Why I’m Not Going to College (And Why You Shouldn’t Either)

Naturally, I get asked “Jackson, I know you dropped out of high school, but are you going to college?”

The answer is no. Here’s why:

I’ll Be Four Years Ahead of My Peers When I’m 22

I’m pretty lucky to be a high school dropout and college opt-out. It means that I get to start building my personal brand while everyone else stuffs their butts with facts in preparation for a supposed learning hibernation.

When my peers graduate college, I’ll have four years of work experience, a website with hundreds of industry-related articles that show knowledge and expertise, a digital paper trail of podcast interviews, blog posts, YouTube videos, Quora answers, and more, a portfolio that stands for itself, and a professional network consisting of some of the most talented and interesting young people and businesses. I have Praxis to thank for showing me how much power I actually have.

Despite what we think, we aren’t bears; we don’t need to prepare four years for a learning winter. Humans are natural creative innovators and are extremely effective at acquiring knowledge as necessarily. In fact, that’s when we thrive. I’m throwing myself out into the scary, big bad “real world” and because of it, I’m ahead.

I Learn Better on My Own Than in a Classroom

There’s an annoyingly common illusion. It’s that learning must take place in a school. The next annoying illusion is that learning requires a teacher other than oneself (See: Self Learning). The last annoying illusion is that if you want to become a total pro at something, you must go to college to do it.

I learned more about marketing and copywriting by dropping out of high school and teaching myself how to survive on these things than college could ever teach me. Self-directed learning will always be better than arbitrary structures because we learn better when we need information to complete a specific task. It’s instinctual to learn effectively when knowledge is needed.

College separates the learning and productivity worlds, despite common counterarguments. I think that’s ridiculous. The productivity world is a catalyst for learning and it’s a complete disconnect to spend four years preparing for personal value creation when I can just learn faster by creating.

I Enjoy Working More Than Schooling

Many people respond to this and say “Oh, well that’s fine. Education isn’t for everyone. Some of us are just meant to work.” That’s hilarious. I enjoy working more than schooling because working is a better education than schooling, and education is my favorite thing. I postponed the life I wanted for four years when I went to high school. Why would I do it again? School is boring to me and it makes me want to die. Real education is stimulating and it makes me feel alive.

I went to a few college classes with a friend and it was awful but fascinating. The level of learning that took place in class was an all-time low. The learning in textbooks later is even worse and makes most students wish they could fast-forward to the point when they’re done. I think that’s extremely unhealthy. We shouldn’t be learning to create happiness later; learning should be the best part.

Active education is possibly the most pleasurable activity in the universe. College takes learning, makes it stressful, plays it up as “a necessary and difficult process,” and takes the fun out of learning. I love learning. I don’t want to engage in unpleasurable learning to give myself happiness and “security” later because I’d rather just have learning happiness now.

School Makes Me Bored, Uninspired, and Unproductive

School isn’t rigorous enough. I’m not talking about the typical definition of rigorous, though. Raising the “standards” or making classes “harder” would make things worse. The problem is that school doesn’t catalyze independent thought and it creates a dependency mindset. The fact that students believe they won’t be successful without a degree is clear evidence of this. It’s amazing how much people are dependent on college for their definition of success.

School does nothing for my happiness. It makes me feel dead inside. Like a cold, unmoving corpse. I was filled with more creativity and innovation the day I decided I was done with school than any other day of my life. The schooled permission mindset prevents you from creating independently and actually totally blocks inspiration. Working without mad structures is where inspiration begins.

School dulled my productive edge. I’m just getting sharp again and it would be a really stupid decision to dull it again. When you don’t have to figure out what you need to do to be successful, you totally lose your ability to be excellent. Drawing your own map and sticking to it works wonders, especially when compared to the map you’re told is ideal.

You Can Get the College Experience Without Being in College

When I talk about not going to college, the number one thing I hear is “I see what you’re saying, but I just really want that college experience. It feels like the next step and I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with my life. I’m not ready to jump into the real world yet, not to mention all the friends and connections I’ll make in college.”

Want parties and all the socializing? Move to a college town, make friends, and go to parties. While everyone else is in class, work to build your personal brand. You could even go to the school library to get work done. The only difference is that you’ll be learning actively and not passively. Most people probably won’t even know you aren’t a student.

Don’t know what you want to do with your life? That’s okay, neither does anyone else. The best way to find out is by trying things in the real world. Kind of like going to different classes in college, but better. If you learn to present yourself properly and have a strong enough personal brand, you’ll be to able migrate from thing to thing with relative ease. Try stuff out and see if it makes you happy! If it doesn’t, quit. Don’t do things you hate. Life is too short to spend years on passive conveyor belts. When you take a huge step back and try to define your importances, you begin to see that living, and not just surviving, is everything. Breaking free from what you’ve been taught is right is the most invigorating and exciting experience in the world. Do things that scare you. I mean, why wouldn’t you?

I was talking to a close friend of mine who’s been out of school for years and has seven children. I was telling him that I have no idea what I want to do with my life but that I know what activities make me happy. “Dude,” he said. “I’m a grown man with tons of children and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. Stop worrying. There isn’t some terminal point in time where you must decide exactly how things are gonna go from there. You have no idea where you’ll be in ten years. Just chill, and do what makes you happy. That will naturally bring you closer to where you want to be.”

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