As the cost of education continues to rise, people are
questioning the value of a degree. And according to Penelope Trunk, the founder of Brazen Careerist, 85% of people today are wasting their money — and time — in college.”Colleges have been selling this idea that going to college will get you a job, but this isn’t the case any more,” she says. And if getting a college degree no longer guarantees you a job offer, then you need to really pinpoint your reasons for going. In fact, unless you’re really great at school or got accepted into a top 10 school, “you should just go to work.”
In her recent article published on LinkedIn, Trunk advises young people to re-think college and focus on internships, saying that anyone can teach themselves the skills needed to be successful. She gives the example of an MIT program that gave iPads to illiterate kids in Ethiopia who then were able to teach themselves how to use it, program it and read it in English without a teacher or curriculum.
Attending college is simply more expensive than ever, so if you end up indebted after graduation, you’ve significantly narrowed your career choices, says Trunk. “I mean, how do you make those loan payments? There are like five career paths for you if you take out a $100,000 loan,” but “if you don’t take out any loans, then the whole world is opened to you.”
Aside from the high cost of education, Trunk says you should reconsider college because it’s a waste of your time. “We’re not debating if you should be taking out loans … we know that’s a bad idea … we’re asking, ‘Is it worth your time?'”
Still, some may argue that the classroom provides you with leadership and managerial skills-development, but Trunk says this is untrue because you basically either have it, or you don’t. In other words, the person who graduated Harvard has the same drive as the person who merely applied to Harvard, because applying to a competitive school or program — even if you don’t get accepted — means that you have the determination and drive that will make you succeed.
“Every Fortune 500 company will give you a Myers-Briggs personality test now to see if you’re capable of becoming a leader at their company,” she says.
So what should young people be doing to launch their careers if they’re not going to college? Trunk says they should be working in internships at an early age, because “the best path to a good job is a bunch of great internships,” and if you get a head start in high school, you can take advantage of living with your parents while working an unpaid internship. By the time you get to “college age,” you’ll have the experience to work in an industry you want — and get paid for it, but “you can’t take this route if you have no work experience when you graduate college. It’s too late.”
Still, while most people agree that college is a good idea, the knowledge economy has made information — and more opportunities — accessible to anyone. And if our education system doesn’t evolve in a way that teaches more students how to think like innovators and disruptors, would-be college grads may be better off jumping into the global workforce right away.
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