“Some people graduate, but we still stupid.”
– Kayne West, “Good Morning”
My first college experience was one of the most disappointing events of my entire life. I was 16 and went to spend Halloween weekend at a major university. Having grown up on Tucker Max stories, I was expecting something akin to Van Wilder. Instead, I spent the weekend sitting around my friend’s dorm room and listening to people complain about their classes.
Since then I’ve never liked academia. While I don’t doubt the importance of a good degree, I am skeptical as to how many people really need to go to college and how much is actually “learned” at school. I’ve always felt that most subjects could be self-taught, and done so inexpensively.
I consider my formal education secondary to my actual learning. Don’t get me wrong, I take school very seriously and get all A’s; but I also believe that independent learning teaches more than any professor or lecture hall ever could. Because of my viewpoints, I was incredibly excited to discover 40 Alternatives To College, by James Altucher.
40 Alternatives To College is a great book for anyone who wants to learn more than what a standard education has to offer. Altucher makes a great argument as to why college isn’t for everyone, and re-enforces the importance of hands-on learning:
“Computer programming is best learned on the job. English literature is best learned by reading books you are passionate about. Writing is best learned by having real experiences, writing everyday, and reading the great writers that inspire you.”
Altucher’s philosophy struck especially close to home with me. As I’ve learned more from independently reading and trying new things, than I have from my past two years of school.
Aside from just building a case against the necessity of higher education, Altucher also offers actual alternatives to attending college. Even if you’re in school, most of the options are still doable; and many of them would make good side businesses.
Unlike most “forge your own path” type books, this one is pretty blunt about the fact that not everyone will succeed at being independent:
“Failure is a part of life. Better to learn it at 18 than at 23 or older when you’ve been coddled by the ivory tower blankets and hypnotized into thinking success was yours for the taking. Get baptized in the river of failure as a youth so you can blossom in entrepreneurial blessings as an adult.”
While I enjoyed this book, I did notice that it was poorly edited. Spelling errors were pretty frequent and there were a few broken hyperlinks. Other than these issues, 40 Alternatives To College was a great read.