Today Connor and Brittany are joined by Cameron Sorsby, the CEO of Praxis, to discuss whether college is necessary for everyone.


Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Connor: Hey, Brittany.

Brittany: Hi, Connor.

Connor: So, college. Whether to go or not, and I feel like a lot for a lot of the parents out there, this has been inter interesting topic in recent years when we see a lot of the campuses go quote unquote woke a lot of weird kind of activism in schools and propaganda. And so I’ve heard from so many parents who are like, well, wait a minute, we homeschool, or We’re doing something different, but, you know, should do we also need to rethink, sending our kids to school? What does that actually look like? And so, Brittany, we’re excited today to talk to Cameron Sorsby with a great company called Praxis, which we’ll talk about in just a moment about, whether in 2021 or the years to come. Do you need to even go to college anymore? Cameron, thanks for joining us.

Cameron: Excited to be here, O’Connor and Brittany,

Connor: So I’m gonna ask the first question, I’ll kick over to Britney later, but, maybe, maybe let’s start here just first, walk us through quickly what Praxis is and then yes, we can unpack kinda the broader issue about college.

Cameron: Sure. Praxis is a one-year business apprenticeship program, and we help entrepreneurial young people discover what makes ’em come alive and start building a career that they love.

Connor: Pretty concise. It’s almost like you’ve practiced that a few times.

Cameron: It’s, taken many years to get back to where it is right now.

Connor: Okay. So, I’ll be selfish and, ask the next question. Like when I wrote, I didn’t write it, I edited the book, skip College. we’ll link to that in the show notes today. And Isaac Morehouse, he’s the founder, right? Is that?

Cameron: He’s the founder, yep.

Connor: You know, has an amazing chapter in there about,  the issue we’re gonna talk about today. So parents, you definitely, if you got older kids, you definitely wanna check out Skip College, they’ll be in the show notes page. so Cameron, let’s directly tackle the question. do young adults today need to go to college?

Cameron: No, frankly not. If, you are not determined to be a doctor, a lawyer, some specific career path that requires you legally to have specific credentials that you need to go to college to obtain, I don’t know why your starting point would be, I’m going to college at minimum college should be a last resort for 99% of the population.

Brittany: So when we hear the word apprenticeship, you know, I think of, and I don’t know why my mind goes here first, like auto mechanics, things where you can go and you like trade schools or you can physically do things with your hands. So the kids that are, or kids, the young adults that are coming to Praxis, what are the kinds of apprenticeships that they’re participating in?

Cameron: Yeah, so these are all different types of apprenticeship roles, job opportunities within the broader landscape of like business and entrepreneurship. So we’re placing them with growing companies of all sizes and stages. We have companies that are, you know, you would kind of put in the early tech startup category as well as more, you know, traditional small to medium size growing businesses. And our participants are going into, anything on the business side of the company really. So sales, marketing, operations, customer success, and those roles are not just good for young people that like, know they want to do business per se, but they’re really good for any, you know, intellectually curious, hardworking, self-directed young person that wants to figure out what they wanna do, but they don’t know where to begin. I think the best thing you can do for yourself is go inside a growing company and learn through experience.

Connor: So, Cameron, one of the pushbacks, that we get are the concerns we hear from, parents, when we talk about this idea of maybe avoiding college is, you know, or directly from the young people themselves. Like, isn’t college helpful if you don’t yet know what you want to do? How do you respond to that?

Cameron: Yeah, I, think what the young people that I have worked with, that I’ve spoken with, built relationships with over the years, and myself, the ones that have actually experienced college, I hear much more frequently that college is not helping me figure out what I want to do with my professional life. With my life overall. They view college as a necessary evil almost, where these are hoops I have to jump through for four to five years before I can get out into the real world and, start to, you know, run experiments through different work experiences. And, you know, our claim is essentially start at that point from the get-go. And more often than not, you’re going to save yourself a bunch of time as well as money.

Brittany: So I’m curious, cuz I know Connor and I have talked about this and I didn’t graduate from college, but did you do the traditional route? Did you go to college and then find out that it wasn’t what you wanted to do or you somebody who went the apprenticeship route?

Cameron: Yeah, myself, I went to college and I actually met Isaac. I interned for him in his previous job that he had before he started my senior year. And it was during that internship that he told me about his idea for Praxis. And I knew immediately like this is something I needed to be involved in somehow some way. And my own experience with school growing up, I never really enjoyed school. I’d love to learn, I was always reading, I was into politics and current events from a very young age because that’s, those are the things I associated with, like, being into big ideas and philosophy at the time. And I was also super competitive and there was multiple times through college I was seriously considering dropping out. But just that social pressure, that inertia, especially, you know, 10, 12 years ago when I was going through school, all the forces at play kind of, you know, keep you in the system as long as possible. And I look at our participants now, we have college dropouts, we have people that never went to college doing the program. We even have some high school dropouts and I’m so jealous that they don’t have that degree.

Connor: Okay. So I wanna play devil’s advocate, Cameron, because Sure. I also went to college and you know, I could share my story with that, but I’ll just, ask the question, what’s the harm? Like, you know, big deal, right? Like, you have some criticisms about it, but like, it’s the tried and true method, right? For generations, people have gone to college and they’ve turned out fine and they get jobs and, you know, the world keeps on moving. So, you know, isn’t college just the traditional, you know, the safe path? what’s the harm? What’s the downside of just still going to college?

Cameron: Yeah, I think first of all, I went to college and I would consider myself successful and happy. I’m doing things that I love to do and I’m in a place in life where, you know, I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. Essentially. I think most talented, competent people, whether they go to college or not, they’re, they’re going to end up being successful in whatever terms that they wanna measure. Success on the harm of college is that for those types of people, it’s one just delaying your personal growth and development. our average, you know, our average participant, they’re going to be tremendously successful in college if they decide to go that route. But, at a minimum they’re delaying progress by four or five years because the average, you know, young person, they’re starting the process that you start with praxis at time of college graduation and now you’re 22, 23 instead of being, you know, 18, 19, getting your life started. And then I think there’s so many opportunities to actually have poor mindsets and habits instilled through college. My own experience with school was I spent more time feeling lost and like day to day feeling like I didn’t have a purpose that I was aiming for because I was in school where it’s like, hey, like you just have to go to classes and get your degree and then you can start your life. And it wasn’t until I took, you know, the, I made the choice to start approaching the process of figuring out what I want to do long term more proactively and stopped relying on college. And I look back on that and I probably spent 20% of my time doing, you know, proactive intentional activities to figure out what I want to do through different work experiences, different, you know, self-directed projects I was doing, reading my own reading on my own. And I can’t imagine what I would’ve been able to do if I had that approach with a hundred percent of my time. I think the biggest mindset harm of college is that what makes, what leads to success in an academic environment in so many ways is the antithesis to what makes success in the real world for someone. So you have to, once you leave school, you have to unlearn all of these habits that you developed and it’s almost like you’re retraining yourself on how to live in the real world.

Brittany: Now our listeners are probably our listener’s parents are probably a little more open-minded than others, but what would you say to someone who’s 17, 18, their, high school career is winding down and they’re trying to sell their parents on this idea that, you know, I don’t wanna go to college. I wanna do something like Praxis because for parents who went to college, it might be kind of, you know, it’s a cognitive distance scary thing. Yeah, it’s a scary thing cuz they’re thinking, oh my goodness, I’m gonna be taking care of my kid forever cuz they’re not gonna have a degree. So how would you sell this to someone’s parents if they were a little bit scared of this idea?

Cameron: I, yeah, I think most of our participants that are in that position, it kind of comes into two different, comes down to two different scenarios. One is like you can, the individual kind of wins over friends and family with their own determination. Like, Hey, I’m going to choose this path with or without your support. I would much rather do it with your support. And I’m happy to communicate with you, maturely, responsibly, calmly about why I’m making the decision that I am, whether when it comes to not gonna college and then the other part, you know, the other individual, they might be less confident in their own choices at that stage. You know, they’re 17, 18, 19, they probably, probably shouldn’t be, acting with too much certainty at the end of the day. And I think taking it step by step like, you’re not necessarily deciding, you’re not ruling out college forever. You’re trying to figure out how what do you think is the most valuable use of your time for the next six to 12 months. And I think keeping that timeline and that focus, can be really valuable for those types of discussions with parents.

Connor: Cameron, you and I have previously talked about how maybe there’s this kind of disconnect, right? There’s a lot of companies out there who are no longer requiring college degrees or maybe it’s like up on the job description officially, but really they don’t care, right? If you show them like you’re an amazing person and you know, you’re a self-starter and, and have a portfolio or whatever. So there’s like this disconnect between the companies who are no longer really enforcing this, need for a college degree. And then on the other hand, you know, the colleges out there saying, oh, you need, you know, you still need this college degree. And parents and, young adults are kind of caught in the middle and, seem to not be, connecting the dots that the world has changed. You know, why do you suppose that is? Or what can we do or what are your thoughts on why that’s a problem and how, you know, why parents should really, and the young adults as they kind of enter this age themselves should really be aware of this kind of changing world?

Cameron: Yeah, it definitely, I think for the average parent, it’s very hard to see the changes that have already occurred when I look at the, you know, career landscape, the job market. When I get questions from parents about like, okay, well what happens to my child if they don’t have that college degree? Like, will I understand that you’re able to help them get an apprenticeship, but what about long-term job opportunities? And you know, of course like I, understand that concern, but when I look at not just the outcomes that Praxis graduates have created for themselves through the program and beyond, but how you grow in your career pretty quickly. Like even if you’re the average college graduate, not really into the more, you know, trendy movements with, you know, things like praxis and alternative education options. Like you look at your own career and it’s like, I know it wasn’t my degree status that helped me, you know, win promotions, land, new career opportunities that, you know, larger companies, whatever it may be, it’s your performance and what you can show to potential employers, et cetera. And I think it’s essentially, it’s always been that way. it’s become easier over time for those things to take lead over your, you know, educational credentials. But it’s, kind of always been this way. And when I see job postings, you know, I’ll give this example real quick. In the first five, six years of Praxis, 90% of the companies that hire through Praxis, they probably have some kind of college degree requirement or preference listed on job postings. And out of the 500 plus phone calls I’ve had with, you know, companies interested in hiring through Praxis, the college degree question has come up and has been like a potential issue a total of two times. Wow. It’s just not reality. If you can show an employer a better signal that you can create value for their company, they’re not going to care about your degree status. It’s, I truly believe that the value of the college degree is like one of the biggest myths that needs to be busted. And I feel like that’s happening in real time right now.

Connor: It is. And, of course, the colleges want to preserve this idea that you need a college degree, right? It’s in their self-interest to prop up this, you know, old system and continue to funnel kids through and get federal funding and, you know, support this bloated system because they don’t want the, you know, house of cards to collapse. And so, parents, you know, and young adults, as you get older, you gotta recognize that those incentives are there for them to try and convince you, oh, you need a degree. It’ll get you ahead in life. Look at these statistics of how people with college degrees, you know, do better in jobs. Like, okay, well that’s not the whole picture, right? make sure you pick up a copy of Skip College will link to it in the show notes page. Make sure you check out Praxis there’s so many opportunities. It is a quickly changing world and that’s such an interesting data point, Cameron, that you share about how little these companies actually care about the college degree. It just does not, it’s not the new reality, it’s not the new world. We’re in such an important topic, especially for the families with older kids out there to consider. So make sure you’re doing your homework, checking out those resources, for the show notes where you can find everything. of course we’ll link to Praxis as well. Cameron Sorsby, head of Praxis, doing good work over there. Thanks, very much for joining us.

Cameron: Thanks, Connor. Thanks, Brittany.

Brittany: Of course, thank you. As someone who did not go to college, I always like talking to people who are, you know, doing these alternative programs, so I think that was really enlightening to hear and really helpful to our listeners as well.

Connor: And, there’s so many more of these alternative opportunities than there were back when, you know, you were.

Brittany: Oh my goodness, yeah.

Connor: College, the internet, you know, has been spreading them like crazy, even like code camps and trade schools and lots of stuff. There’s just so many opportunities out there. Practice is doing a great job at it. Again, you guys,, you can check out those resources. Thanks as always for being subscribed. And until next time, Brittany, we’ll talk to you later.

Brittany: Talk to you later.