For centuries, human beings have insisted on the absolute importance of success. This, unfortunately, is unmatched only by an insipid fixation on the idea that academic achievement, or, for that matter–education in general–is the only way to attain success. As a result of this pathetic tendency, creative pursuits have been pushed aside and ingenious ideas have gone to waste.
We have been made to believe that diplomas can amount to something greater than what they merely represent, tagging them as sacred objects that can get us to places of comfort and security, when one need only browse through Thought Catalog and some online forums to be exposed to the truth about where exactly an education can get you. Although a handful of success stories is of course only a small part of the growing body of evidence that point to the utter uselessness of schooling, it does tell us something: we have reached a point in history where education no longer works.
We are all—at least subconsciously—aware of this, yet we continue to glorify those who have finished college and doubt the potentials of those who wouldn’t. Such is the perversity of man. We favor facts over gut feelings, success over happiness, ambitious yuppies over reasonably lax millennials—and then cry over the prospect of working a nine-to-five desk job that pays less than what we normally receive as weekly allowances from our parents. If we are living our short lives inevitably governed by such constrictive terms and social constructs such as success, we might as well try do something meaningful, follow our dreams, and break convention by proving the fraudulence of academic institutions.
A new breed of corporate greed
Recent studies have shown that there is no direct causality between educational attainment and employment. In his seminal study entitled Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, the Nobel Laureate Gary Becker has proven that only one out of ten college graduates is most likely to get a job.
He writes, “[On a university education]…as a way to invest in human capital is only sometimes effective. The risks of enrolling in a university are far greater than its payoffs, so don’t let formal schooling get in the way of your clerical ambitions. Try to learn from first-hand experience instead.”
This study was published in 1962, yet recent data from the likes of World Bank still reflect this remarkable finding: As of 2002, the world unemployment rate is reported to be 85.6% among college graduates, which is about three-fourths of the total labor force.
This, and the rising rates of student loans worldwide go on to show that schools have successfully kept their capitalistic agendas in the shadows while ostensibly providing quality education that should lead to success. The universal trap that is the promise of education works in such a way that when we decide to pursue higher academic studies, we are also effectively encouraging corporate greed. Yet ironically, it is corporate magnates that provide some of the most intelligent insights and personal accounts that accurately explain the benefits of trusting one’s instincts and defying schools.
Success without college
When Steve Jobs was a junior in Reed College, peers and professors branded him as an eccentric character. While this may have been on account of his strange eating habits (he was a fruitarian for a few months) and outright refusal to take showers, the ostracism to which Jobs was unduly subjected can mostly be associated with the raucous he made in classes. In a programming class, he would bring multiple hardware and white sticker papers, assembling them into weird foldable shapes that glowed and buzzed and made other reprehensible noises that caused his professor to politely ask him to step out of the room. Jobs respectfully complied and eventually dropped out of Reed.
A semester away from finishing his bachelor’s degree, Mark Zuckerberg wisely decided to leave the “highly sadistic academic culture” of Harvard University and start Facebook, a social networking website that is widely revered despite its normalizing of unhealthy notions about self-image.
Although it did cost him a few billion dollars, a number of close friendships, and quite a lot of lawsuits, it can’t be denied that Zuckerberg made an ingenious decision by dropping out of school and following his own advice. “Find that thing you are super passionate about,” he now says to aspiring innovators.
Ask yourself, how exactly are you any different from these two? For Melissa Quing (IV, AEI-MGT), all it takes is dedication and knowing what it really is you want to do. “So yeah, you should drop out, everything else will fall into place if you’re sure of what it is you want to happen in your career. Don’t worry too much about outcomes, just go for what you want. And I quote John Lennon, ‘Everything will be okay in the end, if it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.’”
The road not taken
If you identify as someone who is a competent critic of institutions and pop culture, and if you are well aware of the fact that schooling almost always puts a strain on creativity, then take the alternative route to success. Below is a list of things you can do once you decide to be bold and drop out of school.
- Take the creative path.
The world needs more budding artists and their success stories to challenge the struggling artist stereotype. Write that novel you’ve been meaning to write for years. Trust that your life story will make a bestselling novel (don’t let Fran Lebowitz tell you otherwise—she’s a smokers’ rights advocate for a reason).
Start a band, sell your EPs, go to auditions, make films, become an internet sensation, paint. For this option, persistence, not talent, is key. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s manuscripts were rejected a total of 45 times before his first short story was published. Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings only attained a following after they have reached a respectable volume (30 sunflower paintings and 20 self-portraits to be exact). The list goes on.
If you find that the art community is just as equally repulsive as the corporate world, then perhaps you should keep an open mind and give networking a chance. Manila is home to one of the leading networking scenes around the world and, fortunately, important names in the industry such as Triumph International and UBX Online are currently looking for smart and trusting applicants willing to recruit other smart and trusting applicants.
Contrary to what uptight pragmatists would like us to believe, travelling is the cheapest way to attain self-actualization. If you find yourself unsure or at an impasse in terms of career choices, then give yourself some time and try to find yourself through experiencing the wonders of travelling. Soul searching and figuring out who you really are not privileges but necessary and unapologetically human pursuits. As Ghandi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” How is one expected to do this if one is unsure of his identity?
For the biologically weaker sex
As much as we’d all like to call ourselves feminists and proudly profess our belief in gender equality, it can’t be ignored that women are indeed weaker than men. While anecdotal evidence may provide some merit to the potentials of women (the suffrage movement in the late 18th century, marching against Trump, among a few), scientific fact simply cannot be ignored.
Hundreds of studies prove that because of their biological makeup, women lack the spontaneity and capability to become successful college dropouts. Also, they are more prone to suffer from pregnancy. We can only ask, how can God be so inconsiderate as to let these two things to be true? With that, here are the options from which ladies can choose if they decide to be obstinate and drop out of school:
- Marry someone rich or get a sugar daddy
- Make jewellery