Why You Should Consider Quitting College Ep 451



In a candid discussion about educational paths and career choices, Alex, the founder of acquisition.com, shares his insights on the opportunity cost of attending college versus starting a business or learning income-generating skills. He recounts a transformative conversation with his 18-year-old neighbor, who dropped out of an expensive university to pursue a successful sales career, amassing $250,000 by age 20. Alex emphasizes the importance of considering the reversibility and long-term impact of decisions, such as the four-year commitment to college and the associated financial burden. He advocates for practical education in business functions like marketing, sales, and service delivery, and stresses the necessity of self-education and developing management and leadership skills. Alex's message is clear: young individuals and their parents must make informed, less emotional decisions about education and career paths, focusing on the skills that directly contribute to income and business success.

Summary Notes

Decision Making Framework

  • Evaluating paths based on alignment with personal goals and income potential.
  • Importance of considering opportunity costs and long-term impacts of decisions.
  • The necessity of a logical framework for decision-making to solve specific problems.

"When you're trying to make a decision, you have to think, how reversible is this decision, right? And how much long term impact does that have?"

This quote emphasizes the importance of considering the reversibility and long-term consequences of decisions, especially significant life choices such as education and career paths.

Opportunity Cost of College

  • The concept of opportunity cost as the potential gains lost when choosing one alternative over another.
  • Opportunity cost in the context of college includes the loss of potential income and experiences from not pursuing other paths.

"The opportunity cost is the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen."

This quote defines opportunity cost, highlighting its relevance in the decision of whether to attend college, as it involves considering what could be achieved in the same timeframe without attending college.

Income-Generating Skills

  • The importance of acquiring skills that directly contribute to earning income.
  • The discrepancy between traditional college degrees and the practical skills needed in the business world.

"If you want to make money, then you need income-generating skills."

This quote underscores the necessity of developing skills that enable one to generate income, suggesting that traditional education may not always provide these directly.

Alternative Education System

  • Proposing majors aligned with business departments: marketing, sales, delivery, technical services, and support services.
  • The efficiency of skill acquisition for technical jobs and the direct correlation with market value.

"The majors would be in accordance to the departments of a business."

This quote proposes a reimagined education system where academic majors are directly aligned with functional business departments, ensuring skills taught are applicable in the job market.

Real-World Skills vs. Traditional Education

  • Recognizing the gap between academic education and practical skills required in most professions.
  • Acknowledging exceptions for careers that legally require degrees, such as medicine and law.

"If Alex were redoing the education system, the majors would be in accordance to the departments of a business."

Alex imagines an education system focused on imparting practical business skills that are directly applicable to the job market, rather than traditional academic subjects.

Social Experience of College

  • Challenging the notion that the social experiences of college are unique and irreplaceable.
  • Suggesting alternative methods to socialize and gain life experiences without the financial burden of college.

"If the problem to be solved is to socialize you, there are way more efficient ways to socialize you than spending $200,000 and not making income."

This quote questions the value of the college experience solely for socialization, suggesting that there are more cost-effective ways to achieve social growth.

Practical Pathways to Success

  • The importance of starting early in acquiring practical skills for business success.
  • The value of learning from others' experiences and stories to avoid similar pitfalls.

"You don't need to live the mistakes in order to... You don't need the scars. You just need the story."

This quote highlights the idea that one can learn valuable lessons from others' experiences without having to repeat their mistakes, thereby accelerating one's own path to success.

Financial Prudence and Saving

  • The benefits of living frugally and saving aggressively in early years.
  • The potential for significant financial independence and capital for entrepreneurship at a young age.

"He saves everything over $2,000 a month that he makes... And Homie is now making $200,000 a year."

This quote illustrates the financial strategy of a young individual who chose to work and save instead of attending college, leading to a substantial savings at a young age.

Long-Term Career and Financial Planning

  • Comparing the long-term outcomes of traditional college education versus immediate entry into the workforce and skill acquisition.
  • The advantage of having both capital and practical skills to start a business.

"What do you think he's going to be able to do in four years? He's going to be able to start his own thing with a ton of capital and skills."

This quote contrasts the potential financial and career position of a college graduate with debt versus someone who has worked, saved, and acquired skills over the same period.

Mentorship and Career Guidance

  • Alex emphasizes the importance of mentorship in career development.
  • He suggests aligning career paths with personal interests and skills.
  • Alex advocates for starting somewhere to gain context and learn what you enjoy.
  • He warns against the "fallacy of the right path" and encourages pivoting when necessary.

"And the blessing that he got was he had a mentor, which obviously was me, who I could see his personality. I was like, dude, I think you do well here."

This quote highlights the role of a mentor in recognizing and guiding an individual's potential in a specific career path.

"There's no such thing because you can't go backwards. And so all you know is the experiences you have."

Alex points out that there is no one "right path" in a career, and decisions should be based on experiences, not on an idealized correct choice.

Decision-Making in Career Progression

  • Alex describes a process of continual learning and reassessment in career development.
  • He recalls his own decision to pivot from consulting to starting a business instead of pursuing an MBA.
  • The cost-benefit analysis of education versus practical experience is discussed.

"Every so often be like, have I learned everything that I'm going to learn from this path, from this branch."

This quote suggests a strategy for career progression: regularly evaluate whether you have maximized learning in your current role before deciding to pivot.

"For 180 grand, I know that two years from now, if I took that 180 and I started a business... I'd probably have a business that was working and I'd still have the money."

Alex shares his thought process in choosing practical business experience over formal education, highlighting the financial and experiential considerations.

The Learning Curve and Skill Development

  • Alex talks about the inevitability of starting from a place of inexperience and the importance of perseverance.
  • He advises on the need to develop adjacent skills to advance in a career.
  • The conversation shifts to strategic skill-building for entrepreneurship.

"You start by sucking and then you suck less. That's how it works, right?"

This quote encapsulates the idea that initial failure is a natural part of the learning process and is necessary for improvement.

"He's got to learn the skill of how to transfer a skill from himself to somebody else."

Alex stresses the importance of learning to teach others as a critical skill for business leadership and growth.

Financial Considerations and Opportunity Cost

  • Alex discusses the financial implications of career choices, including the opportunity cost of education.
  • He emphasizes thinking ahead about the potential returns on investment in education versus starting a business.

"Do I think that four years from now, with $50 to $200,000 in absolute costs and probably higher than that in opportunity costs of the cost of the path not taken, which of these two paths will lead me closer to where I want to go?"

Alex presents a framework for making significant career decisions based on long-term financial outcomes and the costs of alternative paths.

Management and Leadership as Key Skills

  • Learning to manage and lead is presented as essential for career advancement.
  • Alex suggests that technical skills may not be the primary focus in a business; instead, the ability to teach and manage others is more valuable.

"You got to learn how to deal with people. You got to learn how to manage, got to learn how to lead."

The quote emphasizes the critical role of people management and leadership skills in career progression and success.

"You are no longer a video guy. You are a person who creates video guys."

Alex illustrates the value shift from being a practitioner to becoming a leader who multiplies their skill set through others.

Entrepreneurial Education vs. Traditional Academia

  • Alex contrasts learning in a business setting with academic learning.
  • He argues for the practical benefits of gaining real-world business experience over traditional college education when aiming to start a business.
  • Alex reassures that there is flexibility in career choices and that it's possible to pivot if interests change.

"I'm not telling him to quit college. I'm telling him to make the best decision for where he wants to be in four years based on him."

This quote clarifies that Alex's advice is not anti-education but rather pro-making informed decisions that align with personal career goals.

"The best part is that when he has that money, he can go in the office and he can spend money in ways that actually generate income."

Alex suggests that financial independence gained from working can provide more practical learning opportunities than formal education.

Self-Directed Learning and Mastery

  • Alex concludes by emphasizing the importance of self-directed learning for those aiming to be the best in their field.
  • He encourages adopting a mindset of continuous, autonomous learning to achieve success.

"The people who are the best in the world at anything... They are self taught."

This quote underlines the idea that the highest achievers in any field often take responsibility for their learning and development.

Self-Education and Skill Acquisition

  • The desire to learn and improve is more important than formal certifications or permissions.
  • Utilizing online resources like Google can lead to self-taught improvements in various skills.
  • The process of self-education involves identifying a need, researching tools and platforms, and integrating solutions.

"All the skills worth learning are available right now on the Internet. All of them are available for free to anyone who wants it."

Explanation: Alex emphasizes the accessibility of information and skills online, suggesting that anyone can learn and improve if they have the motivation to seek out and utilize available resources.

Job Application Strategy

  • Applying to a large number of positions (a thousand) is recommended to increase chances of getting a job.
  • Personalizing each application by reading the job description and tailoring the response is crucial.
  • Highlighting personal attributes such as work ethic and willingness to learn can compensate for lack of experience.
  • Being honest and showing genuine interest in the company's product or service can make a candidate stand out.
  • The importance of hustle and demonstrating a strong work ethic is seen as a universal value across cultures.

"If you personalize and you apply to a thousand positions, I fucking promise you, you will get interviews."

Explanation: Alex provides a clear strategy for job seekers, focusing on the quantity of applications and the importance of personalization, which he guarantees will result in interviews.

Leveraging Online Communities and Courses

  • Online communities and courses provide structured and organized information, saving time.
  • They offer opportunities for mentorship, networking, and seeing what others have achieved.
  • Joining communities can help break limiting beliefs and provide motivation.
  • Courses and programs are valued for their ability to filter relevant information and save time, not for exclusive content.

"What courses and communities do is they organize the information for you in a way that's faster to get through."

Explanation: Alex explains the benefit of courses and communities lies in their ability to streamline the learning process by organizing and curating information, thus saving time.

Entrepreneurship and Business Learning

  • Engaging in business ventures, even if they fail, is a learning opportunity.
  • Entrepreneurs should expect and embrace failures as part of the journey.
  • Starting and failing quickly in various businesses is a way to learn and eventually succeed.
  • Investing in multiple courses within a niche can provide different perspectives and accelerate learning.

"You got to start failing. Fail quickly. Fail as much as you can, because if you make the goal to fail quickly, you will start succeeding."

Explanation: Alex stresses the importance of embracing failure as a natural part of the entrepreneurial process and encourages rapid iteration as a means to achieve success.

Investment in Self vs. Consumption

  • The decision between investing in oneself and consuming resources is critical.
  • Investing time and money in self-improvement, especially during the early years, can lead to long-term success.
  • Sacrificing short-term pleasures for long-term goals is advised.
  • The concept of resourcefulness being more attractive than having resources is highlighted.

"If you can give up and sacrifice ten years, you can live the rest of your life however you want."

Explanation: Alex advises listeners to focus on investing in themselves rather than spending on immediate gratifications, suggesting that a period of sacrifice can lead to a lifetime of freedom and success.

Personal Motivation and Drive

  • Alex discusses the importance of personal motivation and the drive to change one's circumstances.
  • He suggests that envisioning a future state can help maintain focus during challenging times.
  • Alex shares his personal motivation stemmed from a fear of failure and a strong desire to improve his situation.

"I've just so desperately wanted it that it was never a question for me."

This quote emphasizes Alex's intense personal drive and determination to achieve his goals, which was never in doubt for him.

"For me, I was just so wildly insecure of being a failure that it just wasn't even a question because I felt so terrible about myself that I would do anything to get out of my current circumstance."

Alex explains that his fear of failure was a significant motivator for him, driving him to do whatever it took to change his life.

Recognizing and Nurturing Potential

  • Alex talks about identifying potential in others, using Jacob as an example.
  • He explains how he tested Jacob's commitment by seeing if he would consistently show up for workouts.
  • Alex criticizes those who squander opportunities due to a lack of initiative.

"I could just tell that he was incredibly hungry, that he just... I knew that he had this really deep desire to prove himself."

Alex highlights Jacob's hunger and desire to succeed as key traits he looks for in individuals, indicating potential for growth and learning.

"If he had missed one day, I would have said, he doesn't want that much. And that would have been it, and it would have been fizzled."

This quote shows how Alex gauges commitment and uses consistency as a measure of someone's dedication and desire to succeed.

Seeking Guidance and Direction

  • Alex advises seeking mentors who can provide guidance, even if they are just a few steps ahead.
  • He emphasizes learning from others' experiences and not expecting a perfect path, but rather a correct direction.
  • Alex suggests differentiating between the types of advice to seek from various individuals.

"It's not about having the perfect path. It's about being on the right direction."

Alex stresses that the journey to success is not about perfection but moving in the right direction and making adjustments along the way.

"You want to look at people who are further ahead in the organization, just as high up as you can get access to."

Here, Alex advises seeking mentorship from those higher up in an organization to learn strategy, while also learning specific skills from the best individuals in a particular role.

Giving and Receiving Advice

  • Alex encourages asking for advice and checking in with mentors, while also being respectful of their time and other commitments.
  • He talks about the importance of making mentors feel valued and showing them the impact of their guidance.
  • Alex warns against taking all advice at face value, suggesting that advice should be relevant to the specific skill or area one is seeking to improve.

"You only need them. So don't worry about the ones who say no."

Alex reassures that it's okay if some potential mentors decline, as it only takes a few willing individuals to make a significant impact.

"Try and give them something back, which you're not going to give them skills, but you're going to give them a feeling back."

He emphasizes the importance of expressing gratitude and acknowledging the value mentors add to one's life, even if you can't reciprocate with skills.

Overcoming Fear and Societal Expectations

  • Alex discusses the challenge of disappointing family in the pursuit of personal goals.
  • He shares his own experience with the fear of disappointing his father and the eventual acceptance of making his own choices.
  • Alex highlights the benefits of taking risks earlier in life when there are fewer responsibilities.

"I have to be willing to die to them or I have to be willing to die to myself. And I said, I'm choosing me."

This quote reflects Alex's decision to prioritize his own life choices over the expectations of others, even if it meant disappointing his family.

"Just think about it. If you want to do this eventually, then think of a time where it will be easier than it is now to do it from a circumstance standpoint."

Alex encourages taking action sooner rather than later, as circumstances will likely become more complex and risky over time.

Skill Acquisition and Assessment

  • Alex breaks down the process of acquiring skills into specific steps, using the example of hiring and managing a team.
  • He advises on how to learn and develop nuanced skills through doing and seeking knowledge from books and other resources.
  • Alex provides insight into interviewing and assessing traits by asking questions that reveal how a person thinks and responds to failure.

"That's the point, is that there are a lot of nuanced skills that it takes doing to learn, right?"

Alex points out that many skills are best learned through practical experience, emphasizing the importance of action in the learning process.

"A smart interviewer is not asking you the question because they give a shit about your answer. They give a shit about how you answer."

This quote underscores the importance of the thought process and mindset behind a candidate's responses during an interview, rather than the specific content of their answers.

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