Better and Faster Alternatives to The Traditional 4-Year College

Have you ever met someone who is an excellent and intelligent person, but lives below his means?

Why are they so far behind when it comes to fulfilling their true potential?

It can be quite frustrating to see such people struggling, probably because they have all the information they need, but they simply don’t know how to use it.

All that comes down to what we think makes that person an intellectual giant.

A lot of people who are good in college are book smart.

They understand how things work in ideal situations, in a controlled environment.

But what matters is how fast you can adapt to a new situation and use what you know in practice.

If you’re one of the so-called millennial generation, you grew up with the old education system that prepared you for the 20th century, which, at the turn of it, was working.

Now, it’s time to adjust for the new era.

The possibilities are outstanding, but you need to adapt.

The education system is the same that it’s always been for the last couple of decades. In fact, it’s worse.

We live in an age of electric cars and space rockets, but our vehicle of choice when it comes to learning is like a horse and carriage.

People spend $75,000+ on an education that doesn’t even guarantee them a job in this world.

There is no refund policy, and universities can charge you with no real worry to prepare you for the future.

The days of getting a degree and walking into a life of employment and fulfilled ambition are gone.

We’ve advanced nearly every other key concept of human life in dramatic terms, within a few short decades.

However, traditional education is becoming more and more obsolete every year, as new technology and new methods of teaching become available.

In an ideal world, for many people, they would have learned how to be financially free by age 18.

It’s a little bit ironic, because the whole reason that you’re supposed to go to school is so they can prepare you for life.

Let’s be honest.

When you graduated high school, did you feel that you were ready for important things?

You probably quickly realized they hadn’t taught you about the facts of life, like the reality of managing bills, investing, and making your money last.

The problem is not people being uneducated, but that you’re educated just enough to believe what you’ve been taught, and educated enough not to question what you’ve been taught.

In school, they don’t teach you how to manage people, resolve conflicts, time management, critical thinking, public speaking, financial planing, marketing, problem solving, how to develope creative thinking, etc.

Zero of that is taught in school.

What you learn in school is how to memorize a small percentage of so many things.

Maybe it was useful to be a walking encyclopedia of information 100 years ago, but nowadays, you have Google, YouTube, Quora, Medium, ebooks, podcasts, and many other types of resources where you can get an answer on any question in a matter of seconds.

By the time you finish your education, you’ve invested so much time, energy and commitment getting there that the world is a terrifying prospect.

After all, your concept of money management and all the things that make a good life are almost unknown to you.

The days of theory are now gone, and traditional education ill-prepares so many for what’s to come.

There are faster and cheaper alternatives to college.

A Lesson from History

In 1600, there were no jobs like the modern system; they hadn’t been ‘invented’ yet.

Not how we know of jobs today.

This has nothing to do with conspiracy theory. Just facts.

Historically, it all started in the era of industrial revolution, by factory owners who didn’t have enough compliant factory workers.

In the 20th century, the story line was still something like: ‘Do what you’re told, go to the placement office, you’ll get a job for 50 years.

Then you go home and watch TV, buy so much stuff that you’ll need a storage unit, and then you’ll die.’ It worked great for 100 years.

During our lifetime, though, the deal is off.

The problem is that the majority of people are still seduced by the old way of doing things.

And why wouldn’t they be?

It sounds a little odd to be saying, essentially, ditch the thing that worked for the previous generations and let’s go back to a bygone way of thinking.

It’s totally understandable that people follow the example of what worked for the previous generations.

But we are in a period of immense cultural, social and technological revolution.

Look at what’s taken place since the Second World War alone; the world has altered to an almost new reality altogether.

What’s possible today in contrast to then is unreal.

Why, then, would the same dated systems still work in a far more ruthless, interconnected, competitive society?

A lot of people in our society feel bitter. Why?

Because when someone can tell you how to do your job, they can also find someone else to do it for less, or simply outsource the whole process with a technological solution.

Thankfully, it looks like some people are getting tired of simply spending their life dreaming of being a subordinate.

There’s a big enough supply of people desperate to be part of this system.

So, in the modern context, you go into boat of debt to try get a position in a company that could fire you out the exit door for just about any reason.

Back on the shore, waiting for another person in the same position to be treated the same – all so that you can jump back in and repeat the cycle.

There is a better way.

How to Become a Linchpin

The phrase was popularized by Seth Godin.

For the most of us, the best choice is to be a linchpin – the person who figures out what do to next.

You have a choice.

You’re either a replicable cog in the system described above, or, you’re the founder and the owner who runs everything in your own life.

You can learn how to take care of yourself, to accumulate your wealth and build a genuine path to the top.

The alternative is hopping from contract to contract, always fearing being let go and being unable to pay for the debts that no teacher in school prepared you for.

Even Noam Chomsky, one of the most quoted people of 20st century, said that the education system as it is today is indoctrinating the young.

Most schooling is training for conformity, and it constrains creativity.

To that, Chomsky added that to be truly educated, you must have an ability to inquire and create constructively and independently without external controls.

He continued, saying that it’s not important what you cover in the class, but what you discover, and to be truly educated from this point of view is to be in the position to create on the basis of the resources available to you.

The resources, of course, which you’ve come to appreciate and comprehend.

Essentially, the pathway to success for most people, rather than in academic theorem alone, is to find your own way that is worth pursuing and develop a path to pursue it.

So, it is important to know how to independently deal with the challenges that the world presents to you.

That’s what the educational system should cultivate from kindergarten to high graduate school.

However, that isn’t the case.

How to Get a Six-figure Job without a College Degree

In today’s era of information, ignorance is a choice.

We are living in a time where you can learn almost anything you want, completely free of charge.

You can skip all the things you will never use, and colleges still teach, but which don’t provide you any real value.

Grades doesn’t measure intelligence, and age doesn’t define maturity.

And, certainly, they are not a measure for personal success.

Self-directed education is worth ten times more than any formal education.

The Victorian and Prussian education system influenced the perception that a person with “the right” credentials is what makes someone an expert in their field.

So, most of the time, people only remember the data needed to prepare for a test, because many still believe that data is knowledge.

An interesting theory is that some (not all) people with all kinds of accolades are regarded as experts in their field simply because they have “the right” credentials.

They’ve been manipulated – and, really, so have we – into believing they are as defined intellectually as is claimed.

To quote Peter Thiel from one of his talks:

The universities are perhaps in the same place as the Catholic Church was in the 16th century, if we go back 500 years, where you have sort of a monolithic (universal) way, body of knowledge, of teaching things. The difference between the Yale and Harvard political science faculties is probably no greater than the differences between the Dominicans and Franciscans.”

And he continued:

We have a system of indulgences that is costing more and more to support this priestly or professorial class of people. We are told that is the only way to salvation – you must get a diploma to be ‘saved.’ If you don’t get a diploma, then ‘you will go to hell.’ And I think the message that I have, like the 16th century reformers, is in some way more like a troubling message. You have to work on your salvation yourself. You have to save yourself, and I believe that’s ‘the truth’ I’m comfortable with.”

*source: Peter Thiel: successful businesses are based on secrets; 1:09:37 – 1:10:46*

The majority of people still believe what is stated by anybody who has some high-sounding degree like it’s the word of the law.

It’s not that academia is bad, it’s just that, in most cases, it doesn’t make the gap to practical application, believing in partial truths as facts.

While the majority of professors and teachers are specialized in teaching, the majority of them don’t know how to use what they know to teach effectively.

You will always be able to find great teachers, like Richard Feynman, Michio Kaku, or Robert Sapolsky, to mention a few of them.

However, generally speaking, such individuals usually represent around 5% – 10% of all the teaching cadre of educators in higher education.

That’s is why you should work on yourself and learn how to develop practical thinking.

Test things efficiently and then go with what works. It takes someone with more practical and general knowledge in multiple fields to say, “Ok, that works, but only to this point, and you have to add ‘this’ to do ‘that.’”

Theoretical knowledge, no matter how great, is of little use if you don’t know how to apply it in real life so that it becomes practical.

Until you make it useful, it’s just data.

You cannot learn how to ride a bicycle, or how to swim, by reading a book.

You simply have to do it yourself and get the experience.

You need to take the fall and learn how to get back up again.

When wanting to learn to swim, it’s essential to go through the process of actually feeling the water.

The right information is important, but without action on your side, everything else is for nothing.

There are so many people who are classically and academically trained, but are, on the other aspect of the equation, some of the most ignorant people you will ever meet.

What counts are experiences and results, not titles and academic degrees.

Always question the assumptions and decide what is true or not true based on your own knowledge, not on someone else’s.

It’s you who will live with the consequences of your choices.

There is no question that things are not looking good for the current generation of college students, who are graduating with huge debt and a lower salary than expected.

This is not just in the United States.

This is happening all over the world, and a large number of people are still believing that going to college will guarantee them a good job with decent income.

For so many, that is an illusion which is far from reality.

The word “educate” is derived from the Latin word “educo” meaning to “develop” or “draw out.”

Knowledge and its application counts for more than a piece of paper that proves you attended classes.

Learning the genuine application and usage of something is worth far more to you than merely nodding along with the first theory given to you.

People get their diplomas by businesses.

That’s what colleges essentially are today.

Our society still justifies people to be experts in their field by citing their PhDs, degrees, etc.

They use the ‘paper title’ to create authority, because in our society, pieces of paper mean more than actual proof of practical achievement.

People who should have that level of recognition are those who have gone out and done it.

In the past, a degree and an education used to essentially guarantee you employment for life.

Not any longer.

It’s about acquiring the right high-quality information that uplifts and inspires you to do your best.

Essential life-related skills that you can effectively use in real-life scenarios that will help you win in life — those far more important than a degree.

Make sense?

If you’re not going to get the college degree, or PhD, Gary Vaynerchuck suggests that there are only two ways to justify, and give confidence to the end market, so they would work with you.

You need to go find somebody that is the authority, or many people that are an authority in their field of expertise, and work for them.

Or, give your services for free to five prospects and crush it for them.

Use their word of mouth, endorsements and leverage points provided to then push yourself to find opportunity by doing.

When you don’t have that piece of paper to use as your ‘in,’ you need to find another path.

This is the path that many self-made people have walked.

There’s plenty of people out there who look beyond the academic ‘success’ you hold and look at what you can actually bring to the table.

Master one field you’re interested in and share that knowledge with others.

Mastery begins when formal education ends.

You have learned, now you must do.

Gary Vaynerchuk once mentioned that there are three pillars to gain market acceptance.

Here are three ways to make it:

  1. Go the traditional piece-of-paper route.
  2. Work for free for somebody and siphon off their equity once you deliver work for them.
  3. Deal with critics and pessimists and do it yourself in the beginning, then let the testimonials of the early people bring others to you as time goes on.

Your ability to create more income is in direct correlation to the value that you bring to the marketplace.

What you earn is a direct reflection of what you give.

Best Online Resources for Self-Education

Most people, when they get out of college, are in debt, and end up doing jobs that they could get straight out of high school.

You probably agree that creating a massive debt for the sole purpose of getting a college degree that doesn’t guarantee you any job whatsoever is simply not a good strategy.

Society is scripted.

It follows a predictable path that leads to mediocrity.

It’s automatic, it starts very early in childhood, and, with time, it becomes part of your program.

The system teaches you that Monday through Friday is for the system – doing things that you’d rather not do – and Saturday and Sunday are for you, out of necessity, to achieve order.

It’s a negative return on investment, because you don’t get your time back and you get very little for it.

Eyeball-gouging debt and a whole 48 hours to yourself, usually wasted worrying about the ensuing days to come.

If someone approached you and asked you to give them $5, and after a couple of days, they will give you $2, but won’t return your $3 back, you would reject that flat out, right?

As Jim Rohn said, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”

That said, you need to acknowledge a different reality if you want to step out of the matrix. And not everybody wants to.

The amount of information is doubling every year.

Think about that for a moment.

We live in a time when the amount of information is massively increasing every year. From Google, YouTube, Medium, and Quora to ebooks and blogs.

You’re living in very different times than your parents.

Traditional learning systems are becoming more and more obsolete.

Of course, there are some exceptions.

If you want to become a mechanical engineer, research scientist, a surgeon in your field of interest, or pursue any similar profession, you absolutely have to go through an already established learning process.

You simply can’t get those practical experiences and hands-on knowledge elsewhere.

You are learning how to do something hands-on, which is exactly what we’ve been talking about.

But, if you’re spending thousands of dollars on diplomas, bachelor and master’s degrees that won’t give you an advantage in life.

College will prepare you for very little in the modern world.

More and more people are deciding to choose an alternative path.

The alternative is to invest in courses which provide you real and practical knowledge which you can use in the real world.

With the help of modern technology and the vast database of information provided by the Internet, the choices to learn something new are almost infinite.

Ted Talks, BigThink, Open Culture, or YouTube channels like Freedom in ThoughtThomas Frank, etc., all make good starting points for one’s curious mind.

There are many global marketplaces for teaching and learning. Online learning platforms like:

  • Udemy
  • Skillshare
  • Udacity
  • Pluralsight
  • Futurelearn
  • Coursea
  • Khan Academy
  • LinkedIn learning (previously Lynda.com)
  • Codecademy
  • Threehouse,
  • or Brilliant,

are few amazing sites where you can learn more than in hours spent at the University.

And all that information is free, or at a fraction of the cost.

There are literally hundreds of online courses that can help you master a new subject you need to improve your skills, start a new career, get a promotion, and change your life for the better.

That’s the fastest and simplest way to consume knowledge.

You can get more directed education that is practical from people sharing practical stuff on the Internet.

There’s an unbelievable opportunity to learn whatever you believe would be a good pathway for your future.

How to Progress Faster and Achieve More in Less Time

Time is our most valuable asset, but many people spend it on entertainment.

You need to have priorities set in advance, because in our hyper-connected world, there are more people wanting to get more from you than ever before.

Your possibilities to create a better life for yourself will decrease if you consume too much content, because that takes away minutes of your precious time.

Watching TV, browsing social media, playing video games, or doing other pointless activities that don’t give them any real value in the long run.

All that is just a distraction, and distraction is the enemy of successful life.

Spend more of your free time doing the right things that will get you where you want to be in the future.

You simply have to decide what is more important to you.

When you consume more information than you can internalize, it will get you in the state of information overload.

Instead, when you learn something new, apply it right away.

That’s real learning.

That way, you will learn a lot faster and you will remember what you’ve read.

That old type of education taught us to be passive, to sit and consume data.

Instead, feed your mind with information and ideas that are practical, and you will achieve more.

Start by reading a book or listening to a podcast on the topic that interests you the most.

Make notes.

You can write them on a sheet of paper, in a Word file, or directly into the book.

Don’t go too far every day, though; there’s still time to have fun, so long as you are productive.

Extract the five best ideas.

Pick only two ideas that resonate with you.

If you have more than that you will have no time to do anything with this knowledge.

When you master those two, you can learn the next two.

Then, act upon that information. Implement it, test it and practice it.

Measure the improvement over a period of 30 days.

Review it, adjust what you need and do it again.

Being able to use that knowledge and put it into practice is power.

That creates opportunity.

The only way to understand knowledge is to apply it to your life.

Final Thoughts

The economic structure that we live in isn’t going to be easy for most people to fix; not in the short run.

But, you have a choice.

You can complain, or change your financial situation.

You cannot be curious and angry at the same time.

If you want, the world invites you to play on the bigger stage.

Moving forward in life is not a spectator sport. It’s not passive.

It’s about taking action.

When something doesn’t work, that only shows you what you need to improve and adjust.

Keep moving forward and you will create a better future for yourself.

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