Are you the Next Steve Jobs? Better Stay in School While you Find Out

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

Are you the Next Steve Jobs? Better Stay in School While you Find Out

Apple pic.jpgIs staying in school really that cool? Just take a look at the success of Michael Dell (founder of Dell if you couldn’t tell), Mark Zuckerberg (the youngest self-made billionaire in the world), or the late Steve Jobs (who dropped out of Reed College after the first six months and then went on to create perhaps the technology empire of the century) and that question becomes a difficult one to answer.

And these three men are not the only college dropouts who found fame. These three men are joined by countless other esteemed professionals – such as Henry Ford, Bill Gates and Andrew Jackson – who didn’t complete college but went on to become some of the most influential figures in the world.

So, in a world plagued by economic recession and skyrocketing college tuition costs, should we be urging our kids to innovate rather than study philosophy? I think this is a touchy issue with no clear cut answer.

One could argue that these men had the perfect recipe for success – creativity, brains, and drive. But others could contend that these men simply played a dangerous game of Roulette – a game that boasts the worst odds in the casino – and that they beat the impossible probability and achieved success. As a person who always laughs at the hundreds of people in the casino who drop all their chips on 3 and then lose hundreds of dollars within one spin (but as someone who also hates the one person that somehow manages to make $1,500 in five minutes with some lucky spins), I have to go with the Roulette theory when it comes to these three men.

I will not dispute the sheer genius of these gentlemen nor insult them in saying that their success was solely contingent on a bout of good luck. Conversely, they saw an opportunity, did the appropriate research and introduced great innovations to the market. However, I bet few would argue with me that a little luck was on their side as well. They were lucky that the markets opened their arms to these creations; they were lucky that they threw away their chance at a college diploma and that it worked out; they are lucky they didn’t risk everything and end up with nothing to show.

The facts speak for themselves. We are in tough times right now and being without a college diploma only exacerbates hardship. For the few Dells, Zuckerbergs and Jobses out there, take that risk if you deem it’s one worth taking and create the next great thing. But for the rest of you who have a dream, pursue the dream ruthlessly (while still finding the time to make it to your philosophy and economics classes). If your idea ends up taking off you will be ecstatic and well rewarded, but if it doesn’t at least you can join the rest of us in the employment field.

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