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You Are Not Mark Zuckerberg, So Stay In School

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the sure-beats-death dept.

Education 438

theodp writes "Over at TechCrunch, Vivek Wadhwa offers some don't-be-a-fool-stay-in-school advice to students that sounds a bit like an old-school Mr. T PSA. TechCrunch CEO Michael Arrington's questioning of whether students need to get any degree or go to college at all may sound appealing — dropouts Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates did do alright for themselves — but Wadhwa gives some good reasons why you should probably take the school-is-for-chumps argument with a grain of salt. 'The harsh reality,' warns Wadhwa, is that for every Zuckerberg, there are a thousand who drop out of college and fail,' and many big companies won't even consider hiring you for that fallback job without a degree. And, believe it or not, you can still become a tech billionaire later in life even if you're cursed with a PhD." Tech entrepreneur Michael Robertson approaches this question slightly differently; here's an analysis he made a few years ago, with the conclusion that the college investment pays off only about half the time.

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Yay Government Education (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702376)

Where the fat and stupid who get knocked up by three different "fathers" can send their kids to produce the next generation of the fat and stupid. America - FUCK YEAH!

It's true (5, Insightful)

papasui (567265) | about 4 years ago | (#33702384)

I'm not an unethical thief who would thinks nothing of stealing from friends.

Re:It's true (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702450)

Hey even Zuckerberg needed to go to school to find people to steal ideas from, right?

Re:It's true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702570)

Wait, are you talking about Gates or Zuckerberg?

Re:It's true (4, Funny)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about 4 years ago | (#33702668)

Wait, are you talking about Gates or Zuckerberg?

Yes.

Re:It's true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702708)

They "trust me". Dumb fucks.

Re:It's true (1)

SigmundFloyd (994648) | about 4 years ago | (#33702726)

I'm not an unethical thief who would thinks

But you still are a college dropout.

yeah....got learn (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702386)

...how to steal others ideas!

Common sense (5, Insightful)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 4 years ago | (#33702392)

The harsh reality is that for every Zuckerberg, there are a thousand who drop out of college and fail

When I get into discussions about this topic with (young) people and they think they can play the "Bill Gates" trump card (For some odd reason, they think I should admire the man since I'm "into computers"), this is exactly what I tell them. It's just plain common sense.

If you can't or won't get a college degree, go into plumbing, carpenting or another trade. They are highly undervalued "socially", but I know many of those who make much more money than I do with my computer science degree and cushy admin job. Of course, you won't get "rich" in the "rockstar rich" sense, but if the goal is to make a good living, those jobs are very good choices.

Re:Common sense (2)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | about 4 years ago | (#33702428)

As an electrician, one can make (under ideal circumstances) around $40/hr. As long ago as 1999 (not sure how true this is 10 years on) I heard that a *nix admin could make as much as $80/hr (under ideal circumstances).

Re:Common sense (4, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | about 4 years ago | (#33702442)

Actually, as either, you -can- make hundreds of dollars per hour. Most don't, though. Discussing what you can make is pointless. Find some statistics about how much the average person makes and that's a lot more meaningful.

Re:Common sense (4, Insightful)

ezzzD55J (697465) | about 4 years ago | (#33702464)

if you wanna get that tough, talk median, not mean ;)

Re:Common sense (0)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | about 4 years ago | (#33702658)

True enough I imagine (I've never heard of an electrician making hundreds/hr, but hey, I haven't had an insider source in nearly 15 years)

Re:Common sense (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702482)

Unlike IT jobs, that will invariably be outsourced overseas, skilled traders will always be in demand where ever you are. Locally, both plumbers and electricians want around $100/hour for smaller jobs. In twenty years time, there'll be less tradies and more demand. Guess which way their rates will be going? In 20 years, how many of today's programmers will still be considered employable for the few jobs not being done in China, India and Pakistan?

Re:Common sense (0)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | about 4 years ago | (#33702648)

True enough (by the way, I'm studying a trade right now).

As for the figure, I'm not surprised its that high.

Re:Common sense (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | about 4 years ago | (#33702686)

The electrician has a portable skill that CAN'T BE OUTSOURCED, is convertible to similar skills with minimum training, and complements other trade skills.

You can barter skills with other tradeshumans to enhance your living space, shop, or trade for vehicle work/parts. Plenty of opportunity to human network for side money.

You can be self-contained, with all your gear fitting in a truck or trailer.

Electricians are like auto mechanics. They may not get rich, but I've not seen one starve.

Re:Common sense (2, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | about 4 years ago | (#33702846)

Actually, the electrician can be outsourced, just not offshored.

This is happening in more and more fields, as a worker you and a whole bunch of others are employed by Company A which only pays you for the hours you work, the customer uses Company B which in turn has a contract with Company A for n man-hours of work available per week. The customer pays less, Company B doesn't pay as much per hour worked and Company A has a reason to exist. Of course, you as a worker for Company A are living without any job security, bottom of the barrel wages and the customer may have to deal with a disgruntled worker who doesn't give a shit. But hey, cheaper is better, right?

It already works like this for a lot of tech support and customer service jobs, everyone saves money and no one but "Company A" is really happy with it (but Company B wouldn't be able to compete if they didn't join the race to the bottom like everyone else and the customer has been brainwashed into thinking that cheaper is always better).

Re:Common sense (4, Interesting)

Kethinov (636034) | about 4 years ago | (#33702430)

When I get into discussions about this topic with (young) people and they think they can play the "Bill Gates" trump card (For some odd reason, they think I should admire the man since I'm "into computers"), this is exactly what I tell them. It's just plain common sense.

You don't have to be a beat-the-odds tech celebrity to do well without a college education. When I interview people, their academic degrees play little to no role in my hiring decision. My primary considerations are their portfolio of work (professional or otherwise), how well they can demonstrate their skills during the interview, and how well I believe they would integrate with the team.

Re:Common sense (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702472)

When I get into discussions about this topic with (young) people and they think they can play the "Bill Gates" trump card (For some odd reason, they think I should admire the man since I'm "into computers"), this is exactly what I tell them. It's just plain common sense.

You don't have to be a beat-the-odds tech celebrity to do well without a college education. When I interview people, their academic degrees play little to no role in my hiring decision. My primary considerations are their portfolio of work (professional or otherwise), how well they can demonstrate their skills during the interview, and how well I believe they would integrate with the team.

Problem is, they'd have to be lucky stumbling upon someone as you in an interview situation. Most companies require degrees when recruiting. Which also narrows down their opportunities to create a professional resume/portfolio of work, and proven team play ability, that would impress the people that are willing to look past missing degrees, a bit of a catch 22.

How did they get a portfolio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702606)

How did they get a portfolio? You now have a chicken-and-egg problem that you have now insisted that someone have work experience before they can get a job, but they can't get a job to get experience without having had a job to get experience on...

So for someone leaving school, what portfolio do they have? Will you hire them?

Or will the only portfolio they have be the list of education achievements they have.

Like degrees.

Re:How did they get a portfolio? (1)

Kethinov (636034) | about 4 years ago | (#33702736)

You don't have to have professional experience or go to school to build a portfolio of work. Many applicants have portfolios of projects they cooked up themselves, contributions to open source projects, and other sorts of volunteer work.

Re:Common sense (2, Informative)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 4 years ago | (#33702760)

There should be more people like you. But one question, what do you do when hiring a graduate with no portfolio to speak of? Do you judge their suitability for the job by character alone and train them? Subquestion: are the people you are hiring the type of people who can be trained on the job?

I ask because I know now that I've worked for a major international oil company for several years no one is ever going to be interested in what uni I went to or what my marks were, but they sure as hell were when I first started.

Re:Common sense (1)

Misagon (1135) | about 4 years ago | (#33702820)

Yes, but you seem to be someone who has a clue, and in my experience, your kind of people are in minority among those who have the power to make hiring decisions.

In many many cases, in both tiny and large corporations, hiring is done first by a HR department, outsourced to a headhunter, or by some boss who knows accounting very, but where neither type of person has any clue about what person they are supposed to hire except for the directions that were given to them.
In my experience, it is not uncommon for HR-people to utterly misinterpret the directions so that they forward unqualified people or not forward qualified people.

Some classic mistakes when hiring computer programmers are confusing Java with Javascript, dismissing applicants who have written "several scripting languages" on their CV when they are looking for someone who knows "Pearl" -- or vice versa, looking for "scripting" but dismissing people who enumerate which scripting languages they have experience in, or to ask for n years of experience in something that is less than n years old.

Re:Common sense (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 4 years ago | (#33702476)

When I get into discussions about this topic with (young) people and they think they can play the "Bill Gates" trump card (For some odd reason, they think I should admire the man since I'm "into computers"), this is exactly what I tell them.

With you spreading that kind of thinking around how will 'the chosen one' ever drop out of college and create SkyNet? Have you thought of that, huh??

Rich parents helped Bill Gates more than college. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702592)

Rich parents helped Bill Gates more than college. Colour me unsurprised. If someone wants to be like Bill Gates and drop out and be successful, then they should first arrange to have billionaire parents.

This can be somewhat difficult to do, since adoption is rather a buyers' market at that level...

Re:Common sense (5, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | about 4 years ago | (#33702636)

The thing is, it's true that getting a degree is not the only route to getting somewhere, but it's a route to getting somewhere. So if you have a great business idea or a fantastic job opening available, by all means compare your options and judge accordingly. But don't do nothing and pretend to yourself that by not going to University you're automatically taking another route to success. All you're doing is giving up one route. You still need to find something else to do instead and unless you're Bill Gates or Richard Branson, maybe you wont.

Know how to make money without a degree? Go do it. Sitting on your arse thinking a degree isn't vital to success so by not going to University you'll be a success? Bad logic.

Re:Common sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702834)

If you can't or won't get a college degree, go into plumbing, carpenting or another trade.

I totally pent cars for a living, but it's not as glamourous as car pimping.

No college degree here (2, Interesting)

bigtallmofo (695287) | about 4 years ago | (#33702854)

I didn't spend a minute in college. I became a computer consultant right out of high school at 17, started my own consulting company at 20, sold it at 25 and started working for corporate America.

Since then, I've risen to the highest ranks of IT (including CTO of a mid-sized publicly traded company).

In my experience, smarts coupled with people skills and a strong work ethic will open just about any door for you regardless of degree or lack thereof. One of the biggest problems I see though are people generally overestimating their "smarts". Generally I think if you are not widely considered very intelligent by everyone you regularly interact with, including those people that don't necessarily care for you, then you are probably better off getting a degree.

Re:Common sense (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | about 4 years ago | (#33702874)

Well, I would hardly compare myself to gates but I was on the 5 year plan in high school, didn't go to collage and I've been making 6 figures in this industry since my late 20s. Of course, I did some of the course material on my own, so not going to college wasn't in terms of "can't" but because I didn't want to - I took a few courses and the culture in collage is little better than that in high school, and in some cases worse and I just don't want to deal with it.

The bottom line is that if you want to make a lot of money, in most cases that's simply not going to happen working a job for someone else. If you want to make a lot of money (career wise) you need to be in business for yourself. This means that you also have to understand bookkeeping and basic accounting, sales, marketing and all the rest of it, and also take all the risks.

Cause and Effect (5, Insightful)

lacoronus (1418813) | about 4 years ago | (#33702398)

These dropouts dropped out because they were wildly successful. They didn't become wildly successful by dropping out.

Re:Cause and Effect (4, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about 4 years ago | (#33702436)

This is probably the best summary.

If you've gone and already set up a company and are already quite profitable dropping out *at that point* to put more time and effort into making the business more successful can be fine.
You learn most of the useful stuff in the first year or 2 of any CS degree anyway.

Dropping out of college because "sure bill gates did ok" when you don't have any business or anything to build on isn't such a good idea.

Re:Cause and Effect (0, Offtopic)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#33702588)

You learn most of the useful stuff in the first year or 2 of any CS degree anyway.

Wow, this is what gets modded insightful these days?

Re:Cause and Effect (2, Funny)

ilikejam (762039) | about 4 years ago | (#33702650)

The mods dropped out.

Re:Cause and Effect (2, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | about 4 years ago | (#33702680)

You learn most of the useful stuff in the first year or 2 of any CS degree anyway.

Interesting. For me. when I was at University I found the most useful stuff was in the last couple of years of my degree. The first year seemed to be easy stuff geared toward getting everybody up to the same position. Great for people who start a degree without a good foundation, but not so for those of us who spend the first year not having to think. Final year projects were where I really got some valuable experience and got to show off and work with a tutor on something a bit more challenging.

Re:Cause and Effect (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 4 years ago | (#33702870)

"For me. when I was at University I found the most useful stuff was in the last couple of years of my degree."

It probably depends on your definition of "useful". Useful to know your trade and become a knowledgeful techie? Yeah, sure, your latter years are more valuable. Knowing enough about that "techie" stuff to become a bussinessman that hires techies? Probably you can save yourself the "petty details" from the advanced courses.

Re:Cause and Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702802)

> You learn most of the useful stuff in the first year or 2 of any CS degree anyway.

This is how we know you didn't finish.

Re:Cause and Effect (1)

dsginter (104154) | about 4 years ago | (#33702600)

These dropouts dropped out because they were wildly successful. They didn't become wildly successful by dropping out.

Right. When I talk to people who are going down the Computer Science route, I tell them to stick with it and use the acquired skills to develop that next big thing.

"If you graduate, then you have failed."

Failed at making the next big thing. But, in doing so, have a wonderful plan b.

Oversaturated degree market (4, Insightful)

ZigiSamblak (745960) | about 4 years ago | (#33702400)

There's only so many jobs for people with degrees. I dropped out of a multimedia design course over ten years ago. Then got into various jobs and ended up doing advanced technical support at a big company after 5 years of working there. A friend who had not dropped out after the first year and completed the degree could not find any steady employement in the designer field and ironically ended up doing lower paid technical support work through an outsourcing partner of the same company.

In the past when less people went on to college a degree was more valuable and basically meant a well paid job for life, but the market has changed and many more people are getting degrees. It pays more to carefully consider your options, getting work experience may be better than years of study in many cases.

Re:Oversaturated degree market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702532)

Right. And if you're lucky you might get promoted to manager of *that* "advanced technical support" team someday. But you won't get a better job at another, because a minimum requirement at the vast majority of companies is a college degree. And where I live (the Philly, PA suburbs), that holds true even for tech support. In my area, a call center (even of the "advanced' kind) job is one of those jobs that college grads get only if they must, and only for 1 year until they can find something else that will give them more marketable experience.

The oversimplified argument of 'is college worth it' is ridiculous. The debate needs to be revised to 'is going to an expensive (relative to others) college worth it'?

In other words, is the UPenn grad going to make more than the Penn State grad in X years?

Because no one, except for the guys that dropped out of course, is going to say college 'wasn't worth it' unless they were buffoons and took out ridiculous loans.

I had to go the hard route and do an enlistment in the armed forces (not by choice - I had 2 things going against me: a. a poor family, so I couldn't afford to even buy a suit to to the interview to get a decent job after high school) and, more importantly, horrible grades in high school (because I was a screw-up). After my enlistment I went to a state college and, even though I had the GI Bill to pay for the first few years of it, I still wound up coming out of it with about $11k in student loans. This was 1999. In 6 years I had that paid off with a bonus check. Anything less than $50k in student loans, in today's dollars, is a no-brainer. While not ideal, it's still better than having your resume rejected AT THE HR/Recruiter level, before it even gets near the hiring manager level, just because you can't show on a resume that you have the fortitude to last for 4 years in a college somewhere. Why put an opaque ceiling over your head right from the start of your working lifetime? That ceiling will never go away. And the guy who said "everyone has a degree now, so it doesn't make you stand out" - you're absolutey right! Instead, it's the guy who puts in the resume that DOESN'T have a college degree that stands out! In a bad way!

Re:Oversaturated degree market (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 4 years ago | (#33702898)

LOLOL

A college degree required for tech support?

Haha, I can't tell if this is a great joke post or a troll.

Re:Oversaturated degree market (4, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | about 4 years ago | (#33702556)

Saturation has devalued the prospects of a degree, but not having a degree is in no way an advantage over having a degree. While a degree is further away from guaranteeing a job, not having a degree will guarantee that you cannot get certain jobs.

Re:Oversaturated degree market (1)

iceperson (582205) | about 4 years ago | (#33702926)

You don't have to give up work experience to get a degree. I got an entry level position at a company that paid for my school. Took me longer to get the degree, but I did it and now when I see a job opening that requires a degree I don't have to cross it off my list.

Don't bother with college (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702402)

Seriously, don't bother going to college. University is for dorks. If you're already there, follow your heart and drop out.

It'll give the rest of us less competition. ;-)

College investment (4, Insightful)

Zouden (232738) | about 4 years ago | (#33702422)

college investment pays off only about half the time.

Making it better than many other investments today.

College is not an investment (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#33702562)

I know, in the 21st century, everyone is supposed to be some sort of businessman, and we are supposed to seek returns on anything we spend money on. Really though, people (in theory) go to college to be educated, not just to get vocational training. If you want vocational training -- and there is nothing wrong with that -- then you should go to a trade school, get a 2 year degree, and wind up with the same job you would have had if you spent four years getting a bachelor's.

The sooner the "college is an investment" crowd gets out of our universities, the better.

Re:College investment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702864)

at 2-4%. Wow. That is real wealth.

Those that leave School (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702434)

Well they are not call Entrepreneur for nothing, the fact of the matter is they left school early, and worked their butt of to get their business off the ground, played the market, took risks often big ones and are now rolling in money. But the flip side is there are also those that have gone bankrupt though similar actions. And unless those that leave school early already have something they wish to Sell or have a new tech developed to market in mind probably staying in school is the best choice.

highly original (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702444)

don't-be-a-fool-stay-in-school

Can Vivek Wadhwa tell me which direction the sun will rise tomorrow?
Do fish swim?
Do birds fly?

Put in the time (0)

Xenolith (538304) | about 4 years ago | (#33702448)

You don't need a college education, if you follow the 10,000 hour rule.

Re:Put in the time (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702502)

You don't need a college education, if you follow the 10,000 hour rule.

I assume you are referring to the idea that it takes 10,000 hours to become a true expert at something. The problem is that in many cases it is irrelevant whether you are an expert or not. What matters is whether there is evidence you are at least competent.

Most people do not end up being tech entrepreneurs, in the same way they don't become international spies for MI6 or top-flight football players. Most people will need to get a normal job somewhere and if you are looking for a reasonably good job, a degree or professional qualification is necessary, either because it is required in the field (eg accountancy, engineering) or because HR will use "has a degree" as a criteria to screen out half the applicants. Now is it possible that one of the people without a degree is actually the cleverest, most hard-working applicant? Yes. But the company is not prepared to quadruple its job candidate search time and costs on the off-chance that an unlikely candidate on paper may be a hidden star in practice.

In general ./ tends to idolize geniuses who single-handedly revolutionize the world through the sheer force of their intellect. That's fine, but genius doesn't scale. The things that can be done by genius alone are limited. To operate on a large scale to provide the goods and services that society wants takes organization and bureaucracy. It's less romantic, but that's the way it is. Negotiating that bureaucracy is just part of life, and today this means a college degree is needed.

Re:Put in the time (2, Interesting)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | about 4 years ago | (#33702710)

All the above - with a caveat.

a degree or professional qualification is necessary, either because it is required in the field (eg accountancy, engineering)

Right now accountants, especially new graduates, are also having a really hard time. A LOT of folks saw that as a safe way to make a decent living and jumped on the bandwagon - now there's a glut. It may not last because everything runs in cycles, but don't forget, accounting can be offshored just as easily as programming.

It's the same for engineering.

Nursing: with this economy, many folks are jumping in because it's a "safe" job now BUT there will be a glut and employment will get bad - I don't care what the predictions say about population aging and whatnot. Talk to a nurse who's been in the field for at least 25 years and ask her about the late 80s - layoffs of nurses. Granted, if you were a laid off nurse, you weren't out of work for too long but....

There is also a trend to bring nurses from overseas. I know a nurse who works with many many foreign nurses. Add in the nurses that the military is training and I see employment problems down the road. Nurses don't have an organization like the AMA that's great at "discouraging" foreigners from coming over here.

My point, don't jump into a field because it looks like a shoe in for employment now - things change.

Just ask everyone who got CS degrees in the 90s or those of us who've hit 40 hoping to have their lifetime employment at 6 figures.

Re:Put in the time (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 4 years ago | (#33702896)

"a degree or professional qualification is necessary, either because it is required in the field (eg accountancy, engineering)
Right now accountants, especially new graduates, are also having a really hard time."

And this has to do with the thread... how?

Are in any way ungraduated accountants making any better than the graduated ones?

Re:Put in the time (1)

Seth024 (1241160) | about 4 years ago | (#33702654)

I'm counting a good part of my college education into those 10,000 hours. (comp sci & engineering)

Harsher Reality (4, Insightful)

jaypifer (64463) | about 4 years ago | (#33702454)

'The harsh reality,' warns Wadhwa, is that for every Zuckerberg, there are a thousand who drop out of college and fail,'

The harsher reality is that there is another thousand that finishes college and still fails.

Define "fail" (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#33702572)

Since when is "not being a billionaire" the definition of "failure?"

Re:Define "fail" (1)

I cant believe its n (1103137) | about 4 years ago | (#33702704)

Since Sunday September 26, @02:32PM.

Re:Harsher Reality (0, Troll)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 4 years ago | (#33702788)

It's a somewhat pointless statement. Going to college doesn't give you skills nor does it ensure you'll be successful. But I'm sure there are far less people who got through college with straight As who have "failed" than people who were on the verge of dropping out the entire time. Dropping out and doing nothing (no trade apprenticeship etc) is a race to the bottom.

Harshest Reality (3, Interesting)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | about 4 years ago | (#33702800)

The harshest reality is that the jobs are leaving.

The jobs of the CEO and his/her pals will be staying, of course.

A university degree won't make you less expendable to a corpocracy that wants the cheapest workers. Unless you are willing to cost the same to the employer at 35 as you did at 25 (and use your benefits as little), your days are numbered.

Code Poet, Rockstar Programmer, Unit-Test Guru, Meme Zealot, Jedi Knight of the Latest Methodology, or (what is likeliest) red-tunicked member of the Roddenberry Landing Crew or Storm Trooper cannon-fodder, the real masters of this game are the Bean Counters.

The corpocracy has docile subjects. It has seen that it can lay people off without having to report it (IBM -- for years), take huge local tax breaks (which your family and community paid for) and then ship jobs overseas, and claim to be "a good citizen" while loudly claiming there are "insufficient numbers of skilled workers".

Of course, you can take the Blue Pill and go back to your pasting your face into pictures of Gates and Zuckerberg. (o:

The better bet (1, Redundant)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | about 4 years ago | (#33702468)

So according to the summary dropping out pays off 1 out of 1000 times (that sounds high to me) and staying in college pays off 1 in 2 times ? I think its clear which is the better bet.

Re:The better bet (2, Insightful)

number17 (952777) | about 4 years ago | (#33702584)

I would also like to see the comparison in lifestyles of the 999 that dropped out and failed to the 1 that stayed in college and failed. For some reason I think those definitions of failed aren't the same.

Re:The better bet (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702638)

pretty straightforward. If you can apply to more than 500 colleges and drop out of all of them before the duration of a normal college course, you have a much better chance at success.

Re:The better bet (2, Insightful)

jogreen68 (1909374) | about 4 years ago | (#33702684)

It is a safety net which makes sense, really in the grande scale of things and extra year in college should make little difference, it is such a small proportion of our lives. I learnt more in my first year in the real world than the 4 I spent in higher education.

There is a link however... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702470)

Between successful entrepreneurs and people who never went to university at all. For instance, I founded my own business when I was 19, now paying myself a decent wage off it 4 years later - and I would say most of the business owners I know didn't go to university. In fact, three of them, including my uncle (now a millionaire) are ex-cons...but maybe that indicates a different correlation...

I understand that this may well not be the norm - but I have seen many separate studies that indicate both of the following statements to be true:

a) University is a waste of money for most people who go
b) Not going to university will seriously limit your earning potential

I guess the truth is probably somewhere in the middle...

Don't be fooled by the Education Lobby (3, Funny)

webalimaster (1707858) | about 4 years ago | (#33702608)

Young people don't be fooled by the Education Lobby! I too started by business when I was 19 and quitted my first degree due to lack of time to do both Degree and Business. Later I took my degree on a fast track. But it's a bad a idea, it's a wast of money and TIME (very valuable). I would be much richer today If I just skiped university altogether. University degrees are for stupid people who can't study on their own. What you need is to read books (according to your specific needs) on your own.

Re:Don't be fooled by the Education Lobby (1)

vadim_t (324782) | about 4 years ago | (#33702732)

Thing is both you and the grandparent had some sort of plan, and the ability to get it done.

The vast majority of people pointing to Gates of Zuckenberg don't. Gates didn't get where he is by just pointing to "Einstein did badly at school" and then sitting on his butt. He did work, and lots of it. He got into Harvard and left it to found MS, not because he wasn't able to finish it. He also had a lot of luck in having rich lawyers for parents, which I'm sure helped with getting him access to hardware, and probably some legal advice and perhaps financial help to fund MS. Then there was the sheer luck with DOS.

Also, business isn't for everybody. Many people don't have the dedication or the skills to get a business off the ground.

Re:There is a link however... (5, Insightful)

zolltron (863074) | about 4 years ago | (#33702830)

University is a waste of money for most people who go

I hate these sorts of claims because they are absolute nonsense. How can you know if my university degree was a waste of money for me? Do you know how much I value the things I learned (both in and out of the classroom) at the university? No, of course not, because you don't know me. It's like looking at someone you've never met and saying that they were stupid to go eat at some particular restaurant.

Usually, these sort of studies assume that the only reason anyone would go to college is to improve their lifetime earning potential and then compare the average change in earning to the cost of the university. While this is an important consideration, it shouldn't be the prevailing one, and more importantly it shouldn't be translated into the only potential thing of value that might come out of a university education. We are all not mindless money generating machines that simply wish to take the quickest route to a buck. Some of us want to enjoy the journey too.

I am a far better person for my university education. Even if it cost me money in the long run, I'm happy I went.

Plus parents (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702474)

Gates is not a success from the gutter, his family was already loaded and well educated. Likewise with a lot of these successful "college dropouts". The reality is by being raised by well educated and financially sound people, you already have a big advantage, let alone when it comes to making early deals using the extended family network. Family networks work so well, you can be a military deserter and still become the president of a large and power country.

Trust fund baby (5, Interesting)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | about 4 years ago | (#33702652)

Gates had a million dollar trust fund - he's a trust fund baby.

Therefore, he could take obscene amounts of risk and never have to worry about ending up in the gutter or having bill collectors after him. And if you add in that his Dad is a high powered attorney ...

Gates was a perfect storm of trust fund, brains, timing, and ambition.

No (2, Interesting)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 4 years ago | (#33702484)

If by "stay in school" they mean "stay in public school," then I'm going to have to decline their offer. Public schools are absolute trash. Too many useless classes (as in, something that some people may use, but others won't, due to their career choices) are mandatory, and they put far too much emphasis on worthless grades. It wouldn't be so bad if public schools merely granted you the resources needed to memorize information that will be important to you, provided a good teacher to help you when needed, and provide a useful curriculum. Right now, they're highly inefficient, and you run the risk of failing an entire year simply because you did poorly in a class you won't even need! Education is, of course, important. But until public schooling gets its act together and goes through total reform, I'm going to recommend that people find other means of educating themselves (self teaching, homeschooling).

Re:No (1)

RabbitWho (1805112) | about 4 years ago | (#33702536)

I agree, and (don't take this the wrong way) i agree even from the perspective of someone from a country with a far superior public school system.
The only useful things I learned in school were how to read, how to write, add, subtract, multiply, divide, and how to socialize (albiet poorly). Everything else was a complete waste of time and I could have learned it 100 times faster on my own if someone had just given me a bit of information on how to learn.

Re:No (0, Troll)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#33702542)

Public schools are absolute trash

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Ivy [wikipedia.org]

Too many useless classes (as in, something that some people may use, but others won't, due to their career choices)

School is not just vocational training, and the sooner people stop acting like it is, the better things will be for all of us. Even private schools have required classes that have nothing to do with the majority of their graduates' careers, yet somehow you are not calling private schools "trash."

self teaching, homeschooling

I have met people who are "self taught," and I am sorry to say that in all but a few cases, they lacked certain insights or failed to understand concepts that seem elementary to someone with a more formal education. As for homeschooling, I have no problem with that...if you can afford private tutors in each subject you are learning. Or in other words, if you are wealthy, and most people simply are not.

Re:No (2, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 4 years ago | (#33702586)

"yet somehow you are not calling private schools "trash.""

When I said "public schools," I also meant private schools (even though they're not the same, sorry).

"I have met people who are "self taught," and I am sorry to say that in all but a few cases, they lacked certain insights or failed to understand concepts that seem elementary to someone with a more formal education."

Then obviously they didn't teach themselves what they needed to. This doesn't speak for everyone. The concept of self teaching is actually quite efficient if you have the means to do it, and many times (not all, of course, it depends on the person), faster.

"As for homeschooling, I have no problem with that...if you can afford private tutors in each subject you are learning"

There's no need. Willful parents are all you need. If they don't have time for that, then your parents homeschooling you obviously isn't an option.

Re:No (0)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#33702620)

Then obviously they didn't teach themselves what they needed to. This doesn't speak for everyone. The concept of self teaching is actually quite efficient if you have the means to do it, and many times (not all, of course, it depends on the person), faster.

Sorry, but there are insights that are just not published in books. I used to think that I could teach myself certain subjects, but without the guidance of someone with years of experience, I missed things, even after reading every word of multiple textbooks. Getting by without a good teacher is not something I would expect anyone to be able to do, except for the absolute basics of a given topic.

There's no need. Willful parents are all you need. If they don't have time for that, then your parents homeschooling you obviously isn't an option.

Are your parents expert enough in abstract math to teach that to you? How about world history? How about computer science? Again, when you go beyond the absolute basics, a teacher with experience in a given subject is indispensable.

Re:No (2, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 4 years ago | (#33702660)

"Sorry, but there are insights that are just not published in books. I used to think that I could teach myself certain subjects, but without the guidance of someone with years of experience, I missed things, even after reading every word of multiple textbooks. Getting by without a good teacher is not something I would expect anyone to be able to do, except for the absolute basics of a given topic."

This is why you need direction. No, this doesn't come from someone with "years of experience," it can come from just about any source. There's all kinds of curriculum and tutorials floating around that can be used. If you follow them in order and do as they say, nothing should be missed. Public schooling also has a curriculum, naturally. Without direction, you really will miss things. You simply can't say that someone that actually has the resources they need (something these people you're speaking of didn't have, obviously) can't learn efficiently.

"Are your parents expert enough in abstract math to teach that to you? How about world history? How about computer science? Again, when you go beyond the absolute basics, a teacher with experience in a given subject is indispensable."

Really? Do you honestly believe that every person that underwent homeschooling and didn't have tutors didn't learn anything? Please. See, this is the part where these great things called "books" and the "internet" come in handy. There is a plentiful amount of information circulating around, and you don't have to be a teacher or a tutor to get it. This is where the "willful" part comes in. If they actually attempt to do a good job of teaching you useful information by studying the material themselves and explaining it, they can succeed.

Re:No (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#33702734)

This is why you need direction. No, this doesn't come from someone with "years of experience," it can come from just about any source. There's all kinds of curriculum and tutorials floating around that can be used. If you follow them in order and do as they say, nothing should be missed. Public schooling also has a curriculum, naturally. Without direction, you really will miss things. You simply can't say that someone that actually has the resources they need (something these people you're speaking of didn't have, obviously) can't learn efficiently.

When you make a mistake, who is going to explain what went wrong? Textbooks cannot publish every possible mistake that a student might make, along with an explanation of why it is a mistake. As the material gets more advanced, the number of possible mistakes grows very rapidly, to the point where you really need someone with a very deep and detailed understanding of the material to explain to you why your answer is wrong; this is part of the process of learning. Like I said, I am sure people can learn the basics without an experienced teacher, but there is more to learn than just the basics.

Really? Do you honestly believe that every person that underwent homeschooling and didn't have tutors didn't learn anything? Please. See, this is the part where these great things called "books" and the "internet" come in handy. There is a plentiful amount of information circulating around, and you don't have to be a teacher or a tutor to get it. This is where the "willful" part comes in. If they actually attempt to do a good job of teaching you useful information by studying the material themselves and explaining it, they can succeed.

I did not say that people who are homeschooled do not learn anything, I said that they will have trouble going beyond the basics, except perhaps in the particular subject their parents are experts in. Again, who is going to explain why their mistakes are mistakes? How are the parents expected to learn advanced topics in subjects they are not familiar with (and if their parents can do so, why not cut out the middle man), to the point of being able to teach those topics to their children?

Re:No (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 4 years ago | (#33702798)

"When you make a mistake, who is going to explain what went wrong?"

This is where researching your information comes in! Always double check to make sure your information is correct (by using your resources).

"Like I said, I am sure people can learn the basics without an experienced teacher, but there is more to learn than just the basics."

Same as above. Really, if you're not able to learn it, you don't have the right resources. In which case, obviously you're going to make many mistakes and won't get very far.

I'm also not going to pretend that self teaching is for everyone. It really isn't. Many people will find it more difficult than homeschooling or public schooling, so they could always go with those. However, some people really are able to teach themselves what they need, and can do so quickly and efficiently (memorizing information also becomes more simple if you do it by yourself and solve your own problems).

"I said that they will have trouble going beyond the basics, except perhaps in the particular subject their parents are experts in"

Only if they don't have the proper resources!

"Again, who is going to explain why their mistakes are mistakes?"

What? Where are they getting their information from? Are they just making it up? If so, of course they're going to make mistakes. However, if they get their information from reasonably credible resources, they can always double check it. The parents learn as they go, too, remember. The key is willpower.

Emphasis on Majors (1)

zmaragdus (1686342) | about 4 years ago | (#33702488)

One factor I don't think is emphasized enough is the choice of major students select. With respect to Robertson's outlook, many liberal arts degrees are a waste of an investment. The odds of you landing a well-compensating job with one of those degrees is slim. On the other hand, if you pursue a technical degree the outlook is much brighter. Programmers, technicians, scientists, engineers, and other similar workers usually earn higher wages than what Robertson lists as his median.

One additional subject I would have liked to hear touched on is the investment potential of a 2-year degree (e.g. welder, certified mechanic, machinist, etc.). I would think that a 2-year degree would be a decent investment for many. Any thoughts?

Degrees... (1)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | about 4 years ago | (#33702524)

The point of a degree is not to prove that you have skills, but rather to prove that you did answer correctly most questions and that you did well in practical sessions. If I was a CEO, I wouldn't hire a guy with a dosen of diplomas when there is a talented guy next to him who did on his own and without teachers what others fail to understand. It's sad, but it looks like pretty much everyone is giving importance to degrees, not to skills (and maybe natural affinity with things).

Sad, very sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702528)

Mark Zuckerberg isn't Mark Zuckerberg; know what I mean? If a man is so concerned with his own concerns that he is willing to screw his own mother to get ahead there is very little that can't be accomplished. Of course in the ones who got Zucked in Mark's case were his fellow students and, fortunately, not his mom. The same is true with Gates. Just ask Mr. Jobs.

Thank God (1, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 4 years ago | (#33702534)

Zuckerberg is a douchebag.

Ideals and reality (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about 4 years ago | (#33702540)

Ideally, if you work hard, you will succeed. In reality, if you work hard, it will likely be for SOMEONE ELSE who will use your hard work for their success. This is why your boss drives a better car than you and has a bigger house while you do all the work.

This is a simplistic picture but generally accurate.

So what did we learn from this? If you want to "succeed" (whatever that means) then you have to be more like the people who are already succeeding. If you wish to study, then study those people and do what they have done. And if your conscience gets in your way, then you have two choices -- listen or don't listen. It's a decision you will have to live with either way.

The things Bill Gates has done to the whole world are impressive by any definition. Some people would have a hard time doing that due to issues of conscience while others would have no problems at all. These others are classically identified as sociopaths. Statistics have born out that the most powerful people on the planet are sociopaths as they are willing to do what most people are not, for reasons of conscience. But fear not! There may be some hope for you.

If you are one of those people who believe "if you are too stupid, ignorant or otherwise don't know what I know, then you deserve whatever happens to you" then you are already well on your way to being a sociopath. I know first hand, that there are a lot of people here on Slashdot who feel that way. (I'm sorry, but if you didn't know that truckload of explosives was heading your way while you were sleeping in your home, then you deserve whatever happens to you!)

Personally, I decided long ago, I don't have what it takes to do what "successful" people do... or, as I see it, I have what stops me from doing what it takes. (I can't knowingly make people miserable and call it "just business" as many others seem to be able to do.) I have accepted it and I will just keep working every day, try to save some money and hope I die before I retire.

Re:Ideals and reality (3, Interesting)

skyride (1436439) | about 4 years ago | (#33702692)

I read your comment thinking "what a dick", but then I reached the last paragraph, and I just feel sorry for you. By the sounds of it, you're so wrapped up in "being successful", that the fact you think you won't be just makes you miserable. The problem you have is that you directly equate "being successful" to "screwing people over". Its possible to do one without the other. I'm not of course saying you can become a multi-billionaire, but why would you want/need more money than you can possibly ever spend? Its possible to run your own buisness, selling to a small niche of the market without screwing people over. Quite simply put, someone else already is, so its easy to undercut them in price while beating them in quality of service. You won't steal their whole customer base, but you can certainly make a size-able dent and a fair bit of money in the process.

Cheer up. ;)

Re:Ideals and reality (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | about 4 years ago | (#33702778)

Okay then, let's make a short list of counter-examples. What modern-day success exists today did so without screwing over a bunch of people in the process?

What you are talking about in terms of running a small business is risky. It is risky because when Best Buy's Geek Squad, or any local large operator sees you as a threat, it won't be long before you are eliminated one way or another. Sometimes it's possible to operate "under the radar" but the fact that anyone would need to do so is clear indication that one already knows that there are risks of being destroyed by larger, predatory businesses.

It is possible to live and operate righteously. But it is quite possible that you will get destroyed in the process as had happened time and time again.

Anyway, that short list?

Statistical anomalie? (2, Interesting)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 4 years ago | (#33702546)

"... dropouts Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates did do alright for themselves ..."

So from this limited sampling of two, we can conclude that dropouts do alright for themselves, but only by screwing everyone else over?

Re:Statistical anomalie? (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 4 years ago | (#33702698)

All you need (or should need) is knowledge. If you have that, you can get things done. Despite popular belief, knowledge doesn't just come from schools. It can come from your parents, books, and even the internet. The problem is, far too many places are too focused on ultimately worthless degrees. A degree by no means ensures that someone knows what they're talking about (it might indicate it more than if they didn't have a degree, but nothing can be certain). What really should matter is what you know, and far too many jobs seem to neglect this fact.

Community college is a much better deal (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702548)

The program I teach in usually has 100% of the graduates employed within six months of graduating. It takes three years. We're a community college so the tuition is quite low. Many of the students live at home with their parents, so they have cheap living expenses.

The bottom line is that, for some college programs, the investment is pretty safe and pays off.

Remember that the statistics for lifetime earnings take into account the History and English PhDs serving coffee at Starbucks. If you get a good job, your results are much better than average.

Common sense way to try to get rich... (1)

LordNacho (1909280) | about 4 years ago | (#33702580)

TFA is pretty sensible. Get a degree so you can get a job in an established business. Then learn about the industry while you're being paid a salary. And then, if you like, try opening your own shop.

I've worked for a few failed startups, right after college, as well as in an established financial business. I'm now running my own in partnership with some friends I met at a previous job. You can't really get in without the credentials, and it's worthwhile to learn a few things in college anyway. The problem with the alternative is that in any business, there's a load of unknown unknowns (thanks Donald). If you just leap into it, you won't know anything about industry norms, and you'll have to hope that a VC comes by and teaches you. To put it simply: you've either got a stunning new product that will change the world. Or you're a clown who should have known why that wouldn't work. Zuckerberg got pretty lucky.

I'd add this: Roll the dice a few times with startups. It's fun, and you'll probably be able to get back on the ladder when things go wrong. But you can't roll the dice forever, as you might want to have a family. So if you don't make it big, you've at least tried, and are still able to feed yourself. But definitely try. Forget the ladder while you're in your mid 20s.

Don't (0, Redundant)

sleekaccounting (1909372) | about 4 years ago | (#33702582)

If are going to do it because of what you read about Zuckerberg, Bill, or Dell, do yourself a favor. Don't.

Not to mention... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702602)

Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are both Douchebags.

Wasn't exactly hopong to emulate them in any event.

Maximize cost/benefit ratio. (2, Interesting)

Junta (36770) | about 4 years ago | (#33702612)

First, I want to see *some* sort of check and balance on college expenses. Every examination of college prices over the past 30 years has shown horribly high growth relative to earning. Most things I read agree the problem was good intentions, making loans for education extremely safe, but has lead to colleges taking the blank checks, running up expenses through the roof, and the payback protections to lenders turning graduates practically into indentured servants, unable to escape that creditor no matter how little they have and even bankruptcy not being a way out. The answer is not insanely easy loans, there has got to be a better way.

In terms of going with what's there, start with a community college. It's a total waste to piss away more money on the basics in the first two years of college. After a couple of years, go to a state college with a good co-op/intern program. Use the co-op program, do not simply take the classes and get out, get some professional experience on your resume and subsidize the extra cost of state college with your pay.

Do *not* get too hung up on the prestige of one school versus another. At least when I look at resumes, professional experience matters most, low GPA can give me concerns, and which school figures prominently in the don't care area. One exception being I laugh at people with 'bachelor's' degrees from ripoff places like devry, phoenix, etc. I'd personally rather have someone without a degree than a sucker who fell for those places. However, I'm not allowed to entertain people without 4 year degrees by company policy, so unfortunately your chances of dropping out and making it within the rules of established company is nearly zero. All the examples of rich dropouts are those who were never 'hired' by anyone, but sold product and services directly to people who only look at the quality of the product and promise, not at their resume.

College's role in my life... (1)

jesseck (942036) | about 4 years ago | (#33702614)

I attended a 2-year technical school for a networking degree (plus another 1 yr. towards programming). Did it help? Hell yes, I learned a lot. Did the degree get me a job? Nope, but I came onboard with a technology company as in intern my last semester, and was hired full-time about 4 months later. I probably didn't need a degree for the job (but the school knowledge helps), but I sure wouldn't have been offered an internship with my employee either.

Bill Gates is a poor example... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702740)

Bill Gates is not a good example of the typical young person who drops out of college and strikes it rich. His family was upper middle class and had enough money to send him to a prestigious college prep school. You can bet that before he earned any money on his own, his computer interests were heavily subsidized by his family. He certainly got a head start in life that few of his generation never had. I'll bet that parental support was worth quite a few years of college.

If you have a solid idea and are driven.. (1)

amanicdroid (1822516) | about 4 years ago | (#33702748)

If you have a solid idea and are driven to get it on the market then go for it and hire the college kids later. College graduates are trained to assist leaders. They're the most highly trained servants in the world.

Zoho Don't Need No Stinking Ph.D. Programmers (2, Interesting)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 4 years ago | (#33702780)

Zoho also does not need any bachelor degree programmers. Zoho prefers to hire right out of high school.

I think college degrees are only worthwhile for jobs that actually require the degree: doctors, nurses, lawyers, etc.

I consider my own degrees (math, business, and comp. sci.) to be a complete waste of time, money, and effort.

Here's the Zoho stroy:
http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/07/01/208222/Zoho-Dont-Need-No-Stinking-PhD-Programmers?from=rss [slashdot.org]

Um, ok... (0)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about 4 years ago | (#33702784)

Obvious point is obvious.

Get degree, a job, then train your H1B replacement (0, Flamebait)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 4 years ago | (#33702824)

Right Wadhwa?

Windows and Facebook? (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about 4 years ago | (#33702916)

Okay lets think about this, Bill Gates made Windows and it's a 1/2 decent Operating System which kinda works. Mark invented Facebook which is a site who's use is to share pictures and join pointless groups. Both of these men have invented a product which in the end isn't that great or special. I'm not saying they haven't done well for them selfs but to pick a fair field, Linus invented Linux ( An actual decent OS ) and he went to school, So the real lesson should be, if you want to end up being successful with a great product, go to school. If you want to be a success and end up with a 1/2 ass product then drop out. A billion dollars made from a shitty product is a shitty billion and thats exact what Facebook and Windows have made for Bill and Mark.

status of parents seems to be the key (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702922)

Upper middle class parents seem to be the key to success without a college degree. They essentially are the college education proxy for these kid billionaire. Without the parent's initial funding and connections they would be like the millions of other non degreed young startup founders; begging for a job at Walmart.
So if your Mom can set you up with IBM executives or your Dad can set you up with VC's, don't bother going to college. You will be fine. However if your parents are just average joe's, college is the only realistic path to the upper middle class.

so it's better to rack up the debt then get to wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33702928)

so it's better to rack up the debt then get to work?

and to many jobs want 4 years or more degrees just to get a low level job at the start? Making people have 4 years or more just leads to them asking for more pay so they can pay off the loans. Do you realty need 4 years for help desk or other starting job even higher level tech job need more tech work and less class room work. Maybe for management but we have to many MBA with little to no tech knowledge doing management of tech and it better to have some one who did tech work for 2-6 years being in management then some one who did 4-6 years in the class room.

also what up with pass over people who went tech school and community college? What is so much better about some who when to a college that it's big cleam is that they have a 1# football or basketball team. Some college are know as sports colleges where teaching takes a back seat to the sports teams what makes them better then a tech school? or community college?

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