College is currently considered a (privileged) default of the American education system. A bachelor’s degree is now looked at as not too different to a high school diploma. Just a few decades ago, having a bachelor’s degree was a guarantee of getting a job, but now, there is no such distinction. So a college degree can be helpful, but it’s no surefire way to getting the life or career a person might want.
There are plenty of people getting by without these degrees. In fact, some people are doing just great. Both Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are college drop outs. Ellen DeGeneres dropped out after just one semester. Media mogul Russell Simmons too. Steve Jobs. Oprah Winfrey. F.Scott Fitzgerald. Richard Branson never even finished high school. These are some of the most respected, innovative and wealthy people currently alive.
Ryan Holiday, media strategist, brain behind many of American Apparel’s ads, and author of Ego is the Enemy, also dropped out of college. He got a job offer while at school, and as student loan is a financial grenade on the rest of your life, it’s a decision he saw logic in.
Not that it was easy for him. Dropping out of college is like choosing to end an era, the time of education, summer breaks, weekends off, and furthering one’s mind. It isn’t a choice to be made lightly, as Holiday stresses. It took a long time to make the choice, and it affected his family life. While college has a huge price tag, we aren’t all geniuses or magnetic charmers, so it’s a choice to think over, and think over again, while staying in school to do the thinking. The important part is the question: should I go to college? Should I be here?
Being a college student carries a certain cultural value; it symbolizes that this person is trying to become a more well-rounded version of what they are, is dedicated, and is looking to make their future better. The drop-out hall of fame is a seductive prospect, but remember that Zuckerberg wouldn’t have conceived of Facebook if he hadn’t briefly gone to university. These institutions are amazing places to network and meet likeminded people, and can be a springboard to success – whether you’ve done four years or four months.