Why Young Entrepreneurs MUST Go to College

by / ⠀Startup Advice / January 3, 2011


While there have been articles on there being no need for young entrepreneurs to go to college and even some lists of entrepreneurs who succeeded without having a college degree (also suggesting that going to college is a waste of time), there have been a lot of confusion for the budding young entrepreneur with a lot of vigor and passion for business and the action these young entrepreneurs take will have a lasting effect on their lives.

For the sake of complete transparency I’d like to tell you that I have also battled with the idea of going to college or not with a lot of pressure from parents and others and I’m a kind of person who doesn’t change my mind once it’s fixed. I even went on to back up my argument with examples of successful entrepreneurs, like Bill Gates, who are making it as college dropouts but now I can simply say my decision then was as a result of childhood foolishness – I know a lot of people will disagree.

I’m not trying to say going to college is a must to succeed in life, far from it, but there are so many importance of going to college that I’d advice young entrepreneurs not to try to play with it.

This is not a rule and I know you have the final say on what goes on in your life, this article is only expressing my views on the subject.

College Increases the Chances of Your Success in Life

If you take a look at most of the young entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs who believe going to college is not important to succeeding in life you will also notice they’re always citing examples of great and extraordinary entrepreneurs like Bill Gates. If I may ask, how many young entrepreneurs are as extraordinary as Bill Gates? Being extraordinary is not all about having a great idea or knowledge about a subject but knowing how to present your ideas in a very effective way.

We hardly have one extraordinary entrepreneur in a million and if this is considered you’ll notice that deciding not to go to college is a very dangerous decision for a young entrepreneur to make.

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We only hear about college dropouts who are successful entrepreneurs, and we only hear about them because they are successful. You have read a list of college dropouts who are successful but have you ever read a list of college dropouts who are complete entrepreneurial failures? Never! You can’t even see a list like that because most of these entrepreneurs are not ready to own up to their “foolishness”.

I have enough facts to back up my argument and I have read interviews about successful entrepreneurs who wish they didn’t drop out of college, like this one. The truth is that many entrepreneurs eventually discover their mistake (of not going to college) later in life and in order to protect their ego they still go on saying it’s a good thing to be a college dropout.

If we take a look at the numbers, very few college dropouts become super successful as an entrepreneur and many of the unsuccessful ones end up blaming themselves in the future, they end up saying something in this line, If Only I had a college degree!

It Increases Your Self-Esteem

Imagine speaking in the midst of CEO’s, highly educated people and even some uneducated people and starting your statement with something of this nature, I am a college dropout…, irrespective of your achievements you’ll still see people shaking their heads at you and asking themselves if that is a thing to pride yourself at.

It is always great to go against the norm and I am a great fan of that, but you should also realize that going to college is a life of its own and people have a separate way of thinking about those who don’t go to college. They have been taught that going to college is the only way to succeed in life and even if they love you and your achievements as a successful college dropout they will still relate with you in a different way because they can’t control that feeling of theirs with which they were brought up (that going to college is essential to success).

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If you see a successful entrepreneur who has a lot of achievements under his belt start a speech with something in this line, I have a PhD in applied mathematics, but I’m happy I’ve never used it to work…because being an entrepreneur was my best decision in life. You will be filled with awe and respect for the fellow, you will begin to see the person as a highly intelligent, educated fellow who knows what he is saying, not just an illiterate.

You Have a Fallback Option

While most of the time there isn’t a need for a fallback option, it isn’t a bad thing to have it. Since there is very little guarantee of you succeeding as an entrepreneur you at least have something to back you up.

Take a look at the most successful entrepreneurs we have in history and you will notice that a large percentage of them worked on their business for at least five years before they could succeed. If you don’t have a job, if you don’t have a degree, even if you have the motivation, you should know that it isn’t easy to succeed as an entrepreneur. I am not trying to tell you to neglect your ventures and kill your dreams of being a successful entrepreneur, I’m only telling you that it takes time, it takes real time, and your college degree can be a great thing for you to get a job, funds and respect for the main time.

You will notice the use of respect in my last statement and you might be asking that of what importance is respect to success as an entrepreneur. It has been proved that over 70% of startups fail in their first year and if you imagine yourself being the founder of one of these startups and you’re a college dropout. You will have lost your public image in the first place (a dropout?) and the inability to build a successful business for years with that bad public image will make you frustrated, quit and almost think of committing suicide.

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You Get More Knowledge and Experience

Many entrepreneurs will question this and eventually reiterate by saying that real experience comes from maintaining a business. That is no doubt the truth but there is some truth to what I’m saying here.

Going to college enables you take a course and with constant learning and practice your knowledge of that course will no doubt improve. You will also be able to meet a lot of like-minded people and you will be able to learn from them, you will also gain experience in networking and communicating with people.

Many young entrepreneurs have poor networking and communication skills and this will go a long way to affect their success in business and in life – going to college will help you learn a lot of things along this line and one of those things will be the ability to sharpen and improve your communication and networking skills.

A Different Approach

After taking a look at most of the entrepreneurs who supported not going to college, a common theme I noticed among them is that most of them are enrolled in courses they have little to no interest in. An entrepreneur can’t succeed in every business because interest is important, for example, a sound programmer will hardly succeed in building a diaper business – the same thing applies for going to college. Your approach must be different; going to college shouldn’t be about getting the best grades but going to learn more about what you love.


Without doubt, as backed by the above argument, my advice is that young entrepreneurs should go to college. Even if only to improve your self-esteem, you will be very happy you did.

Onibalusi Bamidele is a 16 year old entrepreneur living the internet lifestyle, visit his blog for practical tips on improving your business.

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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