Don’t show this post to your mom or dad because I’ll end up getting a bunch of angry emails. Let’s keep this between you and me as I try and convince you to drop out of school and start your business .
Before I get into the reason why you should drop out, let me say that I have nothing against school. In fact, school (by school I mean college) can be a great way to furthering your learning, but it certainly isn’t the only way. It’s also insanely expensive, especially for people like me who had no idea what they wanted to do in life. According to the Institute of Education Sciences, the average fees for a student going through a year worth of school in the 2011-2012 year clocks in at a staggering amount of $33,716. Yes, that sounds batsh*t crazy to me too.
That said, I should probably tell you that I am a college dropout, so I’m obviously a bit biased. I have many friends who worked very hard in school, got good grades, and were offered amazing jobs. For me though, I knew it wasn’t right for me, and these were the five signs I knew I needed to call it quits.
1) You are absolutely miserable
I’m generally a pretty happy person, but I was absolutely miserable in school. I was studying mechanical engineering, and I couldn’t stand it. It was ridiculously hard, I had almost no free time, and I could barely keep my head above water. What’s worse is that nothing I did had any meaning to me. Sure, I could solve a differential equation, or analyze stress on a beam, but the future of applying those things seemed so far off. I wanted to do something now.
You might think, “wow Josh, stop complaining. Why didn’t you just switch majors to something you liked more?” Well, the problem is, I was already two years into my degree, and I had no idea what I wanted to do. Switching degrees would only prolong the length of my education, and I had already had enough.
So one day, my long time friend, and now my business partner, Keith, decided to start a company called Applits.com. I was hooked. I loved the hands on work, the feeling of knowing that every action I did had a direct impact on my success. I was no longer studying things for the sake of getting a good grade, I was doing things and learning them as I went along to better my company. Sure, some mistakes were made, like accidently sending 120,000 emails to 500 members of our site when a script went crazy (note to self: write blog post about scariest moments as a business founder), but I learned from those mistakes and have no regrets.
Now you know my story. How do you know if you are ready to take the leap? If you’re hard working, dedicated to learning on your own, and aren’t afraid of taking risks, go for it and follow your dream of starting a company. I promise you school will always be there waiting to take your money 🙂
2) You can think of better things to do with your money
Like I said earlier, the average cost for a year of college weighs in at $33,716 a year. A YEAR! Granted, many go to school for much less than this due to scholarships, or by receiving in-state tuition, but the average student loan debt doesn’t lie. According to CNN, the average student loan debt is nearly $30,000. I don’t know about you, but I can think of a lot of things to do for $30,000.
To give you an idea, Applits was started with around $60,000. Looking back at it, we could have started it for around $20,000 if we had been more careful, or had joined an accelerator for assistance in our early stages.
If you were like me and don’t like what you are doing in school, and think you could take that money and put it into something more fulfilling and exciting, then you just found yourself another reason to drop out.
3) You value job security
Now you certainly think I’m crazy, but hear me out. Initially, entrepreneurship is going to be much more risky than getting a job. It takes a while to build your company, your reputation, etc. However, as you progress in your career as an entrepreneur, your job security greatly increases as you become established. The only reason you lose your job is because mother capitalism says so.
As a corporate worker, you will start off with a salary and benefits. Great! What no one told you is that 20 years down the line when the corporation you are working for thinks they are paying you too much, you get the axe and are all of the sudden without a job. Now, you are at a point in your life when you have a great deal of responsibilities, but no income to pay the bills. Unfortunately, age discrimination is a very real thing, and it might be difficult to get back on your feet.
For the entrepreneur, you only gain stability over time , and I’ve illustrated that in my masterfully assembled chart above. Okay, it’s not very good, but you get my point.
4) Four years is a long time
Taking four years to get a degree is a long time, but it takes a lot of people more than that. For me, I only had two years left to get my degree, but once I started Applits, I couldn’t find the will to sit through classes anymore. I kept thinking of all the things I could be doing to improve Applits, and then later Designli.
If you can’t have complete focus on your schooling, you should probably think of doing something else. I’m not talking to the people who don’t go to class because they are too busy partying their life away or playing video games, I’m talking to those of you who really want to create something you believe in.
It’s a bit cheesy to say this, but time is something you will never get back. Don’t spend it doing something you hate!
5) You’re only young once
The fact is that there is a relatively short span of your life where it’s easier to become an entrepreneur. When you’re college aged, your responsibilities are small, and you don’t care if you eat ramen noodles, or drink Natty Light. You also aren’t likely to have a husband/wife, kids, or a mortgage. On top of that, you aren’t stuck with the routine of having a corporate job that you are afraid to lose.
Now you don’t need to drop out to be a successful entrepreneur, but it certainly helps free up your mind to think more about your idea, your company, and your vision.
Anyways, that is enough preaching for now, but if you have any questions about this story, or just need that little nudge to take the path less traveled, give us a shout on Twitter @DesignliCo
Just don’t tell your mom.