5 Signs You Might Be Too Good for College

From the Praxis blog.

There is a common myth that only Steve Jobs-like geniuses and cheese puff eating flunkies should opt out of college.  For college to be a poor fit, you’ve either gotta be sitting on the next billion dollar startup idea or sitting on your mom’s couch.  This is nonsense.  There is a large and growing group of smart, hard-working young people who are way too good for the rigmarole and time-wasting conformity of even elite colleges.  I’ve met lots of them.

These are what I call “blue collar entrepreneurs”.  They’re quick, curious, eager, and in-touch with their core values and goals.  They want to learn about themselves and the world and won’t wait for permission.  These are the people for whom college is the biggest waste.

The mediocre, the minimum acceptable regurgitators, and the mildly enthusiastic are those who get the most value from college.  After all, their degree signals that they are about as good as all the other degree holders; average.  But the most ambitious young people gain little from such a signal.  In fact, a degree that lumps them in with all other degree holders undersells them.  They’re too good for college, and they have the power to send a much more valuable signal outside of the one-size-fits-all system.  They can create a better credential than the off-the-shelf version that takes four years and six figures.

“There’s no question that increased formal credentials can give you an advantage. The question is, is it the best advantage you can buy with the amount of money and time you’re going to spend?” –Michael Ellsberg

How to know if you’re too good for college?  Here are five signs to look for…

1) Your classmates frighten you.

You look around the classroom and it dawns on you: these people will walk out of here with the same credential as you.  All this time and money just to buy a degree that says, “Hey, I’m at least as good as the snoring sleeper next to me in Psych 101″.  Not only that, but your future accountant, doctor, marketing director, or editor might be sitting in that classroom.  You read the essay they turned in last week.  It wasn’t pretty.  If it’s clear this education isn’t preparing them for the world and the thought of them living and working as adults gives you a start, you might consider separating yourself from the crowd.

2) You feel a little annoyed being treated like a burden instead of a customer.

You might begin to feel most of your professors don’t see you as a customer, but a hindrance they’d like to get out of the way with minimal interaction and deviation.  Sure, there are always some good profs, but how many of them act annoyed at a teaching load of a few classes per semester, or give minimal and inconvenient office hours, or don’t seem to care if their lectures are boring, or get angry when you challenge their ideology or assumptions, or shame students on Facebook for asking questions about the syllabus?  You’re the customer and are right to wish to be treated as such.  You can always take your business and walk.

3) You learned more about how government functions from watching ‘The Wire’ than an entire year of political science classes.

The cat’s out of the bag.  Pandora’s box is open.  Whatever metaphor you use, the university is not the font of wisdom it once was.  Books have always been there for the curious, but with online courses, podcasts, audiobooks, eBooks, streaming videos, and social networks, you might find yourself eagerly consuming information relevant to you everywhere but the classroom.  The learning method at universities is older than the wheel, and it’s a crap-shoot whether you’ll get a decent teacher.  If you get your learn on outside of the graded conveyor belt already, why keep taxing yourself with class?

4) Your degree is the least impressive part of your resume.

If you’ve already done a lot of things, or you’re capable of doing a lot of things, that are rarer and more interesting than getting a BA, why get one?  If you’ve started a business, worked for a year or longer at a good company, traveled the world on your own steam and your own dime, built a website, written some articles, sold products, learned a foreign or programming language, or any number of interesting things, those will be more valuable on your resume and in building your network and reputation than a generic degree.  Ask yourself what you’d want an employee to bring to the table if you owned a business.  Can you get those things right now, without school?

5) You’re happy when class is cancelled.

What an odd thing that students pay up front for a university education and then get excited when the service is not provided.  What other product is treated this way?  If classes are a distraction from running student clubs or newspapers, working, blogging, hobbies, startups, or other things that make you come alive, why not get it out of the way?  The idea of a degree as a fallback is pretty weak.  It’s not going to magically lift you out of poverty or aimlessness.  You’ve got to do that yourself.  Why not start now with all your energy and not have nagging classes and exams hanging over your head?

If you see yourself in these signs, you might be too good for college.  Jump off the conveyor belt and create your own path.  Fortune favors the bold, so break free.

If you know you’re worth more than college but you’re not quite sure how to plot your own path and discover what makes you come alive, we can help.  That’s what Praxis was created for. Contact us or Apply today!

The Biggest Problems are the Biggest Opportunities

In their book Bold: How to Go Big, Achieve Success, and Impact the World, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler talk about the fact that the biggest problems in the world are also the biggest opportunities.  Higher education is no exception.

We are by now well acquainted with the myriad problems with the traditional higher ed conveyor belt system.  Student debt is reaching astronomical levels, institutions have become little more than degree mills spitting out graduates unequipped for the world, students are bored and restless, employers aren’t finding skilled workers, and nobody’s happy.  This is a big problem, and therefore a big opportunity.

It’s not only an opportunity for entrepreneurs to create new education models like Praxis, Minerva, Gap-Year, Enstitute, and others; it’s also an opportunity for you as an individual.  You can capitalize on the problem by creating your own path.  The degree is declining in value and the classroom is fast becoming one of the weakest ways to gain relevant information, skill, confidence, network, and knowledge.  This is an opportunity for you to gain a first-mover advantage and step out of the classroom and into the world.

Those who can boldly say, “I opted-out of the stagnant status quo to create my own path”, and demonstrate the value they can produce will have a tremendous advantage over the throngs of young people hoping that BA on their resume will get them an interview.

Praxis is Democratizing the Degree

Above all a college degree is a signal.  People buy one to signal to the world – their parents, peers, employers, investors, co-workers – that they are a valuable, smart, skilled person worth working with.  Yet the signalling power of the degree has been dropping fast.  Ask any employer and they’ll tell you they have less and less trust in a degree to accurately signal a high-performing, value-creating person.  They prefer experience and demonstrated proof of knowledge, but instead they are asked to simply trust a credential that’s supposed to verify knowledge and skill they can’t see for themselves.  The whole system is based on trust, which is why it’s so vulnerable and ripe for innovation.

Why is Bitcoin a breakthrough? Because unlike all other methods of payment, it’s a trustless system. You don’t need to simply believe people and institutions, you can have demonstrated proof. It’s s platform for open, peer-to-peer verification.

That’s what we’re doing for credentialing at Praxis. The closed door, black box model asks everyone to trust universities and professors to accurately reflect knowledge and skill through tests, grades, and degrees, yet no one gets to actually see the process.  We’re opening it up to the world.  It doesn’t matter what your professor or institution thinks, it matters what the people who actually want to work with you think.  Let’s let them in.  Let’s let them give the grades.  Let’s decentralize this thing.

We’re not trying to create new and better credential gatekeepers. We’re tearing off the gates.  I describe what we’re doing and why in a bit more detail below.

You can also read and watch more about what we’re doing here.

The Real Education Podcast with Blake Boles

Can you combine liberal arts and work experience?  Can you combine virtual and real-world?  That’s what Praxis is all about and what I discuss with Blake Boles on this episode of his Real Education Podcast.

Blake is an author and pioneer in the world of self-directed learning.  He’s got his hand in numerous projects and programs and his podcast is one of my new favorites.  Give a listen to the episode, and check out Blake’s stuff at his website.

What History Really Is

The other day one of the Praxis participants posted this to Facebook:

“As a former history major in college and a college drop-out, I never thought I could love history even more then I did back in school. But as I go through the history module for Praxis, I feel like I’ve been cheated my whole life through school. Instead of learning about the greatness of government and its political figures we get to learn about individuals that have actually changed society for the better through markets and with an entrepreneurial spirit.

He found the secret.  Each module contains a core theme not directly expressed but conveyed through the broader arc of all the content.  The secret of the history module is to dispel the myth of Great Men.

Most history in textbooks and schools tells very little about how we got here.  How did humanity overcome environmental and social challenges to move from stone tablets to touchscreen tablets?  How did all the order we see around us evolve?  How did languages form, and great stories and myths, and breakthrough inventions?  How can the great fact of exponential human progress after the Industrial Revolution be explained?

Most histories are really only the history of those who have ordered and overseen the deaths of masses of people.  Military and political figureheads who pass laws and give speeches and take credit for all the good things that happen during their reign.  Even non-political figures like artists or entrepreneurs get portrayed as lone geniuses who never collaborated with others or engaged in a rigorous, messy, back-and-forth process in broader society and market.

History is now.  We are making it.  So has everyone before.  We want to open up the mind to the possibility that the great advances in society aren’t from Great Men or Lone Geniuses with top-down plans, but from the dynamic creative process of market and social exchange.  Whether hearing Stephen Davies discuss lesser known but more important dates in history, reading Anderson and Hill on how complex disputes were settled in a decentralized way in the American West, listening to Paul Cantor on Shakespeare and Dickens and the X-Files taking feedback from their audiences and incorporating it into their work, or watching Kirby Ferguson on how everything is a remix, the secret is there.  History is about a complex interplay of people and processes.  The pomp and parades and statues are easily seen, but they don’t tell of the fundamental force in society; creative individuals interacting and exchanging with one another.

Things We Do To Our Children

I joined Albert Lu on The Economy Podcast to talk about things we do to our children.  We discussed whether and to what extent a parent can know what’s good for a child and force them to do things for their own good, from sports to music lessons and beyond.  We also discussed the lack of student-directed learning from grade school all the way through college and the problems it creates.

Listen to the episode here.  I’m on first and then author Richard Maybury on the same topic.

What Liberal Arts Education Misses

I’m a big fan of liberal arts education.  Not in the classical sense of churning out dutiful citizen soldiers, but in the modern sense of a broad exploration into the humanities rather than a narrow vocational specialization.

The dichotomy between learning for “work” and learning “for its own sake” is ridiculous.  All meaningful learning has an end desired by the learner, whether to have fun or gain knowledge that helps earn money or both.  Liberal arts education is incredibly valuable as a tool to sharpen thinking and broaden the mind.  Despite all the names given to the disciplines therein, it all really boils down to the master discipline of philosophy.  Philosophy is valuable if for no other reason than that we all have a philosophy whether we want to or not.  It’s either examined or unexamined, and we are better at achieving our goals and ends if we examine our philosophy.

Still liberal arts education has a huge, gaping hole.  It’s not that it doesn’t teach enough hard skills or vocational specialization.  One could argue those are something that could be learned on top of a liberal arts foundation for those who want to master a particular skill.  Yet it is true that liberal arts education often makes it hard for individuals to bridge this gap between general critical thinking and particular ways they might apply it to create a meaningful life and career.  The missing piece is something a little more concrete than liberal arts but a little more abstract than vocational skill.  It’s an understanding of value creation.

Value creation is the only thing that matters when it comes to involvement in commercial life.  This is where philosophy meets action.  This is where theory meets practice.  An entirely pragmatic practitioner who only performs tasks may find herself flustered with limited career options just as easily as an abstract theorist who doesn’t know how to concretely practice his ideas.  The pragmatist misses the fact that it’s not just getting your hands dirty that brings career success, but creating value for others, which may or may not correlate to how many hours you work or how much you master a particular skill.  The theorist misses the fact that all the clear thinking in the world about the nature of people and the universe won’t put bread on the table unless they can translate it into something of value to others and exchange with them.

A truly powerful liberal arts education would include learning value creation.  What it is, and more importantly, how to do it.  The thing about value creation that differs from other things learned studying liberal arts is that it cannot be learned by intellectual examination alone.  You have to do it.  You have to enter the messy marketplace and bump into other humans with unique goals and desires and find a way to bring something of value to exchange.  If philosophy begins with ‘know thyself’ then working for pay is one of the most philosophical activities possible.  Getting others to voluntarily part with their resources because you can create something they value more will reveal more than you can imagine about yourself, your desires, habits, and unknown abilities you never would have guessed are valued by others.

It shouldn’t stop with merely performing the action.  Reflection and dissection of what’s happening will take you to the next level.  All the best entrepreneurs are deeply philosophical people.  They don’t merely work and try stuff and suddenly get lucky when people value something they created.  The analyze why, how it might be made better, what fundamental causes brought about success, etc.  They get to know whether their key value was the big idea, the management and execution, the network of talent, the sales job, or some combination.  This allows them to replicate success by focusing on the areas with highest return.

Philosophy is known for thought experiments, but the market is where its field experiments take place.  The most powerful liberal arts education is one that includes the study and practice of value creation.  This could mean digging into ideas in the humanities while simultaneously working at a company and trying to make it and yourself more money, not just as a practical but a philosophical exercise.  I’ve never understood people who’ve studied for decades but never entered the marketplace to exchange.  Perhaps it’s a carry-over from the Greek’s high-minded condescension towards merchants, but an attitude that treats value creation as beneath contemplation is impractical and illogical.

This passion for theory and big ideas and liberal arts combined with the thrill of value creation in the marketplace is what animates Praxis and what gets me up and working every day.  I’ve gotten to the point where I do not have any way to distinguish work from study.  In the office I’m as likely to be reading Seneca as going over an expense report.  I see both as equally important for my long term success and happiness.

We don’t need Plato’s philosopher kings.  The worst thing is to confer the use of force upon smart people who leave the production to others.  We could use more philosopher merchants who constantly examine themselves and seek to understand the world while testing their ideas in the voluntary marketplace of goods and services; who imagine a better world and then go out and create it themselves.

Idea Mensch Interview

An interview I did with Idea Mensch on Praxis, entrepreneurship, and an assortment of other things.

Where did the idea for Praxis come from? What does your typical day look like?

Praxis is really the culmination of a lot of ideas and experiences, beginning with my time in college when I felt like given the time and money, I wasn’t learning nearly as much as I wanted to and I was getting better experience working than in school. Through many ups and downs and steps in my career path over the past decade, I finally pulled the pieces together and created the kind of educational experience I wished I’d had. The idea of work with entrepreneurs, the best of liberal arts, business, and hard skills training, and a largely self-directed program packed into ten months for net-zero cost was the realization of a long held dream and the answer to my own and many other students’ frustrations.

A typical day for me begins with a swim, breakfast, shower, and then a half hour or so of reading a few blogs and catching up on social media. Then I dive into my to-do list, which involves a lot of phone calls, emails, and Skype meetings with entrepreneurs in the Praxis business partner network, interviews with applicants, catch-up calls with participants, programmatic stuff with our Education Director, marketing plans and tactics (which are highly variable) with our Marketing Director, reviews and updates to financials, and many other interactions with many other people. I plow through a lot of emails, as I have a zero inbox policy and respond to just about every serious email I get.

I like to get outside for at least half an hour each day to break things up, sometimes just to walk, sometimes while making phone calls. I also work in at least thirty minutes to write pretty much every day, and time to read whatever book I’m on. I find that if I don’t make time for writing and reading, my mind begins to feel empty, and my energy soon follows. I need to feed on new ideas constantly to stay charged.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Action. I am heavily action biased, which can certainly get me in to trouble, but I find that any idea I analyze for too long without moving forward in some way inevitably dies an ignoble death. I need to see progress, so I push things and move them, even if just a little bit every day. From the moment the idea for Praxis came together in my mind, I began hashing and rehashing it, contacting people I’d need to help build it, buying domain names, doing informal market research, and anything I could to keep moving the inertia. If I do at least one thing every single day to get an idea closer to life, it has a far higher likelihood of success than if I wait around for a time when I can make one big move. I see it like exercising. If the idea is a healthy body, you’re better off doing one thing every day, even if it’s just twenty push-ups, then waiting for the perfect day to spend two hours in an elaborate workout at the gym.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The massive reduction in transaction costs due to technology. There are so many underutilized resources out there – both people and goods – because traditionally it’s been really hard to gather the right information at the right time to make the right connections. Smartphones, location services, massive amounts of digital data and other technology have made valuable information readily accessible and seamless. We’re just seeing the beginning of the efficiencies and opportunities this creates with things like Uber, AirBnB, and other ways people can find what they need in places previously unavailable to them because of prohibitive transaction and information costs. Everything from specialized skills and knowledge from experts, to the best brunch joint in town can be accessed instantly, where you once had to know a trivia king or read a phonebook.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Delete, shred, destroy. I am a minimalist. I try to clear out any and everything that is nonessential. I condense and combine wherever I can. I go paperless with everything, and if important things are sent to me in physical form, I snap a picture and store it in the cloud so I can throw out the paper copy. I keep my desk, my inbox, and my life in general as clutter free as possible. I used to collect things I thought would someday be useful, but I found the mental space required to have so much stuff around (both physical things and facts and tasks in my head) was immense, and reduced my productivity. I now record crucial info and to-do’s and rely on my calendar and list to remind me so I don’t have to remember, and I purge all that is not needed, and even some things that are if they’re easily replicable!

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

Bagging groceries when I was 14-15. I hate to even call it the worst, because I actually enjoyed it and have enjoyed every job I’ve had, but compared to all the rest, it was definitely the least pleasant and rewarding. I learned several valuable things. First, that time moves really slowly when you’re not in “flow”. When we were humming and lines were long, hours passed like minutes as I frantically bagged and carried groceries out. It was actually a rush and I’d give myself challenges to see how fast I could bag the groceries without damaging them. When we were slow, the minutes crept by slower than anything I’ve ever experienced. This is why I actually loved working busy holidays.

Another powerful lesson was just how hard good help is to find. Nearly all of my colleagues stole items from the store. I even had a book stolen from the break room. Many were fun to talk to, but not at all trustworthy or hard working. Just by showing up on time for every shift, I quickly become one of the most valued employees even though the youngest. It was a sad dose of reality, but helped me temper my expectations for a working world in which most people simply aren’t that good as employees.

Finally, I learned that those who hated their jobs did worse and were less happy than those who didn’t, and that it was largely a choice. Some of my coworkers and managers were always unhappy clock-watchers. They didn’t perform well and didn’t value their own work. Some took pride in it. It wasn’t a difference in ability or position, but a difference in outlook. Some had fun with work and treated it like a playful experience and one they could always improve in. They excelled and were generally happy. Others saw it as a necessary burden and did the bare minimum. They had little pride in themselves and were generally unhappy. It became clear that belief trumped external circumstance when it came to fulfillment.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Take bigger risks sooner. It took me too long to realize that what everyone else says, does, and believes is not as important as my gut. I may fail more going that route, but failure is the best way forward, and it took me too long to not be afraid of it. I would try to get some of my earlier, crazier ideas of the ground instead of waiting for validation.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Constantly force yourself to put into words – written and spoken – your vision and value proposition as concisely as possible. Whether for your company or product, or just for your life in general. What are you trying to build? Why does it matter? What will be the outcome? It’s incredibly hard to understand and articulate, even for those in the middle of successful ventures! But it’s crucial self-knowledge and it brings about crucial self-honesty.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Our business is brand new, so the only growth we’ve experienced this far is going from zero to one and getting our first class off the ground. The biggest aid to that was probably cashing in tons of accumulated social capital. I’d spent ten years doing favors for people, making connections, sharing information, ideas, and feedback generously, mentoring, and generally trying to be kind, helpful, responsive, and someone who gets things done. This built up a lot of goodwill with a wide network. When Praxis get going we needed as much as we could get, because there are some things you can’t do with money, time, or individual effort alone. We needed expertise, media exposure, connections, and much more, and it was only by cashing in on that accumulated social capital that we were able to grow from seed to sapling.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

My original business plan for Praxis was essentially a work for free arrangement that I felt was really groundbreaking and beneficial to all parties. I was quite far along in the process when it dawned on me to check into current labor laws and regulations, only to discover that what I had in mind was basically illegal. You can’t work for free unless you actually destroy value at a company, according to current regulations. My initial reaction was resigned indignation. I was ready to give up on the whole idea altogether until my brother, a seasoned and successful entrepreneur and a close friend and mentor, just laughed when I shared it with him. He said, “That’s great! That’s what’s kept everyone else with this idea from moving forward, so it means less competition for you!” He assured me there’s always another way to get at the same end goal, and with some creative thought and effort, we found one.

I will never forget that phone conversation, or the non-threatened, playful approach my brother brought to the situation. He had been through things like this and had internalized the lesson that there are no obstacles that a good idea can’t overcome somehow. That was huge for me.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Rental everything. I don’t want to have to own and maintain a weed Wacker, lawnmower, suits for formal occasions, golf clubs I seldom use, a boat, camping gear, etc. But I do want to have access to these things, either regularly or infrequently, and in quality and quantity it wouldn’t make sense for me to buy and maintain myself. A combination of businesses and individual owners on a one-stop peer-to-peer platform where prices, location, ratings and availability were open and accessible could make my life a lot easier and make use of a lot of underutilized assets sitting in garages, warehouses, or stores. Sure, it’s a logistical challenge, but you figure that out and you’ve got at least one customer for life!

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I can clap with one hand. On both hands.

What software and web services do you use?

Google. Praxis uses Google apps for business, and the combination of my iPhone hardware with Gmail and Drive apps is unbeatable.

It’s simple, clean, has tons of storage space, and intuitive search function, and it’s the industry standard. I have no particular brand loyalty, so as soon as I use something I like a lot better, I’m happy to switch. Right now, nothing comes close.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Act of Creation, by Arthur Koestler. This lesser known gem is quite an amazing book, jam packed with insight about what human creativity looks like and how it happens. It’s a powerful reminder of the value of daydreaming and subconscious activity. It’s empowering and humbling at the same time, like all great truths.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

In terms of contemporaries, I like to read Fred Wilson’s blog AVC.com, I enjoy Seth Godin’s blog as well, and I love consuming nerdy economics stuff from EconlogEcontalk, and The Freeman. If we’re talking all time, I’ve always appreciated deep insights on the human condition from Mark Twain, Albert Jay Nock, C.S. Lewis, Frederic Bastiat, Benjamin Franklin, Adam Smith, and Socrates.

6 Tips When Deciding Whether to Finish College

From the Praxis Blog

A lot of bright young people are unhappy in college.  They hate wasting money.  They hate wasting time.  They hate the fact that what they’re getting in return is of so little value in preparing them for career and life.

Many of these young people are resigned to push themselves through that one final semester, or year, or two years.  Sure, it sucks.  But they’ve come so far, it seems the sensible thing is to soldier through the drudgery and finish before pursuing things they are really passionate about.  At least then they’ll walk away with something, right?

Not so fast.

Here are six things to consider if you don’t love college but think you need to finish anyway.

1. Don’t fall for the sunk cost fallacy.  It’s gone.  It can never be recovered.  You will never get back the money or time you’ve put in.

This fallacy plagues everyone from investors to gamblers to your friend who makes you wait in an hour long line to see a mediocre movie because, “We’ve already waited half an hour and I don’t want that to be for nothing!”

I hate to break it to your friend, but it was for nothing.  Past expenditures that can’t be recovered shouldn’t factor in to decisions about the present and future.  It doesn’t matter that you sunk three and a half years and 50 grand into college.  What matters is whether the next six months and ten grand is better spent on college than all other alternatives.  Remove yourself from your prior experience.  If you had never spent any time or money on college and someone offered to put you through lectures for a year if you paid upwards of five figures, would that be your ideal way to spend those resources?  If not, don’t.

Quitting doesn’t make it all for nothing, it makes it all for whatever it is you’ve gained up to this point. If that wasn’t worth it, why would the next semester or year be?  Looking only ahead and not behind, what gets you closer to the kind of experiences and life you will enjoy?

2. Don’t see college as a single, unified product.  College comes as a bundle of goods; knowledge, a social experience, parties, football games, a signal that you’re a normal person, a degree, etc.  Unbundle it.

What parts do you really value?  If it’s knowledge gained from good lectures and discussions, ask yourself if that component can be had better or cheaper elsewhere.  If it’s the social experience, ask them same.  Do you really need four years and six figures to have a good time and meet new friends?  Can football games only be enjoyed if you have student loans?  Is a degree really the most effective and direct route to a career you love?

Consider the individual units of time, money, and energy you put in and get out.  Perhaps it was valuable for the first few semesters before you really knew yourself.  Rather than assuming you have to either take the whole bundle or leave it, take those valuable units, be thankful for them, and when the value ceases, move on to the next best use of the next unit of time, money, and passion.  Economists call this thinking at the margin.  I call it good sense.

3. Don’t let your past control your future. So you once thought your dream was to be a doctor, argue before the Supreme Court, or walk down the aisle in a cap and gown with an MBA.  Now that you’re in the thick of it, it doesn’t move you.  It bores you.  It tires you.  You don’t see the point in all the monotony.  But you’ve always been known as the gal who’s heart was set on that path.  To change course would make everyone think something was terribly wrong. So what.

It’s hard to be really honest with yourself about what makes you come alive.  It’s painful too, as what you wish you were and what you used to be pass away.  The only thing worse is living your present the way your past self wanted, rather than the way your present self needs.  It sucks to be a slave to anything.  Being a slave to your past personality is one of the worst forms.  Break the chains and do what gets you going today.

4. Don’t assume staying the course is a virtue. If you’re being punked by Ashton Kutcher, it’s best to figure it out and quit whatever embarrassing thing you’re doing.  Persistence is a great virtue; unless you’re persisting to drive in the wrong direction, take the wrong medicine, or cut the wrong sequence of wires while defusing a bomb.

Recognizing a fools errand takes insight.  Dropping out for something better takes courage.  If it ain’t right, don’t keep at it.

5. Don’t be a slave to your resume. It’s not that important anyway.

Sure, a college degree it still carries some psychological weight, but not much in a stack of resumes.  Titles, degrees, letters after your name and other accolades seem very important when you’re young and inexperienced in the professional world.  It’s because you have no other metric for success.  The education you’ve experienced for most of your life is all about gold stars and letter grades and honor rolls and GPA.  The market is nothing like that.  It cares about value.  Do you have it?  Can you prove it?

Resumes matter on occasion, but really only after you’ve got a foot in the door through your network, experience, and reputation as a hard worker.  Is college equipping you with those things?

What your resume lacks in degrees it can more than make up for in content.  It’s really impressive when someone is self-aware enough to know college wasn’t working, and bold enough to head for greener pastures.  It stands out from the crowd and opens the way for you to tell your story.  Plus, you can say, “I took the Mark Zuckerberg/Steve Jobs/Bill Gates/Larry Ellison route.”

An employer who writes off your great reputation, smarts, communication skills, and stellar work ethic, just because you don’t have a degree, is probably not someone you want to work with anyway.

6. Don’t forget opportunity cost.  You need to weigh the costs of finishing college.  You’ve got it.  Ignore sunk costs, think at the margin, and all that other stuff I’ve been saying.  Yeah, yeah.  You get out your calculator to add up the dollars, or if you’re more sophisticated, days and dollars.  But you’re ignoring the biggest cost: you.

You are scarce.  You can only be in one place, doing one thing, at one time.  That means for every choice you make there are countless other things you are unable to choose.  The cost of one decision is more than the money paid; it’s the value of the next best alternative.  Once again to the economists, who call this your opportunity cost.

If you’re considering that final fifteen grand for your senior year, you need to add to that the value of your next best option.  Maybe you could work and earn $20,000.  In that case, the cost of the final year is really $35,000.  Make a difference?  You bet.

It’s not just money prices.  Value is subjective.  Maybe you value experience and mentorship, or travel and new cultures, more than the $20,000 job.  You have to give it up to finish school.  Is it worth the price?

When you consider sacrificing four or more prime years of your youth, and being bound to one geographical location for most of that time, college starts to cost a lot more than tuition.  For half the cost and in half the time, you might be able to visit ten countries, start a business, earn some money, and learn computer programming.  That’s just scratching the surface.

Bottom line: Don’t stay in college just because you’re close to the end.  Look ahead rather than behind, figure out what fans your flame, weigh the costs and benefits of every alternative, and do what’s best for you.  Try Praxis for starters.

Don’t Go to College

Good friend and collaborator T.K. Coleman invited me on his show, “Conversations with FiFi & T.K.” to talk about Praxis and why traditional education doesn’t cut it any more.  We had a great conversation and I got to field some good questions about the Praxis idea.  Made me all the more excited for the start of our first class in February!  Hope you enjoy the interview.