There's no shortage of people telling us: "Stay in college. College graduates make more on average than non-college graduates." I say BS. According to the Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, 4 out of the top 5 are college dropouts including Bill Gates, the wealthiest American at $51 billion, who dropped out of Harvard. Only Warren Buffet (#2 at $40 billion) graduated from college although he only went to satisfy his parents' wishes. He was already a fairly wealthy investor before college, and continued on his chosen path after college. College was for him merely an interruption in his life. Paul Allen (#3 at $22.5 billion), Microsoft co-founder, dropped out of the University of Washington.
Michael Dell (#4 at $18 billion) dropped out of the University of Texas, and Larry Ellison (#5 at $17 billion) dropped out of 2 colleges: University of Illinois and University of Chicago.
These folks are all multi-billionaires. All are college dropouts with the exception of one reluctant college graduate for whom college didn't deter him on his chosen path. Now a lot of pro-college pundits will tell you that, statistically speaking, college graduates make more money than non-college graduates. Well folks, I'm here to tell you that you can lie with statistics...big time. Did any of their statistical samples include Bill Gates or Paul Allen or Michael Dell or Larry Ellison? I think not. These folks have more combined income and wealth probably than the whole pool of college graduates put together. Talk about a society based on lies. The biggest lie is that you have to go to college to do well financially.
If you go to college, chances are you'll make chump change albeit more chump change than most college dropouts. However, statistically speaking, college dropouts are probably on average wealthier than college graduates as we have seen from the above examples. How could they not be when the four above mentioned individuals have a combined wealth that most countries in the world would envy for their GDP. At a combined wealth of $138.5 billion (if I did my math right) the top 5 wealthiest Americans have a GDP greater than most African countries. Now you could go on down the list of the 400 wealthiest Americans and check each one's educational status: graduate or dropout. The results might be surprising! That's a subject for future blog entries. Maybe we'll take 10 at a time till we exhaust the Forbes 400 list.
The message is clear: if you know what you want out of life, go for it; forget college. If you don't know what you want in life, then maybe college is a better alternative to hanging around on the street corner. Basically college will get you a better income if you are mediocre and don't know what you want. If you're exceptional, then college will only get in your way.
Of course, not everyone who follows their dreams will achieve the financial success of these gentlemen. A lot of people, myself included, could care less about this level of financial success. But I think the lesson is clear. Don't believe the BS that parents and educators are telling you. They have a business to promote. Yes, folks, education is a business. College students support a huge cadre of professors, administrators, librarians etc. etc. down to the janitors.
Information of any and all kinds is freely available to anyone who seeks it. Libraries are free. You can find out almost anything via the Internet. You don't need formal education to learn anything you want to learn, much less a degree! I am in favor of self-education. I only wish I knew what my direction was when I was younger and had the guts to follow it then. But for me college was marking time until I figured out what I really wanted to do with my life.
For more on this subject please see my website Social Choice and Beyond.