Universities Are Still Important for Gen Z… Here’s Why
Gen Zs have grown up in a time in which dropping out of college, or skipping it altogether, has become popularized — especially for people who want to be entrepreneurs. We’ve grown up surrounded by successful entrepreneurs who dropped out of college.
To name a few,
- Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, dropped out at 19
- Travis Kalanick, founder Uber, dropped out at 21
- John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods, dropped out at 22
- Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, dropped out of high
school at 15
- Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, dropped out at 19
- Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, dropped out at 20
- Jan Koum, founder of WhatsApp, dropped out at 21
- Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, dropped out at 20
- Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, dropped out at 20
- Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, dropped out at 20
- Michael Dell, founder of Dell, dropped out at 19
Moreover, the price of American universities is skyrocketing — to the tune of a 151 percent rise since the 1970s. During this same time, the median household income has only risen by about 20 percent. As more and more parents are not able to afford to send their kids to college, college debt is on the rise. The average college student graduates with more than $30,000 in debt from a four-year institution.
One of the Gen Z-ers that I interviewed for my book decided to not even apply to any universities.
“I think that traditional college could set me back,” said Jack Brennan.
This mindset started during his sophomore year of high school when Jack decided that he wanted to study abroad during his junior year. At the time, he did not even know what entrepreneurship was. While in Seville, he quickly realized how much free time he had.
So he started doing freelance work, such as social media marketing and website design for companies. As he got more interested in business, he also stumbled across Praxis, an intensive 10-month program for young entrepreneurs. Praxis opened up his eyes to a community of young people like himself who also want to be entrepreneurs one day. Jack is currently working at the startup TopScore in its sales department in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, full time while still in high school.
So, why do people still bother with university anyway? The community and resources that they offer young people.
Ultimately, while online communities may be a viable substitute for university for some students, it is important to not to fall victim to the college dropout fallacy. Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are, arguably, the two most famous college dropouts of our time. However, both went to highly competitive private high schools and were accepted into Harvard University. Bill Gates scored the highest grade in one of the most competitive courses at Harvard University, Econ 1011A. And while they each dropped out, both have pulled from their Harvard alumni networks for initial hires, such as Sheryl Sandberg and Steve Balmer.
It’s important for Gen Zs to surround themselves with people who are going to push them to the next level and make them the best people they can be. Nowadays, universities offer the resources to find mentors, industry experts, and peers who will do just this.
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