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A Counter Argument to Billionaires Explaining to You Why a College Degree Is Useless

  • Posted by Milton Bertrand
  • November 12, 2017 1:50 AM EST
In today’s world, going without a college degree is a gamble.

By Milton Bertrand a fellow Geazler STEM advocate

After watching the video clip above, I could not help myself, but to smile at the ignorance of these outliers. It is to some extent mind bugling as to how these guys try to downplay the importance of a college education.  Yes, the system needs an overhaul, but it needs to be encouraged, fostered by business leaders, entrepreneurs, and the likes.

Although a formal education is important, it is not the single factor to be successful and produce outstanding results in life; it will require more than just a college degree. According to humanistic thinking, knowledge = experience X sensitivity. Such knowledge is a compilation of our experiences time sensitivity while sensitivity cannot be zero.  They don’t come from school alone, but they come from life itself. Abilities to self reflection, adapting to constant changes are keys whether we become successful or fail. Knowledge is the potential of power.

The idea is not to force a formal education on everyone; however, the idea is not to downplay it either.

A formal education or getting a college degree has its place in any given society or our world. To make any nation better, developing a country education is essential.  Through education, citizens acquire the necessary skills and competencies to become productive members; they learn about their societies’ values and its political culture. Undeniably speaking, without education, people will not be able to write, read, express themselves effectively, or calculate anything with great meaning. Educational level of a population is usually a positive indicator as it instills values and principles that shape the development of one’s physical, mental, and social well-being.

While these outliers in the video do not see the overall picture, a formal education is not just about how much money you will earn in your life time.  It is certainly true that the level of wealth is not determined by someone’s education; such wealth may acquire by a vision because goals and dreams have nothing to do with education.  We already have several examples. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, David Murdock, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Mark Cuban, Henry Ford, and more, are billionaires who dropped out of school to pursue their passion and built their business empire. However, none of these entrepreneurs could amass their fortunes without the help of more educated people around them. See for yourself. Look at the requirements to get a job at one of the companies they create.

In fact, I want to point out if Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are the litmus test for what is and is not necessary to become a billionaire, then clearly the ability to get into Harvard is important aspect for a future billionaire.  If you can't get accepted to Harvard, don't ever try to compare yourself to Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. These guys are outliers.

A college dropout can have a bigger dream than people who earn a degree. Dreams and visions do not limit by education alone. It is what we call the entrepreneurial attitude.  And the entrepreneurial spirit does not consider any educational level; it is a calling and a desire that becomes one’s way of life.

It is one of the many reasons that people who did not have a formal education from school can still acquire a lot of wealth in life. They become successful in their career and also in business. However, these individuals are still dependent on those with formal education to manage their business portfolios.

Formal education is still important, but it does not guarantee wealth because your success is largely determined by your attitude, beliefs and also your actions.

Another important role of education is to differentiate between what is right and wrong, lawful and illegal.  It has been proven that formal education will reduce the crime rate in a country. Someone with a college degree has a higher confidence and will hope for a more stable life. College is affording you an opportunity to be in the presence of great minds to share, comment, receive feedback and so on. The college experience is not only to educate you for the pursuit of a career, but it provides general knowledge and introduces real-life situations that help people learn about life and themselves. The point is to think of the world that you will shape. Go out there, experience it, have fun, learn from each other, explore it, teach one another, create with one another, and many more. The college experience is an inspiring setting if you plan to shape the world. Zuckerberg and Bill Gates could not change the way we see the world if only if they did not get on campus and open their minds.

Educated individuals are therefore well equipped with necessary knowledge and skills to work in the real world.  Educated individuals will always have a competitive edge over uneducated persons because they build self confidence, become self-sufficient, and develop critical perspectives. Furthermore, through education, citizens acquire the skills and competencies to become productive members of society and learn about their societies’ values and its political culture.

When I see a younger Donald Trump, he tries to explain how new college grads do not know much.  College is a precedent that an educated individual can make valuable contribution in the work force. 

Elon Musk, the billionaire who created Tesla and SpaceX said that formal education and learning from school are like downloading data and algorithm into your brain, which can be bad because you are not sure what you have downloaded into your brain, are going to be useful or not. It appears that the interviewer is Khan from Khan Academy; to some extent, I feel like the interview was contradictory to what Khan stands for.  

The companies that Elon Musk has created could not come to their existence without the downloading data to one’s brain and intense research and development. Here is an example of Tesla Job’s Qualifications/Skills for a Project Engineer position from https://www.simplyhired.com.

Masters Degree in Engineering, or similar

  • 5+ years of relevant experience in an assembly, manufacturing, or operations environment.
  • Outstanding and proven root causing skills and training in various root causing techniques
  • Experience in planning activities or leading projects in a fast-paced, dynamic environment.
  • Excellent attention to detail with strong record-keeping and organizational skills.
  • Ability to work cross functionally among Engineering, Production, Finance, and other teams.
  • Ability to speak, write, and communicate effectively at all organizational levels.
  • Ability to perform well and grow under limited supervision.
  • Highly-motivated self-starter with a passion for Tesla and its mission.

Elon Musk should use his Job’s Qualifications/Skills as to why these kids are in the classrooms. They are Tesla’s future employees.

If you can think critically, you should never pay attention to any of these outliers featured in the video. In particular, a self-made billionaire is a rare person, and what has worked for that person clearly doesn't work for everyone else in society. Don't make your social judgment on one’s behavior, or success; make your social judgment on the results from broad demographics. In today’s world, going without a college degree is a gamble.