Is Dropping Out of College Throwing Your Life Away? | Ryan Holiday


For me going to college was just an assumption
that was made and there was no challenging whether – if you’re smart and you do well
in school you go to college because that’s how you’re successful life. And I think that’s true for a lot of people. And I really liked collage. The decision to drop out was not one that
I took lightly and I don’t think it’s necessarily – I didn’t drop out and then figure out
what I wanted to do with my life, I had a job offer to be a research assistant to work
at a talent agency in Hollywood. I had these offers and I did the math and
I said hey if these were my offers the day after graduation I would have considered college
a success. So that’s why I personally dropped out. And a few years ago I wrote an article about
dropping out of college and sort of what that experience was like and how it shaped my life. And the funny or scary thing is that it now
ranks really well on Google if you search the phrase dropping out of college. And so I get a lot of emails almost every
day at like 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning some kid who’s not happy with college comes back
to his dorm room, they Google that phrase and then they email me. And a lot of times they want me to tell them
that it’s okay to drop out of college. And I usually don’t, one, because it was such
a terrifying decision to make and it was so unpleasant. I mean my parents didn’t take it well and
it was so hard that I’m not glib about recommending it to other people. But also I think Mark Zuckerberg, again, didn’t
drop out of college to create Facebook, he created Facebook in college and then he moved
to California for the summer and it was doing so well that he decided not to go back. I think Bill Gates’ story is similar. Most of the really successful college dropouts
used the platform that is going to a university, it’s using the status of being a student. They started something and it got going quickly
enough that it didn’t make sense to continue going to school. So I think college is a great default. It’s not a great default if you’re going to
be $200,000 in debt at the end of it, but it’s a great default to sort of figure out
what you’re doing. It’s a safe place to experiment and learn
things. I don’t know what I would tell my own kids. It seems crazy to me that I need to do 18
plus years of savings to pay for this for them. But I do think that quitting college and dropping
out of college to do something different are inherently different things. If I get an email from someone and they say
I’m failing all my classes; I want to dropout just like you did, I say no you need to figure
out why you were not successful in school and solve that problem before you strike out
on your own where you have even less of a safety net. I do think though, and people have made this
argument about Peter Thiel’s foundation, which creates fellowships that encourages kids to
drop out of college, I do think questioning whether college is the right choice for you
is worth doing and I do think the stigma about dropping out is worth reducing as well. When you drop out of college and your parents
go you’re throwing your life away; how can you do this? You can’t say it worked out for Bill Gates
because the response is you’re not Bill Gates. And really you can be successful without a
college degree and it’s not as hard as people think and we shouldn’t make it incredibly
hard for a 20-year-old to bet on themselves and to make them feel like they’re throwing
their life away for trying something different.

100 comments

delete this video! fast! it's triggering me!
it's like saying "Is eating a fruit throwing your life away?"
fck you big think, fck you so hard

I'm working on a degree myself, but the view that a degree is necessary and that not getting one is 'throwing away your life' is very elitist. Only 40.4% of Americans have degrees, and only 6.7% of the world. Pretending those other 59.6% and 93.3% don't 'have lives' is quite absurd.

Not unless you have a plan. If you don't have that fall back, then nope stay your ass in school. This is coming from someone who makes 40k in sales at 24 years of age because I can't find nothing else, other than to go up in management. Which I won't. I will have to go back hopefully this winter because I realize not having a skill is costing me much. I wish I'd had done that straight out of high school.

Did the comment section even see the video? He is simply saying that if you have something super successful lined up for you if you drop out right now, then sure, drop out. Else, you shouldn't. He then cites the famous successful college drop outs and show that they already had something successful before they dropped out.

To make the statement that you should go to college to figure out how to not fail… O.o

Not sure I can agree with that line of thinking. Getting out in the real world first is a vastly superior way to gain maturity enough to then go back to college and get a real education.

everyone here who claims that their life sucks because they dropped out of college: Its not because you dropped out of college, its because you are mentally challenged

"You're not Bill Gates."
That's true but if he became the richest in the world, so can I. He's just a human, so am I. That phrase sends the wrong message. It just might lower my self-esteem (if I were that kind of sensitive person).
Instead, tell your kids that anything is possible if they put their minds to it and work hard and disciplined.

Of course not. Most of us are potentially no more than competent technicians and college or other training opportunities teach us to do just that. They provide an opportunity to earn a decent living for those of us who are NOT brilliant innovators, deep thinkers, or dazzling entrepreneurs.

Throwing away your life? O.o there is more to life than learning what they want you to know and dying a worthless debt slave.

The difference is Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard, not some state college you're going to. Also, they were only able to create Facebook and Microsoft because of the connections they made in college

the next big Financial collapse is going to because College tuitions, cost too much and very expensive to pay back, extreme debt when you're ready to start your life

dont think a person can have drive or skill to be successful if he cant even finish a collage. which is just another level of kindergarden and 100x easier than real life

Basically the question is "If you won the lottery and suddenly got millions / billions of dollars would you stay in college"?

Or get a useful degree? I'm working on my M.D. Stop taking basket weaving as your major. If you want to make money get a useful skill or trade. Even if college isn't your thing go to trade school. I'm so tired of people saying bill gates shit. He was a genius programmer that went to Harvard. You go to community college and go to Taco Bell big difference. If you're not intelligent enough to take college level classes go to trade school.

"For me going to college was just an assumption"
For most of us in the US, myself included, it is the opposite. College wasn't even a topic in my family. Being employed and moving out as quick after hitting 18 was the only expectation and that's the way it is for more than half of Americans. With the joke we call the K-12 education, it's amazing as many people go to college that actually do.

Then again, with the abysmal state of America's K-12, it makes sense Donald Trump is doing so well.

Sure, if college is expensive in your country then I guess dropping out could be the better choice if you have other options. I'm getting a free university education so even if I'd get a job offer, I'd still finish my studies. A college degree is still useful for a back up plan if things go south.

We should absolutely stigmatize dropping out so that no 20 year olds at all think it's a wise or okay decision… that way the ones who do won't have as much trouble entering the market.

Besides professions such as a doctor, lawyer, etc, teach your kids how to discipline themselves to learn outside of a classroom, and they won't need college. If you think you can only learn from a teacher in a classroom, you're already behind the ball. You can pretty much learn anything nowadays simply through the internet for free or at a very low cost. And, to master something means you have to DO IT, again and again and again… I am a business owner and I will hire someone with no degree, who I feel is a hard worker, has great communication skills and a desire to better themselves over someone who simply has a degree they paid for. The degree says nothing about your ability to do anything. For me, I did not go to college. I was fortunately raised around many people who had no degrees but were very successful. We are what we think. If you think you can be successful without a degree, I assure you, you can be. Just roll up your sleeves and get to work. When I speak to young entrepreneurs, I always tell them to master their communication skills. If you know how to, and aren't afraid to talk to people, you can pretty much get to anywhere you want to go in life. I'll end with this. Becoming successful isn't easy. You're going to fail, you're going to have setbacks. But if you keep learning, and keep pushing forward, then you will have an opportunity to succeed, no matter what piece of paper you do or don't have.

The only thing you learn in the public education system, or how to do in college is to become a debt slave, like a good little citizen, nothing more. There is zero true knowledge avalible there beyond certain mathematical concepts and ancient philosophy. If you want to learn anything real in life you must be capable of teaching it to yourself. Which is a lot easier said than done considering all of the intentionally false information that is floating around. You're brain-dead if you do, but then you're basicly fucked if you don't… Beautiful world we have allowed them to create, is it not?

I actually learned this lesson from that movie we are friends…"school is only useless only if you have something better to do" something like that.

It depends on the individual, I don't see why not, most people I look to for inspiration were drop outs, also, you have online course for college and university so no one has to really deal with drama or go throw motions.

I dropped out and I have a successful I.T career. ultimately whether u go to college or not u need a plan. without that it doesn't matter what u do because u most likely will not obtain your success

Gates and Zuckerberg did drop out of college and became successful, but you should also mention millions of those who also dropped out but had their lives go to shit.

We live in 21st century. Why do we need to go to college to learn something? Just open YouTube or Edx or Lynda and start learning. Humans have created an education system and a societal system that prevents free thinking. Hopefully, one day, 200 years from now, people will discuss things like "Disadvantages of the 21st century education and how humans recovered from it."

I would strongly recommend people not follow Mark's path. He has proved that he is greatly morally challenged. His life is a fraud. He barely deserves what he has. He has sold out all our privacy rights to the DHS. He's a total scum bag and morally deficient.

college is a holding pattern that we put kids through until they are old enough to be slightly less stupid. You won't even be looked at without a degree now, lets be honest, what experience does a 19 year old baby have that makes anyone want to drop $50-100k a year on them? none.

community college for all your basic classes then transfer to your 4 year school (plan ahead of time make sure it all transfers) if you can't find a way to earn $60k in those years to pay for it all, you are too stupid to make it without a degree anyways.

I can't believe how many people drop out and think they'll be the next Bill Gates. You're only going to hear about the people who struck it rich.

If you have a 100% clear vision and goal/business in mind you don't need uni! 99% don't have any clear vision.

I recently dropped out from uni, as I completely hated the Game Design course I was studying. The last assignment I did I completely failed, because I jst had no interest in the course overall. Im currently running my own business, where I am aiming to to back next year, and study Media & Communications.

Pretty sad the days of getting a job with a living wage without higher education are practically gone. It's like you need a college/university degree to push a broom nowadays.
Pretty crazy & worthless. Plus a lot of courses offered today have absolutely no practical and/or useful value in the real world and all you end up with is debt.

My parents took my decision to drop out to start a production company really well. If you're going to drop out, do it because college is getting in the way of another path to your goals.

It's been nearly three years since I graduated from uni and I haven't had a paying job since, can you guess which (two) degrees I got?

There's no harm in dropping out of the college unless and until you've discovered your passion and skills. Those skills will create its own path towards success for you, just do what you love to do, thats all i have to say!

In find one aspect that is missed here, aside from the fact that Bill Gates mother was on the IBM Board of Directors so maybe his success may have tainted, is that these people 'dropped out of college'. Now that works three ways; first while I may I admire Zuckenburg I am pretty certain that I do not want him taking out my appendix, so maybe someone who actually learned the necessary information in some fields, second, the area of success is unknown so without peer review are you another Lockheed telling the world that you tested this airplane without any understanding of physics?, and three, so what just another group of people who took a new technology and found another to "UBER" people into making everyone else money except the actual worker.

Reminds of this ABC special on Americans who made it big from absolute nothing but when the smoke cleared just another set of people prepared screw over workers. Hey I get it that is the American way but would not be fun for once to see someone create a new profit company with some ethics?

Drop out of college doesn't mean stop learning and working
Failing all the subjects and try to drop out => it sounds like they just don't want to learn anymore ==!

It's 2016. If you're still at university, with a student loan, doing anything other than a STEM degree, you're in serious trouble, because your projected ROI is lower than your debt. Drop out now & cut your losses.

You don't have to be Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerburg to drop out of school guys. The benefits just need to outway the risks, which is the case for a lot of students in this day and age.

I dropped out 12 days ago, exactly half-way through my degree.
Best. Decision. Ever.
I hated it.
I got my first coaching client the week after.
Life's never been greater.
If you know truly in your heart that you hate being at uni and have a desire to pursue your passions…
Drop out.

He raises a good point about dropping out if you already have your end goal available to you or if you have something developed during college that can propel you to where you want to go.

What he doesn't touch on is that we unfortunately live in a meritocracy. Today in 2016 a college degree is the same as a high school degree 20 or 30 years ago. For the majority of people who don't meet his criteria above, dropping out of college is going to severely hinder their ability to survive in the modern world.

You really do you. These drop outs are HIGHLY SELF AWARE of what they want in their life. They dropped out when the grass is really greener on the other side unlike most people thought that they dropped out and became successful overnight. Remember winning is having to hide your armors no matter how it looks. All these resources like college are just TOOLS to HELP you FIGURE yourself up.

The problem is that a lot of things, and he broaches this when he says to figure out why you're not doing well at college, are hard. You can certainly be successful as a plumber, but… if you can't do college, you're going to find the trades to be as and likely more difficult, for instance.

College degree is an insurance policy … if you have the privilege to be given a place at college then you are selfish to throw it away.

You know that thing about getting jobs based off of the people you know and can relate to? … yeeaaahh.. that's what college is for. It also teaches you how to cope with a higher level of stress. College is NOT about what you learn. It's about learning how to learn, learning how to cope with stress, meeting people that will further your career in the future, career fairs, and being able to get through the first level of HR when they talk about minimum requirements for a job 😐

Dropping out of college is not throwing your future away if your IQ is off the charts. People with IQ's like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have skills and intelligence that only a handful people in the general population have, and they can leverage that to do almost anything they want. They have nothing to prove and almost everything to offer.

For the rest of us, it does severely limit your career options going forward.

Dropping out of college is the worst decision of your life you're losing thousands of dollars just to go to school for no reason 🤷🏾‍♀️

I just dropped out of college today. It is a hard decision for me to make, everyone around me try to stop me from taking that decision. But i’ve always had this desire to take different path to success. I really hate the way most people think that we should all go to college, work for good companies before we run a business. There’s some truth to that, but i don’t want to work for someone else, i’ve always wanted to start my own business eventhough i’m not sure what or how to start one atm, but i believe one day I will be successful in life.

Those who are commenting that they dropped out and they are super happy, they are lying. They are still suspicious about the choice they have made and that's y they are watching this video

Start life with massive debt. Job isn’t guaranteed.
I know people with bachelors that have average jobs.
Best thing is, go to trade school.

No… high school doesn't help anyone… nothing we do in high school teaches anything of value either and it's not realisitc to the REAL WORLD and REAL JOBS and now everyone is seeing that even when that's where we should be taught just the essential skills needed for work and life in general like Math, English, Geography, writing a CV, filling in forms etc… that's NOT what's happening and it's filled with nonsense and unrealisitic things… and the one-size-fits-all system helps nobody… we're constrained to severe time limits and not given the flexibility to learn in a way WE understand and DO things and at OUR pace… i know what it's like to have that kind of education as i did in primary for the most part and it was AMAZING! and i loved it 😛 i'll never forget it because i wouldn't even be able to spell and read as well as i can now i was VERY lucky to go to the primary i went to while most didn't get so lucky and there's A LOT of people these days who can't even read or write… considered to have "Learning Difficulties" when fact is they just can't read or write, so SUCH a learning system exists and it's no use oppressing it, it's called Mastery Learning and it's been proven to work for most people and Khan Academy uses this system on their site too and it's helped a lot of people, fact is though High School is a pre-school for learning things towards our jobs… THAT'S what it's meant to be but it's not been that whatsoever…

Now College/University same problem and it's absolotely meant to teach us realisitic skills for our jobs and give us realistic experience but again the issue is it's not been realisitc TO THE REAL WORLD and REAL JOBS because it's not a realistic environment for more careeers out there… it's great for Creative Writing, English, Math, IT, Mechanics, Psycology, Care and Medicine but not anything else, problem with Medicine though is the Theory isn't teaching them what it's like treating REAL paitents and everything they'll need to learn when working in a hospital or as just a doctor and nurse at some surgery it's just memorizing things, the memorizing system JUST to remember things for our exams though is what we need to get away from… for other careers college and uni is useless…

So no… dropping out isn't a bad things and now a lot of people are seeing this as the right move because even top big enterprisers, employers, politicians are saying it's not realisitc and employers are laughing at us because we don't know anything at all… what we did at college isn't really useful whatsoever because it's SO SO unrealistic towards the REAL WORLD and that's because it's all about money now The Education System is the biggest scam ever!! and my time in college gave me nothing of use either, things are changing and opinions have now changed and if you even so much as have college experience on your CV and you make it sound like it was more than it ACTUALLY was because you were made to believe it was… then i'm afraid you're going to get laughed at and going through my CV tonight this is embarassing… and i don't know if i'm going to use what little experience i DO have on it for anything… probs not.. because even if it's a little better than everything else it still won't get me any more than a Kitchen Porter job so like everyone else it's put me into a bit of a road block and still left at square one. You have to think VERY VERY carefully WHY you're going there or even staying in high school now… but there's really not many reasons to stay and you're better going into an apprenticeship/internship.

Lots of people in the comments really salty so let them drop out people have them there choice has nothing to do with no one business bill gates is smart don’t compare with others is about being a risk taker

I have no problem with college, I have no problem with studying till late at night. I have problem with studying with other students and adapt to their style of learning. I can self-study for hours but going to college is nightmare for me. I don't want any friends at college, I have many but it sucks going there and studying with those stooges.

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