Skipping College To Start A Business?

“You don’t understand. I’m not like those other kids, this is going to be big. School is pointless.”

I’ve spoken to a few high school students who were considering skipping college to build a company. While my answer is constantly evolving, it becomes increasingly clear that there isn’t a one size fits all solution. As someone who enrolled in college, left college to work on a business and then returned, here is my two cents.

Begin by defining what you want to achieve. Do you want to start a business now to make some cash? Do you want to be a great entrepreneur? Do you want to build wealth? For the sake of not giving a generic opinion, let’s say you want to be the next big thing.

When building a startup you want to find others who are interested in doing the same. The more quality people you expose yourself to, the higher your bar for successful will be raised and the more interesting startup ideas you’ll hear. You’ll struggle ti find these people without going to college.

On the off chance that your startup takes off and you need to hire, who will you turn to? What existing relationships will you have to connect with a great engineer or a hungry biz dev kid?

Before you become an entrepreneur, find entrepreneurial people. Where do you find those people? 1) high growth startup 2) large + prestigious company 3) great college

At school you’ll become friends with kids that may become your next co-founder. It will be there, surrounded by a community of like minded people that you’ll start to really learn. It will be there that you’ll hear about internship opportunities and hot new companies. It will be there that your make friend’s with a student whose uncle is the VP of Sales at Google and becomes your mentor.

If you decide not to go to college, you’re going to build a business based on your environment. You’re a gym rat, so you want to build a platform to connect local trainers with local students. You are a sneakerhead and now you’re starting a company selling high-end sneakers. People build similar things based on what they know. If you’re a natural born entrepreneur, you are going to identify problems and find solutions based off of what you’re exposed to in the world.

What you see is tied to who you learn from. Learn from smart, successful people and you’ll see big problems and work on big things. The opposite is true as well. Hunt for whales, not fish.

Let’s not forget about the social aspect. College is supposed to be an incredible four years of your life. If you don’t go to college, you are going to have a tough time surrounding yourself with people you can relate to. You’ll be isolated and less happy. Don’t do that to yourself.

On the moderately likely chance that you’re committed to not attending college, here is what I recommend:

1. Find the most prestigious school near you and take one or two classes as a non degree student. This will give you access to the school’s resources. In doing this, you’ll have the opportunity to surround yourself with the right advisors/teachers and make friends with students.

2. Take classes that focus on hard skills like programming or design. You will be creating tangible skills that will help you if you want to look for a job. If not, take classes that teach you how to think.

3. Go out of your way to find great mentors. And I don’t mean your dad’s first cousin who had a few successful restaurants, but rather the entrepreneur you want to become. Reach out to people and go to events. Chances you’ll be the youngest person doing both. People will see that, some will respect the hustle and want to help. These people will be invaluable connections and future mentors.

If anyone is making this decision and wants to chat I’m more than willing to help. Shoot me an email at danilojvicioso@gmail.com.

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