A Letter To My College Self - Don’t Go.


Don’t do it, don’t go to college.

You’ll meet amazing people that you’ll be lifelong friends with. You’ll have experiences that you’ll always remember. You’ll learn lessons that you’ll never forget. You’ll create things that you never knew could be done, and you’ll accomplish things and live a journey you’ll be proud of.

Here’s what you don’t know, though:

College was built to learn, not to determine your career. You’ve been lied to because guidance counselors are often rated on how many kids they get into college, so you’re convinced it’s a key in being successful. Take a look at the real numbers, though:

  • 80% of people change their major at least once, on average three times.
  • Only 27% of people actually land a job in their field.
  • On average, just over 50% of people who go to college actually graduate.
  • It’s higher now, but on average students graduate with $35,000 of debt.

*If this was any employee getting these results they’d be fired by now. And, there’s no return policy.

College wasn’t built to get you a job.

Unless you’re gonna be a doctor, an architect, or some other skill where someone’s life is in your hands and you truly need to know what you’re doing before you do it, don’t go.

Colleges are modeled off the industrial age - sit in rows, know your place, maybe a bell rings, change locations, the teacher knows more than you and you better know it too, and I’m sure you’re seeing the comparisons now.

There’s a thing called “upcredentialing.” That means that if you were an administrative assistant in the 1990s you only needed a high school diploma. Then, in the 2000s that position required a bachelor’s, and today you need a master’s. In that time, while the cost has increased thousands and the time invested is out of proportion, the pay for that position has probably only gone up $5,000.

If you are gonna go, don’t take loans - that means you can’t afford that shit! Studies show that loans aren’t even worth it anymore and you won’t make that money back. If you’re saying “Well, I’m gonna go to an Ivy league school.” That doesn’t matter either. If you’re smart enough to get in there, they’re really just profiting off your talent. You’re smart enough already to start your company and do the work you desire. Stop thinking you have to achieve another goal to be happy, that’s not where fulfillment comes from. And that network that all colleges talk about offering, just go meet people!

If you want to be an entrepreneur - be one. It’s not something you learn, start listening to Gary V and then some more Gary V.

Fun fact: since people can’t declare bankruptcy on educational loans, the government has increased the amount of federal loan support they offer so they can make more money. That’s why they encourage people to go to college more frequently now.

Here’s what you need to remember

Results reap rewards, not the amount of work you put into something.

As long as you produce the necessary results, it doesn’t matter whether you have the degree or what your grades are. People pay for the result!

Those experiences I mentioned in the beginning, you could have gotten them elsewhere. And, probably had a more immersive and tailored experience.

If I were to choose a college for you, look for something like the Wayfinding Academy - reasonably priced and a real purpose driven college. You even get your own guide that will coach you during your time there, not an academic advisor that you wait in a line for to then tell you what classes to take that you could have figured out on your own. They truly teach you how to take ownership of your life and navigate the world.

I know I’ve left you with only a few short words of wisdom, but if you need more, just send me an email at [email protected]

I also know I didn’t list any sources for the data I provided. It’s because we live in a spoonfed world where so many people believe everything they’re told and never really verify for themselves. That’s why so many people that don’t really need to go to college end up going. I hope this sparks a curiosity in you to look up everything I’ve shared and find your own answers.

- James

PS - If you are gonna go or already went and are buried in loans, checkout Earnest's option to refinance student loans. They're encouraging everyone to share their experiences in college, even if they're a proponent of alternative options like I am. I think that's cool of them. To be honest though, I know nothing about them, so you'll want to do that research on your own. I was just excited I had the opportunity to write to my college self.