New Book: 40 Alternatives to College!

I wrote a new book:

(click to go to Amazon page)

40 Alternatives To College

And it’s almost all original material as opposed to a rehash of my various posts on higher education.

So please help me save lives. Students think they will have fun, think they will be independent, think they will get a job that will make their lives better.  So they go to college.

They do this because they think their lives will miss something if they don’t.  They will miss all sorts of valuable discourse, intellectual elevation, socializing unheard of before in their high school years, and ultimately the American dream of job, spouse, house, white picket fence, grow old, get a gold watch, die.

They have been brainwashed into thinking they will be worthless without college. How sad for them. How sad for their parents.

But they are wrong. They are only 18. They are babies. How can they know with such surety that this is THE ONLY way they can achieve their goals? Maybe there are better ways. Maybe there are 40 better ways. Or more!

I don’t want you to think I strung together blog posts. I didn’t. I present my reasons very clearly why kids should not go to college. I do this after receiving thousands of hate mails on this topic and knowing what people’s touch points are.

And I separately go over why parents should not sent their kids to college. I go over the true costs of what college costs, including the opportunity cost.

I answer the questions people have been constantly asking me like, “Won’t they get a better job?” Or “You went to college so how can you tell people not to?” Would someone also say that to a murderer?

(dropped out of high school to pursue his dream of becoming a successful actor)

And finally, I borrow from my post “8 Alternatives to College”, expand those eight and wrote 32 more to come up with “40 Alternatives to College”.

I do this with all sincerity. I priced the book as little as I could (99 cents) and it’s even free for Amazon Prime members. Any meager money I make on this will be donated to whatever foundation I can find that can keep people from going to college. Nothing in my career has anything to do with this. It did not help me in any way to spend 100s of hours getting this book ready and available to you and your children.

I am shamed by the indentured servitude that our 22 years olds find themselves in when they graduate. Student loan debt just topped a trillion dollars for the first time. I am ashamed by an America that let this happen. I describe in the book the groups who benefit from that trillion dollars. They don’t care about 18 year olds. They care about their own egos. They care about money.

Can you get a job at Goldman Sachs if you don’t go to college? Or even Google? Probably not. But there’s at least 40 alternatives and probably thousands more. And, after trying these alternatives you now have the grace and intelligence (and knowledge that you are comfortable with the massive debt load you will be taking on) then please go.

(this 18 year old ran for mayor in his town)

But I wish my father had sat me down and told me when I was 18 that I had choices in life. That life wasn’t one monochrome ladder from birth to death. He spent his last two years of life immobile on a hospital bed. College doesn’t prepare you for the suffering. And it’s very stressful along the way. It’s time to start now to live every moment to the fullest, every moment as if time itself were your canvas and your actions were the colors, the brush, the brilliant ideas.

When you’re 18 you have the  chance to explore the world, to explore all of your interests, to explore yourself. You also have the chance to make a lot of money while your peers go into their debts. I’ve personally invested in companies started by 18 year olds who were making thousands of dollars in profits A DAY.

(this young man made $1.2 million instead of going to college)

This is the only time I’ve asked someone (the readers of this post) to help me sell a book. There’s nothing wrong at all with making money but I will make no money on this book and I have no fake agenda  except two:

–          I want to help 18 year olds see they have enormous choices in life. Choices that can be fun, creative, vastly increase their intelligence and health in ways college couldn’t, vastly increase their ability to socialize, to network, to be happy in ways that college couldn’t.

–          I keep thinking about me being 18. The decisions I made. The decisions I rejected. Nobody sat me down and told me I had a choice. And even then, when college was much cheaper, I would’ve done any of these choices in a heartbeat if I had known they were acceptable in society.

(Amanda Hocking skipped college and made millions self-publishing vampire novels)

To succeed, go the other way. Don’t go the same way the herds are going. The herds are walking off a cliff, graduating with more debt than they can pay back in their lives. Trapping themselves in a world of horror and stress.

Please see the alternatives that I’ve picked out. One of them even involves taking college courses but much cheaper. One involves running for office. One involves hiking the Appalachian Trail. One of them involves mastering an art and expanding your creativity in ways you would not have time for if you also had 50 other requirements. Altogether, there’s forty alternatives. It’s 99 cents to save you (the student and the parent) from a lifetime of debt and stress.

And even for adults who have degrees – heck, these alternatives are for you also. If I did one of these alternatives for a full year, and switch, for each of the last 40 years of my life I’d die a happy man.

Know that the world does not need growth only invented by people with college degrees. In fact, the reverse is starting to happen. Innovation is being crushed out of the young indentured servants who are graduating. And creativity, new opportunities, new beginnings, are being initiated by those who constantly seek their choices and their alternatives. And not only will they benefit, but all the people with degrees will benefit, and all the humans who ride piggyback on top of innovation will benefit, and when I enjoy seeing what happens, I will benefit. Let’s all benefit together.


Follow me on Twitter

P.S. many people will say: not every 18 yr old can become a successful entrepreneur, actor, writer, etc. That’s ok. But every 18 year old can try. Every 18 year old can learn from the experience. Every 18 year can learn what it’s like to do what they want to do instead of what everyone else has programmed them to do.

P.S. 2 for more details on how and why to self publish check out my post on the topic.

And finally


(click to buy)

The Journey towards Personal Freedom Starts with YOU

It's time to make the most important decision of your life: Choose Yourself.

I will show you how...

Every weekday I'll send my latest stories, ideas and exclusive interviews straight to your inbox.

Sign up below for Altucher Confidential, my FREE e-letter.

By submitting your email address, you will receive a free subscription to Altucher Confidential. This daily investment newsletter delivers free independent financial forecasting and commentary along with carefully selected products and services that we think might interest you. We will not share your email address and you can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Statement.

  • LB

    Great job James…..imagine all of the lives you saved today! 

  • Peeps, if you are saying “not every 18 year old can become an entrepreneur…” you are missing the main point. James is pointing to THE most important shift in the job market in our lifetime. The truth is that not every 18 year old can get a JOB. Not every 22 year old with an Ivy League degree can get a job. Not ever 25 year old with an MBA can get a job anymore. If you are 18 and you aren’t considering the alternatives to “a job” (or “an eventual job”) you are going to find yourself out of luck. Heck, if you are over 40 and not considering the alternative to “a job”, you are in for a very difficult couple of decades ahead. You owe it to yourselves and the next generation to consider the alternatives. Thanks, James, for putting this together. I’m going over to get my copy now.

    •  Rebecca, you hit the nail on the head. This is the most important point. All the American Mythology is coming into question but does not seem to have affected the 18 year olds or the parents who are guiding them. Now is the crucial time to start thinking about alternatives. Not only if you are 18 but if you are 44! As I am.

      • Well said Rebecca! 
        James, it’s not just American Mythology. In England I was pretty much given 3 options at 16 – job/apprenticeship/further education. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life so studied for A-Levels. At 18 I still had no clue so went to what was Liverpool Polytechnic and ended up graduating in ’92 with a BSc Hons Computer Studies degree and guess what, barely no jobs to go for. 
        I was told (school & Poly) that computers were the future and work would be as good as guaranteed but the market had become almost saturated compared to when I started my degree in ’87 (I worked one “sandwich year” in industry, programming COBOL and I repeated my 2nd year – don’t ask!) I was getting told in 2nd interviews that I did not have the experience that was required. Why was I getting 2nd interviews then? Maybe just their way of telling me that I wasn’t for them!!3 years later a classmate who was then working at the Poly said that only 6 of the 160ish Computer Studies graduates from the previous 3 years were known to be working within the industry. I don’t know how accurate that was but it didn’t paint an encouraging picture. 
        I have worked for myself since ’96 after working in sales for 3 years post-grad with Nestles. I wish so much I’d started straight from school but unfortunately I just didn’t know what I wanted then. Careers advice at the age of 15 or 16 comprised of 30 mins per week during our last term in the careers-room . The careers room comprised of leaflets and brochures for every type of job and company in the local area and also the armed forces. Oh, and travelling advisors who looked so miserable that they obviously were not in the job that they anticipated when they left school!

        I had support from my parents when I started my first business – I couldn’t have done it without them (moving back in/roof over my head/food/home office/commandeering garage as warehouse space/loan). Now after a divorce 3 years ago I have slowly put the pieces together again and am about to start another business. I just can’t see myself as employable and I can’t imagine working for somebody else in the usual sense. It has been a very difficult 3 years but I am determined and of course, your posts have been really encouraging, inspiring and motivational.

        My son is only 5 and I dread to think the situation when he is due to make his life choices. Your book is going to be invaluable for kids now and I’m going to be recommending it to quite a few friends who are in this position with their kids now. Hopefully you’ll be releasing version x in 10 years or so when Jamie will need it and I can use it to reinforce my views.

        I have read recently that Sir Richard Branson has helped encourage the Government with a pilot scheme to make loans available to students who wish to start a business rather than take on a student loan for studying. I hope this is successful.

        I have said for years that I just can’t see why so many go blindly to University etc. If I had my time again, if I knew then what I know now, etc etc etc……

                                        ……..isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing!!

        Let’s hope those that go blindly can open their eyes before it’s too late.

        • Very interesting, Phil. Thanks for sharing that about England. You’re right. it’s not just America! It’s innovation world-wide that is being held at gun point. 

    • I’d recommend comparing the unemployment rate between young people with college degrees and those without.

      • Patrick Wayodi

        That’s an irrelevant statistic.

        • Michael

           statistics, almost as a rule, are irrelevant.

          •  This is really true. I wrote a post recently about how Georgetown University (which, laughably, costs $70k a year) tried to directly prove me wrong using statistics. They made so many basic Statistics 101 errors it was almost laughable. There are so many ways to bias a statistic study its ridiculous and they committed every one of those errors.

          • Nim Namely

             Or maybe they weren’t errors, heh. Here’s the textbook.
            A real gem, every student should read it as it would be more useful than Statistics 101

      • Imagine IF the government wasn’t giving “FREE” college to everyone in the united states. TAKE ALL THOSE IN SCHOOL & put them in the job market. (along with peoples who stopped collecting unemployment [thus considered employed]) & take a rough shot at what unemployment looks like?

        look up Keynesian Economics & why Inflation is used to combat DEflation.

        then look up why DEFLATION is bad.

        AVERAGE BS = 5-6 years now
        & When they can’t find a job with their degree because they were pressured into jumping into school – THEY GO BACK TO SCHOOL.

        Check out : College Conspiracy

        along with


        • wpsmithjr

          You hit the nail on the head.  For one thing… the more you subsidize something… anything… the more of it you get… and the more it costs.  So today everyone is supposed to get an education, and many more are… but it costs soooo much more to get that education.

          Completely different than allowing the free market to work.  In a free market, the more education is desired, the LOWER it’s price becomes.  Eventually it gets to where supply equals demand at it’s lowest price.

          The Fed is really behind all of this.  These people know how to manipulate the money supply… and everything else with it… to rob us all blind.. plain and simple.

          • Palesa Floret

            Yet, countries that do this very thing are outpacing us. Interesting

      •  Tien, I address that in the book and the selection bias involved. Also, lets not forget the severe inflation of tuition costs which you don’t seem to be addressing. I address that in the book as well and discuss how you can get an even better education at maybe 1/100 the cost.

        • Palesa Floret

          People also don’t like to admit how accreditation rises up costs. So called standards. Whose standards? When you have colleges telling other colleges that the only way to stay in business or even get into business is if they do it their way or this way yada yada yada. Last time I checked there was a word called Monopoly. Funny anytime something comes that creates an equalizer is affordable all of a sudden it’s gone. Night Schools, Correspondence or destroyed from their former selves For Profit institutions (which yes you had the fly bys and the crappy schools) but there were some good ones that were really affordable. Now you have wars on them by the big four years like what was done with the night schools years prior. Sadly they get the people on board talking about a school is a diploma mill just because it’s non accredited.

      • Tomas

        Point missed. The whole system is setup to require a degree, some jobs have degree requirements irregardless of the fact NOTHING learned in college classes applies to those positions. I’ve stopped requiring a degree for tech positions as those folks inevitably needed more ojt (because they learned 6yr. old technology, and memorized test related materials, which would get me on a rant about how useless technology classes are in college) and wanted a higher salary, because they had a degree.

        • jonathan dyess

          I’m a high school dropout.  I’m also a college dropout, twice.  I did waste a small amount of money on some certification courses (A+, Net+ etc) when all I should have done was buy a few books.  

          I started teaching myself html, css, javascript, microsoft’s .Net platform, object oriented design, T-Sql and a host of other technologies while working as a helpdesk for a tech company.  They promoted me to junior programmer.

          Now I make as much as a fresh college grad with a Computer Science degree without a crap load of debt and have already made almost 130k in salary while learning on the job.
          That was my real education.  Apprenticeship needs to make a comeback.  The only things I would do different is quit high school on the first day legally allowed and never attempted college.

          • Havevordt

            when the time comes someone with the degree will get the promotion that is if you still have a job. College is not about learning specific technologies( I know I have an MS it is about learning to think analytically , and  be able to communicate in a chorent w

          • Ax123man

            You apparently have no experience in IT. We don’t care about your degree. You must have us confused with politicians, media or marketing (all the b#%*s jobs)

          • Justin Peterson

            Yes, it would seem that college is essential if one wishes to communicate in a chorent w

          • Henry Spivey

            Hey John,
            I’m in college now at SJSU and I hear a ton of stories like yours. How did you show your employer you could do the job even without a “formal CS education”? Your own projects? I’m looking for a front end dev position but everyone I apply to wants a BS in some technical field.

            Thanks for your response if you get this :)
            Henry Spivey

        • Nim Namely

           People Who Must Not Be Read like Steve Sailer like to point out that many employers require a degree as a legal way to screen out dummies. This became popular when it became illegal to screen employees based on IQ tests (since IQ tests are eternally and diabolically written with a bias against non-Asian minorities).

          • Where did you get the idea that it’s illegal to use IQ tests to screen job applicants? It’s done ALL THE TIME.

          • Palesa Floret

            No it’s about weeding out competition. Let’s require A and then when people get A require B, When people get B, oh that’s not enough you need C and so on and so on. Along with C or whatever have you comes more requirements like 10 years experience when the technology is only 3 years old. LOL

        • Ken

          Tomas: Despite what the “apple” dictionary tells us, irregardless is not a word. See below:

          ORIGIN early 20th cent.: probably a blend of irrespectiveand regardless .USAGE Irregardless, with its illogical negative prefix, iswidely heard, perhaps arising under the influence of such perfectly correct forms as : irrespective. Irregardless is avoided by careful users of English. Use regardless to mean ‘without regard or consideration for’ or ‘nevertheless’: : I go walking every day regardless of season or weather.

          • DRB

                   I had this argument with a prior employer in the mid 1970’s. I went to the local library (Santa Monica, CA) and found the word “irregardless” WAS an actual word and ws LISTED in the OXFORD DICTIONARY.

          • Ken

            Well, then all I can say [or write] is “like totally.”

          • Maldorer

            Was the word ws listed there too? “Irregardless” may be  be listed in Oxford, but it is not a word and if you use it you are an idiot. 

          • DRB

             Ws, was a typo. Perhaps, if you perceive “an idiot”, you might step back from the mirror, take a deep breath and RELAX. :)
            BTW:Resorting to name calling in an attempt to discredit some one is most assuredly indicative of the losing side of a discussion.
            Long life and prosperity to you.

          • Palesa Floret

            Read Self University by Charles D. Hayes he talks about this very thing about correcting people etc.

          • Roses1

            Maldorer, you are the idiot. That word has been around for many years! Calling people names shows an immature spirit. Grow up!

      • Leo Patel helps you get connected with Best School, College, University, Community college for online and campus courses. We offer Educational Information about various Education level like Associate degree, Bachelor degree, Masters degree, Doctorate/PhD. It covers vast array of Study Programs like Business,Nursing, Psychology, Education, Medical, MBA, IT/Computer and many more.

    • Justin Peterson

      Well put, well put.

  • Evan

    I think that everyone is born with a different personality archetype…for some college is great for others …not so much.

    One size does not fit all is I think the message here…

    • Even if college is great for you, the important thing is there needs to be a national discussion about the costs. In the book I describe one way you can take 1000s of college courses for a fraction of the cost. Maybe that’s the way to go before they decide to go head first into $200k in debt. 

  • Dominic

     and in the Philippines… How a college dropout became a billionaire

  • Stewart

    “But I wish my father had sat me down and told me when I was 18 that I had choices in life”

    Great sentence for anyone with kids…

    • Thanks Stewart. Everything was about pressure pressure pressure. College grades job ahhhh!

  • I respect your opinions, but I realize that your children are still young.  Wait until they’re 18 and graduating and then let me know what you think.

    Personally I hope that those who don’t want to go to college stop going.  It will make college a better experience for those who actually need their degrees for their chosen professions.

    • Yes, my point is really threefold:
      A) tuition costs are a scam and have skyrocketed. And nobody has protested.
      B) nobody tells kids that there are alternatives that can even be better.
      C) and, heck, it doesnt matter what age you are. Break free and try some of the alternatives. 

      • Actually, students are protesting. 

        And another point that isn’t covered regarding the costs, is that many parents are actually the people getting these students loans….it is a total disaster. (imo)

        •  736, thanks for those links. Very helpful. And yes, its often the parents who are suffering, straight from middle life to elder life to death.

        • Fred

          So these kids who wanted to add an extra 4+ years to their childhood now want the debt forgiven? America’s probably just dumb enough to do it, taxpayers get screwed again.

          What should happen is an end to student loans, or govt student loans anyway. Watch then as the cost of higher education plummets.

          • America was/is dumb to guarantee these loans. Just like guaranteeing the mortgages and business loans, and god only knows what else…..this is their method to boost the economy to make those quarter over quarter profits on Wall Street…it’s all a house of cards…..nothing is what is seems.

            It wasn’t until 2005 that the student loans were non-forgivable, even in the case of true hardship.

            So either we have to find some solution, or the current generation wont qualify to buy your houses, cars or anything else that keeps this consumer economy going.   Their credit will be ruined and they will have little buying power, let alone the money to start a business, or travel the world.

  • Adam Clay

    Hi James, I am completely unfamiliar with Kindle.  If I buy this, can I view on my iPad? I will buy right now (and buy copies for my friends and family at this give-away price) if so. Thanks – AC

    •  You can get the Kindle App on the ipad (or your phone or whatever) and buy it. I never use my Kindle but always read books on the kindle app on the ipad. Thanks Adam for letting people know there are other ways to use the kindle.

      • Adam Clay

        Right on, I tweeted it, will follow up with iPad info. 

    • Sebastien Latapie

      I’m almost certain you can purchase the kindle app for you’re iPad. Search for it in the App store, install it, and then you should be able to transfer any purchase made on amazon to your device! 

  • Sebastien Latapie

    I look forward to reading this. Just downloaded to my Kindle!

  • Emmanuel Iko Ojotu

    I can’t wait to get my own copy.Thanks for your progressive campaigns,James!

  • I am a total idiot in this subject. I also foolishly graduated from college.

    I wonder why the tuition has skyrocketed. Perhaps because there are lesser people wants to teach, maybe?

    But would you still oppose taking college classes if the cost is real market price?

  • Bucket_head

    College is 4 years to have fun and get laid

    • i agree. And it will only cost you $400,000. Perhaps for someone like me it should cost that much to have fun but for most people I bet they can do it cheaper AND have more fun. 

      • Bucket_head

        $400k?  Most schools are still in the 25-30k/year range.  College is a rite of passage for many.. innocence lost amongst other naive innocent people.  An experience that just can’t be replicated from youth.  Sure, a model could have alot of fun with dirty old men at 18 but it’s just not the same

        •  Think also of opportunity cost. And think of cost of books, living, travel, etc. And even still, can you handle 100-200k+ in debt at the end of those 4 years. Or can your parents? There’s a lot better ways to have fun and be “socialized”. The alternatives I give are cheaper, more fun, and heck, you can go to college afterwards if you still want to spend 100-200k dollars.

          • “You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.” -Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. I worked and volunteered instead of going to college, and don’t regret it.  Traveling helped me make friends with older people who passed on their advice and maturity.  I spent lots of time at the library, and with friends who also read for pleasure and edification.  Travel-volunteering gave me a confidence that my home/college-stuck friends just didn’t have. Many of them aren’t even working in the field they went into debt to learn. And when I decided to start my own business, I got books at the library, talked to other business owners, and just sat down and worked my butt off. The only mistake I made was trying to go to college for a business degree at that point.  After a year and a half, I had debt, no useful information, and felt discouraged, frustrated, and angry.  Within a month of my dropping out and reading books like Robert Kiyosaki’s “If you want to be rich and happy, don’t go do to school”, my business got in the local paper, I started giving public presentations, I spoke in front of the local Mayor, was invited to speak at a seminar, and did a small job for NASA, all mostly because I had read books on networking and PR and business and technical skills, and talked to others doing what I wanted to do, even when I had to dig them up from all over the world and email them repeatedly. I mostly got those books free, from libraries (I bought a few). Now I still travel when I want to (sitting in San Francisco right now, after two weeks in Oregon, a winter in Idaho, and summer in Alaska). Education is important.  Just don’t let school get in the way of education.
            Thanks for going against the flow, James.

          • Bucket_head

            It’s all part of the game.  I know students who worked out financial aid and work/study and went to college for almost free.  I agree with most of your points and I think many people have no reason to go to a B line college or a token MBA but if you have the chance to get into an Ivy or top 20 school, it’s rewards can be enormous and well worth the 6 figure investment.  I’ve lived in NY for 20 years after college and though it may seem unfair, an IVY degree opens ALL doors.

          • Fred

            It is funny, or maybe not. When you look at the poor shape America is in, all that damage has been done almost exclusively by Ivy League graduates.

      • Bucket_head

        90% of my friends in my late 30’s are from college.  I would not exchange that for anything

      • For all that we are spending (gov’t) in terms of loans to kids could be spent in various other ways.

        What about turning outdated Schools into Dorms & allow kids the chance to test into various careers.

        Or small town apartment buildings into College Mini- campus’ – that way kids get social interaction / networking with others their age – WHILE apprenticing – making $$ and ideas for companies.

        Gaining that feeling of INDEPENDENCE & RESPONSIBILITY while having the chance to try out as many jobs as they like (possibly at low cost to employer) with subsidized living expenses by gov’t grants.

        This I feel would be FAR MORE EFFECTIVE & not to mention kids wouldn’t be TRAPPED in one city that doesn’t fit them after all. Kids would have the oppertunity to APPRENTICE (based on owner selection) under business’ all over the country.

        Just a thought I’ve had

      • RTRebel


        Can you write an article,or hell, maybe an entire book, on how 18-24 year old dudes can get laid from college girls without going to college?

        I have some ideas, but I was wondering if you have some.

  • I definitely agree that there are alternatives to college for some, but pointing to a few examples like in the images above as if it is “proof” is a little misleading.  Those examples are equivalent to winning the lotto.  For every one massive success story there are probably 100,000 failures.

    The one big misconception is that you can’t learn about the “real world” of business while attending college.  I did both.  I had a real job while going to college. Though it wasn’t 40 hours per week during the school year, I still learned a lot.  Did I learn more after I got out? Sure.  But I definitely wouldn’t replace the greatest years of my life (college) to have learned how to speak to clients, or program in C#, a couple years earlier.

    The real problem, and you may address this in your book, is that little piece of paper means so much to 99% of hiring employers.  You either can be a worker or a business owner, and most go the worker route because it is safer at first.  Some just don’t have IT to be an entrepreneur.

    No, I do not agree with  “anyone can be an entrepreneur”.  Some people are wired for entrepreneurship, and some are not.   
    “Anyone can be an entrepreneur” leaves off the real important attributes that you need, like “…if they have the drive and motivation”, of which MANY people lack biologically.  

    Please see “Occupy ” for those that have no drive to be entrepreneurs and feel entitled to whatever the real entrepreneurs have earned themselves.

    •  I actually chose images that were very different from the stereotypical cliches of geniues who did not graduate college: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, most successful artists, etc.

      You say for every 1 success there are 100,000 failures. I can assure you that is not true. There are no failures. Failure itself, at the age of 18, is perhaps more valuable to learn from than any college class. You will learn to recover from mistakes, you will learn to have new ideas, you will learn that bouncing back could be more fun than success that strikes too fast.

      Too many people, including myself, had to learn these lessons the hard way at a much later age.

      • Sean Giorgianni

        Huzzah! Success itself, and how we currently define it, is the myth. Every day is a failure in the sense that we’re one step closer to dying. I suspect there’d be less pain in the world if we celebrated failure more and success less.

      • In this context your definition of failure seems to be failure of an idea.  I have had many and agree they are by far the biggest lesson you can learn.  In my context, failure is quitting as an entrepreneur because you realize you can’t hack it.

        The reality is that many, many people try to be an entrepreneur and fail over and over, only to quit and begin a career as a waiter at Outback because they do not have the little piece of paper (diploma) that the Googles of the world want.  Being a waiter at Outback is fine, but I doubt many that many graduated high school who had dreams of becoming the next millionaire entrepreneur thought that is where they would end up.  

        You can be both, period.  You can go to college, have a fallback degree, have the time of your life, get experience with a real job, AND be an entrepreneur and use those experiences and leverage the many, many connections that you made in college to your advantage.  

        I am doing it.  I got the little piece of paper.  I thankfully have had a steady job (or 5) for 10 years that the little piece of paper most certainly started for me.  All the while I have been slowly building my own business, and will one day make the switch to be 100% on my own.

        That said, when I being hiring people, the little piece of paper will not be a requirement.  

    • Stewart

      Entrepreneurship like every other thing considered a “talent” is a case of hours put in studying, working and doing, anyone can be an entrepreneur

      • As I said above, the motivation and drive to do those things is what some people lack biologically that makes a successful entrepreneur.   

        Studying, working and doing can overcome lack of talent, but there is such thing as talent.  You are fooling yourself if you think we are all wired the same and we can all be the next Zuckerberg if we just study and work a little harder.

        • Stewart

          I probably can’t, although i’m not ruling it out ;)

          Given that Mr. Zuckerburg started programming as a child, attended great schools, with private tuition in programming, had supportive rich parents, attended Harvard and obviously worked very hard, aren’t you slightly denigrating his efforts to get there by declaring it talent? He’d been a programmer for 10 years before he started facebook…

          Is Usain Bolt the fastest man on the plant because he’s from Jamaica? 

          • Are you saying that if I would have just trained a lot harder when I was a kid, I could be Usain Bolt?  

            Screw that.  Since talent doesn’t exist, I should have just practiced and trained harder so I could be a great QB for an NFL team.  I might do that now.  

          • Stewart

            Not in the slightest, i’m saying that people get to where they are in life because of the opportunities around them, commitment, hard work and focus, and luck, the luck of being born on a small island with a reputation for producing fast runners, a small island that streams its athletic programmes at a very early age, that gives those young athletes a chance at a better life, that takes the very best and makes them into super stars…so no i don’t think you could have become as fast as Usain Bolt, but your chances would have been increased massively if you lived in Jamaica…as to entrepreneurship, it’s nothing special, it’s the same thing, opportunity, commitment, hard work and focus, do you disagree?

          • No.  Not everyone can be a “successful” entrepreneur because they biologically lack the ability for commitment, hard work and focus.   

            Just like not everyone can be the fastest man in the world because they don’t have the genetic make-up of an athletic freak of nature.   

          • Stewart

            okie dokie well lets agree to disagree ;)

  • pH

    Pure gold. You could have titled the book “Take your blinkers off.” The statist/centrally planned paradigm of education at all levels and from all providers is about adjusting to those blinkers. (Thats why were ‘schooled’ for so many years)

    I find myself asking – why wait to leave the herd so late – at college age? Is there another way to educate? Education: from educere – to lead forth, to raise up. It used to take a village to raise a child. With inflation, its probably a very large town now. Perhaps don’t farm them out to an artificial institution – keep children with you to participate in family and the real community around you (you do, don’t you?). “Just you wait until you get out into the real world” – my father used to tell me. Its sad that he had to say such a thing – for him and for me. Of course I didn’t know the world – how could I from a wooden school desk? Given my life now though, it reads as an admission of failure in parenting. Still, he had given up on more than us children by that time of his life so I don’t blame him for anything (anymore). The sins of the fathers need not be visited on the sons. Time has whittled my understanding of parenting to two principles: support them in their accomplishments and provide equipment for dealing with the world. School has very little marginal utility (for us, in our life) in that light…Ok. Theres a third principle, maybe. More important, maybe. Remember when you held them first? Never forget the spark of hope that came over you with that new life in your arms. Its still the same child…Thanks for the book – much to think over

    •  pH, I actually agree. Why wait? And also, even after college: these 40 alternatives could be life-changing. But yes, school was brutal from grades 1-12, listening to boring teachers 8 hours a day behinda desk when I had the energy to run, Run, RUN!. My 10 year old last night couldn’t sleep because of pressures about NY standardized tests being given today. What a shame.

      Btw, on the title. i chose this title because the second most popular search term that takes people to my blog is : “alternatives to college”. The first is, “i want to die”

      • I hope I don’t die soon and somebody then looks at my Google searches!
        Out of curiosity I just tested the most popular term that takes people to your blog and yep, 7th item down!
        Now I’m going to see what Google Ads throws at me on every page I visit.
        Kill me now!

  • Daniel

    Any love for people who own the Nook and can’t read the Kindle format?

    • The Kindle app is free on almost every phone or mobile platform. I don’t do the Nook specifically because I sign up for the KDP Select program which allows people who are Amazon Prime members to get the book for free. It requires to be exclusive to Amazon for 90 days I believe. 

      • Daniel

         Ah. Oh well. I recall you sending out past books in PDF for people like us. I understand.

  • I bought the book; now I have to convince my daughter to read it. The problem is: how to overcome the natural rejection that a teenager feels toward anything that a parent has to say.
    We’ll see.

  • dima

    I read your blog daily and value the opinions but I have some thoughts on your ideas regarding college education. In your examples, you use successful people that accomplished something instead of going to a college. But these guys would accomplish the same (or maybe more?) if they did go to college because they are obviously smarter than an average person. Also, kids in these examples would have money to pay for college after they graduated because they would make millions afterwards as well. What about an average person with an average IQ, what if they try to do something instead of going to a college , can’t accomplish anything because they lack maturity and experience of learning , become discouraged because they missed the college when all their friends from school are already finishing first year? And what if half of these guys become drug dealers because of the issues above?
    The point is that you can skew this topic of college education in different directions but there really should be a study that might be impossible to complete that would show what would happen with the same kid if he/she went to college or didn’t.

    • Hi Dima, there are a lot of assumptions in your question. We really don’t know if the pictures above represent above-average (in intelligence) people. We do know they had a 5 year head start on college graduates and they have no college-related debt. So we don’t know what would happen if they lose that head start and had 100k+ in debt.

      Second, I do outline a study that I think should be done and would correctly determine the benefits or lack of in college. I outline the study in the book.

      Third, you mention people with an average IQ. My feeling is it shouldn’t cost 200k in debt to get these people a higher IQ. That’s why I list alternatives where they can increase intelligence, learn life in a new way, be creative and innovative and explore their full potentials without going into that debt. Heck, I have an average IQ and I should be doing these alternatives right now!

      • dima

        James, thanks for the reply. I will get the book and look at your suggestions on the study. My other concern is, if you don’t go to college and try different things in life but don’t have a “profession” , you might end up where I am now – I did Computer Science and worked for a few years but than decided to create my own businesses, I spent 10 years doing that and paid my bills but didn’t accomplish anything huge so if I have to find a real job now, I don’t have any marketable skills. Same happens with a kid who doesn’t go to college (or goes to college but doesn’t learn skill that are useful for finding a job when you need one), you try a few things for a few years but if they don’t work for you, you loose momentum to go to college, some commenters here suggest that you can go when you are 25 but not everyone can do it, it is much easier to go when you are 18……

      • Basso-continuo

        “That’s why I list alternatives where they can increase intelligence,
        learn life in a new way, be creative and innovative and explore their
        full potentials without going into that debt. Heck, I have an average IQ
        and I should be doing these alternatives right now! ”

        Over the years I have changed my definition of what education really is. I was a public school educator, and had the experience of raising six children with different education secondary experiences of public school, private school, and home school. I have concluded that institutional education, whether public or private, discourages creativity and being innovative. Education, as we know it, is based on the Prussian model.

        We encouraged our children to be creative and innovative and explore their full potentials throughout their childhood. We did this because both my husband and I are creative, innovative, and have explored our full potential. We walked the talk. While all of our children have done well in these areas, it is the one that was home schooled his entire secondary school years. His education could best be described as “relaxed.” By the end of his education, he not only completed all of the requirements for the academics, but he also had a technical education in machine fabricating. He is currently attending county college (medical related field), but is also works with his technical knowledge. His boss and co-workers are very impressed with his abilities.

        My son developed these skills due to my husband. Trained as a tool and die maker, he has a small machine shop on our property for his personal use. My husband taught my son the skills, but more importantly, however, was availability of the equipment as well as the time during the school day that allowed him to explore more fully this well as other creative/innovative areas. He was not encumbered with mindless school assignments or work load.

        Our government education system has successfully disabled creativity and innovation from most of our society. It takes a determined person to be an autodidact.


  • Sean Giorgianni

    I applaud the grace, wisdom, and courage it took to think, write, and share this book.

    Student loans are the new indentured servitude. Why borrow money to be a slave? Better to learn how to live your life with as LITTLE money as possible. Only then will your life have the space and time to become what you need in order to be fulfilled. Ignore the labels and create the life YOU imagine.

    • Sean, that’s a great way to put it. 

    • nearly retired

      “Better to learn how to live your life with as LITTLE money as possible.”

      Well said!  That’s a lesson I learned a little late, but not too late.  Don’t get trapped by the costs of way-too-big homes and trendy cars.  Instead, save like crazy so you can later spend it on travel, hobbies, and grand kids.  If you’re in your 30s or 40s, you may be laughing at me, but you’ll remember my comments 20 years from now when you’re wishing you could retire early.  As Hans (or Franz?) said, “Hear me now, believe me later.”

      • Living small limits your true life. People always say, save, save, save, and that’s important, but i would never save so much that my current life will be limited, doing everything in excessive is bad and saving to much is no exception. Plus, nothing is guaranteed in this life, people keep saying save, save, like they know they will live to be 80 years old. Not to think negative but one has to save but ALSO spend money to live a good life in the now, because life is to short to be living for the SUPPOSED future, which one doesn’t even know will have. Saving is good but one can’t be scared to spend, at the end of the day, money was meant for that. Overall, what i want to say is that saving of course is important but people are WAY to focused in the future and not living in the present. Saving and worrying about the future makes you not feel happy in the present.

  • skyrider302

    I’ve been reading your posts for a long time and especially like the ones you write about college, so I’m very excited to have just bought your book.

    I am 19 and for a long while have thought that college was the only way I was going to have a successful future. My goal is/was to become an airline pilot. Many, if not all major airlines require a degree in addition to all the flight training requirements to get the job. I was already spending thousands to get my pilot licences, and the thought of getting into debt to pay for college was not appealing, as well as wasting time behind a desk when I could be out flying. I also didn’t understand why a degree is required on top of all my flight training, I mean how is studying Shakespeare going to make me a better pilot?I joined all the local pilot/airport groups a few years ago in order to network and meet other pilots and help volunteer with events. I learned all I could and have something to put on my resume. I have since become the president of one of these groups. When I talked with pilots about college nobody had a real answer as to why airlines required degrees, except that its “just another box to check off on the HR application”. I feel very strongly that college is a waste of my time and will not do it just because people expect it, even if that means that not a single airline will look at my application when the times come for me to apply.

    Since I graduated from HS a year and a half ago I have gotten my Private Pilot Licence, and am soon to finish my training for Commercial Pilot License, and plan to become Certified Flight Instructor. During my training I realized that I could actually save money by buying and owning my own airplane as opposed to renting one from a flight school, and could potentially use my airplane to start my own flight school after I become an instructor. 

    If I listened to what everyone else around me was saying, I wouldn’t be anywhere near the position I’m in today. I’d be like my friends who are already ~$80k in debt with student loans, and all they have is a transcript to show for it. Instead of going to college I have become a pilot, own an airplane and have become the youngest ever president of my airport association, and have set myself up for success. And to top this all off I have spent less than $50k for everything, including buying and maintaining my airplane. 

    I think that no matter what you plan do do in life (except maybe if you want to be a doctor) you can learn so much more, so much faster, and be debt free if you DON”T GO TO COLLEGE!!!

    • This has put such a big smile on my face. Well done and congratulations for everything you have achieved. I hope many, many people hear about you and realise what can be done in life. I’ll certainly be passing your story on – it is brilliant. Good luck!

      • bben

        Thank you very much! I’m very big on advocating against college and showing people that you can do absolutely anything you want to do in life if you have a little creativity, think outside the box, and don’t buy into society’s norms.

    • Great.
      If you want to improve your pilot skills, greatly, I suggests also to try to get some tail wheel time. You will love it. And maybe you’d want to trade your plane for a tail dragger.

      • bben

        Tailwheel’s would be fantastic, I have a lot of things I want to learn to fly. Maybe I’ll travel to Alaska for a month and learn to fly seaplanes, or Hot Air Ballooning in the Grand Caynon. Still cheaper and way more fun than college!

        • I’ll teach you tail wheel, if you want.

    • Fly2Fast

      Don’t worry when the airlines get desperate enough they will hire anyone. Also do something else the airlines have made flying a horrible career. I really feel bad for the young guys that invest huge money for a 20 k a year job.

    • Toronto

       Exactly, in today’s age, you can self-teach yourself about everything you need because all the information is accessible and mostly free.  The world has changed, but schools are still like factories with assembly lines and bells for shift changes.  Useless in today’s  world.  Well done to everyone who has guts to go against the stream.  And just a recommendation to read this article, which takes a critical look at how society treats non-conformists:

    • Amazing story. Thank you for sharing that. You are a real winner. 

    • Jacqueline

      I love your story. My husband really wants to be a flight instructor. How can I put you too in touch?

  • Tom from CT

    Keep fighting the good fight James!!  College is a complete waste for at least 80% of the people who attend.   Just a side note, why do so many majors just happen to take 4 years?  So marketing and communications take as much time to “master” (term used very loosely) as computer science or physics? 

    How about ending government subsidies for this hoax?  They all get some, including private schools. I would love to see a more free market approach to tuition.  It simply is not worth the money, in the huge majority of cases.  Many young people are finding this out too late.

    Companies need to get off this too, as they sometimes use college degrees as a barrier to entry.  There should be more apprentice programs in business fields.  You will learn much more on the job than any business classroom, and the companies would have better employees.

    • I know, right??  Why can’t we at least take out loans for apprenticeships and internships, instead of only getting loans for years of pre-reqs for topics that we could learn about from the library or internet, if we wanted to.

  • I think there are 2 main points you’re putting across:

    1/ College costs a lot of money. Don’t blindly get yourself into it.

    2/ College is optional.You have more choices than you think (or your parents tell you)

    But it seems to me you put a lot more emphasis on the first point. Thus it’ll not be so true for countries where going to college is cheap.

    • Huy, even in those other countries there is a cost. When the government pays, where does that money come from?

      My point is really, that college is one option among hundreds. Every parent and every 18 year old has the power to take any of those options instead of being forced into just one with very unclear outcomes and very high costs. 

  • I always tell Isaac (my son, he’s 10) that the only one requirement for him to go to college is to be 25. As a general rule no under 25 year-old should be allowed to attend college! That gives seven years of room to try here and there and figure out what the heck you want to do with your life, maybe you’ll discover that you don’t need college or maybe yes, who knows? But it takes off a lot of pressure, we can’t think clearly when we are under a lot of pressure (college, good grades, marriage, mortgage, kids!), as a result most of us end up making poor decisions. I wish this society would stop expecting so much out of ourselves, we’ll be more productive and happier. 

    I have never bought any of your books before because I read your blog but I just purchased this one. This will make a nice bed time story for Isaac -as we usually brainstorm ideas about what to do when you’re not in college. I’ll let you know what a 10 year-old boy thinks about your book. 

  • I just created a post about this on Saturday!   You know how there was a “mortgage bubble” as people got into crazy debt and were allowed loans for overvalued houses that they couldn’t afford?  I think there will soon be a “student loan” bubble, but it will be worse, because there won’t even be the balancing default value of the real estate.  People are currently not only Allowed to, but actually Encouraged to, take on inflated, house-sized debt for an overvalued degree which will, in many cases, prove worthless, except that they can’t sell it back like they could with a house.  They’ll be stuck in slavery to this debt, and possibly even without a job.  Can a degree be “upside-down”?  James, what do you think this will do to the economy?

    • ugh, so depressing to think about … brilliant insight though!

      In Canada, a 4-year degree costs $24,000 (just tuition I’m assuming is what we’re talking about) at UNB, my alma mater … and that’s in Atlantic Canada, where tuition is some of the highest in the country!

  • James, Thanks for giving us value! Thank you for practicing what you talk about on your blog. Thank you for sharing positive alternatives to college and debt. I really appreciate your blog, even if I don’t always agree it makes me think and I love that! Awesome stuff I bought the book.

    • Andrew, I really appreciate the comment and all of the comments that are really getting what I am saying. It’s time we take a look at what brainwashing is being forced down our throats from an early age and learning how to question them.

  • James, I need to call partial BS on this post. I have several close friends who recently graduated from grad school with starting salaries at $120k plus with huge upside potential. Without traditional education, this could not have happened. You need to stop with the faulty reasoning of applying the macro student loan issue with every individual situation. Not to mention the selection bias of choosing winning entrepreneurs to make your point about not needing college— ridiculous, you know better! I’ll agree college is not for everyone, but it is for most. Being a successful entrepreneur is much more difficult and a much smaller niche than making $100k plus with a decent grad degree. I think you are leading many down a very dangerous path with these ideas— you need to quantify and qualify your overreaching statements or someone may just get hurt.

    • Michael


      “Without tradidtional education..” they would have just went out into the world and made a ton of money.

      The only thing you get with college is a few connections (which you would get otherwise being out in the world) and a huge debt (indentured servitude). If you need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to be babysat, because you’re incapable of learning, then you’re a sucker.

      Someone may get hurt? Please go talk to the tens of thousands of people who are saddled with a massive debt they will never pay off, each year, and see how it feels? Would you describe that as hurt?

    • nearly retired

      Marketsurfer, Your $120K college grads are no more the norm than James’s high school grad entrepreneurs.  There are a lots of recent college grads where I live who would be thrilled with $50K to start. And our state’s economy is in very good shape. 

      My boss’s son recently graduated with an engineering degree and finds himself interviewing for $35K jobs.  On the other hand, companies can’t seem to find enough trained machinists, welders, technicians, and mechanics who can make 1.5x to 2x that much.

    • Casper

       – Marketsurfer, Absolutely man , Absolutely right.
      – my main worry here is the way James writes is very catchy and some parent/kid is going to read this and decide *not* to send their kid to college.
      – Debt is not a issue. High salaries will make sure it is paid up in few years. Also i think 400K debt is the highest possible band not the medium band.
      – 4-5 years college study is a investment in oneself, **not a lost time or something**.
      – studying many things is like building “mental models” about various things. Thats why they have for eg Shakesphere and History. (google Charlie Munger and Mental Models). One might ask why shakesphere knowledge is needed for say flying, it is needed. Once you learn later you can specialise on something.
      – entreprenuer ship is not for everyone. even then an entreprenuer can learn a lot in college and then start.  He is not losing much. (well if he is going to anyway make millions as James says, what is few 100K dollar debt anyways)

      •  You can make that “investment in oneself” for 1/10 the price using the alternatives I describe in the book. And perhaps get better life experience, better friends, better networking, better skills, better opportunities at the same time. I don’t understand why so many people argue in favor of the highest student loan debt ever. Just like I would not send a 23 year old boy or girl into war I would not give them  the stress of hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.  It’s horrible what is happening.

        • dima

          I think it is not black and white, it’s the same as why people buy a gym membership when they have all the equipment in their basement or why some people sign up for expensive diets when they can easily count their calories (or educate themselves on the internet on how to loose weight it is really easy to do, much easier than create a company). Some people can do it on their own , some need to pay gym membership in order to exercise. Same here, for some people, college would be a waste of time and money, for some it will be the best investment and they wouldn’t survive without it (they just wouldn’t get anywhere on their own without someone pushing them to pay and study).

      • Michael Lentz

        You think like this because your mind is too feeble to realize that “education” and “school” have very little in common.

        There are a thousand ways to “invest in oneself” without spending the ridiculous money on trapping yourself into a school. The more your eyes are open, out in the world, you will realize that potential to learn is EVERYWHERE, not just within the cloistered walls of a worthless school.

        Which, in fact, is one of the most horrible impacts that school has had on people: giving them the perception that they can only learn “in school”. This mindset is for fools.

  • Fuzzanator

    I agree to certain points.  College is expensive, in all my education cost me around $45k and if I could get the same knowledge that I have acquired without going to collage I think I would.  But there is one side of college that has generally been over looked and that is if you truly enjoy and love what you are learning.  For me computers make time just fly by and by going to college not only did I learn a trick or two but I met people and was able to do things that set a ball in motion to help the university attempt to become a “greener” computing university.  All I can ask is that college not be completely under rated because there are a few things that the collage life will help you with.

  • Carmen

    College or no college, either you’re a go-getter who knows how to achieve, or you’re not.
    I think a lot of parents think college or the military will “fix” their children for them.  That’s the biggest misconception.  That’s the real heart of the issue.  

    If your kids are failures in life, don’t blame their lack of education and keep pushing them to go to school.  Spend some time figuring out their strengths, downplay their weaknesses, and then create something useful.

  • Topdown93

    in 1968, as a 3rd year accounting major i interviewed on campus with a fortune 500 company who wanted to hire me when i graduated the following spring. the starting salary was $7800 (i kid you not). that summer i worked construction and learned how to operate some heavy equipment. that fall i decided to sit out a semester to make more money. i had already amassed a small fortune (over $4000 saved) in 3 months. i never went back much to my parents’ consternation. my first year of work as a full-time operator, i made $23000. nine years later, i started my own excavating company and at its peak had 27 employees. i am pretty much retired now and my son, who also opted not to continue school, runs the day to day operation. i probably would have hated being an accountant, much less working for someone else but that was what was expected of you back in the day.

  • As an addition to my earlier comment, I know several mega wealthy individuals who dropped out of high school.  Every one of them, without exception, has told me that they wish they would have gone to college in their youth, despite their vast wealth and self education. One candidly told me that he has a difficult time relating to college grads because he didn’t attend.  This speaks volumes about the absurdity of Altucher’s assertions in this post.   College adds to choices, it doesn’t remove them. Only the individual can do that.

    • College adds to choices, but at the highest cost in history. What a shame all these 23 year olds are indentured servants. That’s why alternatives are not only necessary but critical for future innovation and creators.

      • Marjorie

        Perhaps I’m self interested given that I am a professor (of law), but I don’t think so.  I believe in the very real possibility that not everyone should go to college (and certainly not to law school), but I too worry that your argument will be used to narrow choice rather than expand it.  Perhaps someone with a great High School education (increasingly rare — at least in public schools) does not need to go to college and can become the next tech billionaire.  But for most everyone else, college is the first opportunity for them to see beyond the narrow horizons of high school.  It’s an opportunity to question rather than accept received wisdom.  In college, I learned there was much in the world that was truly a mystery, and that gave me confidence to believe I could go out and solve some of them.

        Yes college is expensive, and it is no longer a ticket into the middle class as it used to be, but that is because we as a society have given up on the benefits a college education brings.  Maybe we should change THAT rather than accepting it as one more reason to avoid college.  I hate the fact that young people are graduating with thousands of dollars in debt.  I paid back $200,000 in student loans by the time I was done, but I wanted to be a lawyer since I was 9 years old.  Could I have done something else with that money?  Sure, but for me that was the best $200,000 I ever spent.

        Having said that, I’ll buy your book and read it with an open heart.  Perhaps you too can consider that for some people your prescription consigns them to a narrow life.

        • “that was the best $200,000 you ever spent”. That could be but we don’t know how a smart person lilke you could’ve spent it otherwise if you had explored other alternatives.

          And also, I think most people would rather not go $200,000 in debt for a completely unclear outcome. 

    • Michael

       Please forward your friends information to me. I’ll gladly teach them how to relate to fools for tens of thousands of dollars. I’ll do it in less time than a 4 year college degree, and that’s the discounted price!

    • MikeA

      I would say that speaks volumes about how crippling schooling is.

      A year or so ago there was an article in the local paper about a man who dropped out of high school to join the military during WWII. He had gone on to start his own business and was very successful. I’d think he must be a millionaire. 

      Well, his one regret was not having a high school diploma. So for his 80 something birthday his friends arranged to get him a diploma and presented it to him at his birthday party. The article went on and on about how much it meant to him, how he cried, how it was one of best days of his life, etc.

      My grandfather dropped out of high school for the same reason. My grandmother did too, but not to join the military. A couple months later when I saw them I told them the story and asked if they ever felt bad about not graduating. They both immediately burst out laughing and said they never had. In the world they grew up in it wasn’t unusual.

  • If you want to be an engineer or scientist in any
    field (with VERY rare exceptions existing in some startups) you will not get a good
    job without AT LEAST a B.S. – Period.

    Additionally, the U.S. is severely deficient of solid technical people. I have
    been absolutely astounded at how difficult it is to hire good engineers right now.I absolutely agree that one can be successful without a degree, BUT you will have a rough time if your life/career goals fall in an area that requires some form of technical education.

    • Michael

       This will only be the case until enough genius people decide to skip the brainwashing and pursue excellence without it. Also, there are many ways to become technically sound without getting degrees (such as learning from somebody who knows).

      It’s only crooked indentured servitude….until it isn’t!

    • Eric

       I’m in a technical industry and have a EEBS degree, a generalist you might say.  Unless you have the OJT in a very narrow field, you will not get a job in that narrow field.  The US is not “severely deficient of solid technical people” but companies are not hiring those who try to keep a broad education.  The company I’m with now is having a hard time finding SKILLED technical laborers.  Not engineers or even technicians, but regular Joe’s.  And “a good job”, “successful” are relative to each individual.  I would do WHATEVER it takes to retain any sort of legal income rather that go on the government dole. 

      So when we see an individual trying to get a job or start a company without a degree, let’s support them as much a possible!

  • Cptnbly

    Hello James,
    I don’t have a Kindle.  Am I still able to purchase your book?

  • Robert Ricker

    James, fantastic that you’ve (self) published this book. Is there a PDF you could post for download/PayPal?

  • Michael Lentz

    James, I’m pissed that you’ve written this book before I have. I’ve been ramping up writings about this, including things you can do without a degree, and why school is so worthless (in general). Conspiracies aside, school faces a plethora of logical fallacies that it is unable to hurdle, yet we still believe. Ridiculous.

    I am convinced, school is the nemesis of every human everywhere.

  • Andy

    Interesting.  Had you priced it as a “real” book ($14, $18, whatever) I wouldn’t have bought a copy.  But at $1, I’ve just bought (gifted) two copies, and will most likely gift it again and again in the coming years.  Your low price made more money from me than a high price would have.  Well done!

  • Chip

    I’m a 44 year old high school drop out and very proud of my achievements in life. I have never  “ever” had a credit card, never needed to worry about my FICO score (what they hell is that about) just another way to label an American.

    Food for thought my younger generation – Social Security.. define Social and define Security
    we are brainwashed in so many ways in the country you have no Idea. SS is short Socialist Securities.

    let me elaborate – when we are born we are considered a resident alien of the USA when we file for a SS card we become a “Security of the USA” whether it be equity or debt, asset or liability.

    When we file for a government program then we are instituted to follow the order off law within that program “Don’t File” for a social security card, drivers license, and or register your vehicle with the DMV once you do, then have have an obligation to follow their rules/ laws. Fact! All you need to possess is a bill of sell to prove ownership of said property.

    Doesn’t ‘My” Constitution say ” We have the right to pursue Life, Liberty, Happiness… unincumbered without incodent upon others..

    Running a red light is not illegal under the constitution.. running a red light and hitting/damaging another vehicle/person is.

    By no means am do I encourage you to start running red lights, we are a civil society, at least I like to believe so.

    In other countries they drive like banchees??? honking there horns all day and through the night.
    because they have a right to do so.

    When you apply to an institution such as the DMV you surrender your birth rights under the constitution to follow the rule/laws which they then have a right to impose upon you.

    I just wanted to give you fellow Americans, brothers and sisters another perspective for what James is conveying to you in his post and his books..

    Its high time to take back our country in honor of the great founding fathers, before China comes to collect on the securities owed..

    As you know this country has no money, but the people born resident aliens who are securitised as colleteral by our governement.

    I know there will be cynics.

    Conclusion – If you know you are talented at something then you don’t need an istitution to teach you, institutions are for… get out the way and make room for the ones who are academically challenged and need teaching.

    Best of luck

    In Pursiut of Life, Liberty, and Happiness


    • Chip

      One more thing!

      I have achieved more on my journey with less academics than my peers and they all appreciate my just the same.

  • Achilles3

    Read your blog. Every post.
    I want to buy the book but I don’t have a Kindle and I do not want to download the damn Kindle PC thing. Suggestions?
    Can I PayPal ya some money and you e-“send” it to me?
    Is that a dumb question???

    Achilles (Seoul)

    •  Yeah, I’m with Achilles….. how can I persuade my (college freshmen) students to abandon their dream of studying in the US without it???

    •  Hi Achilles, what about a kindle app on your smart phone or even your desktop. You don’t have to buy the actual kindle and the app is free.

      • Achilles3

        I don’t have a smartphone. Not my thing. 
        And I don’t have a desktop.
        Just the one lap top.

        You did give me suggestions.

        I REALLY want to read the book…:-(

  • JavaBob

    In our local high school, students are no longer allowed to take any shop/auto/metal classes.  I was told that if a student wants to pursue those interests they have to go to a vocational school off campus.  

    But yet my friend’s wife makes $120k/yr as a Sports Marketing teacher in the same high school.

    Really…Seriously?  Sports Marketing…in high school?!   What a joke.  I am glad my tax dollars are being spent wisely.  

  • HDH

    They charge you for the book even if you’re a Prime member. This is the second time I’ve done this. The other time was for Derik Sivers’ book. 

    • Yes it works slightly different, in order to not pay as a prime member you have to borrow the book from a public library. If you do a google search on how to do it you will come across theinstructions. I wish it was easier to

  • Interesting post (as usual!) and interesting comments.
    Here’s my story……
    I went straight out of high school to university in Australia (at 17 years old), studying Maths/Science high school teaching.  It took me about 3 months to realize I didn’t want to do that, so I dropped out.
    I then worked for about 2 years before setting off to see the world.  I spent the next 10 years mostly abroad doing short-terms jobs there or in Australia when back there.
    I went back to university age 31 and held my nose until I got my BA.  Reading post-colonial theories of endangered penguins and other nonsense didn’t improve my IQ a lot, but helped me achieve my goal of finding a job teaching in China, where I continue to be now.
    I’m glad I dropped out, and glad I pushed through to get my degree when I did so I could be where I am now.
    Just got to do what’s right for you, and not what everyone tells you to do.

  • wpsmithjr

    Why do we need a college education? 

    So we can go into debt to the banksters in order to be indoctrinated into being good little citizens and corporate slaves.

    In the meantime you can learn anything you wanna sitting right there at your computer.

    So why does college cost so much?

    Mo money to the banksters and the universities.  Same reason heathcare, housing and everything else. 

    The Federal Reserve is a fraud.  Our monetary system is a ponzi scheme … on purpose… and we’re all at the bottom of the pyramid.

  • Gil

    As other commenters have said – there’s something to be said about taking “college dropouts who become rich” out of context.  Those who dropped out to become rich did so because they traded in college for hard (and focused) work.  This should not be confused with those who drop of college to become stoners and wonder why they aren’t making the big bucks.  There’s truth to the “some people just seem naturally successful” in that many have also been successful via going to college and getting valuable knowledge and skills which are highly sort after.  Chances these people seem to know whether or not to go to college and if they do they can figure out which degrees are totally worth it versus the others seem to be nothing but campus fillers.

    Other hand, why is this news in that jokes about tertiary degrees being mostly worthless has been circulating around for at least 20 years now?

    • Would you rather the stoners you mention get into 200k debt rather than use these alternatives? I’m not sure your argument makes sense in that context.

      • Gil

         I think it’s an apt dichotomy to college dropouts who became rich.  Most people became neither rich nor stoned.

        •  Still, none of the people, rich or poor, should be burdened with a debt far greater than has ever been experienced by 23 year olds ever before except in times of indentured servitude and slavery. What is happening now is a national shame and is not being discussed in a rational manner by the powers that be.

          • Gil

            How many degrees requires going into getting close to the  amount of debt as pretty much a home mortgage?  Do people seriously expect to do a tour of duty right up to a PhD and expect a magical, well-paid job at the end of it?  I didn’t hence I didn’t get into anywhere near that onerous type of debt because I did a Bachelor’s degree.  (And, no, it didn’t help me either :| )  I believe it was the 1980’s when people would have started to notice college degrees weren’t paying off any more hence it would be surprising if younguns didn’t have disillusioned middle-aged people telling them a degree is useless unless it’s part of a grand plan for their career.

            The only way I think a young person ought to get a degree is through a traineeship (say, through an accounting firm) whereby they work part-time while studying knowing the business that’s hires them wants them to get it so they get more valuable work skills and make more money and maybe people get go back to get more qualifications if they know it will further their career again.  However you would have to be a thicko to believe a degree in sociology is worth anything to the real world.

            Ultimately, I’m sure most people would the accountant handling their finances to be actually trained and qualified instead of learning as they go or have a qualified engineer to build rather than someone who justs slaps something and hope it holds together.  Which is to say smart, career-minded people would be able to a serious return on their investment of training whereas those who think any degree is some sort of ticket to employment will be bitterly disappointed.

  • Tymothy michel

    My only thought here is, if you want to get into the healthcare field, at this moment college is your only in. They don’t have apprentice doctors or nurses (though they should) so for some fields, college is the only answer atm.

  • Milenko

    Most readers of this blog are extraordinary, as blog is. So you will forgive me for this random brainstorm splashing out.

    A foreign report on college.My ex- Yugoslavia country decided to be “knowledge society”. College education is free here, and universities get payed by the number of enrolled students and number of graduates. So it is in their interest to pass as much students as possible.You might think that students would not prefer easy colleges without any selection and value… you would be wrong.  Most of them study a 4 year course for 8 years, becuse having a student status makes life a lot easier. The goal is a job in the public sector: average payroll is 30% higher than in private sector. You need a degree and connection to get a job, not knowledge. Being an entrepreneur is like being a villain (the mentality changes in generation(s), not on one elections).Not having a degree is not getting those nice jobs. The mantra parents are stuffing their kids with is “study, so you will not have to work hard (as I did)!”70% of each high school generation is going to college. Darn, we are such a smart and erudite little nation! We are world leaders in salary equality, and proud on it :-) Median income is 82% of average income. Minimum monthly salary for a regular employee is 60% of average salary.Where does this get us? well, for start, nobody hires a regular employee anymore… just part time, or student work, or self employed and just doing contract work for employer.The numbers are also self – explaining: our minimum monthly salary (after tax) is 567 euros, average is around 950, median is around 780. An equality paradise:  window cleaner gets 700, college educated engineer starts at 800. Senior engineers and middle management gets 1200. MD’s get around 2500, as do college professors (both public sector :-)) The cost for employer (with all income taxes) is approx. double, and gets proportionally higher with higher salary.Collectivist mentality led to high government ownership in economy. That led to corruption and bureaucratical hiring standards and employment laws. That, and irrational wish for knowledge society, led to massive degradation of college quality (everyone has a right to college diploma, heh). That led to degradation of workforce quality (the college is now also bad for those that could actually learn something). That, with anti – entrepreneural mindset led to degradation of nations competitive strenght. From 1998 to 2010 we raised gdp and standard of living by borrowing money for our little mega – projects. So what now? There’s no money. You cannot spare on public pensions (to many votes), or public healthcare (people die). So you cut back on public education. So it even worsens the quality… 100 fresh borne Americans or Zimbabweans (or anyones) are not much different by intelligence, morality, or capability to do quality work. It is what we make out of our children in about 20 years, that makes the difference, whether we count GDP/cap or general mental health and happiness.———————-Time tends to have a nasty habit of bringing consequences to our actions. America is slowly but surely getting shortsitedly inteligent (you are trailing us, actually): voters are voting their shortsited benefits; you do not yet have public healthcare, pension and education, but you did manage to get a credit for every bum that wants to buy a house. So one day you might become a paradise like my country, if you try hard. Maybe the fact that you do not have a full democracy will save you, because big money will manage to get his interests before yours. Which might not have much better results.But you are not there yet. And each individual can make his own decisions. My decision is to immigrate to the States (or Canada, you are really not all that different looking from here), because I like creative chaos much more than our paradise. It will be hard though, you are shutting down your borders more every year. I will do that right after I finish my utterly useless study: Philosophy. I love it. Beats writing, beats million dollars, bible, and yoga all together for me. But it does not beat traveling. Nothing is like traveling. (okay, besides my wife).College decision should not be about getting a job (pro college) or earning a million (entrepreneurship instead of college). You have great colleges and great opportunities. It should be a long debate with a mirror. Look into yourself. Is college for you what yoga is for James? Or is it maybe a discipline… We have 40 alternatives for college in James’es book. Every one of those activities also has 39 alternatives + one. Only you will bear consequences, so make sure it is you who makes the decision. It carries special satisfaction to acknowledge yourself as director of your life, even if the drama is not high quality.And most important. You have no idea about anything whatsoever when you are 4 years old. When you are 14-24, you know everything, of course. If you are lucky, you get back to being stupid and happy. If not, you become just another corporate monkey or know-it-all self made man. So for those of you already behind the college decision, forgive yourselves if you made the wrong choice in know-it-all stage of your life. And don’t go ranting all over why college is good or bad, defending your position, or expressing anger cause being misled. Not even people are good or bad. All this shit is grey as can be.

    • Milenko

      OMG, paragraphs are erased :-( 

      How do I undo that?

  • Hoping this will help get the 18 year olds out of the strip clubs too. Some would rather write children’s books, but society is so fucked up kids are glamorizing sexual occupations rather than the higher pursuits.

    • This sounds almost cliched but so many young girls have to resort to unpleasant decisions to either pay for college or pay for their debts.

      What people need ultimately is not an argument against college but an overall  methodology for looking at an important life decision and really understanding the basic math behind what can happen if you make that decision. And even more importantly, how to look at every life situation so that you see the hidden agendas, the masters of the universe playing their games, and ultimately how you can make the decision that will best increase your long term happiness. My other recent book, “I Was Blind but Now I See” does that but I plan on writing more about this.

  • I joined the army at 18, turned 19 in bootcamp in Fort Benning.  Returned to college after, but the experience was one I’ll always be glad for.  These days, I’d say one is just better off grabbing a backpack and going to countries where they don’t speak the language.  You’ll learn and grow far are more than you will schlepping to Freshmen courses and fraternity parties.  

  • While your at it, please write a book about the cost of grtting married having children and then getting divorced. 50% of marriage fail. Child support on average is 500.00 a month per child. Say you have 2 children that you owe on for say 15 years equal 180 k add that to division of property and possible spousal support – point being every decision can cost you more than you ever thought possible.

    So think long and hard before you choose something that may change the coarse of you life forever.

    There are plenty a youth in our country who don’t even finish high school, cant read or do math. Personally I believe education (a lack thereof) is the one of the major crisis fading our country.

    •  I agree with this. I’m married, divorced, and have two children and two houses. Suddenly you’re in your 40s and the montly payments you make all over the place are like death by a thousand cuts and these are life decisions that are there forever. It’s a good idea for a post.

  • *** this is supposed to be a response to James…oops.
    I have been there as well,  I am the second wife, of a divorce man with two children….(grown now) but when we started our family it was brutal. 

    So it seems to me that even the best laid plans can cost a bundle – even skipping college if you make bad choices during those seemingly invincible years. 

    We all make bad choices at some point in time. Some worse then others.

    My concern is that the young mind (even an intelligent one) has the tenancy to make really risky and poor decisions which can end up far worse then having student loans.

    •  This deserves a far deeper response (hence a future post).

      But basically, we have many issues in life.

      One is we want security. Security implies stablity. But that goes against 15 billion years of physics. The world is constantly changing and  impermanent. So by the law of the universe we can’t have what we most want.

      Second, we need a methodology for turning common wisdom upside down.

      Third, we need to understand that happiness is not our right. That true liberation and freedom comes from rejecting the “seeking” of happiness that we don’t have. I put “seeking” in quotes because it really means that deep down we think we are not happy.

      The key, of course, is to be happy without ever seeking.

      But that’s hard. or easy. Depending.

  • I have been silently supporting the “Don’t go to college” cause, but recently I decided that the only way I can actively support it, is to tell my story. I have shared it in the comments section before and here it is again: 

    My take on it is: Travel, Read, Work, Start a business, Fail, but just don’t go to school!

  • BEFORE the government got involved people went to college  to get into a profession that actually required that sort of education, even those who could afford it but didn’t have the aptitude usually didn’t go.  Now regardless of aptitue students are getting degrees in x-studies, go deeply in debt and still learn nothing.  I hated school, but did well in college, fell in love with history (eventually getting a Ph.D.) and became a museum curator when it actually meant something.  Alas, it looks ‘glamourous’ to some wastoids as well as a lot of ladies who do lunch.  So, they get their degrees in “Museum Studies’ then get hired for a pitance and move on to something else after a few years, only to be replaced by someone just like them.  The museums suffer, museum curators are paid less and less (while museums flaunt their ‘education programs’ usually run by semi-literates with ‘education degrees’) while often forced to do lame exhibits and sometimes actually PROHIBITED from doing research (‘that’s not important’ or ‘other curators aren’t doing it, why should you’),  and the public gets a pathetic version of .history. 

    And this is only one field.  People who 30 years ago would have been happy to have a job cutting hair or making deliveries now believe that they must have a degree and a white collar job regardless of their ability.  It does not bode well. Just eliminating the federal Depts. of Education and Labor would help greatly.

  • As much as it makes sense today not to pursue a college degree, the fact remains that there are a lot of jobs which do require a fair amount of formal education. 

    Today, much of the services industry has moved overseas as has the manufacturing. If it is guaranteed that they shall never come back, a college degree may not be required. But if Economy does pick up and jobs come back, where are the guys who will lead those companies?

    Being a entrepreneur myself, I think that most entrepreneurs would after working other their own never want to work under some one else unless its a decision forced by financial hiccups. So, should America at the time permit mass immigration of persons with degree since they cannot find as many Americans with a degree & qualification?

    The problem as I see from here (outside of US) is that Americans aren’t saving enough. Here in India for example, parents save enough money to ensure that their child can do what he want and does not get tied up because of financial crunch (not that 100% are able to, we have eons to go to reach that zone, but vast majority of middle class do aim to achieve that). Its the same case with China as well.

    If you were to check out the number of students doing a Master in Science courses, you shall see that most of them are non Americans and personally knowing friends who did such courses I can say that most find work at America at salaries which enable to pay off the Loans (if taken) or get back the Investment ploughed.

    Compare the median savings rate of Americans vs those of Indians and Chinese and you can see where the mess starts. Better to clean that up than giving up the long term hopes and ambitions.

  • JP

    With respect to college, I think that one of the issues is the sheer terror that confronts you when you somehow have to transition from school to a world that is nothing like school.

    So, you keep going to school as long as you possibly can to hold off on the inevitable where you somehow have to do something with yourself that doesn’t involve attending class and taking tests to prepare yourself for college.

    It’s more of an issue of having no idea how to cope with a world outside of school and no tools to gain those coping skills.

  • James,
    your timing could not be more impeccable.
    Wall Street Journal is running a video on the student loan problem today

  • Cassidy Summers

    I bought your book. I already feel smarter. I have 0.00 in student loan debt and I am vigorously attempting to start a business. It’s rad because I can honestly say “I spent 99 cents on my college education, all I had to do was buy your book”. I just find it sad that people believe the dream, the lies. They shun the truth, even if it only cost them 99 cents and 2-3 hours of reading. Anyways. I want to thank you James. You are a great man and your book should change the world.

    •  Cassidy, thank you and congrats on being $0 in student loan debt and making you inroads into helping people by starting a business. I’m jealous because i wish I had taken that course.

  • Kat

    i do find it interesting the fear some people associate with not going to college.  YOU ARE DOOMED!  which is, of course, silly.  you are only doomed if you think you are doomed.  college does not equal success or riches just as no college does not equal poverty. 

    i do think college can be good for some kids who dont know what they want to do, aren’t equipped to deal with being on their own (yet), or need to network with other kids for money or ideas or skills because they are the next facebook founders. 

    worth going into debt for? nah, but if you have the cash it can be a good experience, especially if they take advantage of exchange programs.


  • Beliasvky

    For students who need to borrow to afford college, here is a depressing article. Pay Off Loans, Grads Put Off Marriage, ChildrenWall Street JournalApril 17, 2012, 7:02 p.m. ET

    •  Its really a shame how devastating this is. Almost like a plague or epidemic and yet the discussion of how to stop it has barely started.

    • Your link didn’t open for me….

      Putting off marriage may not be a bad thing…..50% chance of failure and financial loss, plus emotional pain and suffering. Plus these Grads won’t have to consider the myth that home ownership (mortgages) is the American dream. They wont qualify.

      Wealthy foreigners will swoop in to buy up our depressed real estate…….oh wait that already is happening.

      All because we, as a country, can’t get our priorities in order.

  • Simple economics: increased supply results in decreased demand (and
    decreased prices). Labor works the same way and with so many taking the
    college road the result is a seeming endless supply of college graduates
    entering a job market with increasingly limited demand (especially for
    inexperienced college students with few, if any, marketable skills). And
    if the economics class I took at a highly-regarded university from which I graduated with honors is any
    indication of my understanding of economics, this situation, in which
    supply outpaces demand, is what really super-smart economists call “surplus.”
    Therefore, the price to hire college graduates necessarily decreases. It
    will only get worse as the universities continue to churn out more

  • Teveandmare

    Something for everyone to consider – there are 3 digital accelerators  – processing, bandwidth and storage. the sizes that these double is changing technology.

    Change is no longer incremental – it is transformational…what that means to kids going to college and worse those below them in HS and grade school?

    What they are being taught today in school is already outdated.

    Take something simple like refrigerator repair…the refrigerators today being sold in stores will not even be sold within 15 months from today…requiring a repair man to continually be retrained

    Fast is the new big…companies can no longer compete on size…size will not slow transformational change – ask Kodak how that worked out

    Education will get passed over if they do not address this situation as well

    A college degree can make you marketable but not necessarily qualified

    fast is the new big…and in 4 years they will learn nothing of value except that debt SUCKS

  • DCWhatthe

    Recommendations that occur in a context ‘out of the box’ are always helpful to read and reflect about.  

    However, I resent being coaxed into the Kindle box, in order to purchase an interesting book.  No thanks, but I’ll keep watching Amazon, until it’s available in another form.

    •  Hi DC, I can totally understand. but every platform has a free Kindle App and even the desktop has a free kindle App. And its the cheapest I can get it on any platform and even free for Amazon Prime members. i don’t how I could’ve gotten this cheaper or easier to get on EVERY single platform. No coaxing!

      • DCWhatthe

        Standing corrected, then.  It’s not so much the free app, it’s not an inconvenience to pay a few dollars for a special Kindle reader.  I just thought that purchasing a kindle device, one that takes up space unnecessarily, was mandatory.

        Ok then, I’ll try ordering it, thanks James.  There are a couple of others out there, kindle-only, that I held off buying for the same reason.

  •  I found this on another site, and it reminded me of James’ writings on the matter:

    Relevant because reading constantly on diverse subject matters is listed as one of the *biggest* drivers of creativity, and it’s been my favorite hobby for as long as I can remember. It’s also something I kept doing instead of college homework, and kept thinking it was a character flaw. I “procrastinate”, I don’t “focus on what’s important”.

    College was sucking the life out of me with endless irrelevant busywork (~50 hours of homework, + 15 for classes). By dropping out and working 40 hours a week, I get such a better education because I’m learning what I want to know on my own time (after work), have money to pursue what I want to pursue, and still have enough free time to have fun.

  • Is there a hard copy edition for those of us who aren’t hip enough yet to have a Kindle, lol?  We have a daughter approaching 17 so we’re looking into college or alternative options and would love to be able to read this.  Thanks!

  • Joe Oh

    What if you can get all your education paid for and it’s a subject that you are interested in and passionate about..

  • bought it read – but have read a lot of the posts on this subject before as well.  
    here is our strategy – 
    Talk to my kids every month about alternatives, encourage laying out a year after HS to work travel, reflect, learn and decide.  Early start college in high school in our state is free  – less books all kids will have at least one year complete – High school is an entire other topic we could discuss and what is not taught.  I Preach the gospel of starting a business but also finance and spending 75% less than universities at community college to complete basics  – intent is to get first two years out of the way – transfer in as Junior anywhere in same state and most others (for our CC courses – we checked at schools they are interested in attending..).  
    Costs are indeed crazy – my kids have known they will have “skin” in the game if they decide to attend college – work is required unless they get scholarships—- we want to minimize loans.
    however unfortunate it is – as others point out – if they want to work for a “company” most require the white paper passing for the first entry – if you can get it….
    Costs -comparison – for my state – my daughters first year expense estimate, from the university – room, board, tuitions and fees is equal to twice what I borrowed to go to school for 4 years taking 18 to 21 hrs per semester and summer school – I kid you not – one year twice my 4 year total – time elapsed – 28 years – anyone want to talk insanity… but here is the kicker that everyone knows and is seeing – everyone is paying – and just as JA states – no one except us – who might actually care are complaining… school enrollment and universities are making out like bandits—- they are selling what everyone wants – and dictating costs…I think we call this free trade….nuff said

  • Okay so what about the students in college? Their loans become payable six months after graduation or after dropping out. You know, the ones that never read your book.

    My daughter graduates in June. My sons graduate in one to three years.

    I have so much faith in their abilities and talents I believe they will have a rich life, even with their debt. I see their future as bright or brighter than those who stayed at home working for minimum wage. They have grown tremendously and have stayed away from the pitfalls that plaque our youth.

    Are my children doomed forever? Or will these educations serve the well?

    (maybe another post idea)

  • Tim Public


    I’ve seen your blogs on college before and agree on some points but not all. The real message is that you should get the right training required for your chosen profession. Obviously there are many professions that you cannot even get through the door without a degree (and thankfully so) like accountant, architect , nurse, professional engineer, etc.  Many of the trades require an apprenticeship, and should.

     There are too many young people blindly going to college to get a liberal arts degree that is worthless unless you want to teach.  With the country as much less than full employment, you need to look at where the jobs are and then get the right training to succeed.


    • Liberal arts degree worthless?…..maybe you see the degree as worthless, or the people who study liberal arts, in both cases I disagree.

      Liberal arts are a necessity of life and are present in almost every place you look.

  • kathryn

    Is there a PDF version that I can download to read on my Nook?

  • chrismorrisseo

    Ha, monochrome ladder. I like that. 

    I bought the book. I buy all your books. Well, except the ones about trading stocks. I’ll skip those, sorry.

  • Thomas Mrak

    All of the talented, free thinking people aren’t going to come out of America’s disastrous educational system.

    Even if they do, they’ll either be so poor they won’t be able to do anything, or they’ll be smart about it, and realize that some of corporate America  isn’t going to take care of them or even be loyal.

    This is the world we create. 20 and 30 somethings are going to reshape this world along with Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers who realize that the old way doesn’t work any more, and that the credential cult is just delaying the inevitable.

  • Aditi Parekh

    Hi there!
    As another high school dropout I’m absolutely thrilled to know about your book.What I’m trying to do here is new and has, I’m partly ashamed to say, garnered media attention. The Unschooler. There’s lots put into those 500-words “to give a jist of it to the people” but it’s hardly enough to drive the point home. And suddenly I’m so scared that I won’t be able to get the point across and as a result it might break lives. I am convinced that school and college are not for EVERYBODY but the demarcation between the people who it is meant for, and the people who it isn’t meant for is so dicey. I was initially happy to be able to reach with the idea of Unschooling to so many people but now I’m having sleepless nights thinking about what would happen if somebody made the wrong decision because of me. I suspect that you have gone over this in your head through the course of writing the book as well as through the response to these fiery comments on your page. I’d love any advice you or anyone has to share with me.I’m sure this sounds like a big load of confusion but right now, I am scared. I need to know what to do and what not to and this seems like a place where I could find help.

    Some thoughts after reading this entire thread:I think that there is no one solution for everybody. 
    Like my parents, friends and many other examples quoted here, there are “college successes”. College has given them opportunities that they wouldn’t have gotten if they didn’t go there. You could always bring up the argument that they don’t know what they have missed because of not going – we must respect that their success was because of college, and not in spite of it. Lucky for them, good for them.
    On the other hand we have successes from dropouts as well as many who dropped out and ruined their life. Those who have become failures and burden to themselves as well as society. NOTHING is black and white. True, that the system needs to be changed in the US, as well as here in India and many more places but college is not altogether bad!
    I think, the solution, is for each person to know himself deeply, and to know equally well all the options before him – college or no college, loan or no loan. 
    We who are against the schooling/college system are in danger – as we shift from conforming to the pattern to conforming to non-conformity. Where we are, in fact trying to open out, we become narrow in holding on to another ideology, and become too vehement and headstrong.

    Let us open out and shine. Rather than narrowing down again, in another way. 

  • CR

    Though I’m certain you mean it well, your argumentation is flawed and misguided. In my opinion, obviously. 
    Of course there’s a bunch of people that have been successful w/o having been to college, just as there’s been a bunch of people that have won the lottery, yet you’d never give the advice to stop working and invest all your money in lottery tickets would you? Correlation does not imply causation, as I’m sure you know. (Obviously I’m not implying that dropping out of college and being successful has the same odds as playing and winning the lottery – that, again, would be a logical fallacy)
    Secondly, I find it very strange that you point out how you think most people have been brainwashed into thinking that they’ll be worthless without college, yet the only criterion of “worth” you seem to apply is that of financial and occupational success (“dropped out of high school to pursue his dream of becoming a successful actor”, “this young man made $1.2 million instead of going to college”, etc.) 
    Sounds to me like you yourself are still brainwashed into thinking that the only fulfilling life is the one where you have a “career”.
    You have a college degree yourself, you tell people to take your advice and NOT got to college, yet you say: “If I did one of these alternatives for a full year, and switch, for each of the last 40 years of my life I’d die a happy man.” Which strongly implies that you are NOT following your own advice? That’s just … very confusing. TBH you sound as someone too afraid to take a hold of your own life and therefore push other people into taking risks and making mistakes you’re not willing to take and make yourself. 

    I totally agree youngsters should be informed on more choices than college. But they should also learn that there’s more to life than financial gain (or loss) or occupational success. They should be informed on all the pros and cons of the various ways they can choose, so they can take an informed decision. Every way you choose there’s potential failure and beauty you should be aware of. Taking route A and advising everybody to take route B just because it didn’t work out for yourself is very shortsighted and potentially harmful. 

  • Tim 63

    I am 19 years old. I started working at
    a steel mill facility the day after I graduated high school. I work between 60
    to 70 hours a week. I wasn’t able to go off to college because my parents have
    more than a half million dollars in debt, and just could not support another
    loan. I have a sister who went off to a big college, for interactive game media
    and development. She got out, and has no job, that racked up 120000 dollars
    more in debt that my parents carry. My father, an industrial rigger got his foot
    crushed by a 60000-pound versa lift, and was out of work for over a year. After
    that happened bill started pouring in, and I had no choice but to give the
    money I was saving to go off to school with, and give to my mother, to help pay
    the bills. I am in a hole that I will never be able to get my self out of.
    Unlike all the other kids who have a DEGREE, I do not. I will always be seen as
    a poor piss on, factory worker, waiting to be replaced by a machine. 60 percent
    off all factory jobs will be lost in the next 15 years. In the fab dept at my company,
    12 welders were cut to 4 automated robot welders that now nun 24/7, all new
    cutting robotic systems, automated cnc, and horizontal boring mills, and
    cleaning systems. The only future of the manufacturing industry is electronic technicians.
    Which require a degree. I know that I can’t quit and go off to college, because
    my father can work as long as he used to. I will never make six figures, or
    even half that. My co workers who I work live have struggle to make ends meet, some
    of which have worked for 40 years in the industry currently do not make more
    than 50000 an year. I believe this article is miss leading for many companies
    conducting job interviews always ask why should I hire you over someone who has
    a college degree, I believe that college shows weaknesses and strengths, it
    give you four more years to mature, develops friendships, meet future spouses,
    get better job opportunities, as well as better social skills. When you have no
    further education, and you’re like me low skilled and not the sharpest tool in
    the shed, you have a job that you have to work long hour days, seven days a
    week, you don’t see you’re friends, you don’t get vacations, you don’t get
    personal time, you don’t get overtime, you don’t get paid holidays, you get the
    bare minimum medical insurance, no retirement, no profit sharing. And more impertinently,
    you have no job advancement, and by the time the job finishes you there’s
    nothing left, you’re bodie will be wrecked. So yes I think it a great idea to
    promote more people from not investing in an education.

  • Aaron L.

    The engineering education I received gave me an avenue to become a rocket scientist. Without that particular education, I would have been lacking the base of knowledge to be able to figure out the exhaustively arduous problems that I’m faced with each day. Certain professions that an individual may want to pursue simply require a rigorous, more formal education. Sure, you can think of a great gimmick or gadget to invent at the age of 18, but my great ideas don’t lend themselves to uneducated 18 year olds.

  • bob the builder

    I think the concept is very narrowly focused. A better less inflammatory line of thought would be “you don’t need to go to college to be an entrepreneur”. And you don’t. Have a look at all the early immigrants who’ve come to our country, none of them had college degrees, but a lot of them made it. If you want to work for a tech startup – most of them will ask for credentials (I don’t recall Google or MSN or Facebook hiring non degreed people). But if you want to work for yourself, it doesn’t matter, it never has.

  • I am ashamed by an America that let this happen. I describe in the book
    the groups who benefit from that trillion dollars. They don’t care
    about 18 year olds. They care about their own egos. They care about

  • BitLocker

    Good luck when one needs a degree with 3 to 5 years of experience just to get an entry level job. Needing a college degree wasn’t needed in the 2000s and earlier, but after 9/11 and how the economy has gotten destroyed, everyone needs something to show employers that they even qualify.

  • Justin Peterson

    This is a breath of fresh air, common sense that is maddeningly uncommon, speaking truth to power, and a movement that is long overdue. Kudos. And good luck.

  • vish

    Hi James,

    I am from India. Just quit job. I have all the degrees one could possibly need to survive a full fledged job – done both Computer science and Masters in finance and yet I quit after working for just four years. It has been a soul sucking experience surviving the never ending demands of corporate world. I find myself at crossroads and in utter confusion as if I had been in a vacuum ever since the job started and yet ironically I am finally feeling alive. Thankfully no education/mortgage debt so I can give time to discover and heal myself. Your blog posts have been immensely helpful in knowing that I am not alone and in a much better position than others in order to stop myself from constant worry. Education is forced and inculcated and viewed as some kind of social status symbol but it kills the innovation and interest you once possessed as a child and were always curious and inquisitive. I yet need to discover my passion and I am already 30. But there is hope. That everything is not a marathon and once a while you need to pause and give a look at yourself and ask the question – would you be doing this if it were the last day of your life? Surely there are expenses and challenges of survival, but the more you pause and think and the earlier you begin this practice (as a student), you will be in a position to make intelligent and smart choices and not find yourself in the situation where majority are. Unless this thought and perception changes about education being the basic criteria for a guaranteed job (which is no longer the case), people will continue to get into cycles of debt which will snatch away decades of your life….and there is no such thing as a guaranteed job even in India now! Thanks again for coming up with such a great blog helps look at life from a different perspective without losing sight of the real world!