfortunate for the organization that they won’t consider someone without a degree. In my honest opinion organizations like this will soon recognize their mistakes. From personal experience I can tell you some of the most impressive people I have ever worked with have both gone to and not gone to college! you are right a degree does not make a good employee. A good employee is just a good employee. One thing I think we will both agree on… getting real world experience before deciding to pursue a degree or masters can never hurt. For you it makes a ton of sense now that you know what you want to do! As long as people know what they are getting into, debt, career, etc. I am all for college, my problem lies with jumping in before you understand the repercussions.
This is such an interesting discussion coming up in the world, and it’s definitely going to keep getting center stage. So many people my age (like the girl in the e-mail) were told we had to go to college to get a good job, and that’s so not the case! I had my master’s degree, and STILL was working as a waitress and could only find part-time work within my field. It’s just crazy out there, and definitely tough to navigate. And student loans are the worst… it’s so true what Michael said, why are we working so hard just to start off in the negative? The long-term impacts are huge.
Hi Autumn, Thanks for the response. I am really happy you told your story here. I think it will help a lot of people come to a decision. In the coming years we will see the huge negative effects that the student lending crisis (yes calling it a crisis now) will have on this country.
I agree that college is not for everybody. I got my Master’s degree in Theater and Film Studies and I am doing something completely different now where they never even asked for my diploma. I am now looking for a new job and a lot of jobs require a Master or Bachelor degree, but it doesn’t always matter which type. I do think that University has helped me to work more efficiently, but I also learned a lot of bullshit. If you are being forced into doing something you don’t like how can you be successful? If you go to study something it should be something you really want to learn about. I think the system in the US is crazy. Here in Belgium the fee to go to university is around 500 Euro. If your parents have a low income you can even get a discount on this fee and on your dorm room as well. Here they really make it accessible for everyone who wants to go to school to go without any dept. This is why when you start working you can start saving for important stuff such as a house instead of student loans.
Hi Lauren, thanks for all the feedback! There are many international programs that I find much more appealing than those that we have here in the US.
As a college/university student, I can attest that college and university is literally almost always a huge waste of time. I went into first year of university thinking I wanted to be an accountant, “failed” out of first year and regrouped over the summer and decided to go to college instead for 2 years. After the two years, I enrolled in an online university degree which I believe is way better than a normal university experience. In my online degree, we do not have standardized exams and instead are evaluated by cumulative assignments that take what we have learned and apply them to reality. All of the classes have group work which force you to learn how to work as a team and improve your communication skills, which are extremely important. As for the material covered in the courses? I would say 90% went in one ear and out the other. I learn more from reading the news and books than I ever have in university. I don’t need to know how an oil rig works (as we were forced to learn about for god knows what reason), I want to know how to engage people and work with others, which online learning has allowed me to flourish in. There is a path for everybody and just because your path may be unconventional does not mean that it’s wrong. Ask me how many times people have looked at me strange for saying I am completing an online degree or claiming that learning online “is so much easier”. It’s not and just because these people don’t see it as a valid path does not mean that it is in fact not valid. Do what you think is best for you and you’ll succeed in the end.
P.S sorry about the rant, I get worked up when people think conventional paths are the only paths to take. Thank you for writing this post, it’s so important for people to hear!
Totally agree with all of this. Josh and I both have jobs where we needed college degrees but we had minimal loans and already paid them off three years out of school. Make the right decision for you, not other people or society.
Hi Vannessa, thanks for sharing your experience! I think it’s awesome you decided to stick to your guns and take a different path. If you read the book “Managing Oneself” by Peter Drucker (amazing book). There is a chapter all about the different types of learners. He argues that there are “Listening” leaners and “Reading” learners. He argues that some do much better by reading and some do much better by listening (it is rare to be both). As you can guess many of the “listening” learners have a very difficult time with school. I myself am a reading learner so school was always a pain in the ass. Finding alternative paths makes a lot of sense if you don’t feel you get value from traditional schooling.
Erin, Thanks for the comment! I agree 100%!
I’m sorry but I have to disagree here. While college may not provide you with the knowledge you need in the “real world”, it does provide you with the skills you need such as forming a well structured argument, and analysis, communication, and writing skills. Often times students don’t get too much out of college because of bad teachers, lack of direction, or they simply don’t want to be there. As someone in their 30s in business, it is very clear to me who has gotten that extra education or not. While you might not need it as an entrepreneur, it is an entry level requirement for pretty much every single high paying job, and even those in the arts. My sister has a BFA in jewelry and she really took her art to the next year during her time in college.
It is also the gateway to post-grad education, which is where the real learning begins. My year in grad school was the most enriching, fulfilling year of my life. However, I had several years of work experience beforehand and knew exactly what I wanted to study.
I know many people have had a bad experience in college, but I really advocate going if you have the opportunity. Most people in the rest of the world aren’t so fortunate.
Thanks for bringing up the topic Lauryn and Michael! This is always a good debate.
Hi Sarah, thanks for commenting and reading! I agree that college can be educational. I don’t think anyone will argue that it can’t be. Where my issues lie is that college is not necessarily right for everyone. Not everyone gets a benefit like you say. Sure a degree can have it’s benefits but these benefits need to be weighed against individual costs in a logical way. As you say in your comment:
“Often times students don’t get too much out of college because of bad teachers, lack of direction, or they simply don’t want to be there.”
For these students, college may be the wrong move.
It’s obvious that college is necessary for grad students but as you say in your comment, you were able to get work experience before making the commitment to go to grad school. Many students go straight out of college to grad only to graduate and hate the path they have chosen. Again my post is all about knowing what’s best for the individual, knowing their path, knowing the costs, and making a logical decision. Most of the time this does not happen.
Great post! I couldn’t agree more and I think it takes a mature person to realize that college may not be for them and to decide not to go. My little brother didn’t know what he wanted to do after highschool and he ended up joining the military. During his time in the military he figured out what he wanted to do and started to purse an online college degree in computer science. He now works at the White House for the military, which I think is just proof that you can be successful in the non-traditional route!
Hi Marjorie! thanks for sharing your brothers experience and please thank him for his service! I would love if a conversation started in this country about all the alternative paths to college and student debt. We need more of this! College can be great no doubt, but there are many other paths that can also be great. The debt is out of control. If more stories like this came to light I think more people would feel comfortable finding their own path instead of what society is shoving down our throats.
I generally agree with this advice but I don’t think college is necessarily useless. I was an accounting major and my job has nothing to do with accounting. College did teach me how to think and work in groups and it 100% has been applicable in a business environment. Not all of us set out to be entrepreneurs.
My beefs with college: No, not everyone should go. We also need to stop telling kids they can go wherever they want. No, not if you want to walk away with 6 figures in student loan debt. I graduated from a top 3 program at a state school. I had financial help from my parents but if I did not, I would have graduated early (thanks to AP credits, overloading), and/or gotten a part time job in college.
Hi Emily, I actually think you are agreeing with me here. I too do not think it’s useless, I simply think it’s not necessary for every path. There are many ways to learn to work with people outside of college. One of those ways is by actually working with people in the work place. I agree that not everyone should set out to be an entrepreneur. That can be very harmful.
Yes not everyone should go. No we should not tell kids they can go wherever they want, the debt is out of control. I too had financial help from my parents and I also graduated early and had a part time job as well as business (which was a colossal failure)
Point being there are many other options outside of college. If you can get your experience paid for I think it’s a no brainer to at least try it out. If not, think long and hard about the debt. Make sure that it doesn’t get too deep.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I actually disagree. I realize that the college material may not seem like it applies to your career in a lot of ways, but the fact that you are learning HOW TO LEARN, and understand, and work with diverse groups of people and do things you don’t want to do will actually apply a lot in the your life; whether you work for a company or start your own. Also, getting your Master’s Degree in something applicable is INSANELY helpful if you are an entrepreneur and wanting to branch out on your own. The classes you take (ACCOUNTING), and the connections you make in an MBA program for instance, will be even more important and useful to you if you a starting a business. Or even taking over a family business. Those connections will be what MAKES your business. Don’t underestimate the importance of school. That being said, definitely get done early if you can. I graduated in less than three years doing exactly the same things as Michael, and it helped a lot not having one more year of debt in the books.
Also, I’m apparently in the minority here, but every.single.one of the jobs I’ve had since college had requested my college transcripts and wanted to know my GPA. So just remember that while some people won’t care, other’s will. So work hard, but don’t kill yourself doing it.
I may be the asshole. But I’ve gotten several jobs in many “high positions” lying on my resume I have a degree. Not one employer checked this, or ever caught on. And yes I am still at my current job.
I completely agree. College is absolutely necessary. Even if you are an entrepreneur and have built a successful business, what would happen if the economy crashed, you lost your business, and you had to get a corporate, salaried job to make ends meet? You’d need a degree. As other people have said below, a college degree is a safety net and GPA does matter. No, a perfect GPA is not a necessity. But it’s also a waste of time to strive for less than your best. On a side note, a lot of people think English lit classes are a waste of time in college. However, the ability to express yourself using correct grammar and clear, concise language will take you far in any field.
Hi Jenn, thanks for reading and commenting! I disagree that college teaches you how to learn. In my own experience, i had a really difficult time learning in college. It wasn’t until I realized that I learn by reading and doing that I really started to excel. School was always really difficult for me. I was a B, C, sometimes D student because I could never make the connection to practicality in school.
I took accounting in college and got a C, almost a D. I now do all the accounting with the help of a book keeper and CPA for all of my businesses on a weekly basis. Once it became “real” I really made the connections and started learning a lot more.
People learn in different ways and this is exactly my point. People need to figure out what works best for them and what makes the most sense for them. No one path is right or wrong but a path that’s right for one person may be wrong for another. Make sense?
I appreciate your opinions and agree that for many career fields a degree may be unnecessary/not used, however, I think you guys lack a little perspective as to how employment works outside of California. I have several friends who are from CA, or moved there, never got a degree and turned out fine because they are doing something related to a start up, have entered a creative field, or are pursuing something based in the tech sector. These industries attract those type of people because they prioritize real-world experience or specialized skills over a traditional education. For most other careers, and in most areas not dominated by the aforementioned industries, you simply can’t get a job without having a degree. I’m personally in Law School right now (which I needed a degree to get into), but I know how hard it was for my peers to get jobs and we went to a very prestigious University. If they hadn’t gotten those degrees they wouldn’t have even been considered. In the real world it is very challenging, rare even, for someone without a degree to get a salaried job (that has a livable wage and any sort of career longevity). So, while I certainly agree that some people don’t need a degree, and that college is for the most part an expensive exercise in memorization and regurgitation, most people do need to go to college in order to have a shot at a fulfilling life.
Hi Amanda, thank you for the reply! There are many other states in the US outside of California where companies prioritize real-world experience and specialized skills over traditional education. I don’t think it’s a perspective thing but more of a practicality thing. The fact is.. not everyone is cut out for school. Not everyone is cut out for the type of job that requires a college degree. This is a fundamental truth in the world. The conversation needs to start back up that there is nothing wrong with acquiring a trade skill and making a great living at that trade. There is nothing wrong with going against the norm and creating your own path. There is nothing wrong with deciding to forego debt and try and get some experience before making the college plunge. This comes down to self awareness and knowing who you are outside of public thought. The reason companies are only hiring with a college education is because the conversation in the US now is saying that this is the acceptable/required path. There are so many people (yourself included who don’t fully agree with this sentiment and still stick with the same conversation:
“while I certainly agree that some people don’t need a degree, and that college is for the most part an expensive exercise in memorization and regurgitation, most people do need to go to college in order to have a shot at a fulfilling life.”
When you say College is necessary to have a fulfilling life. I disagree. Life can be much more fulfilling when we decide to forge our own paths no matter the outcome. I know many salaried employees with college degrees that absolutely hate what they are doing even with the degree and job stability. Just my opinion though…
“If you are going to school to be an entrepreneur quit right now.”
I dropped out of college. Even though I’d always had an entrepreneurial spirit, I didn’t have much direction and didn’t understand “the point” of taking Shakespeare (got a D in) or Philosophy 101 (which I failed – 8 am class? no thx) or business classes.
Do you know where I am? I’m barely scraping by doing unskilled jobs while killing myself working on my passion – most of which involves doing a shit ton of research into HOW to do this and researching the industry I want to go into because I have zero foundational knowledge about it. I’m meeting these educated people at parties and have no fucking clue what they’re talking about when they refer to Socrates and I sit there like “durrr” when they talk about how what’s happening in politics today is reminiscent of Eisenhower’s Operation Wet Back and I stupidly say things like, “Math beyond 7th grade algebra is pointless.” And what I hear back is, “Math isn’t important because it teaches you MATH. It’s important because it challenges your brain, encourages you to think in different ways.”
Lauryn and Michael, you are the exception to the rule. You’ve made it without having to rely on college (though I imagine Michael would have had a tough job it if were it not for his family). But even so, Lauryn, your background in broadcasting, which I believe you studied in school, has undoubtedly helped you. Most of it, though, was also luck. You broke into blogging at the right time. The TSC name was provocative. Sprinkle in ambition and hard word, and of course it was going to work for you.
But for the rest of your readers who, at age 22-30, are, say, aspiring bloggers?
You drop out of college and you’re going to have to learn — all on your own — about:
-design and aesthetics
-writing and grammar
…not to mention whatever the topic of your blog is.
And Lauryn, a few instances where more education wouldn’t have been a bad idea:
GRAMMAR/WORD USE: you always belittle Michael when he says “Lauryn and me,” but you consistently say “Michael and I” at times when “….and me” is grammatically correct. You also misuse the word literally all the time. Also, Michael, “her’s” is not a word (see this very post).
SCIENCE and/or LAW: You regularly give out “medical advice” (see yesterday’s post) that is not only cringe-worthy and inaccurate but a potential liability. Even a rudimentary knowledge about the scientific method and logical fallacies would behoove you. You did a 3 month course in nutrition, but do you even know what the blood brain barrier is?? Do you understand AT ALL that “icky chemicals” you eschew in your plastic containers are leaching out of your Smart Water bottles?
HISTORY: You both rave about diamonds and talk about how to pick out the right ones and Lauryn goes on and on in her belittling way that she has about how you’re going to buy her a new diamond earring to replace the one she lost, but do you actually know about the history of diamonds? Do you know how much bloodshed and abuse surrounds the diamond industry? Do you know about the history of DeBeers and that a diamond’s value has been artificially inflated because the industry has staunched the supply to artfically increase demand? And Lauryn, do you realize that Louis Vuitton was one of the only luggage companies that would produce products for Nazi wives?
DEPTH OF THOUGHT: When you strategically place your Gucci logo in every shot or make sure your bracelets, including the $4k or whatever Love bracelet, are perfectly lined up so we know just how much Michael loves you (even if he needs to brush his brows up, tee hee), or you link us to your $1k/night room at the Four Seasons, it just makes me wonder WHO are you trying to impress? Yes, we know you’ve made a killing off the affiliate accounts you (unlawfully) don’t disclose. But is your whole existence so fragile that you need to flaunt the fact that you spend what are frankly obscene amounts of money on such transparent status symbols? Your posts never touch on any shred of humanity. Do you ever even THINK about other people? Is there no part of you that wants to write a post about doing something for someone other than yourself every once in a while? I mean, your following is massive. Even you could figure out a way to turn a profit from a short volunteer stint at the Humane Society or to promote a cool item whose proceeds go to help Syrian refugees. I understand that you don’t want to get political, but are you even aware of ANYTHING that is going on in the world?
I have had to fight tooth and nail to make up for the knowledge I turned my back on by dropping out of college. I viewed college as only being necessary if you want to get hired for a job that requires a college degree. That seems to be your mistake too. Clearly, I have raw intelligence. But because I didn’t have college, I didn’t have an easy way to harness it, to grow and cultivate it. Everything I’ve learned, I had to do on my own. And so my intelligence is choppy, clunky, not well-rounded, lacking the insight of teachers and mentors and coaches.
You’re encouraging young girls – 18-22 – to drop out of college or not even go. As though you can truly know what you want to do with your whole life at that age. As though college is ONLY a means to get a job working for someone else.
College is about learning. About learning HOW to learn, HOW to think, and about giving you opportunities. How irresponsible you are in your advice. How ignorant. How much damage you are causing.
Hi! I didn’t learn one of these in college:
-design and aesthetics
-writing and grammar
All of these skills were acquired through actually ‘doing.’
I would never tell someone to do something. I’m just sharing what has worked for me ; ).
Happy Friday xx
Wow. Just wow. I would take you seriously but you clearly follow her so closely to know all these details. Yet hate on her so much? I never understand people who do this. Tips to living a happier life: if you don’t like someone, do not follow them.
First and foremost, someone who can start their comment in such self deprecating fashion yet so eloquently outline their points and objectives in a blog comment gives me a hunch that you in fact have learned A LOT about communication, argument, and writing even after dropping out of college.
Here are the contentions I have with your points, and I invite you to respond, I am in now way trying to passively opine on your comment, I am interested in a honest and objective discussion. Indulge me if you will.
First, let me give a brief bio on where my opinion comes from… I am an (overly) institutionally educated individual who has Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with a focus in organizational leadership and logistics, I have a Doctorate in the law and currently am a practicing attorney and I own my firm. I also have completed a quarter of the work towards a Masters of Business Administration. Admittedly, my undergraduate degree was on scholarship, and I paid for law school with the help of my parents, and my MBA is also on scholarship. Long story short, I don’t have student debt. (WHICH IS HUGE IN REGARDS TO THIS CONVO AND MY OPINION)
HERE I GO: I somewhat disagree with Michael and Lauryn’s opinions here. But I don’t agree with you either. Yes, to make a blanket statement that college is a waste of time for non-(insert licensed profession here) is bad advice. However, I don’t think Michael and Lauryn are giving global advice here, I think they’re sharing their opinions and their experiences which were directed at one specific person. As for your comments your situation… WELCOME! Welcome to being an entrepreneur. I loved that you said this;
“Do you know where I am? I’m barely scraping by doing unskilled jobs while killing myself working on my passion – most of which involves doing a shit ton of research into HOW to do this and researching the industry I want to go into because I have zero foundational knowledge about it.”
THIS is BRILLIANT! I have two degrees and I am on my way to acquire another, and every single day on this earth I feel EXACTLY what you said. I learn new things every single day about my industry, about what I am trying to do in the industry, and how to WIN in the industry I am brand new to. THAT is entrepreneurship. I am barely scraping by myself, I have had to offer crazy cheap legal services, I have taken jobs I don’t want, I have even done construction on the side just so I can keep my dream alive. I have no one helping me build my business, and I walked away from a BIG salary and a great job with my family’s business to pursue my passion of owning my own company. I used to be an asshole who drove a $90,000 car and thought I was the shit, but I wasn’t. I left it all behind. Today, I can barely make rent, I haven’t bought something for myself in over a year, I have to borrow money to go on trips and do cool shit, but I’m building a business and I am proud of my struggles. Those struggles exist no matter how educated I am.
The thing I think you’re missing in this post is this… They are not saying that LEARNING is not worth it. Quite frankly, M&L are always posting about how much they READ. Their reading is their continued education. Your comments about Socrates and Eisenhower are not because of college, it’s because you’re choosing not to continue educating yourself on those topics. However, if you don’t want to learn about Eisenhower or Socrates, who gives a shit, so long as you are learning something you’re passionate about everyday. If you’re doing it right, the “research” you are doing about your industry is your continued education, and you should be able to entertain anyone at a cocktail party with that knowledge.
I can blow smoke up a lot of well educated stiffs’ asses because I’m a very LEARNED individual. However, I read three books a week, I have numerous mentors who guide me with my business, I pick up new hobbies and practice areas just to keep my mind sharp, because I love to learn and in turn I can be that dickhead at the cocktail party talking about Ockham’s razor and the law of parsimony. It wasn’t college, or law school that makes it possible for me to chop it up with the best of them, it’s my insatiable craving for knowledge. I fight tooth and nail for it as well, even though I went to school, I didn’t learn those things there.
Sure, I learned “how to think” in college, I learned how to be strategic and efficient with information, how to take tests, and how to think critically. However, that’s because I was smart about what I studied. This is where I disagree with Lauryn and Michael. Lauryn says she went to school for a “Communication Degree” AKA High School #2. BUT that degree may be required in certain fields for journalism or marketing, etc. Michael has a degree centered in Real Estate. Sucks for him that RE took a huge shit in 2008, and now he tells people not to buy houses (LOL). I think Michael is just pissed off at the RE market, but I’m sure what he learned in college could apply if he went into that field. BUT, he didn’t. That’s where I think he’s coming from. Educate yourself in areas that benefit you. Don’t give up education, just tailor it to your needs. AND MAYBE, JUST MAYBE it doesn’t have to be in college. But I know for a fact they are not saying to give up learning.
My take on it is this, college CAN be a waste of time, if you’re not investing yourself in it. College can also be INSTRUMENTAL in teaching you TRADES that you can use in your ambitions to be an entrepreneur OR employee. I was lucky to start college when I was 24. (Lucky because I wasn’t the dumb-fuck 18 year old version of me who didn’t know my head from my ass taking classes that didn’t help me.) My education was tactful. I took classes that I knew would further my ambitions in my career. I learned the shit most entrepreneurs don’t like, business administration so I have a leg up on people who can’t use Excel or read a financial statement. I enjoyed it, I learned how to run a business. I didn’t learn anything creative, it was spreadsheets, logistics, organizational culture, etc. But I also worked 70 hours a week while in college and law school, so I was able to practically apply what I learned to the field I was in. The problem with a lot of students is they don’t know what they want to learn, so college is a giant waste of money for them. They also won’t absorb learning techniques if they just sit there pissed off and then party their assess off due to the boredom.
For example, the books you read in school or at home are full of DATA. Your job is to turn it into INFORMATION. When data are processed, interpreted, organized, structured or presented so as to make them meaningful or useful, they become information. That’s the process of learning, that’s what a lot of people in college ARE NOT doing. They are just biding time, taking tests, and trying to get a degree. Sure degrees will get you better jobs, better pay, and clout. But you don’t show up on your first day and get an email from your boss that says “Nicci, I need you to review our quarterly reports and identify any wasteful spending in our marketing budget.” and then reply to him by saying “Dear Boss, See the attachment, it’s my degree. You’re welcome. -Nicci”. No, you have to be able to apply what you learn to what you do. You don’t NEED a degree to do that, and you sure as shit won’t be able to do that if you’re getting a degree in Real Estate and build a marketing business. It’s about tactfulness in your education, institutional or not.
In sum; I don’t think “dropping out” is right for everyone. I also don’t think entrepreneurship is right for everyone. There are wolves and there are sheep. Both equally as important as the other. Not everyone can cut it as an entrepreneur, and not everyone should. I know plenty of people who clock in at 8am and clock out at 5pm and they LOVE it. Wouldn’t trade it for anything. So if that’s what you want to do, go get a damn degree, because that will make you more money. But get a degree in something that adds value to your future trade, not just a degree that’s easy or unrelated. [As you can see, I didn’t waste any time taking English classes, because my grammar is terrible, run-on sentences, poor use of commas,,,,,, you name it, I’ll fuck it up. 🙂 College DID NOT help me there.]
Michael and Lauryn’s opinions are for people who may want to be entrepreneurs, or who already are. But people shouldn’t be fooled by the glitz and glam that entrepreneurship “looks like”. Shit, if you follow my instagram or facebook accounts, you’d think I was killing it, but I’m fucking struggles all the time. But I am also using those channels to market myself, no one wants to hear about how I spend my Tuesday mornings hiding under my desk thinking “Fuck is this even worth it?” That’s what it’s all about, the good, the bad, the ugly. It’s not for everyone, but if you want to be entrepreneur that’s what it takes.
So take their opinions with a grain of salt. Apply it to your experiences, and know that one size NEVER fits all. I don’t think they’re encouraging 18 – 22 year old girls to drop out of college, I think they’re challenging the status quo. I think they’re being disruptive (in a good way), and they’re definitely not holding a gun to anyone’s head. This is the essence of blogging, you talk about things, you encourage thought, you encourage debate and discussion. Hopefully this forces their readers (especially the 18 – 22 year old ones) to think critically of their decisions. To question their parents plans for them. To be critical in thought always.
Sure, you had to “learn it the hard way”, but so did I. College doesn’t change that. I have spent more time in a classroom than most of the country, but I still learn every day outside of the classroom. Again, because I want to, and I have a vested interest in learning more. Knowledge is power, but knowledge can be acquired EVERYWHERE, and there is some truth to the fact that knowledge can sometimes be earned in the real world more quickly than in a classroom.
The consequences are greater because you are dealing with real world issues, but I think my willingness to learn is what gives me my knowledge. College, law school and graduate school are just platforms where I was able to access information and fulfill my cravings for knowledge, but they are NOT the only place. You definitely won’t gain knowledge if you’re studying something you couldn’t care less about, you will in fact be wasting your time.
Aside from what came off as malice in your post, I think your opinion is valuable, but just like Lauryn and Michael’s comments, it isn’t about what works for everyone it’s about what works for you. Hopefully your perspective will also provoke thoughts in her readers’ minds about how to turn all this data to information!
You certainly know every aspect of their lives huh? For how uneducated you find them, it’s surprising how much you have invested in them. I’m her best friend & I don’t even know the diamond story.
You guys, I thought I would butt in for a minute. This was MY email I sent to M&L. I appreciated Michael’s advice more than ever because I knew Michael and Lauryn would not blow smoke up my ass.
I am a very opinionated person myself, therefore any guidance I have / recieve / ask for, are truly just to form an even greater opinion for myself and my future. The advice and thoughts he shared have not affected my choice of being in school. Everybody has doubts from time to time therefore it is a great refresher to have two different perspectives plus more via the comments. In this case I may OR may not pursue school. Michael wrote something extremely important for ALL of us to remember : It is my life, not my parents’ or anybody else whom may have a huge impact of influence on the way you think or act.
I am still in school and will remain so. (For now.)
Thank you M&L for your kindness, support, and response to my e-mail. So much appreciation!
I think this post will help:
To address a couple of points. Yes I was very fortunate to have my college paid for. I was also fortunate enough to be raised in a family that provided for and taught me a lot. I have created and sustained all of my own businesses since I was 19 years old. I still run a company with my Dad (which I am very proud of) which we started together in 2008 as well as a media business which i started alone in 2010, a blog platform (with Lauryn) and I consult/own/invest in multiple brands/businesses/properties all of which I have helped grow or create. For every story about a fortunate beginning I could give you just as many stories about an over privileged kid/adult who fuck those opportunities up. Where you start does not determine where you end in many cases. You have to put in the work. There is always someone better off and always someone worse off. Using this as an excuse is a real hindrance to those making the excuse. See post above.
I wish I had a public platform to show what my first 5 years in business were like. I enjoy documenting the work now so that I can hopefully inspire more young adults to work their asses off and find success! I guess some people think you snap your fingers and bang! Success! It doesn’t work that way. Hard work, hustle, drive, a constant hunger to better yourself, honesty, and patience is a solid formula for success. I would say also say self entitlement is another thing to shy away from. The world doesn’t owe any of us anything and to believe so is a formula for disappointment and failure.
I wish you all the luck in your entrepreneurial path. It’s not an easy path but the rewards are worth the cost.
Nico (comment below), Thanks for the comment, i wanted to address one thing. Your point about me saying not to buy a home is somewhat out of context. I am saying “Do not but a home if it’s your first investment or total savings” I myself own a property as you know and also invest in real estate here and there. A home is something we should buy when we have stable income, cash in the bank, stability, and a clear idea of where we want to stay for a long period of time. By all means buy a house if you have all of that. If the down payment on the house cleans out the individuals checking account and ties up all of the cash that could be used to create more cash or live comfortably… I say wait. It’s all about opportunity cost. If the cash (which could be depleted int he down payment) can be used to grow an existing business or find better investments I think those options need to be explored.
With all of the options for living in 2016 rushing to buy a house (especially with brutal down payments) is not always the smartest move with cash in my opinion. There is plenty of time as the years go on to make that decision. Protect your cash! Don’t be in a rush.
I agree that college is not for everyone. Back in the day my dream guy would have had a college degree but now days, I don’t even care because in the end it’s hard work that pays off. I went to college and I don’t regret it, I have a degree in Marine Biology and I needed a degree to make it. Some would even say I need a Phd. However I have seen people who went to school and are incredibly smart look completely confused when it comes to the real work. I have also seen not the smartest people in the world get masters and Phd’s because they worked hard for it. I guess all in all I think people should really find what they want to do and apply themselves.
But do not expect to start off on the top. You have to be willing to start at the bottom and work your way up. I promise it will pay off and it will make you a better person in the long run.
Hi Nicole! Love this comment. Well said! Thank you for reading.
Lauryn & Michael, I really do love this advice here. Although I am a college graduate I don’t necessarily see that as the only path to success. My parents were always encouraging but never forceful with college being my next step, I always felt like it should be for me personally. Another thing that you mention here is avoiding debt! I totally agree with that! I was one of the lucky ones who came out of school with no debt at all. The only reason I was able to do this was because I had supportive parents who paid for my first two years of school allowing me to stock pile all of my income as I was working a full time job. Then I took a year off, re-evaluate what I wanted to do but also worked full time in order to save as much as I could! Finally when I went back to school I was able to focus only on my school and be able to pay my tuition, rent, and all other living expenses while not working a single day. Now I know not everyone has the ability to do this, but it really allowed me to start off on the right foot. Only a few months after graduating I lost my job and would have never been able to pay my students loans if I had any. I also didn’t work for 6 months after that and I had many conversations with my parents if my degree was really worth it/the money I spent of it. I know it sounds stupid but one piece of advice that was given to me by a family friend who is a VP for a very successful company was “Even if you get your degree in something totally random and never use it, employers sometimes just like to see that you can stick with something for a period of time.” Now if you are starting your own business a degree doesn’t really matter, but if you aren’t sometimes a degree is just a foot in the door. But again to each their own.
Your first paragraph… It should be “doing a 180 degree.” 360 is a full circle, it brings you back to where you started. 180, halfway, brings you to opposite of where you are now.
Love your blog!!
Thank you for clarification! Will change! x
This post is SO necessary. I just graduated college with a 4-year degree in communications (did you read my mind???) and I have ZERO interest in pursuing a career in this field. I had an incredible college experience solely from the extracurriculars I added to keep a tight schedule and meet new people, but school just felt so blah. Especially by my senior year. Don’t get me wrong, I did well in my coursework and worked hard in school but the passion was severely lacking. I did well because I knew I was paying for my degree and I owed the good grades to myself. I actually found my passion (health and nutrition) 2 years deep into college at a point where it was too late to switch majors and graduate on time. I couldn’t afford to accumulate any more debt so I took the easy road and stuck with my shitty PR major. Now I’m 3 months out and going to work a job that has nothing to do with PR whatsoever. I had to take a harsh look at myself to understand why I truly went to college. I went for the experience and to meet new people, not for the academics. Would 100% recommend this article to people struggling with the idea of college.
Great post! I completely agree. College is great but it isn’t always for everybody. Some people don’t need to go well others do to figure out their life.
Definitely agree. My parents have always been big believers in not taking on any debt, and that getting a college degree is not necessary. I always thought “eh, if I can afford it, I’ll just get my two years in and be done.” Fast forward to my first day of college classes, paying out of my own pocket, with no financial aid (because all I was offered was loans). My teacher never showed up. The dean didn’t even have her phone number on file. At roughly $50 I was paying per class, you can understand my frustration. Whatever, maybe it’s just a bad first day. On to my next class, which was a required freshman first year experience class, where I learned I would essentially be relearning all the basic skills I should’ve learned my last four years of high school. Except I’d get to pay for it. Then they told me our main project for the whole semester, and our largest grade percentage, would be based on the social events we attended and the pictures we took, proving we were there… I dropped my classes the next day. My parents were right the whole time. And especially because I hadn’t decided what exactly I wanted to even do! College is very important, for some people and situations I believe, but it is not for everyone. I didn’t need to buy into the lie I needed to spend all this money to get a piece of paper. It works better for me to not go to school and just to work at my job and gain experience. It always helps to confirm my beliefs and hear others have the same thoughts and experience!
I have to say I totally agree with a lot of this. I went to college never considering any alternatives, and ended up needing to take a pretty large student loan out. When I graduated it took me over a year to find a full-time, salaried job. I do have to say that my boss definitely DID care about my degree, and he even asked for my GPA when he interviewed me, but that may have been a unique experience. I am now working at a job that does fit what I went to school for, but I don’t make enough money to contribute a significant amount towards my student loan each month, which is an issue. I LOVE writing and that’s why I went to school to get a journalism degree, but I didn’t ever consider the option of not spending the time and money on school and just going for my dreams on my own. I sincerely wish I had done that instead, or at least gone to community college or a college where I could commute from home so that I could have saved myself a lot of money! I actually wrote a whole post about how I picked my college here: http://www.blueeyedbloggeronline.com/2016/08/story-time-picking-a-college/
Just my two cents!
I agree with you guys 100%!! I completed maybe a semester of marketing and went to esthetics school instead. I make way more than I would have with a crappy desk job and no student loan debt! My BF is a HS drop out, a marketing whiz, and has built successful businesses. He will rant all day about college being a waste, minus law/medical degrees. Parents have a hard time grasping the idea, ours included. My dad still asks when I’m going to complete my degree…. lol, no. All of this said, if you decide to skip a degree you need to be a go-getter and make shit happen for yourself. If you can’t, that’s okay too but being proactive is so, so necessary.
Can we consider that Michael has taken over the family business and Lauryn, you had the perfect trifecta of starting TSC in the right place at the right time will also being ambitious. And Mimi and Jordan don’t need school because they, too, have family businesses they can walk right into.
But for the rest of us who aren’t fortunate enough to have the blessings of family fortune and impeccable timing, it ain’t so easy and college is important.
Hi Erin, thank you for reading!
Michael has his own business, nothing to do with his family.
Not sure what you’re referring to as the ‘the perfect trifecta’ for The Skinny Confidential.
Do you mean patience, consistency, & hard work?
There’s no perfect place or right time…& there’s absolutely no luck. You make your OWN luck.
Jordan & I graduated from college and Mimi is in college (graduating soon) so your point makes no sense.
My family gave me no fortune, I made it myself without ‘the perfect trifecta’ you’re referring to…although that sounds fun! Would love more explanation.
Thanks for reading, xx
I would like to direct you here:
Thanks for reading!
Many of my peers went to college and did not get a MARKETABLE SKILL! The professional world only has room for so many art historians, sociologists, etc. STEM majors are were the jobs are at and were the money is at. College is not a time to “find yourself.” Choose your skill/specialty, get in, and get out. It’s too expensive to waffle around and change your major 100 times and waste your time taking Women’s Lit and Islamic Society and Sexuality courses.
Lauren, you’re a mind reader. This conversation has taken up space in my mind for the last few months. I’m a recent social work grad (that’s 6 years of university here in Canada!) but when I got the side eye in class for talking about crystals in treating anxiety and depression, I knew I wasn’t cut out for traditional social work ;). So I’m starting my own practice, and while I’m not practicing social work per say, my social work degree gives the work I do a bit of validation. And I think too – as a social worker stepping outside of the profession to talk about things like energy work for mental health, it gives those therapies a bit of validation too. So for me, going to university isn’t a requirement for the work I want to do, but I do think the degree was important to get. Much love to you and Michael for starting this conversation! xo
Hi lauryn and Michael,
Agree with your sentiment. I have a two degrees in education and currently “use” neither. I did get my first job out of college in education teaching 1st grade. I would not have the job I have now (working with executives in a high growth software company) had I not went to college. Bottom line, I have the job I have now outside of my education field because of who I know, my education, working hard and timing. However, I would not be where I am today had I not gotten my first job which was because of my college education. I am seeing this as a generational topic. My mom, born in the 60’s has no college degree, which was fine in the 80’s and 90’s, but she is now having a hard time finding even an entry level job. She continues to be pushed out by Millenials with a college degree even though she has 20+ years of experience in the business world. All because she doesn’t have a degree. HR recruiters are using online tools to sort candidates even before a real person looks at their resume. College degree is something these online tools look for.
Having your own business would be ideal, but in all honesty, you’ve got to do some work at a reputable company before you can establish yourself. And in most cases, that means working for another company before you own yours. Most people aren’t born into a situation (money or smarts) to be able to graduate high school and start their own successful business.
Great topic! The take away here for me is don’t decide on your life at 18 years old. I bet I would have gone to school for something totally different had I been older and wiser. And I might be at the same point in my career. Assuming kids can choose their destiny at 18 years old is where our society has gone wrong. It’s not college, it’s assuming a 18 year old kid knows what’s best for their life.
With the degree I got, college was a colossal waste of time. I didn’t figure out what I truly wanted to do until I gained more life experience, which is something I wish I could have been given the chance to do prior to jumping into college. After all, I originally thought I wanted to be in publishing. But now I’m a personal trainer who wants to go back to school for physical therapy assistant–and it took me years to discover this, years that could have probably been cut down had I just jumped into the working world upon graduating high school. So I agree. My parents luckily paid for my English degree, but I will be taking out a loan for my PTA. However, it’ll only be about 6k, which can easily be paid off with the salary of a PTA. I’ve already sunk a couple of grand into my personal training career, which has been immensely rewarding.
Michael says he hasn’t used his college degree once throughout his career. He has managed to set himself up regardless. I think that’s easy for someone to say if they have managed to set themselves up. If you choose to skip college, you can’t predict where you’ll be and whether you’ll regret that decision in two, five or ten years. To me it’s more like a safety net. Even if having a college degree subconsciously gives you more confidence in the real world, knowing that you do have that qualification. School sucks in general, but education and knowledge is power. Lauryn and Michael seem to educate themselves regularly reading business and marketing books etc. so if you’re willing to be self taught, then that’s great. I think college opens your eyes to so many real world theories and practices that you could have no idea about if you aren’t diligent enough to explore your industry yourself
I love everything about this post! I just recently went back to school after a few years hiatus and started questioning today why I was doing this. Everyone keeps telling me “finish school, you’ll need this in your future, blah, blah, blah.” Even though I’m planning on finishing and want to get my degree, I’m doing this for me. I’m NOT doing this for anyone else. I’m so grateful someone finally spoke up and told the truth about the need (or not) for college. Thank you!
Love this post! College totally is not necessary and not for everyone. Neither my fiancé nor myself went to college and we are both very successful. My fiancé has owned his own very successful contracting business since 26 years old (now 30) and I am a real estate agent and I do very well. We both are so thankful we listened to our guts and didn’t follow the typical college route. We afford a life we love and don’t have all that debt! Also, my dad did not go to college and started a software company that ended up being a Fortune 500 company, sold it and has started a new one. My older brother did not go to college either and
is currently working in the tech industry in Silicon Valley and Is doing very well. Lastly my little brother, (22 years old) just started his own film company and has already acquired an impressive client list of companies. Don’t fall into the trap, do what’s best and most conducive to your own vision! Hard work and social skills is all you need! 🙂
I can appreciate some of the points made here, but it’s difficult for me to agree with this. I was in the same boat as many people on this thread. My college experience felt plagued with uncertainty about which direction I wanted my life to take and what my real career aspirations were. I was fortunate enough to have my parents assist me with a large portion of the cost, but did take a small loan out in my name as well. I was later able to pay this loan off post-graduation by working, and believe the experience of having that responsibility was actually a good lesson in itself.
Many people have to fight extremely hard for the education opportunities that we have here in the US, so I have to admit that reading this blog was slightly irksome. Older generations (my parents, for example) did not place the weight that current society does on this and my father worked until his 40s without a bachelors. However, he reached a point where he was unable to reach another promotion without a degree. He went back to school at night while I was in high school in order to advance. By watching him, I can tell you 100% that this is extremely challenging for a single parent with a (very expensive) kid in high school and working full time during the day. Yes, there is always the option of going back to school, but it is NOT easier to do as you grow older. It’s wise to anticipate that you do not know what the future holds – even though you think you may want to have a career in which an advanced degree isn’t necessary, that very likely could change for you in the future.
The vast majority of those entering the workforce will require a degree in order to be hired. I live in the Bay Area, and having a Masters seems to be the new standard requirement for higher paying jobs around here. Can you be successful without a degree? Definitely – but your path may be a little longer and you will need to be more strategic in positioning yourself to get the career you want if you are going up against other candidates with degrees.
In my first job interviews after graduating, I was most definitely asked about my GPA. I’m in medical device sales now, but had no idea what I wanted to do at the time. So, I majored in something relatively broad that I could apply to almost anything – Business Management. Here’s what I recommend: if you’re uncertain of what your career aspirations are, speak with a counselor, take strengths personality assessments, or shadow people at their jobs for a day.
While you definitely may not end up using a significant portion of what you’ve learned (I have yet to encounter a great opportunity to use one formula from Business Calculus?), here’s what you will get from a college degree:
The opportunity to learn about varied things that you may find out you love or excel at
How to refine your time management skills and practice meeting deadlines
How to function in a group-work setting
How to study and retain information
Opportunities to meet and interact with a lot of people from different backgrounds
If you’re in a position to have family assist you or aren’t facing an insurmountable amount of debt, GO TO COLLEGE. It really is a safety net for the future you and very few people truly regret doing it.
On a side note – Lauryn even though I’m not in agreement here, I absolutely love you and your blog! Have been a reader/follower for a couple of years now. Controversial or not, your posts, brand and aesthetic are always fab 🙂
I didn’t have the luxury or parents financially supporting my undergrad education. However, I knew I had to obtain a degree, if I wanted to be become a therapist. With that mentioned, I learned more within the first year in working in my chosen field then I ever learned in undergrade. Graduating top of my class, has meant nothing in the work force, aside from the work ethic I developed from school. Flash forwarded a few years, and I’m now in graduate school, studying to become a therapist and accumulating student loan debt. There really is no way around it, if I want to become a licensed counselor. (The debt constantly weighs on my shoulders.) So I view school as something I can grow and learn from that’s needed for what I want to do, but take it for it is, a textbook can only tech you so much and the money/time invested may not be worth it for other careers.
Hi all: I wanted to address Nicci’s comment (For clarity purposes is that Nicci – pronounced like Friedrich Nietsche, the famous nihilist philosopher? Or are you a Nikki? I think you’re a Nikki who is desperately trying to be a Nietzsche, so I’m just going to call you Nikki.
Firstly, prior to indicting two people over their grammar, syntax and diction, you should ensure your own sentence structure is perfect and not some garbled mess of split infinitives and incongruous structure. There are way too many to point out, but here are just a couple of examples:
“Michael and Lauryn, you are the exception to the rule” should be exception(s) plural as you are referencing two people.
Incongruous sentence structure: “you give out medical advice that is not only cringe-worthy and inaccurate but also a liability. The sentence would need to read “not only cringe-worthy and inaccurate but also harmful” Gotta keep everything an adjective when using those coordinate conjunctions.
I’m trying to make a point here. How did what I just did in my aforementioned paragraph make you feel? I’m guessing it made you feel shitty and perhaps less inclined to want to share your ideas in the future.
Your points are difficult to follow and opaque, and the thesis of your missive is tough to follow and lacks cohesion. You interchange education, material success and an academic presentation of ideas.
A few things I’d like to encourage you to do Nikki.
1) Please drink some of that Calm Tea that Lauryn is shilling on her blog, subscribe to Headspace and start working on self-awareness.
2) If you are coming to this blog to read heavy feminist literature or to do a scientific deep dive into whether or not there is empirical data to support using BPA free smoothie containers, please direct yourself to Lenny Letter or Jezebel or a PhD level course in biochemistry. Lauryn isn’t proferring herself as some Gloria Steinem or posing as the head of R&D for Johnson & Johnson.
3.) Michael’s points about college are distilled summaries of ubiquitous information that has regularly been covered in the NYT and the Wall Street Journal.
If you would like to use money as a measure of success (I’m using this benchmark because you reference a lot of materialism: Cartier, Gucci, Four Seasons), I would encourage you to look at the list of Forbes wealthiest – Zuckerberg, Jobs, Ellison (the list of Billionaires who dropped out of college goes on and on) is a long and impressive one. Peter Thiel, a billionaire who co-founded PayPal, PAYS entrepreneurs $100k/year to drop out of college
Furthermore, the student loan crisis (and it is a crisis) is said to be reaching a crescendo that will have consequences as far reaching as that of the mortgage crisis a few years back.
Please try to understand that the vernacular they are both using goes along with a big force behind the brand – it’s real, unedited and authentic.
4) I think the point of this was just to say what Will Hunting brilliantly said in his eponymous film “(don’t) waste $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library”
And don’t be mean. Keep reading, keep trying hard. To quote Lauryn: “stay in your lane.” You’ll get there too.
Thank you for posting, I Kelly. I am encouraged to know I’m not the only reader with this reaction and I appreciate the levity you bring to the situation.
I imagine Lauryn has thicker skin, but I cringed when I read the post for so many reasons. As a person with possibly too much education, I find TSC refreshing and inspiring. I’m slightly older than most readers, but I’ve been reading all along. Two plus posts with more than a SHRED of humanity come to mind without trying: the registry post where Lauryn and Michael make a point to choose charities as part of their registry and the many posts referencing Lauryn’s commitment to Chi rescue and other 501(c)(3)s related to assisting animals in San Diego. I’m confident there are many more.
Finally, the comments about family money and backing are beyond inappropriate. It boils down to manners. Lauryn has invited us into a space. Just because it is virtual does not make it okay to to behave any differently than you would behave if you were a guest in someone’s home.
This is such an important topic! I had the opportunity to have my school paid for and I knew what I wanted to do, but if these are things that I didn’t have help with I wouldn’t have gone 🙁
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I agree 100% our parents are telling us to do what worked for their generation. College was an opportunity for them but in our day we have endless opportunities online.
I wish I never started college, it’s been a huge waste of time for me because I don’t need it. I have an entrepreneur mind and always have.
If you have just picking and random subject to study and you don’t know what you want to do with that, that’s a huge sign you are in the wrong place. That’s what I did and I will never use my degree directly in business.
I started 8 years ago and have been struggling to finish my degree ever since, because it was not that right path for me. I have been swimming up stream.
Knowing this now, I vowed to myself I would never do something because that’s what I’m suppose to do; says society, family etc..
The only thing getting me through is knowing I am lucky to have an education, women have not always had that privilege and still don’t in many countries. However it’s still not a good enough reason for me because my talents and skills have been limited while trying to finish a degree I will never need.
If you are in this same position, work on skills/business ideas while you are in school so when you are done or before you can hit the ground running!
Having just read a post above(which shall remain nameless), let me preface by saying I love you guys! Thank you for your consistent posting and the wealth of wellness/fashion/home/beauty tips I have gleaned from your blog and snaps. Now on to the topic at hand and some back ground about me- I am 32 working in property management with 10 years of experience managing people and multi-million dollar assets. I have a professionally written resume and LinkedIn account. I’ve won numerous sales awards for the huge billion dollar publicly-traded company I work for. I cannot. get. an. interview. because. I. have. no. degree. I want out of the industry I work out and have applied to hundreds of jobs on Indeed, Monster, etc. Almost any position in the business world requires a bachelor’s degree. I cannot even APPLY without being asked if I have a bachelors and frequently being told I will not be considered for the position due to not having a degree and not allowed to fill out an app. It is incredibly discouraging and the reason I work full time and go to school full-time in the evenings. Perhaps I am over-confident but I’d kick ass at many of these positions with one hand tied behind my back and if they would just let me INTERVIEW, I could impress the hiring manager.
My father is a successful entrepreneur without a college education and feels similarly about the academic world. He also says he will hire for experience over education any day. As a small business owner, he has that luxury. Many companies do not feel the same. For those entrepreneurial spirits with a ton of hustle, a degree may be unnecessary. For us average Josephines looking to be considered for a decent job, it is essential in our current climate.
I’m so glad you posted this Jess, and I’m so sorry to hear about your predicament. It really does seem logical that your experience should count…not for something, but for everything! Sadly it really is just not that way. Spend two minutes job hunting and your spirits are crushed. Not only do you need a degree, but degrees are becoming more and more specialized, making it more and more difficult to break into a new career and then more difficult to leave your current career because it pigeonholes you where you are. It’s so sad and so frustrating. I’m right there with you… How can you prove yourself if an employer won’t even look at you because of the degree you don’t have, or that the degree you do have isn’t the EXACT degree they are looking for?! It’s heartbreaking and disheartening. I wish you the best of luck, girl. For what it’s worth this stranger is pulling for you.
While my degree is going to be really important for my career opportunities, I totally agree that everyone cannot just enroll in a school blindly assuming that they need a degree. Colleges can be very expensive, stressful as well as difficult for many to attend. Students just need to think for themselves and be sure if they know what they want to do requires any form of studying like that.
You guys sure know how to get a conversation started, don´t you?
I agree with your points here, especially about parents forcing you to take on massive debt to go to college and especially how that can be a colossal waste of time and money when you don´t know what the hell you want to do.
However, I do believe college is important and can serve a greater purpose than looking good on paper and preparing you for the “real world”. I think one of the most valuable things college teaches you is to start what you finished and disciplines you to learn how to work hard towards an end goal. I know there are other things in life that can teach you that as well, but when you are an immature 18 year old that doesn´t know what to do with your life, then the college structure can serve you well.
Not to mention you never know where those elective courses can take you. I decided to take Spanish since I lived in Texas and because everybody said it would be valuable. Turned out I loved it so much, I ended up taking it on as a major, which led to me study abroad in Mexico. Now, I have been here for eight years 😮
I don´t think college is for everyone, but I do think there are important lessons learned in those formative years through college that help you later in life.
What an awesome post, and can we hear more from Nicco? He sounds like he has an interesting story!
I completely agree! I was a first generation college student so it was a BIG deal in my family. That being said, now that I’m on the other side with the debt and a job I’m not ecstatic about, I wish I never went. While I am getting myself figured out, I wish I hadn’t turned my head up at community college or getting a less technical degree due to societal pressures.
I agree that a lot of college courses aren’t practical for the “real world.” However, I am a firm believer in the liberation that comes with formal education. When they say that education is power, they really mean it. I was an economics major — it does not have a direct application in my career (it could if I decide to move into a field of economics later…). Yet, I feel empowered, driven, and more aware of the world around me because of my economics courses and the “pointless” electives I was required to take. BUT (A HUGE BUT HERE) if someone is simply NOT a “school” person, college could definitely be a waste of time. If someone seriously hates sitting in the classroom and getting lectured (and therefore won’t retain the info), their time could probably be much better used getting a head start on their career. Love that you have started a convo on this, it’s a good one to have!
I love that you are tackling this subject. Personally, I went to college, and had a great experience and found much of what I learned extremely useful in my current job. However, junior year I almost dropped out to continue a career at a high end retailer. And that would have been okay if I did that – but I feel like so many people would have seen that as failure! If you find something that makes you happy just do it! College, not college, whatever.
Thank you for empowering young people to really think about what makes them passionate and pursue it – no matter what anyone else thinks!
First off I would LOVE a TSC college series! I love the fact that so many of your posts apply to me as a college student – like finding inexpensive ways to feel/be healthy and look fashionable.
Second, I am on the other end of the stick from you and Michael I think. Personally, I have always been very academically driven and can 100% say that I LOVE college. I love taking classes, being in a sorority, campus culture – I’m even considering extending my time in college to get a grad or law degree because I feel like I have so much more to learn about. But, I totally get that everyone has a different experience. I absolutely hated high school and considered graduating early like Michael did from college. So I think it ultimately takes time for everyone to find their groove, and sometimes further education can be a vehicle for that, and sometimes it’s a hindrance.
I am very interested in a college series, since I am in university right now.
I live in Europe (The Netherlands to be exact) so we have a slightly different systems with loans.
The thing I am struggling with right now, and maybe this is an idea for a future post, is that I will be graduating at the end of this year and I am feeling NOWHERE near ready to find a job and go into this grown-up-world. Which is kind of strange, since a lot of my friends are already working fulltime and I don’t see them as all that different than me.
So what is it that holds me back? And how will I get past this?
Would love to hear your opinion and let this community weigh in!
i tend to disagree. you can never be overeducated. it can’t hurt to get an education. college is the bare minimum degree you should have nowadays, at the very least for networking and putting yourself on an equal or greater level of the playing field with others.
oh my gosh! this post has engendered such a great discussion in the comments! it may be worth it to do a follow-up post (or series!) just on the different perspectives! i don’t necessarily agree 100% with your advice, but i can respect your decision because you put in the hard work to get there.
lauryn it auto-filled my last name— can you please remove it?????
All fixed Leslie! That’s a great idea. Thanks for reading! xx
Thanks for the post! While I agree that college has become the default for privileged some, there are a lot of people that don’t have the option to go to college. I’m discrouaged by comments made by readers stating that “college is blah” “college wasn’t interesting.” Say that to those that don’t even have a family member that has graduated college or high school. To that, I also say welcome to the real world. Not everything in life is meant to be exciting. It is about setting yourself up for success in the long term. College or not. The sooner you can figure that out, the better.
Hi Lauryn and Michael,
This post hit so close to home for me because I just started my second year of college. I am not a fan of college in all aspects: classes, living in dorms, drowning in loans, etc. So far my classes have been really tough, especially the ones that I have taken for my intended major (biology). I chose a biology major because I’m interested in entrepreneurship and creating my own skincare products but I also know there are lucky/hardworking individuals who make it into that type of industry without a college education. College is often considered a safe “backup.” For instance, even if my entrepreneurial business failed, I would have a college degree to fall back on. However, I am totally feeling as though college is not helping me reach my goal at all, and it’s taking me longer (and costing me more money). Do you have advice for people who want to go into entrepreneurship? I feel as though for that type of field you really need connections to be successful and make it far, so would dropping out of college really be “worth it?”
Thanks so much, love the blog!
I’m a little older than most of your readers, I would imagine, and really disagree with this advice. Are there really so few people out there who didn’t go to college to learn? I learned to think, to write; learned about art, music; and I learned how to express myself in front of my peers. These skills are valuable. I’m now a stay-at-home mom. Because I don’t work, does that mean college was of no value to me? I think this advice is really short-sighted.
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I totally 100% agree with every point but one – if you are going to continue college, your GPA absolutely DOES matter. I work in accounting and every job I’ve interviewed for since graduation (including my very first, very short, stunt as a sad admin assistant) has asked to view my transcripts. It’s something incredibly common in all office jobs, so many people have degrees these days I guess it’s a way to narrow down candidates. Honestly I feel any soft skill college kid should drop out now, I’m a firm believer in the overall point, but this isn’t the first time I’ve heard someone claim GPA is irrelevant and I’ve found that to be far from true. Even my boyfriend who works in the trades was asked to verify his GPA, work hard or don’t bother!
Oh my gosh! I am in such a similar situation!!
Long story short—went to college right out of high school, didn’t know what to do, stopped going to college, worked, was told I needed a degree to advance (working in live TV in NYC), went back, decided I still wasn’t sure about what to do, stopped again, worked again, now at 23 years old I am back….again???
((also ironically a communications major))
And I STILL have no clue. College is so expensive and is shoved down everyones throats as being necessary and I hate it. I am an awful student (not grades but a serious lack of motivation for school), yet an excellent employee with serious drive a fairly impressive resume and recommendations.
I am inspired by you creating your own brand and following your passions. And I am trying to find what I want currently (which is SO SO SO hard!) I honestly have no idea where to even start? Help?
What books did you read or blogs or resources did you use when you were discovering what you wanted to do?
Do you have any advice for someone in my situation?
Awesome article. The intelligent of a person it isn’t determine in his degree. Everyone has the right to choose what career path they want to take or what they’re passionate about. Thank you, Nice one!
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FUCK college amirite.. only did freshman year and i put myself in a huge hole bc it was a private university. not to mention they kicked me out after the 1 yr bc my grandparents (who raised me) couldn’t afford it. oh and also not to mention they wouldn’t release my transcript bc i didn’t have 11k cash to pay upfront. is this surprising that a *at the time* 19 yr old college student with 2 jobs to pay for their car/gas/food/cellphone/books/other annoying bs couldn’t afford 11k cash to continue her education? (but hey, they’re a private school they can do that they want right…*eyeroll*) i was depressed bc here we are 3 year later, supposed to be graduating this weekend if i had stayed all 4 years..but then i came across your blog..then came across this article and now i feel so much better. in fact id have more debt and probably no job. so fuck college bc if i had stayed, i wouldn’t be as successful as i am right now at a young age. thanks for this post i feel great now. gonna go do big things
College is very important. Teens nowadays are very ignorant of their future. Some just think that college is just a time in which they’ll be free from their parents and have no restriction on what they do. Very interesting article. Keep it up.
Just came across this post! As a college blogger, I completely agree that college isn’t for everyone. However, I don’t think education is ever wasted. It’s clear that tons of people who go to college that don’t end up working in the field they studied, but they still have the college experience. College gives you the chance to be exposed to many different backgrounds, viewpoints, etc that you otherwise may not have come across. Again, totally agree that no one should just go to college because society says so.
It’s funny you mentioned Communications in this, because that’s my major actually! And I do very much know what I hope to do in life. I think Communication degrees can be extrmemly valuable today, especially because they translate to so many fields.
I love TSC by the way, my all time favorite blog! Just wanted to share my thoughts 🙂
No doubt college and studies are so important. Your post is damn so true and great. Thanks for the share.
Damn this post is LIT.
I’m commenting way late because I just discovered the Skinny Confidential and I’m blazing through your podcasts (so much love). I want to say thank you! You two are a huge breath of fresh air. As far as the college issue goes…I earned a B.S. and M.A. in English in 5 years, while also competing as a Division 1 athlete. The biggest thing college taught me was to manage my time/priorities and take responsibility for my own success. If I hadn’t earned my scholarship (thank God!), I would absolutely never have forked over 40k a year. Who thinks that’s a good idea?? Yikes. But I do think I would have been just as successful without the degrees, because I know how to work my ass off. I just love this fresh outlook on college and success, and love the discussion it prompted!
If the career you envision for yourself doesn’t absolutely require a degree to be considered, you fall into that murky “it depends” area. There’s no denying that when you have zero experience, a degree is going to help you have a little more clout.
I dropped out of college since i was taking up something that i was’t enjoying which ends up with me just wasting money and time. i ended up doing something i love and passionate about. it feels like i’m not working at all. I’m not saying that this is fit for everyone but better think of going to college or what you’re gonna take up very carefully. you wouldn’t want to waste all your money time and effort
I believe a gap year or two would be my solution in this case. Paying for college can be financially devastating indeed.
Thank you for sharing this with us, i dropped out of college but i’m doing fine. yes college is still needed but if you found what you’re passionate about at an early age then why not pursue it early right?
Thank you for sharing this to us, in my honest opinion college is still needed since you still need to be educated in the subject of your profession