The Myth of the Successful Dropout
Author: Sue C. | Category: Psychology | Date: 03-02-2020
The other day I was visiting with some old college friends and a couple of them said that they had encouraged their kids to focus on finding their “passion” instead of focusing on grades when they were not doing well in high school. The two mothers said they had encouraged their children to follow in the footsteps of famous college dropouts such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg.
The surprising thing was that both mothers said they regretted having taken that attitude, because they realize now that they had adopted these mindsets mostly to comfort themselves when their kids were not doing well in school. Also, their regret was based on the fact that their children went on to drop out of college, and, as young adults now in their late 20s and 30s, they are living hand-to-mouth working in the gig economy (driving for Uber/lyft) and at other low wage jobs.
The myth that spotlights a few phenomenally high-achieving people who were college dropouts is deceiving and can be harmful if people take it to heart and decide to deemphasize the value of college degrees.
Because the college dropouts who became extremely successful are far and few. The vast majority of high achievers (95 plus percent) are college graduates.
Besides, people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg were Harvard dropouts. Dropping out from a top school means that they had the work ethic, intelligence, and drive to succeed in high school already—otherwise, they wouldn’t have gotten in. Also, going to Harvard opens the door to tons of resources and connections, so even if you drop out, people such as venture capitalists are much more likely to fund your business ideas than those of people without college degrees or those with degrees from mediocre universities.
Here is an article that discusses the myth of the successful college dropout and presents studies showing that the vast majority of high achievers are college graduates, and what’s more, they tend to be graduates of top universities.
So, next time, if you feel like comforting yourself with the thought that you or your children can still be phenomenally successful later on in life—just like Gates and Zuckerberg—even if you or they lack the work ethic and drive to succeed now, think again.
About: Sue C.
Hi All: Like most people in the Bay Area, I'm sheltering at home. I'm trying to use this opportunity to catch up on projects that are on my back burner and trying not to feel too anxious about the worst case scenarios that are circulating.