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Is College For Everyone?


Steve Jobs – Apple

Bill Gates – Microsoft

Michael Dell – Dell Computers

Henry Ford – Ford Motor Co

Richard Branson – Virgin

Kemmons Wilson – Holiday Inn Hotels

Jerry Yang – Yahoo

Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook

Mary Kay – Mary Kay Inc

Russell Simmons – Def Jam Records

Ted Turner – CNN

Colonel Harland Sanders – KFC

John Mackey – Whole Foods

David Neeleman – JetBlue

John D Rockefeller Sr. – Standard Oil

Ray Kroc – McDonald’s

Ralph Lauren – Polo

Mike Lazaridis – Research in Motion, Blackberry

Tom Anderson – MySpace

Walt Disney – Disneyland

Tyra Banks – Bankable Productions

Larry Ellison – Oracle Corporations

Jay Van Andel – Amway

Cornelius Vanderbilt – Railroad magnate

Thomas Edison – General Electric

Many people recognize a sizable number of the names on this list. Some people are familiar with the fact that certain people here didn’t finish a college degree. Regardless of the amount of new information that you, the reader, have been struck with, there are many powerful thoughts to behold here.

Before I dive too deep, I should clarify a few things. At the time of this writing, most of my friends are currently working on their college degrees or have recently completed theirs. My goal is not to belligerently bash people who have chosen to take this path in life. College is a worthwhile path that can yield many valuable benefits, friendships, experiences, and thoughts.

My goal is, however, to draw out critical thinking from those who have merely hailed college as the be-all end-all of higher education, vocational success and financial competency. There are also a number of deeper dynamics at work such as vicarious living, family history and the light in which one holds oneself that can create and alter many variables within one’s experience.

One of the first areas I want to address is the question of, “What is college ultimately meant to prepare someone for?”

What is college ultimately meant to prepare someone for? Share on X

There are certain fields and professions that, due to our contemporary world and all of the conditional facets that it has wrought, are often made accessible solely through the means of college-level education and formal certification programs. Some of these professions include examples such as surgeons, doctors, physicians, laymen, historians, and the like.

I am also not here to knock these professions. We need lawyers and doctors just as much as we need painters and musicians. What I am here to lay forth and propose is two things: one, deeper thought towards all professions and vocations, and two, honest and critical thought as to the constructs and passages through which many of us and our children are having to traverse, simply to be fully-functioning human beings and earnest contributors to society.

The world would not be able to turn round were it entirely comprised of poets, interior designers and chefs. It would also not be able to go about were it full of medical technicians, chemical engineers and mechanics. We all need each other and each others’ diverse gifts and strengths.

We all need each other and each others' diverse gifts and strengths. Share on X

That’s what makes teamwork and cohesion a force to be reckoned with. This point is no longer up for debate.

What is up for debate is the roads by which our children are being told to arrive at their careers. We tell them that they can be anything they want, and that their dreams are worth pursuing, but then that they must attend college only to be saddled with debt and to forget about dreams because they’re only fairytales anyways.

What kind of thinking is that? First of all, it’s limited thinking. Second of all, it’s a type of thinking that is devoid of faith and sacrifice. Nothing worth having ever came easily.

Nothing worth having ever came easily. Share on X

If your child wants to be a dancer or a choreographer, what’s wrong with that? The only thing that could be wrong is if you do not support him or her towards that end, and fail to remind them that it is a dream worth chasing.

If your child has aspirations that stand in contrast to your level of comfort, it is not your place to try to dismantle your child’s optimism, drive and persistence towards what will fulfill their desires and yearnings of a life’s work.

If you tried at your dreams in your youth and now want your child to be free of the pain and heartache that comes with pursuing any dream worth having, you must realize that it is their life to strive for what they hunger most after. It is also their life, and subsequently their learning opportunity, to make the most of pain and suffering.

For those of you who don’t have children, the present is even more your opportunity. There is a whole new set of responsibilities that comes with raising children. It’s not that dreams cannot be pursued amidst childrearing, but they must be balanced. Infants and youth require a lot of sacrifice, care and love – and given each, will every day transform the parent’s life into more of a dream itself.

If you are currently attending or planning to attend college, consider these questions:

Why do you want to go to college?

As rudimentary as it might seem, this is a question worth answering on your own, aside from the opinions of any grandparents, parents, friends or anyone else. This is your life, with which to make the best decisions that will implement your innate gifts, talents and yearnings.

– What do you ultimately want to accomplish through college?

Whether it’s a specific degree, experience, greater education, or something else entirely, it’s absolutely vital to understand the reason you are entering and not let anything or anyone else dissuade you from that pursuit.

– What will college give you that another experience or undertaking cannot?

The answers to this question can be even more varied than those of the above question. Be reminded that many of these questions demand truly critical thinking. But also remember, this is life. It’s not a vacation. You won’t be leaving for two weeks and coming back to much the same. It is four or more years that you are investing towards a goal that will ideally yield the outcome and results you want. It is better to plan and move slowly but deliberately, than to plan and move quickly and have regret later on for actions taken too hastily.

So after all of this, a natural question would be: if college is not the answer, what is? And this is a very valid question.

The hard truth is, everyone’s life is different. And because of that, there is not a recipe for success that will bake up delicious success cookies 100% of the time. Fortunately though, there are components that, when all used together, yield success. I also imagine that for many of the people listed at the beginning of this post, the following list of virtues ring loud and true.


You have to know exactly what it is that you want to pursue, and know that you won’t want to change your mind in a week, a month, a year, or three years.

Hard Work

This facet certainly comes as no question. Constant and high-quality work is the lifeblood of composing anything from concept to concrete reality.


You have got to understand that whatever it is you are undertaking, it will get difficult and it will get uncomfortable. You need to want it enough to be able to push past the minor issues when they try to rear their heads.


Accomplishing something great definitely requires being willing and able to absorb as much relevant information towards your quest as possible. There is no time for immersing oneself in games – you have to be on your toes, meeting new people, doing business networking and bringing yourself to your performable edge every time. It’s also true that in business, it’s not what you know, but who you know. Combining the latest information in your industry with already-triumphant key figures is a guarantee for creating an environment of success.


Nothing great was ever accomplished alone. Share on X

Nothing great was ever accomplished alone. Lewis and Clark had a group with them, Thomas Edison had assistants, Jesus had 12 disciples and Martin Luther King Jr had his gathering. A few brief examples to illustrate that no matter what you set out to do, you need (and should be building) a sharp team of people who are going to help you on this journey. Always treat your team well, because what goes around comes around.

Refusal to Quit

There will be many great days, and there will be even more bittersweet days. Don’t let the tough times drag you down. It may be an overused phrase by now, but it undoubtedly could not ring more true: when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Use your setbacks as fuel that will bring about even greater joy when you finally surmount the obstacles that face you.

Fervent Dreaming

The most important of them all. There can be no dream to chase if there is no dreaming being done! Dreams are as such because they challenge what is, and tantalize us with what could be. Don’t let your dreams be small! Dream with full force, and unapologetically.

Don't let your dreams be small! Share on X


All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. – T.E. Lawrence

The dreamers of the day are dangerous men. T.E. Lawrence Share on X


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Published inEducationFailure And SuccessLeadershipLifeWork


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