the college degree in the 21st century

Today’s post I want to get back to my roots…

While I focus on things such as finance, success, leadership, marketing, copywriting and time management these days, most of my life has been spent teaching English.

I remember being put in charge of a history class with another TA way back when and I just loved the feeling of being able to help people.

That’s never changed. It’s just today I do it in a different form.

However, there are still times when I sit across the table from younger clients and I ask myself one question – just what is wrong with the world today?

Maybe that’s a bit harsh, but despite all the incredible technological developments that have been made over the past 20 years, students today seem less prepared for the world than ever.

Back in the late 80s, I remember thinking to myself, “Why am I studying this stuff?” Yet today, most students are still studying that very same stuff.

I just don’t get it.

Didn’t schools get the news flash? I mean the world’s changed. Now when I don’t know an answer to my son’s question, he just tells me to “Google it.”

That’s the world today.

Growing up information was a premium and our teachers, the gatekeepers. Today, information is free, and anyone who knows how to type (or click) can access it. You’ve heard me say it before, but YouTube lets us take lessons, nocourses, from experts all over the world.

Here are just a few of the things I’ve studied from YouTube:

  • Speed reading
  • Magic
  • Photography
  • Photoshop tricks
  • Excel
  • Video editing
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Success
  • Yoga

That’s not to say people shouldn’t invest in paid programs. I love free programs, especially when I’m just looking for some quick tips or when I’m not sure how serious I am about getting into something.

However, when it’s time to get serious, I’m not afraid to shell out some serious dinero.

I’ve paid anywhere from $25 to $5000 for a variety of programs. I’ve studied from the best in the business: Dan Kennedy, Tony Robbins, Brendon Burchard,  Jay Abraham, Zig Ziglar, Sohail Khan, and more. Much of what I share on this site is in a big part thanks to their teachings.

So why, unless you’re a doctor or engineer, would you want to spend 100 grand or more and four years of your life at a college?

Don’t get me wrong, college is still a great opportunity to meet people and explore just what is available. You might end up finding your calling there, or meeting the love of your life.

The other day I came across a quote by Vishen Lakhiani that summed up my feelings on the issue.

“The age of the 4 year college degree is over. Let me be clear — you DO NOT need a college degree in this day and age. Not for a good job – even Google no longer cares about degrees and claims that 15% of many of their teams have no college degree. It’s the same with Mindvalley. Why go through all that struggle and debt for a pointless piece of paper just because that was how a pre-Internet society chose to train their kids. Today, it’s an age of self-directed learning – the age of online academies, crowd-sourcing for your ideas, networking, and learning ON the job. If my son Hayden told me he wanted to go to college, I’d say “Why bother?” Spend the money on Burning Man, pick up courses on Udemy, attend a conference like UndergroundX to learn to start an online business, network with amazing folks at @AwesomenessFest. But skip college. You’re not going to learn to be wealthy or happy by hanging out with a bunch of 18 year olds for 4 years.”

To me, the 20th century was the age of the 4-year college degree. The 21st century is the age of entrepreneurism.

Today it’s less about being taught, and more about what we choose to learn.

For the first time in history, we are pretty much on an even playing field when it comes to education.

Sure, not everyone can afford to go to the Harvard’s of the world, or attend a $10,000 weekend event, but aside from that the knowledge is out there. FOR FREE.

But knowledge alone is rarely enough in today’s world. Experience, communication, creativity and foreign languages, can help set you apart in our ultra competitive world.

My son is only six, but I have him learning swimming and karate. We give him some weird and wonderful experiences. And he can speak English and Japanese. All part of the master plan.

I loved college and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, but I wonder if the model still works in the 21st century.

In the end, we have to do what we feel is right. For some that means college. For others, there is no shortage of avenues to pursue.

The 21st century is defined by choice.

And college, may or may not be one you have to make.

Adrian Shepherd

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top