Should High School Entrepreneurs Still Go to College?

December 4, 2015

4:00 pm

For high school entrepreneurs, committing four years of their life and copious funds to a college experience is a difficult decision. In many cases, for these individuals, going to college is not always the logical or most beneficial decision.

As recent graduates are becoming painfully aware of, debt from college loans can be crippling. The actual value of a college degree – being questioned by thousands of degreed workers whose careers overlap minimally with their university studies – is now under the spotlight. What is the true value of going to college? Does the opportunity – epitomized by the experience and degree – justify the costs? And such costs don’t simply entail monetary figure (which, by the way, are extreme); the cost of going to school for a young adult is four years of his life. For many, the choice to go to college is an easy one. It has become the cultural norm in most parts of our country, and is considered by most to be the standard and safest route to go. For those hoping to advance their careers in large corporations dealing with medicine, law, or healthcare – it can certainly be the logical step. But what about those who don’t wish to join the corporate world, and instead choose to take the path less traveled?

Here are three reasons for high school entrepreneurs to consider skipping an undergraduate degree:


The cost of going to college increases every year. A decade ago, going to college could cost a few thousand dollars. Today, many private institutions are charging north of $50,000 per year, totaling at a whopping $200,000 for a standard four-year degree. This is more than many Americans make in four years, post-tax. Thus, many college students are forced to take out loans and borrow money to pay off their debt.

While this may be helpful in the short term, in the long run it can be very difficult. With interests rates at almost 5 percent, taking out money for college loans has serious long-term effects. For example, if you had to take out $100,000 in college loans, then one years after graduating you would owe $105,000. The next year you would owe $110,000. Thus, many college graduates find themselves paying off loans years or even decades after they graduate. Simultaneously, many companies have been able to look at this pattern as an opportunity and strategize with it. With student debt at an all time high, more and more people have made fortunes by building companies strictly to help students refinance loans.


College is no small decision. Four years of your life, especially when you are young and in the beginning of your career, is an important time to make the right decisions. In the same time that it takes for an undergraduate to earn his degree, other high school-aged entrepreneurs are seeing companies through an IPO. If the student is not interested in what he is studying, or does not think that his major will impact his career, then college might be a waste of time.

For young adults who are passionate about what they want to do, they are sometimes better off committing to their passions rather than spending four years learning something that wont directly impact them or their careers. In fact, many college graduates find that their area of study plays little to no role in their current life and career. Looking back, many feel that their time could have been used better otherwise. By spending their time learning skills which consequently had no practical application, many graduates regret the decision.


Going to college provides a good experience in many ways, but a very different experience from working in the real world. College students learn how to study, how to take exams, how to analyze books, and other academia skills. What they don’t learn are the real-world skills of networking, building a company, promoting a brand, and bringing in revenue. For a young entrepreneur who wants to advance his career into a startup company, skipping college can actually enable him to capture a wealth of hands-on experience.

Being an entrepreneur can give you unique experience that can benefit you for a lifetime. The level of autonomy, executive functioning, improvisation, decision-making, and team building that are involved in a startup exemplify some of the skills that entrepreneurs find themselves employing. By skipping college, high school entrepreneurs have an opportunity to expand and broaden their skills, by exploring the layers and challenges of the startup world.

That’s not to say, though, that colleges themselves don’t produce successfully-funded entrepreneurs.

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AJ Agrawal is an entrepreneur, speaker, and writer. He is the CEO and Co-Founder at Alumnify Inc.

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