I’ve got good news and bad news for all students, which do you want first?

Students just can’t get a break, can they?

Just when you think you’re done, they suck you back in.

For years, students can’t wait to graduate school thinking life will be so much easier when they are free to make their own choices.

Well, I’ve got good news…and bad for all you students out there. And by students I mean, each and everyone of us.

That’s right, we are, and forever will be, students of life.

It starts with school where we don’t have much choice what we want to study. But once we leave school, education is up to us. We can choose to go further, hence the phrase “continued education” or we can say “To heck with this” and go along our merry way.

Those choosing the later, soon find our how tough the world can be. That’s what happened to my father who ended up taking extra classes to make up the difference.

In spite of this, after he’d been in the garment industry for about 10 years he was given his walking papers as he didn’t have a college degree, meaning he was one of the first to go.

With limited options he chose to take a job in the Philippines at a time when the world was a very different place. Thankfully, it worked out for us, but it wasn’t far from easy.

Me? I never gave college a second thought. To me and many in my generation, it was pretty much a given that I would go to college and the same holds true today.

What I didn’t know, and what most kids I know, don’t know is what to study.

Sure, we may have a vague idea of what we’d like to do, but very rarely do we know how we are going to become that except in the cases of a specialized subject like medicine.

Here’s the good news: Today, there’s no shortage of schools and we can pretty much choose where we want to study and what we want to study.

There’s more. On top of our choice of schools, we have the Internet which has helped us gain access to more information than ever before thought possible.

We can find out which teachers are the best, what classes to avoid, what tricks each school has and so much more all with the click of a few keys.

Here’s the bad news. Most near everyone has access to education that means the competition got a whole lot steeper. And thanks to the Internet, our competition is no longer limited to the stores in your neighborhood, today we have to compete with people halfway across the earth.

In a previous post I talked about the challenges we face today and how we can better prepare ourselves and our children for them.

I stated that we must see the future and then work backwards choosing subjects that will give us the best chance to succeed. One client of mine said that this would be a mistake as we can’t all be bankers and lawyers and by letting people pursue their passion, we will be able to build a better world.

Now I would like to state that I do think we should pursue our passion, but that does not mean college is always the right investment for you.

Some colleges today cost upward of $100,000 for 4 years. But would that money be spent better elsewhere?

Language is a great example.

Which do you think would work out better for someone who wants to master a language?

  • 4 years in the classroom
  • 4 years in the country

It’s not even a contest. Sure, you could be one of the lucky few who just so happens to have the most amazing teacher in your school, but how does that compare to spending 4 years, 24/7 in the country of the language you want to study.

Enrolling in a language school there and with the added practice of being able to use what you learn everywhere after school and you’ll pretty much be fluent.

I learned to speak decent Japanese having spent only a year here and a year and a bit back in the US, but I shudder to think how good I would have been had I just spent 4 years here. I’d be insanely good.

What if your passion is dance? Sure, you can major in dance in many schools in the US, but if you want to make a career out of it then you’re better off attending a professional dance school where you’ll be competing against the best.

The point here is that college is a serious investment of both

  • Time
  • Money

And when you’re spending a good chunk of change on anything we want to get a good return on our investment. Philosophy major – tell your kid to go to the library and study from the greats and at the end of 4 years, with a thesis in hand, you’ll hand them over a check that can buy them a new car and the down-payment on a condominium. Sounds like a good deal to me. Same goes for history.

Or better yet, they could use the money to travel and explore their options. To learn about the world firsthand.

Personally, I’ve spent 5 years and somewhere in the realm of $100,000 on books, audio CD and DVDs. And what an investment it has turned out to be; I’m a changed man with so much to offer that I didn’t have 5 short years ago. And even better, I can pass on what I’ve learned to my son. All the material I’ve accumulated I will pass on to him and advice him on how to get the most from it.

I started at 32, he’ll be starting at 7 and will get one heck of a head-start.

College has become ubiquitous and as such it has lost its luster. Attending college won’t give students the umph over their competition as most of them have attended college as well.

There are good reasons to attend college, and there are good schools, but we need to ask ourselves if it’s the right choice for what we want in the future.

Consider adding qualifications, not college degrees. Study from the best in the world, not your average teacher. Live in Spain to learn Spanish, rather than taking a few classes at your local college.

In life, we have to learn to play the odds.

Sit down and think what you want to accomplish, then figure out the best way you can achieve that. Don’t just go to college because everyone else is…if it’s the right choice for you, then do it.

Today we have choices. We have specialty schools. We have seminars and we have access to the best minds in the world in numerous forms. Learn to take advantage of them.

As Jim Rohn, my mentor, once said, “Standard education gets you standard results.”

Don’t accept standard. Choose the less beaten path and go for incredible.

Adrian Shepherd

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