13. Do I Have to Go to College to be Successful?

So many grownups are always telling kids they need to go to college in order to be successful adults. But what if college isn’t the right path for everyone? And maybe there are other ways to become successful adults.

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This is the transcript of our conversation:

Brittany: Hey Connor.

Connor: Hey, How are You?

Brittany: I’m wonderful. Thank you. So I have an interesting thing I wanna talk about today. Okay. College. Did you go to college?

Connor: I actually graduated from college. Yeah.

Brittany: Okay. That’s exciting. I did not. And if I am to believe I know anything, my parents told me growing up, I should be poor and homeless and not have a job and not be successful.

Connor: Is That, true?

Brittany: I’m actually, it’s, not true. I’m pretty okay with where I am right now. So yeah. That’s what we’re gonna talk about today. I was wondering, do you have to go to college to be a successful adult?

Connor: You know, that’s really interesting cuz I know of a number of entrepreneurs, people who have started businesses who did not graduate from college, they either never went or they dropped out along the way. So I’m gonna have to say that no, in order to be successful professionally or be fulfilled in your life and excited about what you do. I don’t think you have to go to college.

Brittany: Okay. So if that’s the case, what can you do instead? You know, a lot of

Connor: What, did you do? You’re

Brittany: Clearly you’re on me.

Connor: Exhibit a right. You didn’t To college.

Brittany: So I did go to college for a little bit. I have to admit that I did go for a couple years, but I didn’t graduate. And I actually think the reason I didn’t graduate brings up a really good point. I didn’t graduate because it had kind of served its purpose and I was being offered jobs. So it got to the point where you go to college for what you go to college to get a job, right?

Connor: In Theory. Yeah.

Brittany: So you could, yeah. So you can pay for your, family. You can have a family, you can buy a house. Well, for me, my options were stay in school for another year and a half where I miss out on real world experience or take a job, which I was being offered as a teacher where I could get trained to teach a specific way, which lots of schools retrain teachers anyway, after they have their college degrees. So I made the decision that I was going to drop out. And that was very, very hard for me because I heard so many people telling me, well, you were throwing in your life, horror stories. You know, my brother drops outta college and now he’s, you know, a gambler like all this, all these crazy things. But I think I did it right. I don’t have any regrets. The only regret I have is that I stayed too long. That’s my only regret.

Connor: So that, that’s interesting. Right. As you reflect back on your college experience, do you feel, I mean, obviously there’s a social benefit for a lot of people and they kind of like the college scene.

Brittany: That’s How I met you. Actually Connor was through internships and stuff like that. Right. So it served me, it served me well.

Connor: So, there’s a lot of still opportunities. Yes. That’s not to say it’s always horrible all the time, right?

Brittany: No And doctors and lawyers and there are some careers, right where you right now, you have to.

Connor: Right. And so as you reflect back on your college experience, do you feel like what you do now? You know that, what was it a year and a half or two years that you were in college? You said three years. Okay. Or I think you said, yeah, you had like a year, year and a half left. So three years in college, as you look back, was that critical for you? You know? Sure. You didn’t graduate, but how do you not gone at all? Wouldn’t you have, you know, missed out on certain education and learning that would’ve hindered you from what you’re doing now or do you not feel that that’s the case?

Brittany: I think for, me personally, it was good for me to be there for a little bit because I, learned some things and I made some connections with people who helped me get jobs later on, but I don’t think it was necessary. I don’t think it’s necessary for everybody. And in fact, college was not always something that everybody in the country did. I think we have this idea now that you have to go to school, graduate, go to college. Right. That is, what you do when you turn 18. Right. But that hasn’t always been the case. That’s actually a very new thing. There are lots of other ways you could get education, you know, before college became so widespread.

Connor: Yeah. I think that’s right. And now in my case I did graduate from college, but I was kind of on the conveyor belt in, my whole education process. By that, I mean, you know, when I was a kid, I was on the conveyor belt. And, I was just heading in one direction and I was doing what I was told. And I went from one grade to the next. And clearly when you graduate, you know, high school, you apply for college, you go to college and it’s just what you do. And I didn’t know anything other than that, those expectations were there. I just assumed that was the natural progression of life. That once you finish high school, you have to go to college. Now, in my case, it was interesting. I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do when I first started college, but I had an idea because later in high school I was starting to build websites for people. This was like 1998, 1999,

Brittany: Geocities,

Connor: Geo. Oh yeah. Back when like the animated GS would like, you know, new, article, little flashy JS that are oddly now all back in style, which is funny. But you know, the internet was very new back then. Myspace pages were the big thing. And, and so I was learning how to build websites. And I actually got a client someone who, as a matter of fact, was running for their state legislature in California. She knew my mom. And so she’s like, Hey, I want a website. And so, you know, she paid me some money. I’m like, oh my gosh, like I can make money doing this thing that I’m learning how to do. And so it really signaled me to this idea that I could become, what’s called a web developer. I could develop websites. And so all throughout college, I started doing it a little bit more, a little bit more. I had some jobs, I, built kind of my own company doing websites for the people. And I kid you not, I would be sitting in college classwhere they were talking about different aspects of building websites, like graphic design, right. And things like that. And I would be sitting in class listening to some professor while I was on my laptop, building a website for a client, a customer.

Brittany: So making money at time,

Connor: Making money that’s and doing it on my own. I was kind of self taught. And I was starting to learn more than my teachers. Plus they were also teaching me a bunch of things that I wasn’t really interested in, but they were still requiring me to learn. So I would memorize it all. I would take the test and then I would just like, get dumped outta my brain. Cause I’m like, I don’t care about this anymore. Now, in my case, when I graduated college, I found myself becoming really interested in American history and economics and Liberty. And so I started reading a lot of books. I was introduced through Ron Paul to a lot of these ideas when he was running for president Yep. And so I started reading a lot and because I was done with college at that point, I had time. Right. Cause I didn’t have tests and projects and homework that was taking up all my free time. And so I had time to just read and read and you know, what’s amazing, Brittany is, it’s kind of awkward in college. There were three subjects that I did really poorly in. The one was, economics the second was English. And the third was history, which is hilarious because now there’re the things that I love and I’m proficient in, I’ve written 21 books. Like my mom at one point told one of my teachers from like high school that she saw. She’s like, oh yeah, Connor. At that point I’d written like 14 or 15 and like mind explosion. Right.

Brittany: So do you think, school made you not like these things, do you think it actually had like a reverse effect on You?

Connor: I, so in my case, I think it did and I, you, and I can see one another you’re smiling, you know? Yeah. My, answer to that question is what it is because when it was like forced on me, you know, I kind of resisted, but also I think that when we’re in a classroom environment, we are often being taught things in a way that we don’t really use in real life. So here’s an example. So I’ve written a lot of books, right. And I’ve gotten good at writing books mostly because I read a lot and I started to kind of absorb ideas from other people. I would see like, oh, here’s how we wrote a really good sentence. I really like how she wrote this, way. This makes a lot of sense. And I would start to kind of, you know, absorb and internalize a lot of these ideas from these other authors. And as I started writing on my blog and later in books, I was able to put into practice the good ideas that I, kind of mimicked, if that makes sense. I kind of borrowed and copied and, and I was able to kind of make it my own. That is how I became a good writer where nowI write a lot of books. I edit, like I have a team here at Laberta’s Institute and I edit everyone’s content just because I’ve become really good at writing and fixing typos or not just typos, but like grammar, you know, and writing

Brittany: What do you making A little better? Yeah.

Connor: Yeah, absolutely. So here’s why that’s interesting, in my opinion now in English class, they’ll sit you down with a textbook and they’ll say, well, what is the past partisan subjunctive of, you know, I’m like, whoa, whoa, whoa, you lost, you lost me. Like what? Like, they’ll, teach you these like really technical, really specific things about language that you’re just supposed to learn the rules and the, and I’m just like, oh my gosh, you know, I’m sitting in this class. Like when it, doesn’t, it wasn’t taught to me in a way that seemed very applicable. And all of us who have been students or who are students right now, we’ve all had that experience where we’re learning something that we’re supposed to. And we raise our hand maybe in the teachers like, Hey, what do you want? Like, well, my question is, when am I ever gonna use this? Right. Like, why am I having to learn this? And for our listeners who are young, probably a lot of our listeners are homeschooled. Maybe they haven’t had that experience. And to that, I

Brittany: See very lucky.

Connor: You’re very fortunate, right? Yes. Okay. So fast, fast forward though. So college, right? The question is if people skip college, how do they get a job? Yes. How do they succeed? Cuz a lot of parents might even be listening and they might think, well, these are good ideas. And I agree with some of them, but I’m just so worried that if my kid doesn’t go to college, they won’t get a job or a kid might be thinking that I wanna, be successful. I wanna have a good job in the future. And if I don’t go to college, maybe I won’t have a good job. How do we how do we resolve that concern? Right?

Brittany: Yeah. So there, are three main points and I’ll list them and then I’ll kind of go into detail and, have you chime in as well. So entrepreneurship is one of them. Apprenticeships and internships. And I’m gonna start with the last one because that’s what I did. So I was a teacher for a while and then I decided to switch careers because I wanted to be a writer. I’d always wanted to be a writer. The problem is I never had anything to write until I got very passionate about Liberty. And then all of a sudden I had all these things I wanted to write about so I don’t know why I decided that try about Liberty. I needed to move to DC, a place where Liberty does not always exist, but that’s what I did. But I had to make a hard choice because I had no writing skills and I had no writing background. So why would people hire me? Right. They wouldn’t wanna hire me when I couldn’t show them anything. Right. So I took internships now. I was lucky where I got some paid internships. So I was able to make a little money, not a lot, but I was able to make a little bit of money enough to, you know, live, with a bunch of people and, kind of don’t go out to eat a lot. Right. But I was able to, go to DC and I interned, I think for three or four organizations here and each place I got to work under somebody who knew a little bit more than me. And so I was able to just, like you said, observe to take what I really liked for them. Maybe, you know, ignore some of it, take, what I liked. And that helped me become a writer. And it also helped me get my foot in the door. So these establishments knew who I was and they could say, oh, I remember when you interned for this person. That was great. I remember when you interned for that person. In fact, one person I got to intern for was Senator Michael in Utah, your Senator. I learned a lot about writing there. So, internships I think is a great, option. The other thing, if you wanna talk a little bit about apprenticeships, that’s another one that’s similar, but a little different,

Connor: I’m a big fan of apprenticeships. So the way that I am planning on doing this for my children, for example, is using my network to find people who work in a career or in industry that my children are interested in learning more about. So let’s, say for example, that my son really likes snowboarding and he wants to learn all about the snowboarding industry. Maybe even like making snowboards. So I’m gonna use my network and say, who do I know, who am I friends with or contacts with, who works in that industry? And I, wanna say, look, my son wants to come apprentice with you. He’ll work for free. He’ll be with you for a month. Basically. It’s kind of like job shadowing, where you can just kind of follow someone, observe what they’re doing and kind of learn. Now there’s, different ways to do this. There’s an apprenticeship where, you know, clearly what you wanna do and you’re gonna do an apprenticeship. Let’s say for like two years where the, the person in charge is kind of teaching you along the way, slowly giving you more, more

Brittany: It’s be anything. Right. Cause I know I had a hair stylist too, instead ofshe would train new hair stylist instead of them going to hair school. Right? So it could be hairstyle. It could be anything

Connor: Right? It could be anything, right. It’s someone who wants to learn is willing to work hard. And if they find someone who’s willing to give them an apprenticeship and teach them along the waythe things that they need to learn andyou know, in exchange, they’re basically getting help from another person who can maybethey hire, you knowat the end of the apprenticeship or that person can then go start their own job. So you’re right. This can be for any type of job under the sun. Some jobs, you know, as we pointed out, you know, you’re required to get like a license. So like, if you’re a doctor, you can’t really just kind of go follow a doctor and Hey, I wanna be an apprentice

Brittany: Lawyers, you used to be able to, there was a time and this is, you know, this is founding father time. And before where you could apprentice, you could be a student of the bar if they called it in England and you could apprentice under a lawyer who was more experienced than you. And you could get that.

Connor: That’s exactly right. Yeah. Sad. Sadly, we’ve missed out on some of that, but for, most careers, these still exist. So there’s the apprenticeship where like, Hey, I’m gonna legit become, you know, a welder. And so I’m just gonna learn from this welder, how to weld and I’m gonna be with you for a year or two, and then I’m gonna be, become good enough at my job that I can then go off and do jobs all on my own. And that’s a cool way to yeah. Get your foot in the door. What I’m thinking more about for my kids. And especially for the kids listening is a lot of times you don’t know what you wanna do when you’re growing up. Even I can’t tell you Brittany, how many times when I was in college, I would see people graduate who still had no idea what they wanted to do. They spent so much money. They sat through all these classes and they come out on the other end. They’re like, yeah, I don’t really know what I wanna do with my life. And they’re in debt now. Right. And I’m just like, why have you not thought through this? So here’s what I wanna do with my kids. It’s kind of like mini apprenticeships. Okay. And, I alluded to it a moment ago where, I want to kind of arrange all these little job shadowing opportunities where, Hey, I want you to go for a week and I want you to follow my friend. Who’s an accountant. And you’re gonna sit in on the meetings, you know, cuz you’ve expressed an interest in numbers and spreadsheets and you’re good at math. So maybe let’s have you shadow this accountant and help him kind of like a mini internship or a mini apprenticeship. Yeah. And that way you can say, oh, this is what it’s like to be, you know, an accountant. And maybe on the other hand, it’s a, you know, video game developer, Hey, if you’re good at math, maybe you’re good at programming. Why don’t you do a little mini apprenticeship for a programmer and just kind of get some appetite to see if this is something you would like to do, because then it gives you so much more information to know. Is this something that I would wanna spend a lot of my life on? And then if so, then you can go invest a lot of your time and money, to become really good at that one thing. But so often when we’re growing up, we’re like, I don’t know what I want to do. I’m not sure

Brittany: Even as Adults, we don’t know.

Connor: Even as adults, right? You switched careers. I switch careers. You know, I used to be a web developer. So I think, that is a good way to give my kids or other kids an exposure to a lot of different things so that they can start thinking through, Hey, you know what? I really liked my time, you know, going to the TV station and I did this little like one week apprenticeship internship kind of thing. And I saw how it worked. And that was really exciting. I think I would feel really excited to be a journalist. So I’m now gonna go to learn how to be a journalist. I, think that would just be a fun model to give my kids, in my case, since this is what I’m thinking of doing these little mini apprenticeships, where they can just spend a little bit of time. There’s not a lot of risk. There’s not a lot of commitment, but they might come away and think, Hey, that was really cool. I might wanna spend life doing that.

Brittany: There’s a school actually in Texas that does this with their students. It’s not a normal school, it’s a private school, but, a lot of the time is spent gardening and doing things you want to do. In fact, the kids get to control their own day, but when they turn, I think it’s 10. They go and find apprenticeships. And there was one girl I spoke with years ago. She wanted to be a fashion designer more than anything. And she got an apprenticeship, I think at 10 years old, she learned very quickly. She did not wanna be a fashion designer that was not the world for her. So she was able to switch gears at such a young age and say, you know what, I’ve tried this not for me. What else can I explore? And that is so much fun and freedom that I don’t think you or I had as kids, which is just great. Another thing I think is important and I saved this one for last, for a reason, because it’s not the easiest path to take, but entrepreneurship. Yeah. So I like to call that just being a problem solver, right? Entrepreneurs, who are some of your favorite entrepreneurs?

Connor: Well, I mean, we’ve talked in the past about people like Elon Musk who are these really popular entrepreneurs, but you know what? I get really excited by the, small business entrepreneurs.

Brittany:

That’s What I was hoping you would say.

Connor: Yeah. Because it’s really hard to, you know, build a really big business and become this like national company. You know, I like to think of myself as an entrepreneur. I like to think of you as an entrepreneur. What I mean by that is people who kind of are creative in figuring out how to build their own life. Maybe you’re working three jobs, you know, and you’ve kind of figured out a way to make money in different ways so that you can have different things happening in your life or rather than being an employee. In other words, rather than just getting a job, you kind of are your own company and people can be your clients. Like when I was a web developer. Yeah. There were times when I was. I had a job as a web developer for a company, but then I figured out, you know, what, if I am my own company and, these people, they can be my customers. I get to control when I go on vacation. And how many hours I work and I’m kind of when you work. When I work, I’m the boss and that’s really exciting. And I can, maybe even if I’m successful, I can hire other people and maybe over time I can do less work and, I can get paid for doing less because I’ve built my own company. So I think there’s so many small business owners out there, who are excellent entrepreneurs, because like you say, they see a problem in their community. And they’re like, Hey, there’s, no type of business like this there’s no, You know, gymnasium or there’s no, you know, private swimming pool or whatever. And they, whatever it is, whatever it is. And they go fill that need and create that business. And, that’s how I think our economy gets really exciting is when a lot of people out there are solving these little problems, being an entrepreneur, they’re creating a little business, they’re helping serve other people who are like, oh man, Creating value for other people. That’s what I get really excited about.

Brittany: Same. And I think it’s, it’s pretty cool that none of that is, only possible through college, right? College isn’t necessary for you to be an entrepreneur for you to be any of these things. There are other paths you can take. So I don’t know what advice you’d give to our listeners, but I mean, I would tell them, College might be the best choice for you. I don’t wanna say college is always bad. College is not always bad. I had some great college experiences. College might be the right choice for you, but it doesn’t have to be that there are other options.

Connor: I think that’s right. And we would be remiss. Brittany, if we conclude this episode, we didn’t mention the, orange bright orange elephant in the room. And that is you. And I contributed to a book by the name of Skip College, which for the parents listening, you can find on Amazon, which is written more for teenagers and young adults to, like you just said, it’s not to say never go to college. It’s just to say, well, there are a lot of other ideas out there and ways out there that you can be successful in life. Maybe college is right for you. No, problem at all. But if you’re gonna go to college, make sure that it’s intentional, make sure you’ve thought through the alternatives to make sure there’s not a better or cheaper or more effective way. And for the little kids out there, it’s like, well, oh my life is my own. I don’t have to go on this conveyor belt like Connor did, or like Brittany did. And you know, the world expects me to just, you know until I’m in my mid-twenties, I’m gonna be sitting in a classroom chair and that’s just the way it’s gonna be. Life is so much more exciting. There are so many more opportunities. And I don’t know about you, Brittany. But when I look back on my teenage and young adult self, I wish that I could go back in time and say college wasn’t right for you. You probably could have saved a lot of time and built and money and built a much more exciting life. Kind of taking that entrepreneurial or independent route early on. So we’re not here to say everyone should skip college, but it’s something we should at least think through because especially for us who care about freedom, I think it’s important that we try and figure out how to be independent. And how to make our own decisions for ourselves rather than doing what other people think we should or what society thinks we should. So good topic, Brittany. And for those interested, go check out, Skip College on Amazon until next time. See you later, Brittany

Brittany: See you later

 

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