Skip to comments.How College is Harming American Entrepreneurship:
Posted on 02/03/2013 8:45:55 AM PST by Kaslin
When I was in grade school, I remember going to birthday parties at the local bowling alley. Before the games would begin, the workers would install bumpers inside the gutters in order to prevent gutter balls and avoid "failure." When I was growing up, it was common for sports teams to award trophies to all the players so no little kid would have his or her feelings hurt at the end of the season. Today, there are school districts which no longer give out "F'" grades, and hundreds of high schools have removed class ranks so that my generation will feel less pressure to succeed. By the time my generation gets out into the "real world," what will happen when our bosses criticize us and rattle the core of our tenuous self-esteems? While my parents and grandparents grew up enduring the Great Depression and two World Wars, will history look back on my peers as the "Bumper Bowling Generation?"
Previous generations pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and risk taking was encouraged as millions sought the American dream. A dream encourages one to stretch their imagination and think outside the box. I am afraid that my generation fears risk taking because we haven't been encouraged to take chances. We fear failure and this undermines the entrepreneurial spirit. To make things worse, the bias in our schools encourages today's youth to feel entitled to a certain standard of living just as we felt entitled to our little league trophies.
More recently, I see how my peers are being conditioned to believe that a college degree will automatically lead to success and the American dream. However, the economic reality is there are many taxi drivers and sales clerks today who are university graduates making modest wages while burdened with huge college loans.
As a society, we accept the collective belief that as long as we put more kids through college, our society will naturally progress. There is the assumption that if students continue to borrow tens of thousands of dollars to pay for an inflated education, they will automatically become more prosperous. Nowadays, higher learning is more about accreditation than education. It's about telling people you have a degree rather than turning knowledge into something palatable.
Some of the greatest innovations in our country's history have come from entrepreneurs who did not fear failure. They sought the American dream by creating businesses from scratch and working tirelessly towards their vision instead of sitting in lecture halls. From Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, many of our greatest entrepreneurs never graduated from college. Will my generation be able to produce a similar number of successful new businesses? What long term effects will the entitlement mentality have on today's bumper bowling generation? Is our system of education pouring water on the flames of entrepreneurship? Are we pushing young potential innovators into a system that will crowd out their instinctive abilities to invent new products and services?
Imagine a young entrepreneur who recently graduated high school with an idea to improve the internet. Typically, this ambitious student has been told by peers and teachers, "Wait until you graduate college, then you can pursue your dreams." However, this future college graduate will have an average of $50,000 dollars of student loan debt to pay off. Instead of trying to create a new business, this young man or woman will be worrying about getting a job to pay off their student loans. The weight of these student loans can slowly drag down a young entrepreneur's vision to create a new business and take new risks in the marketplace.
Some forward looking pioneers of a new paradigm are already starting to reshape the path of some of our nation's best and brightest entrepreneurs. One such program, the Thiel Fellowship, was founded by Peter Thiel who started several companies including PayPal. Thiel also provided important venture capital to a company we all know as Facebook. The Thiel Fellowship program annually selects 20 of the top young entrepreneurs in the world and gives them each $100,000 over two years to pursue their dreams. Instead of going to college, these young innovators are busy creating more cost effective solar panels, turning cooking grease into fuel, making nuclear fusion more readily available, and unlocking secrets to slow the aging process. The mission of the Thiel Fellowship program is based on the belief, "Some ideas are so good they just can't wait." By empowering and enabling young entrepreneurs from across the world to pursue their dreams, these Thiel Fellows are on the cutting edge of innovation and creating new paradigms in our educational system.
Although college is the right decision for some young people, it is not the catch all solution. Instead, we should encourage young people to take risks while they are still idealistic and have the spirit of innovation alive within them. We need to foster a new generation of innovators, and we must support young people who make the bold decision to skip college in their quest to make the world a better place. Every person has ideas, but we need young entrepreneurs to turn those ideas into reality.
You don't need a degree to start a successful business. It's time to accept that college can put shackles on some of our best and brightest. College was once considered a stepping stone but now has become a stumbling block for countless innovators of tomorrow. Let's accept the fact that the next Apple, Microsoft and Facebook won't be inspired by reading textbooks. Together, we can embrace the future and give the next Ford, Jobs, Gates, and Zuckerberg the freedom necessary to succeed.
Preach it brother. This is one of the pillars of our secular American faith, and it needs to be knocked down. Viva education! Down with college!
As a college instructor I couldn’t agree more! As companies find it harder to compete (especially in California) I see more and more of their former employees in my classroom, looking for that mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
As far back as I can remember, my father told me that the day we started sending everyone to college, America’s future was bleak.
The vast majority of High School graduates should be getting jobs to learn the value of work, not going to college to learn the value of Socialism.
Waaaayyyy to many low income, children who watched their parents raise them on the Government tit, are now being taught by University professors that capitalism is evil and government is good.
I remember bowling parties when I was a kid in the 60’s.
There were no gutter guards.
How right you are - my kid wants to be a movie director. Yet he had a run-in with reality by doing an internship with the cities’ PR department as a sophomore in high school. He hated it! I asked him why. He had to do what someone else directed! He hated it! He indeed thought he would go to college and upon graduation be hailed as the next Stephen Spielberg.
Well - it was a VERY valuable lesson. He is now in college majoring in Mass Media Production. He has a National Merit Scholarship, and chose a school that would make that award pay for perhaps 2/3rds of his costs.
He still wants to direct movies, but realizes he won’t be starting at the top. He right-sized his expectations to his financial realities and will graduate from college owning no-one money. Our small savings for his college tuition are going to cover all expenses above the scholarship. He put this all together himself.
Yeah - I’m proud of him. However, the point of the story is more to agree with you that unless more of this current generation opens their eyes - it is going to be a RUDE lesson.
Mama Boucher says College is the DEVIL!!!!!
“Instead of millions of mew college graduates driving cabs, we need TRADE SCHOOL graduates, (since apprenticeships seem to have disappeared) working for themselves and their families instead of working to pay back student loans. “
As homeschoolers, we have always taught our kids that you can learn more from failure than you can from success, so don’t be afraid to try different stuff when solving a problem or making something.
The vast majority of High School graduates should be getting jobs to learn the value of work, not going to college to learn the value of Socialism.
Exactly right. I remember when people had a skeptical attitude about higher ed, back when Professor Irwin Corey was the caricature of a college professor.
There's nothing wrong with a true liberal arts education. But it's not the same thing as vocational training, or learning the value of hard work.
“However, this future college graduate will have an average of $50,000 dollars of student loan debt to pay off. Instead of trying to create a new business, this young man or woman will be worrying about getting a job to pay off their student loans. The weight of these student loans can slowly drag down a young entrepreneur’s vision to create a new business and take new risks in the marketplace.”
WARNING - GOP HACK ALERT! Odd how the schmuck fails to mention that when Dubya and GOP controlled Congress they did squat regarding the affordability of college. Wait, scratch that. They DID do something: they passed a law prohibiting the discharge of student loans. This was a financial payoff for the college loan industry which plenty of us conservatives decried for the very reasons the author lists above. And dum dum’s answer is to skip college? Even money his kids are offered a place at Harvard, they’re damn well going to partake.
You could not be more right!
I was sitting in a restaurant waiting for a table the other night and I overheard two guys sitting next to me who work in the Eagle Ford shale oil/gas fields in TX.
They were talking about the fact that they cannot find enough skilled tradesmen (or even unskilled workers who are willing to be trained) to take the jobs that they have available in the oil and gas fields.
They said that someone straight out of high school could start an apprenticeship (which the employers are willing to pay for) and could easily be making 100K+ within just a few years.
But a high school graduate (and his co-signing broke family) will gladly become an indentured servant... going tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars into lifelong, non-dischargable student loan debt, in order to further enrich liberal professors and multi-million-dollar salary college presidents, while being indoctrinated for 4 years in the art of victimhood/entitlements/guilt and graduate with a worthless degree that qualifies him to work at Starbucks.
Then, he’ll cry to his fellow underemployed, over-indebted adult-child “friends” on Facebook and Twitter night and day about how unfair the system is.
Sad, sad days in America.
I heartily agree, but we also need something we don't have all -- polytechnics -- sort of high-end trade schools focused on job training, but giving a broader education than a simple trade school. Let universities go back to being universities instead of misconceiving of their purpose as job training, rather than education. What most people seem to want from college is what a polytechnic offers.
I went to a major state university (in the ACC conference) where I learned to look down my nose at kids who either skipped college for work, joined the military, or went to community college. I had a bit of a rude awakening when I graduated after six years with a double-degree and discovered that the grads from the local technical school were getting all the jobs in my field (graphic design). They were trained on graphics software that my school didnt even have. I, however, had in-depth knowledge of art theory, socialism, sustainability, and keg stands. Cutting-edge computer graphics software skills? Yeah, not so much.
I am a total liberal arts geek, but I am determined that my kids should have both employable skills and “big picture” knowledge, of the kind that college can offer. Not sure how this will play out, but in the meantime, my highschool student is learning all about shop tools in her robotics club. She comes home with a huge smile on her face, because she has been trained on another piece of equipment, or helped do something real, like building shelves. Something good is going to come from this.
Your kids/students are very lucky to have you.
The standard story is that these are boomer and post-boomer parents who give everybody trophies. Doesn't it go back further than that? Didn't a lot of boomer kids get trophies just for playing from teams set up by their greatest generation parents?
Banks and other biz do due dilligence before extending loans —you can’t get a loan for a stupid pipe-dream.
But SCHOOLS do no such due dilligence —the loans are written without a glance, again and again.
Because if a student declares bankruptcy, the debt REMAINS —schools know they can ENSLAVE poor black students studying sociology at Harvard for 6 years.
Why all the cushy treatment for the LIBERAL UNIVERSITY SYSTEM? Aren’t they the ones saying that private biz is just a pack of enslavers taking advantage of young people...? Aren’t THEY the ones saying that the system is rigged...?
Let them live up to their own rhetoric, and let THEM bear a sliver of the debt risk:
Make student debt for Liberal Arts degrees dischargeable via bankruptcy.
The reason for this injustice is because easy credit for dumb young students ensures a steady stream of victims for culture-hating Profs who otherwise have to work in record stores, head shops, or scribbling poetry.
SUBSIDY FOR HYPOCRITICAL, DIRTY LEFTIES.
That’s all true. Also true, though, is one needn’t get his education from college to be a software engineer, firmware engineer, inventor, or a CEO of a successful firm for that matter. I’ve known and worked with many self-taught autodidacts from all of those categories who are gifted and brilliant.
In seems that our kids often mirror image us ;-) I’m have a EE degree - and my son is taking Liberal Arts degree! Didn’t see THAT one coming. His only problem is that he is a total nerd and can’t help it. He LOVES the technical stuff, yet wants to do creative films?
A point most splendidly made. Those who do know the value of work, those who think outside the box, in short, the foxes of society are misunderstood by the socialist sheep. I've long suspected this fissure, and am happy to see more articles like this one.
“Today’s kids are being seduced into thinking that everyone can be the CEO or a top executive.”
Yet there are corporations that have the view that the valid only career goal for a degreed corporate professional is executive or upper management. Such it was at a major engineering firm where I had at one time worked.
The game, however, starts with sales, sales, sales ... a point sorely neglected.
You ain't got sales, you got nothing!
You mean what they used to teach when only the elite went to college?
Good luck with that. You are going to need to be pretty picky about what school she gets into. Most aren't into the big picture stuff anymore, unless it's a picture of Karl Marx.
My thought exactly.
Kid down the street loves to mess with trucks and snowmobiles. Has owned five or six vehicles during just the past year. He just loves machinery that moves.
I doubt anyone in his family has ever attended college, but his folks have worked hard and would really like Dustin to go. What the kid needs is a good apprenticeship in a repair shop.
I'm sure he's comfortable with computers and he's got the knack for machinery. I hope he doesn't try to make his parents happy by doing something that he might not be suited for.
Indeed, I am being picky.
Oh, no, we don’t want the dreaded trades-males starting private sector labor unions again. Our government unions are much better and provide licensed, approved persons to administer this economy without manufacturing. Besides, robots have replaced all of the dreaded trades-males and other working class trash. Better than that, we’ve nearly got our enemies to the point of extermination! Mhuahahahahahahahahaha! Isn’t gatekeeping wonderful! We have complete control...complete control! Mhuahahahahahahahaha!
[Piles of irony and sarcasm there while wringing hands in emulation of the highly educated political/regulator class.]
More sincerely, tough, technically inclined young people will own tomorrow. Begin to treat them well, and they’ll treat you well. But they won’t be your slaves. Slavery is anti-conservative in the American sense. Slavery is more suitably accommodated by the kinds of communist/fascist nations that our business, academic and political leaders are in bed with.
My husband and I are lucky to have them, the way things are going in this country, it looks like they are our back up retirement plan ;)
“There’s nothing wrong with a true liberal arts education.”
I could not agree more, in fact I think everyone should have it regardless of what kind of training they go after as a way to make a living. The problem is where does one get a liberal arts education now, as opposed to merely getting a degree in liberal arts?
I received a diploma from a public high school in 1962 and went straight into the Navy. I spent my first year after boot camp going to electronics school which was purely technical. In recent years I have noticed that no one seems to use the English language properly except for some of the old folks. The younger ones do not understand pronouns, they use astounding double negative constructions and often seem to think they are saying the exact opposite of what their actual words convey. They are hopelessly lost when attempting to use words like there, their and they’re, your and you’re, its and it’s, the list goes on and on, they use apostrophes for plurals. Most English TEACHERS in our schools now probably could not pass an eighth grade English final from my era.
Don’t even talk about history, I know from conversations within the past ten years that recent graduates of the university a few miles from my home could not pass an eighth grade history final from my era and I am speaking of those who MAJORED in history! No wonder they seem to have no understanding of the nature of our current disaster, they know little or nothing of what has gone before and much of what they think they know is wrong. They have spent years going for “higher education”, they have foregone the income they might have earned during those years and on top of that many if not most have run up major debt to pay for this HEINO (higher education in name only). When someone spends four or more years and huge sums of money to major in history and literally cannot pass a grade school history test from his grandfather’s time what in the world is going on? They are hanging sheepskins without being qualified to even ENTER a REAL post high school educational institution. These young people have been cruelly robbed of opportunity and of the money paid to these worthless diploma mills.
What we need is real K-12 education of the sort that used to be available.
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