18 Sep How Formal Education Killed the Passionate Career (+ A Practical Guide for Students, Parents & Lifelong Learners)
“Education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire.”
– W. B. Yeats
Note to Readers: At LYL we take our education very seriously. And while this article may start out as a bit of a rant (I couldn’t help myself), this is meant to be an in-depth resource for students, parents and all of us lifelong learners who want to get practical and applicable skills and results from a system we all know has some serious issues.
I don’t have all the answers. Not even close. The below is just the tip of the iceberg, but I believe it’s a useful place to start. If you have someone trying to sort out what do about their education (or that of their children), please forward this to them.
Now let’s dive deep…
I have some strong opinions on education.
Lately a friend of mine asked if I’d come by his house to share them with his son who was getting ready to consider his college plans.
To be honest, the education topic is one of my biggest fears about eventually becoming a parent (somewhere in the distant future).
Let me give you a small feel of why.
To wake us up a bit, here are a few stats from a recent report from renowned consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, and a talk Chase Jarvis gave at World Domination Summit:
- 48% of employed U.S. college graduates are in jobs that don’t require a four-year degree
- 42% of visual and performing arts students said college didn’t prep them for employment
- The average 2013 college graduate will owe $35,200 in debt (and will likely be paying it off in a job they hate)
- Six times as many graduates are working in retail or hospitality as had originally planned – they’re becoming waiters, Gap salespeople and baristas, because it’s the only work they could find
- 284,000 of college graduates (37,000 of those have advanced degrees like JD’s or PhD’s) will be working minimum wage jobs – like flipping burgers
- 75% of people say they aren’t living up to their creative potential
- And we already know that studies from Gallup and Deloitte show that 70-80% of workers are actively disengaged and don’t enjoy the work they do
This. Is. A. Tragedy.
While a lot goes into causing these numbers, I believe much of this comes from a lack of preparation and intention. A lack of discovering what we actually want to do, who we are and what impact we might like to have. Sobering stats like these also lead me to believe there must be some other alternatives. As long as we’re willing to get creative and do a little work.
And on top of that, the whole system, from when we are about eleven years old, is designed in a way that kills creativity.
We focus on rote memorization, test taking and regurgitation. And to make time for that, we almost entirely lose the focus on building and creating things. We stop learning by doing – the only learning that really tends to work. Because the system makes us focus elsewhere. And let’s be honest, because creativity is a lot harder to test on a Scantron multiple choice. (For more on creativity, check out Chase Jarvis’s enlightening talk at World Domination Summit.)
And this continues our entire life!
I could go on, but here’s the tough question for me…
How can you blindly suggest someone enter a system you know has a tremendous number of flaws?
The simple answer is you can’t. At least I can’t.
The only way to deal with it is to take the project on yourself. To take a proactive approach to building the kind of holistic education that gives you the best shot at actually learning the ideas, having the experiences and interacting with the people that allow you to build a meaningful career and life.
At Live Your Legend, that’s what we call Self-Guided Education.
And it’s probably the biggest role each of us have – not only in building our own lives, but as parents, mentors and peers – in guiding and encouraging those who look up to us to do the same.
How and what we learn will have a profound impact on our future. This we already know.
And the simple truth is that no one is going to figure it out for you.
No advanced degree, fancy program or top-ranked school is going to give you all the answers.
Unfortunately that’s why many people get MBA’s, masters degrees and PhD’s – they don’t really know what they want to do and they figure spending a couple hundred grand and a few years of their life will give them the answers. But instead most graduate more in debt, more confused and more committed to a path that never really mattered to them in the first place.
This is why I wrote How Business School Killed the Entrepreneur, and is probably why it’s one of the most popular articles I’ve written.
But it’s not just advanced degrees. It starts much, much earlier.
We cannot depend on any one system to give us the answers.
We are the ones who must create, provide and encourage that system for ourselves and those who look up to us for guidance.
Don’t get me wrong – I loved my college experience. I attended one of the most beautiful colleges in the country at The University of California, Santa Barbara. I met lifelong friends and even a few mentors and future colleagues. But my studies in economics and accounting were so theory driven that I had to relearn everything when I started my first investment management business a few years later.
The only directly useful classes I took were three entrepreneurship courses I found hidden in the engineering department. They didn’t even count towards my various course credit requirements, so I had to pile them up on top of my existing required elective courses such as geography and dance (Dance 45 was the only class I got a C in during my whole college career! Those of you who have seen my breakdancing video know why ;).
But these entrepreneurship classes were priceless. They were taught by real business owners, operators and entrepreneurs who focused on real life practical application. They taught me how to communicate, built rapport, develop and idea and build something meaningful. These professors are still friends and mentors of mine. One professor and friend, John Greathouse, writes an awesome blog for his students and the world about his entrepreneurial experience building and investing in startups.
And to UCSB’s credit, they have done amazing things to develop their Technology Management Program, which has grown into over a dozen practical business related classes. I just wish it existed earlier!
But the problem isn’t a lack of classes on how to build a business. Because that’s not everyone’s things.
However, I do firmly believe that we’d all be better served (and much better prepared for life) if we were taught to think like entrepreneurs, even if you had no desire to become one – but that’s for another article.
The real problem is there is next to ZERO time spent on learning about who you are, what you’re excited about, what you’re good at and the actual career path you want to take. Not to mention the fun, exciting and practical skills required to go along with it.
For years Dick Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute, the 30-years running bestselling career and job change bible, has been trying to get his book included in college curriculums. It routinely gets rejected because it’s apparently written at an 8th grade reading level. Forget the fact that it has sold well over 10 million copies and has probably produced more fulfilling careers than any other single tool on the planet.
That’s the problem.
How the hell is there not a required double major for every single college student called “Learning about yourself, what you’re good at and what you actually want to do with yourself?”
It’s a joke.
Most college freshman spend more time picking out a dorm room TV set than they do picking a major. And without knowing it they set themselves on a meaningless path that almost ensures they’ll finish their four years with just about as little direction as when they started.
So should you go to college or not?
That’s the big question.
And it’s not one I can answer for you. My rant above is not saying to give up on college or traditional education.
What I am saying is that these systems are seriously flawed. They will not provide answers to some of life’s most important questions. So don’t fool yourself.
Whether or not you or your kids decide to take the traditional education path or not, no matter what, you have to take a proactive approach to building the practical education you know you need.
And if you do decide to forgo traditional school, realize you must be damn motivated to piece it together on your own. Either way a lot of work is required if you want to actually learn to fish and get the results you want and deserve.
So if I were considering college or higher education right now, here’s what I would do:
Note #1: For those parents and students at a much earlier stage in your education, I strongly suggest you check out Leo Babauta’s recently launched site Unschoolery – where he covers the ins and outs of unschooling your kids. Leo is a successful entrepreneur (founder of ZenHabits) and an even more successful family man (father of six kids, with his wonderful wife). And he’s unschooled them all. More details here or at end of this post.
Note #2: This topic is endless and the below list is of course not inclusive, but I believe it’s a powerful start. Enjoy…
7 Education Hacks for Students, Parents and Lifelong Learners to Force Practical Results from a Broken System
“What we learn to do, we learn by doing.”
Gap years are priceless. Too bad the U.S. doesn’t embrace them. The most valuable part of my college education was living with a Spanish family for six months in Sevilla, Spain. The cultural and life experience was so transformative that I moved back for another year after graduation to start a business and be a tour guide on the weekends. That experience forever changed my view on, well, everything.
Explore the world. Learn about new cultures and people. Open your eyes to new perspectives. Take a year after high school. Then another after college. Thinking about pausing your career to get an MBA or PhD? Take time to explore. At least a few months, but ideally a year. If money is an issue then start a campaign to raise money for a cause or do an internship or apprenticeship across the world. If you make travel a priority, there are ways to make it happen. This alone might be the only alternative education you need.
For more proof, here are 14 Very Short Stories of How World Travel Made Me an Entrepreneur.
2. Learn everything you can about yourself.
Take career, personality and strengths tests. Learn your values, what you love, what you hate. Discover the things that actually excite you.
This is a constant process that should start as young as possible and should go on throughout your entire educational and professional career.
If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re never going to find it. That starts with understanding yourself. Any of the thousands of books on career, purpose, passion, etc will serve as a great starting point – as long as you actually pick one up, read it, and apply it.
This is obviously the core of Live Your Legend and why I poured my heart into creating our Live Off Your Passion Guided Discovery career course in the first place. Another awesome resource is the Strengths Finder 2.0 online assessment. We don’t have an affiliation with SF but I swear by this $10 test.
3. Learn a couple practical skills that interest you.
If I could have done college again I would have probably majored in communications, computer science and graphic design. Knowing how to code and understand people, systems, processes and technology is at the core of understanding how to build most things in today’s world.
I’d kill to be able to at least half understand a little Java, PHP, HTML and CSS. I’d still hire an expert for my projects, but having the foundation would be priceless. It also allows you to rapid prototype and experiment in a much faster, fun and practical way.
The online resources available for learning just about any skill on the planet, will blow your mind. I think it’s the most exciting and potential-filled area on the Internet right now.
Here are a few places to start:
- Code Academy: Free step-by-step way to learn code
- Creative Live: Free video courses from world-class experts on everything from business building to public speaking, overcoming fear or blogging (founded by Chase Jarvis)
- Animation Mentor: An online school for animation – that also finds you a job when you’re done! (founded by my friend Bobby Beck, who was the guy who actually created Nemo of Finding Nemo)
- Craftsy: Online video courses for those looking to learn everything from photography to cake decorating (I actually just met their founder, Josh Scott, yesterday while snorkeling in Hawaii)
- Udemy: Online courses on just about anything
For a much more detailed list, check out our Self-Guided Education List of 30+ Online Resources, available for free to all LYL email subscribers.
4. Build things!
Don’t just read books or listen to talks. That’s maybe step #1 or 20.
Experiment with things. Build out ideas. Test them. Share them with others. Learning by doing is the only way most of us actually learn. I built my first blog as an experiment after reading in a book (Internet Riches) that you could create a website without knowing code. Looking back the site was hideous, but I was damn proud of it. And it’s what eventually turned into Live Your Legend. Without that one little weekend experiment seven years ago, our Revolution here would not exist!
A blog is always a super easy and rewarding place to start. If that’s your thing, here’s an article I wrote about how and why to start a blog (and how to do it in under 30 minutes): The Experimenter’s Dilemma & The Most Powerful (& misused) Online Tool for Developing & Monetizing A Passion
5. Become an apprentice.
Find someone who’s doing work you admire and build a relationship with them. Ideally connect with them through mutual family or friends. Come to them with the skills and passions you’ve been developing and let them know how much you admire the work they do. Show them how how serious you’re taking your education and development and that you’d love to do anything to help move their project forward. Start by sweeping the floors if you must.
There is no better way to learn things than by working with experts. There’s also no better way to figure out if you actually enjoy what you think you might enjoy. One thing’s for sure, it’s never as glamorous as outsiders like to think. Learn that first hand. Develop the relationship and help how you can.
Taking this a step further:
One of our Living Legends, Victor Saad, recently took this to an entirely different level. He didn’t want to spend money on an MBA so instead he went on a quest to study under 12 different experts in different fields around the world for one month each. He called it The Leap Year Project, and wrote a gorgeous and graphical book about it. He also started his own university to help other students take a similar apprentice/practical-baed approach. It’s called Experience Institute. Very worth a look.
6. Create a personal board of directors.
A brain trust of sorts. Think of the mentors and experts in different fields that interest you. Find a few people you can interact with and bounce ideas off on a routine basis. Start with family friends, old bosses or professors (assuming they are people you really admire and want to learn from). These people won’t just serve you for current career endeavors, but for the rest of your life as you learn and experiment. Having these guys in your corner will be priceless.
This and #7 below are exactly why we created our How to Connect with Anyone course and community.
7. Form a mastermind group.
This is the foundation of it all. Dating back to the days of da Vinci, Einstein and Jefferson – these guys all had close groups of people who made them better.
This is similar to your board of directors but instead of mentors, these are peers who are as dedicated to building and creating things as you are. People at a similar stage in career and life where you can offer each other mutual accountability, support, introductions, ideas and guidance.
Pick 4-5 people whose standards are as high or higher than yours. Meet with them every week to discuss progress, setbacks and goals. Form a bigger group as well that might meet monthly. The key is to be spending your time around smart, passionate, inspiring people who dream as big as you do. This is the ultimate practice.
One of our readers, Davis, who’s a junior at Yale, has taken it upon himself to create The Yale Live Your Legend Series – where he’ll host a series of talks and workshops for his peers and him to explore the ideas we cover in our community here. I cannot wait to see what that turns into!
This rule is simple: Do not try to go at this alone. You’ll either get very suboptimal results or fail entirely.
This is exactly what John Lusk did when he went to Wharton MBA – he and four friends swore to each other they would not get sucked into the standard MBA trap of becoming investment bankers or consultants. They were determined to start businesses, and they made a pact to hold each other to it. They all went on to become damn successful entrepreneurs, and John ended up being one of Tim Ferriss’s earliest mentors. John has since started multiple companies and wrote his story into a book, The Mousedriver Chronicles, that’s now used in over 200 college and MBA curriculums.
Here’s the interview I did with him: Difficult Decisions: How to Turn Down a $1,000,000 Check to Keep Your Integrity
You are the average of the five people you spend most time with. Choose wisely.
Plus, almost all meaningful jobs come as a results of who you know. For reinforcement, check out this article by Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn: Connect to Human Networks to Find Breakout Opportunities.
At Live Your Legend we take environment very seriously, so be sure to take advantage of our free tools to transform your surroundings:
- Creating your mastermind team: Tapping Brilliance: Download The Ultimate Mastermind Workbook
- Hosting your own in-person LYL event: A LYL Event In Every City! The Free Step-by-Step Guide to Transforming Your Surroundings
Your Education is YOUR Responsibility
No one will make the discoveries for you. I don’t care how famous the program, professor or university.
It is on you to learn the things that matter.
I’m not saying kids shouldn’t go to college. Or that you shouldn’t get that MBA or advanced degree.
But I’m not saying you should either.
I just want you to give it the thought in deserves. And approach it with a strategy that gives you a decent chance at success.
If you feel lost now, you’ll likely feel lost when you graduate too.
You’ll just have a lot more debt, obligations and heavy psychological commitments to go along with the confusion.
If you dedicated your education to nailing the above, I am confident you will find work you love, opportunities that excite you and a way to have an impact on the world that no single education could provide on its own.
You can always start over.
That’s the beauty of it. If you’re thinking about investing four years and a hundred grand into an education. Why not defer that for a little while? Take a year to deeply integrate the above into your world.
See what comes of it.
Who knows, you might find a more productive way to invest that $100k.
And if you don’t, the traditional school system will still be waiting for you a year later. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere.
Learn who you are.
Pursue projects and experiments that excite you.
Surround yourself with people who make you better.
That’s what I call a real education.
That is our biggest responsibility. Both for ourselves and for those who look up to us.
Take it seriously. And have some fun with it!
For the comments: What are your favorite tools for learning skills and crafting your own education? Tell us in the comments.
Help a future student: Do you know someone who’s considering a big education decision? Please email this to them. Help provide the spark that could set the fire.
Are you a parent and feel a bit lost?
Since I don’t have kids (quite yet), I haven’t felt what you’re feeling. But I do know someone who has…
A very close friend, mentor and successful family man of six kids and a wonderful wife, Leo Babauta (founder of ZenHabits) has “unschooled” his kids for years, and has recently created a new in-depth website purely dedicated to how he’s tackled the education dilemma for his family. The site is called Unschoolery. Very wroth checking out. Here’s an article he wrote on ZenHabits about the new site.
And be sure to check out Victor’s book and alternative school, The Leap Year Project. Using discount code “LIVEYOURLEGEND” will save you 33%.
For the uber-dedicated, here’s more on LYL about Self-Guided Education:
- The Birth of Self-Guided Education (the only real option left)
- The 27 Principles to Teaching Yourself Anything
- Self-Guided Education List of 30+ Online Resources
- How Business School Killed the Entrepreneur
- The 14 Most Powerful TED Talks for Disruptive Career Change & Making a Difference
- Tapping Brilliance: Download The Ultimate Mastermind Workbook
- The Experimenter’s Dilemma & The Most Powerful (& misused) Online Tool for Developing & Monetizing A Passion
- A LYL Event In Every City! The Free Step-by-Step Guide to Transforming Your Surroundings
- 14 Very Short Stories of How World Travel Made Me an Entrepreneur
- From Lost to Legendary: The 6 Pillars of Hacking Human Potential
And finally, last year, when I first wrote about this topic, we created a manifesto of sorts. Feel free to use and share it as you see fit…
Image Credits: All images are my own. If you’re interested in seeing more, come on over and follow me on Instagram.
How Formal Education Killed the Passionate Career (+ A Practical Guide for Students, Parents & Lifelong Learners) | Internet Biz ListPosted at 10:12h, 18 September
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Donnie LawPosted at 10:18h, 18 September
High school grads always think that by following the well-worn path to college without creating too many waves or disrupting the system is he safest route to go. It’s a shame.. College seniors have so many options out there besides college. I hope some of them find your site.
ScottPosted at 10:29h, 18 September
You said it Donnie! I’m so excited to see more and more kids, parents and adults starting to wake up to this…
ValPosted at 10:42h, 18 September
Definitely the next generation in education. I thought this kinda education was only available in the x-men movies 😉 It rocks to see that it is actually slowly becoming a reality!
The people at mindvalley are leading the wave in next generation education and looking at how there’s so many independent individuals out there living their ideal lifestyles through redesigning the way they operate and learn, man it’s truly amazing.
Keep being awesome and I really love this post!
Christina BuizaPosted at 10:51h, 18 September
Scott, this article completely resonates with me.
I’ve just entered my sixth and final year of university. Although I love my school, and am glad to have taken interesting classes with superb professors, I’d have to say that my best learning experiences happened OUTSIDE of the classroom. By joining and leading student organizations, I was able to develop myself and test out my ideas in a practical environment, rather than just through memorization.
Entering university six years ago, I also had no idea what I wanted to pursue. I didn’t know myself and for that reason, spent semesters studying classes I didn’t like (and racking up a hefty student loan debt). After taking the time to figure out my strengths, weaknesses, and learn about people I admire, I finally know what I want to do.
We need to change our curriculum. At the root of it, our society needs to change its mindset and definition of success. I don’t see success as attaining a degree in some faculty just to please everyone. We need to learn about ourselves, and create our own definitions of success.
Again, thanks for writing this post, Scott!
Davis NguyenPosted at 10:56h, 18 September
Another great article Scott.
I love the environment I am in and the people I am with; but I found the things that have prepared me the most for what I want to do isn’t solving equations, but solving real world problems such as how to reach people and make amazing things happen.
Thanks for the shout out!
BenPosted at 11:03h, 18 September
Awesome post and amazing collection of self learning resources!
I’ve been really opening to this approach since I started my own business. Funny how that works!
BrianPosted at 11:52h, 18 September
Q: What is the source of a successful life?
A: Good decisions.
Q: What is the source of these good decisions?
Q: What is the source of this wisdom?
A: Bad decisions.
My education is what is left after I have recovered from the pain of having to adapt to reality.
Thanks for a great article.
Brian, aged 65, diagnosed with leukemia. Still learning how to die (and live) a young and happy man.
RosalindPosted at 13:06h, 19 September
Love this! And good luck to you, Brian. 🙂
Laura BethmannPosted at 11:55h, 18 September
Thanks you for a wonderful post, inspiring and informative. It took me back to my education growing up where I ‘fell through the cracks’ of the system and ended up leaving high school before I could graduate. I received a GED, took a variety of college classes, art school classes, workshops, and generally took my education into my own hands. This was in the 1970’s. I’ve since been in art museum shows, had three books published and, at 60 years of age, I’m beginning again – learning how to produce my own online art and creativity courses.
Seems the current educational system hasn’t improved much, unfortunately. Thanks for all the good work you’re doing, Scott.
Vincent NguyenPosted at 12:03h, 18 September
Great article, Scott! Really hit home with me as I am surrounded by people who are unwilling to see “the light.” It’s good to be reassured that I am on the right paths right now. The only thing I haven’t taken too seriously is #7, the mastermind groups. I’m definitely a part of a few, but don’t actively engage as much as I could.
Keep it up, Scott!
JaynePosted at 12:13h, 18 September
I completely agree. I loved my college experience, but I can’t say that it helped prepare me for a career. College can be important depending on what you want to do, but it really isn’t required for so many careers. The most important thing is knowing what you want to do, what you’re passionate about, as early as possible. That’s much easier said than done, but it’s a problem my husband and I are trying to help solve. The whole point of our newly formed website is help students figure out what they want to be when they grow up, but it’s just one tool. Nothing can replace experiences like travel and learning through experience. Great article.
Nikki SmithPosted at 14:00h, 18 September
What an amazing article and SO many resources. Thank you! 🙂
I agree it is a daunting task as a parent to navigate their education.
I have started unschooling my 4 year old. In Australia it’s called home schooling.The majority of her peers are at kindergarten (Australia pre-school).
We took her out of her kindergarten class of 20 kids.
It took me a while to decide this. Four people helped me with that.
Thanks to my sister-in-law who has unschooled her kids and one of them is studying computer programming and is about to finish 3rd year university at the age of 16! 🙂 As you can imagine she’s pretty special and a great resource.
Thanks to the Connect with Anyone Course – the module with Susan Cain’s ted talk on the power of introverts; I went on to read the book and realised my daughter is highly introverted and is much better living and learning in smaller numbers than 20.
Thanks to my confident, smart husband who is embraces this and teaches his daughters SO naturally!
Thanks also to Leo Babuata’s unschooling post which was the tipping point for me to unschool. He illustrated what his kids spend their time doing and it was music to my ears. I thought that’s how I want to live with my kids.
I had a look at Leo’s unschooling website a few weeks ago. It is WONDERFUL!
Bedtime Reading #2 | Corey DockenPosted at 17:35h, 18 September
[…] How Formal Education Killed the Passionate Career (+ A Practical Guide for Students, Parents & L… […]
MartinPosted at 20:06h, 18 September
I’m totally with the gap years. I went to Europe for only a month after college and people thought I was crazy. My friends and family thought I was having a meltdown.
I just wanted to experience something new and maybe have some fun.
When I came back everyone was jealous.
When I was there, I was shocked by how many young folks around the world travel. I met a dude from New Zealand who took the year after college to literally travel the world. He started in North America and migrated throughout this planet.
LCPosted at 20:43h, 18 September
I just watched your breakdance video, and let me tell you that you are really not too bad for a beginner! I could see that you were making progress, so the video was in no way humiliating. It takes time for your body to develop the muscle memory needed to dance well!
Let me give you a few pointers on how to dance better:
1. Have you mastered the hip hop bounce? This is the foundational move that will make your toprock look better. I noticed that your body is upright stiff, so I cannot see the “groove” in your step. Try learning the hip hop bounce first: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_xK9F9AP48!
2. Don’t stay flat-footed on the ground! Only place the balls of your feet on the ground. Same with jogging, tennis, basically every single sport on earth. Look at how Bruce Lee moves in this fight scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpbXCj2RqBw. He jumps around with the balls of his feet so that he can move fast 🙂 In breakdancing, you have to move to the fast break-beats so you will NEVER want to put your feet flat on the floor.
3. Understand where to place your weight. For example, when your left leg is out, exert your weight on the left leg so that your move becomes bigger and look more “swag”
Let me recommend to you this dance instructor called Ben Allen who can SURELY improve your dance technique. Out of all the dance studios in Cali, his didactic approach is probably the best because he focuses on GROOVE, not choreo, which I think is an instructional model that is only good for people with a certain level of dance experience. Hit him up and tell me what you think! (And no, I’m in no way affiliated with his studio. We don’t know each other at all.)
Here’s his site: http://www.groov3.com/ (watch out, Ben can turn you into an MTV-ready backup dancer after just one session!)
RosalindPosted at 12:58h, 19 September
It is so refreshing to hear people admitting this. I had the best education money can by, was head girl at my school and I had teachers praising me left right and centre.
I had no worries…Until I left school. I had been taught how to conform. That is IT. I couldn’t tell you ONE other useful thing I learnt at school. Apart from to read and write. But did that really have to take 21 years of education? The outcome was that I crashed and burned hard into the real world and am lucky to have made it through.
I now teach children, and I have days where I literally cry because I can feel myself teaching what I was taught and it makes me feel sick. I do everything I can to teach them how to be themselves, listen to who they are and think for themselves. But the BS and the creativity is sucked out of them every single day and lesson.
Anyway, I am looking at what options I have and how I might leave a mark on this totally bananas system. LYL is a source of inspiration every day to fight to make this happen for these kids.
Thanks Scott!!! Please keep writing, you keep it alive.
Rosalind, London UK. (And please come to London soon! I missed the Bournemouth event…)
RosalindPosted at 13:03h, 19 September
money can BUY! Ironic… 🙂
DESIGN YOUR OWN EDUCATION | think authenticPosted at 17:11h, 20 September
[…] you have been prescribed a curriculum by your school, the responsibility is on you to take your learning out of the syllabus. Let your heart and intuition guide you in venturing into other areas. Or choose to go deep into a […]
francis porterPosted at 13:57h, 22 September
I couldn’t agree with you more Scott, I also think that making the decision of what you want to do in life at the age of 16 is a big decision to make and a 16 year old I feel is not in the right mindset to make this decision.
Thanks for sharing
Mallie RydzikPosted at 21:11h, 22 September
Quit my PhD program in Atmospheric Science to follow other passions. Do I have a passion for meteorology that I could not have gotten without a graduate education? Absolutely, and I loved my time in school.
But now I’m at a loss with what to do with myself now that I’ve ditched academia and have little interest in the private sector in my field. I’m forced to learn more about myself and alternate career paths. It’s…kind of exciting, kind of scary.
Can I go back to the field? Eventually. But the time isn’t right at the moment.
Thanks for adding your own insight on this topic.
ScrewtheSystemJoePosted at 02:48h, 23 September
Agree with a lot of what’s in this post.
Education will never fulfill its truest ideal until it’s less about getting results for league tables and more about REAL learning.
Sal ConcaPosted at 08:06h, 23 September
It’s a difficult thing choosing a life path. When you’re young you follow your advice from parents, you do what your friends are doing, you go with the social norms unless you’re one of those extraordinary folks that sees the big picture at an early age. As you clearly noted in the article, forgoing a formal education doesnt mean forgoing hard work, in fact its going to be even more work to go out on your own and self educate. I wish I had given that some thought before I pursued my MBA, that’s not to say it didn’t provide me with valuable tools.
I’ve been a big believer in self education, I’ve been doing it for years, I guess I just never really thought of how it effected me as a person or why I did it. When a job I’ve had didnt afford me the challenges and opportunities I wanted I learned how to do it on my own. When I need information I seek it out on my own, I guess that’s how I ended on this site in the first place.
Now that I’m at crossroads in my own career path, the information on this site is becoming more and more valuable to me, thanks for creating this type of valuable content and putting it into an easily digestible form.
Melanie Harth PhDPosted at 10:39h, 23 September
Great, Scott! Honestly, I learn best by trying something that interests me. Failing. Trying again. Failing, maybe a little bit less the next time. Doing. Getting in the game.
Knowing that I’m never finished, but rather, reaching always for the richness of living a great story.
RagnarPosted at 11:44h, 23 September
Good points, I think we definitely need to focus more on what we are actually good at, and how we can use that to help our communities, while at the same time making a living… instead of forcing yourself into the limitations of boxes that don’t really fit anyone.
Chris MaltesePosted at 16:51h, 23 September
Its so true. Getting a college degree forces you to study so much material, but they don’t help you learn about yourself. College courses would be so much more useful if applied after you learn about yourself and your passions. After you’ve traveled, experienced and had your eyes opened.
Like you said, the traditional path all too often leads to a a line of work different from one’s degree, debt and an unfulfilling job.
I do feel there is a revolution and that the community of websites like this and others that host the conversation will help people escape the traditional bindings and be free to pursue their passions while helping others and earning a living.
R.C. ThorntonPosted at 07:59h, 24 September
I agree with you in principle, but I think this line of thinking generally runs into problems when being promoted to a mass audience. Most people I know who have started successful businesses or “done their own thing” struggle immensely for years, all for the hope of having things go their way at some point in their life. Only the most resourceful seem to succeed, and the rest fail.
There’s no shame in wanting stability in one’s career, and taking on a job that is less-than-perfect to accomplish that goal.
Matt SchmidtPosted at 19:09h, 24 September
Unfortunately it does not always stop just with education. Even when employed and in a classroom training sessions that help orient and prepare for their careers, it sometimes does not realistically do this.
From Doctor & Lawyer to Musician & Revolutionary: Making Extreme Career Transitions & Why It’s Never Too Late | Live Your LegendPosted at 10:24h, 25 September
[…] Reader Note: Today’s article is a continuation from last week’s massive guide on How Formal Education Killed the Passionate Career (+ A Practical Guide for Students, Parents & L…. […]
BrandonPosted at 12:15h, 27 September
I was told I would not be hired for my job because of my lack of being “degreed”. I landed my job anyway, and I am compensated almost 50% more than some of my colleagues that have graduated. I stopped going to college in fear of exactly what you have described above, following a path that I wasn’t sure of. None the less, I have realized that the path I did follow was not for me either. I did not go to school, but I still climbed the ladder with the same preconceived idea of what I would end up with at the end; much like as if I had gone to school. I wish that I would have spent more time learning who I was, and what I wanted. Now as I am approaching 30, I am debating going back to school to get that degree in hopes I will love what I can do with it. After reading your post, I am torn, but so grateful. I have a lot to think about. Thank you!
The Death of Job Security: How to Raise Yourself (& Your Child) to Think Like & Be an Entrepreneur | Live Your LegendPosted at 20:39h, 30 September
[…] all this recent talk about self-guided education, today I’d like to talk about the mindset that ensures the most useful education of […]
GavrielPosted at 03:31h, 02 October
Extremely informative post! It will take a while to go through all the resources referenced to.
I had to learn some of this the hard way after I had to quit college and found myself without work or an education. Not that I feel the 4 years of advanced education I had taken did all that much to help me out.
I will be coming back to this post over time, I feel, to get more and more out of it with each passing!
Designing Your Practical Masters Degree: 12 Apprenticeships with 12 Businesses in 12 Months | Live Your LegendPosted at 12:25h, 08 October
[…] We’ve talked about the death of job security, how to raise yourself to be an entrepreneur, making extreme career transitions and how formal education killed the passionate career. […]
Christopher ZennerPosted at 15:04h, 08 October
Am deeply grateful for this post, Scott. After torturing myself for years that I didn’t go on and pursue a master’s–because that’s what everyone said I _should_ do, your article gave me some peace that maybe that was as it was meant to be.
I’m one of those people who demands to know the practical application of knowledge. Theory make for scintillating conversation, but, in the end, I want to know how it’s useful. That’s a bridge that much formal education fails to cross.
I was originally a computer science major in college. After about 15 credit hours of coursework in the major, circumstances forced me to enter “the real world” and get a job. I quickly discovered that, while the theory I learned in college was a nice foundation, I didn’t really know anything to make me successful in my new role as a programmer. Essentially, I had to hunt for relevant sources (i.e., thick technical manuals) and teach myself what I needed to know.
Ultimately, I finished my degree in English–because of a deeper passion: writing. In that major, I became much more of a critical thinker, and my coursework enriched me at a personal level. But again, there was nothing in the curriculum that taught me how to take those skills and make something of value or even useful out of them.
I can say unequivocally that I have learned more in my various job roles, from life experience, and by personal reading than any college course ever taught me.
How Business School Killed the Entrepreneur (and some worthy alternatives) | Live Your LegendPosted at 07:14h, 11 October
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The Death Of Job Security & How To Raise Yourself (And Your Child) To Be An Entrepreneur by Scott Dinsmore - Make The World Move | Make The World MovePosted at 12:10h, 14 October
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Rachel DenningPosted at 07:57h, 16 October
Couldn’t agree more!
KristaPosted at 15:27h, 20 October
You know, I’ve really been learning the things you outlined here the hard way since I finished high school. I feel like I have crafted my own education inside and outside of the traditional college system, pursuing the courses and skills that truly interest me. It took me seven years to complete my BA in fine art, with lots of travel and life experience thrown into the mix! I absolutely love learning and have found a lot of value in all different kinds of educational opportunities. I am finally ready to fully accept myself as an artist, even if that means something different from what a traditional artist looks like.
So, I guess that brings me to my roadblock—I have been aware of my need for #6 (board of directors) & #7 (peer mastermind group) for the past couple of years, but they have been the hardest for me to find and bring into my life. I know you probably would suggest joining your courses for finding some help with this! I just would like to hear some real stories of how people found their mentors and mastermind groups and have kept them going.
LouéPosted at 11:10h, 13 November
I’m scared that people who take the advice advocated here commonly get labelled as ‘job-hoppers’, ‘unreliable’ or any other such label.
I would love to be able to take the time to explore in the way the article suggests but at the end of the day if an an employer is going to judge me based on a breadth of short term experiences then i’m inclined to just stick to the well worn path.
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Peter BockPosted at 01:08h, 14 May
I love this post.
One thing I’d LOVE to see is you and Cal Newport (http://calnewport.com/) talking together. You being pro-passion, he being anti-passion.
I’m sure you could find some common themes, no matter how your ideas seem contrary at first :).
Peter BockPosted at 01:11h, 14 May
Though you might want to invest in an anti-spam filter for the comments, there’s about 30% on this post made by people paid to post as product placement.
Ama RamaPosted at 22:46h, 17 June
Uh, uh, now say how, without a formal education, 80% of people would have no education at all.
Or a career…
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