Skip to comments.Will College Dropouts Save America?
Posted on 10/24/2011 2:17:20 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
I TYPED these words on a computer designed by Apple, co-founded by the college dropout Steve Jobs. The program I used to write it was created by Microsoft, started by the college dropouts Bill Gates and Paul Allen.
And as soon as it is published, I will share it with my friends via Twitter, co-founded by the college dropouts Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams and Biz Stone, and Facebook invented, among others, by the college dropouts Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz, and nurtured by the degreeless Sean Parker.
American academia is good at producing writers, literary critics and historians. It is also good at producing professionals with degrees. But we dont have a shortage of lawyers and professors. America has a shortage of job creators. And the people who create jobs arent traditional professionals, but start-up entrepreneurs.
In a recent speech promoting a jobs bill, President Obama told Congress, Everyone here knows that small businesses are where most new jobs begin.
Close, but not quite. In a detailed analysis, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that nearly all net job creation in America comes from start-up businesses, not small businesses per se. (Since most start-ups start small, we tend to conflate two variables the size of a business and its age and incorrectly assume the former was the relevant one, when in fact the latter is.)
If start-up activity is the true engine of job creation in America, one thing is clear: our current educational system is acting as the brakes. Simply put, from kindergarten through undergraduate and grad school, you learn very few skills or attitudes that would ever help you start a business. Skills like sales, networking, creativity and comfort with failure.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
No business in America and therefore no job creation happens without someone buying something. But most students learn nothing about sales in college; they are more likely to take a course on why sales (and capitalism) are evil.
Entrepreneurship is actually negatively correlated with higher education. I remember seeing stats on this in one of my econ courses.
Sure, Jobs was a college dropout who popularized mass marketed shiny technical devices, yet none of those devices would have been possible without untold degreed physicists, mathematicians, material scientists, chemists, computer architecture experts, and others. The first apples were made from off the shelf microprocessors and TTL support chips, the fruit of untold numbers of people with advanced technical degrees. They weren’t made in Job’s and Wozniak’s garage from silica sand.
I’ve read a number of articles with similar themes to this. The authors are living in Fantasyland. Its not that the likes of Gates, Zuckerberg, or Jobs couldn’t get a college degree. Of course they could have if they wanted to. Its just that they were so bursting with ideas and energy that they didn’t want. In fact, college would have been a waste of their time—which is why they left.
But the fact is that they are the execeptions that prove the rule. Let’s cut to the chase and focus on science & engineering types. The vast majority of them are there to learn skills they don’t currently have and would have trouble learning on their own. Could a few of them do what those guys did? Probably, but a very few. But I’d peg the percentage at 0.0001% who already have those capabilities in college. Most graduate, enter their professions, get experience, make contacts, and then start companies. If starting a company like Facebook were so easy, everyone would be doing it.
BTW, I am a computer science professor and I DO see a lot of talented kids start their own companies. But they are mainly web development companies which compete with other web development companies (which are a dime a dozen) run by equally talented kids. If I had to guess, I’d say most of them make $30K/year tops from their business (which typically has no other employees). Its okay for an undergrad, but hard to live off of.
If this drop-out idea catches on we won’t have thousands of illiterate college grads to flip and bag our burgers.
Then where will we be?
Clearly a capitalist society needs both; the trained, plodding professional and the free thinking innovator.
In nature, look to the sparrows and the sparrow-hawk. Can’t have one without the others.
Both Gates and Jobs were very (very) unique individuals who came of age at the right place in the right time. Of the two, Gates was actually a very good programmer who could go toe to toe with the best of his talent. In contrast, Jobs was a visionary who leaned on others (like Wozniak) to do the technical stuff. His great talent is that he had vision, drive, and could motivate (push people). He was also a perfectionist. There is actually a decent movie called “Pirates of Silicon Valley” that was about the Gates/Jobs rivalry.
I would really hesitate to group Gates/Jobs with Sam Walton or the Domino’s guy.
Technocracy won’t be all that bad. Technicians tend to be more social and less pathological than the social-social (but antisocial) herds in administration now.
Technicians, engineers and techies in my experience also tend to support meritocracy among groups, not just pecking order of politically correct management.
We could do far worse than be ruled by engineers (baring the guy in the Dr. Who universe who invented cybermen).
You said it best. With engineers and technicians leading, rebuilding should be doable. But the big spending on social efforts (anti-family) and anti-competition regulations will have to go. IMO, even county zoning against small manufacturing starts on remote lots would need to be repealed/abolished. That’s why I advocate for self-sufficiency and avoidance of unnecessary personal spending.
Actually, Bill Gates was known to steal the work of others. He bought or took the work of others, and tweaked it. Paul Allen did most of the work of the early Microsoft. Gates is not creative at programming, unlike Allen. What is Gates claim to fame as far as creating any software from scratch? None.
I got the impression from reading a biography on Gates some years ago. Wasn’t actually there, so its all second hand.