The cost of college in the United States is getting out of hand. I don’t think anyone disputes that.
Today, if you get private loans to become a doctor, it will take you 45 years to pay off and nearly triple in total cost compared to your original tuition fees.
Doesn’t it seem counterintuitive to put our doctors in a situation where they can’t afford to pay their student loan payments when they’re starting their careers?
When you zoom out to the bigger picture, you can see the writing on the walls. The universities are struggling. Struggling to keep their head on their shoulders. To keep up with reality.
They’re certainly not struggling to rake in trillions of dollars, while simultaneously being subsidized by your taxes. Higher education is one of the most lucrative industries in America.
But. but… Like the taxi industry, physical malls, fax machines, news conglomerates, big automobile companies, hotels, disk jockeys, cable tv, and radio, new technology is making our education infrastructure utterly obsolete.
All the education the world has to offer is now available with a few lazy taps of the supercomputers in our pockets and on our desks.
Why would you pay tens of thousands for lectures that the smartest professors have already put on YouTube, or Coursera, or published as books?
The general public hasn’t gotten the nerve to admit it yet, but there is a better education available on the internet than there is on college campuses. Education is officially decentralized.
Today anybody with anything valuable to teach can post it online, and there is a massive incentive for them to do so with quality in mind. The rewards are there for teachers to teach without going through gatekeepers.
At this point, everything of value that was previously offered by universities is available to anyone at a staggeringly lower cost.
So what value does college bring to the table?
Conventional wisdom would say:
- A powerful education
- The opportunity to build a network of great people
- Access to jobs otherwise unavailable
- A safety net
At the end of the day, the ultimate offer of university education is the opportunity for individuals to make more money and live better lives thanks to a raised level of sophistication.
That’s a serious promise. The university format has been developing and improving for hundreds of years. Some of the most notable universities in the United States have been around since the early 1700s.
I say that to speak highly of them. It’s not easy for an organization, or an industry, to last 300 years. It means they touched on something that’s so valuable to the human experience that we’ve supported it ruthlessly, as a tool for the betterment of humankind.
But we have to ask ourselves if the education infrastructure designed 300 years ago, and developed mostly in the past 100 years, is right for the modern age.
No. It’s not.
The Problem Facing Students
I vividly remember being in high school hearing my parents, teachers, counselors, and news commentators saying, “a master’s degree is the new bachelor’s degree.”
Looking back, it kind of felt like a scare tactic. Trying to coerce me to put way more effort into my grades. It didn’t work.
They’re referring to the job market when they say that. It means the jobs that would have only required a bachelor’s degree are now being taken by those who have master’s degrees.
The jobs that used to require only a high school diploma, are now being taken by those who have bachelor’s degrees.
Let’s do some napkin math really quick.
It’s taking master’s degrees to get jobs that 20 or 30 years ago only took bachelor’s degrees.
30 years ago (the 1990s), the average cost of (public) college tuition was $1,856 per year. Meaning back then a bachelor’s degree cost around $7,424, adjusted for inflation.
Today, the new bachelor’s degree (a master’s degree), costs $66,340. And don’t forget, to get a master’s degree, you have to get a bachelor’s degree first. And a bachelor’s average cost is $35,720.
Meaning, the competitive advantage in the job market that used to be provided by a $7,424 (in today’s dollars) bachelor’s degree, now costs $102,060.
In the 90’s it cost less to go to Harvard ($13,085 per year), arguably the best school on the planet, than it does to get an average master’s degree today.
What the fuck is going on?
Fortunately for us, smarter people than me are asking the same question.
By people smarter than me, I mean the director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, or, more boringly referred to as, CCAP. The leader of the uncreatively named center is Richard Vedder.
Vedder is a well-regarded economist at Ohio University. Through his research at CCAP he found that at the heart of the rising cost in tuition issue is the University’s lack of accountability to market forces.
In other words, universities, and our entire public education system for that matter, have zero incentive to match their offering and cost of it to the actual supply and demand for education.
The value of what they offer has zero influence on what they are able to charge students and the taxpayers that subsidize them.
I imagine this started in part in 1976. Banks and legislators started making the case that new graduates were using the country’s bankruptcy system to wiggle out of their student loans right after graduation.
Congress launched their own investigation on the matter and found that less than 1% of student loans ended in bankruptcy. A minor amount. However, 18% of student loans were in default. Meaning they weren’t able to make payments on the student loan they received.
To put that into perspective. At the height of the recession starting in 2008, only 10% of home loans were in default.
The default rate for all consumer debt in the country is less that 2%. (mortgages, auto loans, credit cards)
Compared to virtually every other loan product, even in the 1970s, student loans are an extremely risky loan product.
So what did these lenders do?
They went to the government to make these loans tax-payer backed and unforgivable. Meaning the lenders hold very little risk when giving out student loans. Giving them the opportunity to give these loans to nearly everyone.
In fact, under the current rules, the less able a student is to pay off their loans, the more lending they qualify for.
A recipe for putting the impoverished in lifelong servitude of their student loans. Which is exactly what the data shows us is happening.
That’s all bad, but that’s just the setup for my actual point.
All of that just means that lenders are giving out way too many loans, despite the fact that there aren’t enough jobs to support college graduates.
“There is an underemployment problem,” Vedder reports, “with college graduates performing jobs for which they are overqualified. But there is also an overinvestment problem, with society placing too many resources into a college education system that is shielded from market forces. The confluence of these forces suggests that the value of a college education is diminishing over time.”
There is massive demand to get into colleges, and an endless stream of government money dedicated to student loans, creating a situation where there is no price ceiling.
The result of that is a dramatic oversupply of college graduates than there is actually demand for in the marketplace. Creating an environment where college graduates can’t get the incomes they need to pay for the inflated loans.
Alright. Let’s ditch the gloominess and jump into the bright side.
The solution for the new generations
Before the internet, education was centralized. Information was more or less only on paper. Most people didn’t care to collect the world’s information in their own homes. So we had centralized institutions whose role was to collect the world’s information and education and hold it in one place. Beyond that, it cost a lot of overhead for peer-to-peer education to take place.
Although printing is thought of as relatively cheap, at scale it becomes costly.
If you wanted to write a book, you had to go through a publisher who had to greenlight the book and fund the project, then to distribute and promote the book you had to go through the centralized media industry.
Now with YouTube, podcasts, iPhones, etc…. These gatekeepers are virtually (brilliant pun, Adam) useless.
We don’t need publishers and media companies to promote our ideas. We can film a selfie and distribute that footage to millions of people without permission from anybody.
Of course, you could argue that Twitter, Facebook, and Google have become the centralized force to deal with, and that’s right. But still, sharing ideas has become decentralized compared to the old system. And blockchain will decentralize us even further.
Every minute, 500 hours of content is uploaded onto YouTube. Every day 7.5 million blog posts are published. Universities have no shot and competing with the peer-to-peer education model that’s emerging.
The cost of education has dropped to virtually zero. If a person wanted to educate themselves using the new technology they could do it for a couple of hundred dollars and merely the time investment required.
What does this mean for the future? On a macro-level, it means companies will create their own education and training programs instead of relying on universities to produce an educated workforce.
Even if it costs them one hundred thousand dollars to create an intricate employee training program, it’s absolutely worth it. It means they can hire college dropouts, dramatically reducing their overhead, while simultaneously producing better employees who are educated exactly how the company needs to them to be. It can be specific to their market, their service, their values, and their job requirements.
The best example of this happening in real-time is Google.
Google has seen the future. They see that education, at scale, will never look the same because of the search engine they created.
For a couple of years now they’ve been creating their own job-readiness education to teach people project management, IT services, data scient, and user-experience design. They’re taking their talent production into their own hand. And many others will follow suit.
But here’s the thing. Other companies don’t have to create their own education.
My day job as a partner at K&J Growth, a marketing agency, gives me the opportunity to talk to multiple business owners every day. Whether they are my partners, sub-contractors, clients, or other agencies that I network with. I’m not saying the entire job market is in agreement with my small sample. But I can say that the more time goes on the less anyone cares about hiring people with a college education.
It’s become so cheap for us to train employees that we don’t even look for education and experience in our job applications. In fact we’ve decided not to care about it at all. The only thing we look for now is attitude, interest, character, and willingness to learn. That’s all we need.
When we hire a new person they watch the training we recorded using our facetime cameras, and a Udemy course we bought for $100. That’s it. It’s perfect for us and costs us virtually nothing.
It’s perfect for the people we hire too! Instead of paying tens of thousands for an education that gives you a rapidly diminishing competitive edge, they can avoid the debt and get paid to learn and get experience with us.
Most small companies in the tech and online space are doing training this new way.
To make a long section short, all the education, network, and opportunity you could ask for are at the tip of your fingers.
One of the main pulls to go to college is accreditation. Personally, I’m not a fan of accreditation. But, just because I don’t think it holds much value doesn’t mean I’m right. Obviously, a piece of paper that says you graduated from Harvard is worth a lot. Millions of dollars over a lifetime.
So, if my theory is correct and university as we know it is on its way out, how will accreditation look in the future?
Well. We are already seeing a big shift in how accreditation is done. I’ll talk more about this later one, but one of the things I did was get a nano-degree from Udacity. Basically, just a certification that says I complete Udacity’s digital marketing program.
Google is giving accreditation for their job certificates, and they’ve been giving accreditations for people who take their courses on their software, like Google Analytics.
HubSpot and Hootsuite, two social media marketing platforms, offer courses and accreditation. Coursera offers courses, lots of them created by very credible universities and organizations, and accreditations if you pay for the course. And in many cases, you can take the course for free if you don’t care for the extra credibility.
Accreditation will continue to be important. It saves employers the time and risk of guessing your level of competence. They can instead rely on a credible education brand to lend you their credibility. But as education becomes more privatized the net credibility will be distributed more broadly.
My guess is that accreditation from Google will mean a lot, while an accreditation from a random Coursera program will mean a little. That being said, a few or many accreditations from various sources will likely be the new rule of thumb.
In the digital marketing space, I already see LinkedIn profiles cluttered with accreditations from HubSpot, Udacity, LinkedIn Learning, Google Analytics, etc…
I can tell you it’s not a bad idea to start racking up those cheap pieces of notoriety. When I’m interviewing to fill an entry-level position, knowing that they’ve finished a course on how to run a FaceBook campaign goes a long way. It’s more valuable to us than someone who just graduated college yet has no experience running campaigns on the actual platforms our clients hire us to be proficient in.
Secret Weapon For All Dropouts
There is a lot of criticism, globally, on the difference in income between men and women.
One father of two daughters, Warren Farrell, Ph.D., decided to investigate the causes of the gender pay gap to discover hidden advantages he can pass on to his girls.
Keep in mind, that’s the setup for the book, but in this particular setting, I’m not using this story or the findings in the book to advocate for or against actions being taken towards decreasing the gender pay gap.
If you look up the difference in income between college dropouts and graduates you’ll find that college grads earn around 40-50% more than dropouts on average.
Why Men Earn More: The startling truth behind the pay gap – and what women can do about it shows us that people who work 10%, 4 more hours a week, earn 40% more than their counterparts that leave the office too early.
Could it be that all individuals have to do to reduce the gap between them and their graduate dropouts is put in 10% more effort?
Uber recently put together a team of economists to figure out why male drivers on their platform make more than females. It baffled them. Their marketplace is completely computerized. There is no chance for discrimination based on gender on the platform. What did they find? Well… The same thing. Men drive 7% faster and work longer. Resulting in higher per hour earnings that compound over time.
But wait, there’s more! < This is my favorite infomercial line.
Want to add another 21% increase to your average earnings?
Well well. Then do I have something for you.
Studies conducted in Germany, Austria, and the Check Republic show that people who read earn 21% more than non-readers on average.
So if you add 4 hours to your workweek you add 40% to your income. if you then add reading (an additional 21%) you may make 69% more than the dropouts that don’t know about this secret weapon.
Please keep in mind that I’m not a statistician and any real statistician would probably wipe the floor with my math.
But the point is not to get the math perfect. The point is to say that you can overcome the income statistics about college dropouts by reading more and working a little harder.
Another point is to say you should be skeptical of poorly controlled statistics. When they say college graduates earn 40% more than dropouts, could it be that college graduates just work 4 hours more a week on average? That wouldn’t be all that surprising. Is it just because they read more books? Also not that surprising.
Is it graduating college that creates the income gap between graduates and dropouts? Or is it actually a selection bias and college graduates are just more likely to work extra hours and read more?
Is it worth taking a loan for a return on investment that could be easily produced with a much smaller investment of time?
The Benefits of College You Need to Replace
I don’t think you can create a good list of college alternatives without first getting specific about what it is that you’re replacing. Or what it is you’re supposed to gain from going to college.
When I was thinking about this, the first most obvious thing was education. But when I tried to stop there I was quickly confronted with the opinion that there is more to college than proximity to books. Although campus libraries are, in my opinion, their most valuable asset.
No. I can already imagine the comments. I’ve heard them thousands of times.
“College is about the experience. It’s the best four years of your life.”
“One of the best parts about college is building a network of friends. You’ll meet people you’ll know for the rest of your life.”
“We hire college graduates because we know they have enough discipline to get the degree. It’s the life skills gained by going through the system that matters.”
Understanding why college is valuable is more difficult than it looks. Ultimately I was able to narrow it down to 5 pillars.
If we can find solid ways to gain access to these five pillars, then we can effectively replace the benefits that college monopolized for so long.
In no particular order, here are the big five.
- Education – Learning how to use information as a tool for raising your default living standard in life by contributing to the common plights of human society.
- Network – You’re the average of the people you spend the most time with. How can you curate an effective network of people whose presence and access help you achieve your goals?
- Life Skills – Without discipline, we can’t get very far. That being said, it’s not the end all be all. Reading, writing, microeconomics, presentation, communication, leadership. All these are crucial for accomplishing anything.
- Credibility – How will other people know that you should be taken seriously? That you’re competent enough for the job? Credibility is what makes investing in you less risky.
- Adventure – There’s no doubt that a huge draw to college is getting out of dodge. All growth starts with a call to adventure.
All of the alternatives listed next will intend to cover at least one of the five categories. I wanted to list them in their corresponding categories, but I realized that’s too difficult. Every one of these alternatives could fit in all five categories.
18 Alternatives to College
On-the-job education is king. Nothing will prepare you for mastering a skill like actually practicing the skill. The master & apprentice model of training has been around since medieval times. It’s lasted that long because it works. Of course, it doesn’t work at scale, which is why the centralized university model exists in the first place. But education at scale isn’t an education that’s optimized for the individual (you). It’s the opposite.
If you want to become an apprentice for someone, the first question is what skill are you trying to learn? Once you know that, it’s easy to go online and find people who have those particular skills. Then all you have to do is find the courage to reach out to them and ask for the opportunity.
2. Trade School
The best ways to make money are the boring ways. My dad has been a general contractor building commercial buildings in LA for 40 years. Most of his colleagues, peers, and the companies he hires for jobs are rich immigrants who came to the U.S. with nothing. They don’t go to college to get a degree. No, they go to school to become plumbers and carpenters. They make high wages and then work to hire a few people, slowly getting bigger and bigger jobs.
You’d be surprised how good a life you can live in these blue-collar industries that aren’t being sexified by the general population. Beyond that, they are easy to get into and definitely give you the life skills you need like discipline, negotiation, and money management.
3. Online Courses – Coursera, Udemy, Udacity
After dropping out of community college, I did a digital marketing nano-degree program with Udacity. It was a great decision. A private business like Udacity is way ahead of the curve when it comes to tech education. They are able to put together a curriculum for new and emerging professional skills much faster than a traditional university. And they are able to distribute that education for pennies on the dollar.
The program I took was sponsored and co-created by Google, Facebook, Mail Chimp, Hootsuite, HubSpot, and Moz. Those companies are some of the biggest employers and service providers in the space. So It’s in their best interest to make sure their education is the highest quality they can make it. It serves their bottom line to make sure you’re successful.
4. Coding Bootcamps
An ongoing joke in the tech space is the fact that people coming out of college with computer science degrees don’t actually know how to code. Obviously, that’s a big generalization. But James Alturcher who actually has a computer science degree has spoken about his own troubles here.
He got a job as a software engineer after completing his degree, only to find that he actually had to go back to a coding Bootcamp to learn how to actually code. I imagine coding isn’t the only sector you’d find this truism in.
I would argue the same is true in the digital marketing industry.
5. Read religiously
At the beginning of the Covid pandemic, we were hunkered down in our homes with not much to do. I wasn’t working much then, so I had a lot of free time. A friend and I decided to buy a course: Read to Lead, by Ryan Holiday. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. The course invigorated in me an urge to read. I was already a ‘reader’ but after this, I was a serious read-a-holic.
There’s magic in books. And I don’t mean that in a puffy generic way. The amount of useful knowledge I found, that helped me change the course of my life and helped me skyrocket to success when I came back to work at K&J was incredible. I finished a book every other day. And although I don’t have as much free time for reading as I did then, I will always remember that time as the catalyst of my life and career.
6. Build a LinkedIn Network
Kale Panoho, a partner at K&J Growth who once founded a gym with $200 that 14 days later produced over $200K in revenue, once did an experiment to see how epic of a network he could build on LinkedIn with very little effort.
By the end of the experiment, he was connected with some of the biggest players in New Zealand (where he lives), Including the Prime minister, executives at Microsoft, and more. The experiment went so well, that he posted a video of how he did it, and it was the most-watched video ever on the platform (in 2018).
Yet, he was just some 27 year old with a modest marketing consulting business. You can do this too! Maybe the golden age for viral posting on LinkedIn has passed, but it’s never been easier to find interesting people, who’s connection would be meaningful to you and reach out to them online. I’ve done this with many of my favorite authors and many of them respond. Ryan Holiday is one of the people who has lent me some amazing advice.
7. Join a small Facebook group
Facebook groups are one of the best tools available for networking. You can find a group that surrounds virtually any interest you have. And If it’s not available, you can start one. These groups are full of people ready and willing to share their experiences. I’m in groups about FaceBook ads, outsourcing, writing, e-commerce, SEO, and a few others. Any time I have a question, or I’m stuck on a problem I just post it on one of those groups.
And like magic, I have a plethora of possible solutions. It’s incredible what kind of extra brainpower, or network power, you can find in just one side feature of the social media platform. Try joining a group around something that interests you, and just introduce yourself. See what kind of response you get and ask the people who comment if they would be interested in a quick call to get introduced. You’d be amazed at what kind of relationships can come out of this.
8. Participate on Reddit
This one, I’ll say is much like Facebook groups. They probably could have been written about together. But I didn’t for a reason. Reddit is organized around interests or topics called subreddits. But Reddit has one feature that Facebook Groups lack, and that’s historical context.
On Reddit, you can ask questions and get answers out of thin air. But also, you can search your question and find that someone has already asked that question, and sometimes answers have been accumulating for years. Not only that, people have been upvoting and downvoting answers based on their quality, so you can quickly see the answers that have been the most useful to others.
For that reason, Reddit is like having free access to the collective knowledge of the general public. Imagine, a place where millions of people have left a little slice of their brain, there for your benefit. It’s a massive tool for solving problems and having deep discussions.
9. Look on Eventbrite for events around something you want to learn
The job I have now, as a Junior Partner at K&J Growth, was a result of scrolling through Eventbrite for events around startups. I went to what seemed to be a very random, and small, event in LA. There were maybe 70 people in attendance and 4 speakers. After the event I went up to one of the speakers, Jonathan Maxim, to ask a question. He then offered me an unpaid internship to learn the skills I told him I wanted to learn. One thing led to another and three years later I became a partner at the company I started as an unpaid intern for.
That’s just one example of the network and education I was able to accumulate just by searching for events on Eventbrite and meetup.com. I also participated in a Google Startup Weekend (highly recommended) and met some other young entrepreneurs who I still chat with years later and who are also experiencing similar success as me. We’ve grown side by side.
10. Email your favorite authors
When I first started, I wasn’t a very good writer. Not because I wasn’t creative enough with my word flow, but because I lacked the discipline to make it a daily practice. My writing consistency was hot and cold. And well, I wasn’t sure what to do. I knew this was what happens for most people. That’s why most people who want to write a novel never do. So I reached out to Ryan Holiday assuming that he had writers come to him with this problem all the time.
“Have you read The War of Art? Steven Pressfield has better answers than I.”
All he had to do is point me in the right direction. I devoured that book and it’s been my framework for finding discipline ever since.
Try this as an exercise. This weekend, or whenever you have a free hour, try to reach out to 10 people who are big enough that you would not expect them to get back to you. You’d be surprised how often that assumption is wrong. In the age of influencers, top-tier people are more accessible and willing than ever.
11. Study philosophers
Ryan Holiday was a tough person to reach out to. To me, he felt larger than life because it’s his books that introduced me to philosophy. For most people, philosophy is just a history lesson. They hear about the main, Socrates, Confucius, Aristotle in a high school history class. Then, unless they study philosophy in college it’s not likely they will have an interest in the world’s greatest thinkers moving forward.
Philosophers spend their whole lives thinking about how any person can live a better life with more purpose and meaning. Something that the quarter-life crisis craze indicates is missing in our society. You’ll never regret studying the work of a great philosopher. Of course, there are plenty of crack-pot philosophers whose consciousness has been stolen by a rotten ideology founded on resentment and envy. The nihilists are a good example of this.
Be careful what philosophical ideas you subscribe to. They can give you a better life or a worse one. Ideas are way more powerful than we understand.
When it comes to college alternatives, I always want to prioritize the ones that you actually get paid to do. Joining the military is one of the best examples of this. You can get paid to work in the military while they pay for your education. It’s a pretty good deal, especially when we are light on global conflict.
My best friend did this and it couldn’t have worked out better for him. He’s in the reserves, gets all the benefits of being in the military (VA home loans, free education, life skills, special financial products, discounts at virtually every business) while only having to report to base one weekend of the month.
You’ll know better than me whether or not this is a good option for you. But don’t discount it. It could provide you some serious leverage to get ahead in life, and looks good on any resume.
Internships are a secret weapon. I could write a book on the power of doing internships. I think I might actually do it. The company I’m a partner in now, I started as an unpaid intern. Over the long haul, I think it’s way more beneficial to do an unpaid role instead of a paid one. There is a lot of conversation right now as to whether or not unpaid internships should be allowed. That debate is trash. Don’t buy the idea that mean businesses are taking advantage of poor inexperienced 20-year-olds with unpaid internships.
Unpaid internships are the greatest advantage you have in the workforce. Because an internship is unpaid, you become a huge resource for the company. Free labor for a small business is a heaven-sent opportunity. Beyond that, it takes the pressure off of the employer to make sure they produce a return on your cost. If you charge a business there are certain expectations of ROI that go along with that. It’s extremely difficult to turn a profit on a completely inexperienced employee. When that pressure is taken off it gives you way more freedom. The freedom to take opportunities that you normally wouldn’t have a chance at because the risk is minimized for the employer. I used this to jump through every different department of the business because my time wasn’t wasted on learning.
My internship was cut short halfway through, and they offered me pay. Once I learned the whole business and proved my worthiness they didn’t want to risk losing me. It only made sense 3 years later to offer me a junior partnership. I knew the business better than anyone except the original founders.
In my opinion, entrepreneurship should be a constant. You should do whatever your day job is to make money for the near term, and should always have entrepreneurial endeavors for the mid to long term.
Work at most companies will require you to be a specialist. It makes sense at any medium or large organization to have an efficient division of labor. That means you can get really good at a particular in-demand skill and collect a check for it. But entrepreneurship is different. It requires you to be a generalist. And learning how to be a generalist will provide amazing leverage. It will draw your attention to financial literacy. You’ll have to learn accounting, marketing, production, sales, financing, management, etc… You’ll be surprised how this kind of education, whether successful in founding a break-out business or not, will help you throughout your life.
It will teach you about sacrifice and investing. It will teach you how to prepare yourself to pounce on opportunities that arise. It will teach you how to manage your personal finances like a business because, at the end of the day, you’re a business of one.
15. Become a lawyer (in 4 states)
In four states – California, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington – you can become a lawyer without going to law school. They allow you the option of replacing the law school requirements with a four-year apprenticeship working part-time under a lawyer. This sounds awesome and I almost pulled the trigger on doing this. It only took me one phone call to find a lawyer who was interested in an unpaid apprentice (see 13). And frankly, if we sell the marketing agency or my workload changes I’ll likely pursue this again.
For more details on the requirements to pull this off, check out this article.
16. Work Remote and Vagabond
Have the adventure bug? It’s probably obvious at this point that a lot of young people are choosing a different path in life. One that allows them to travel cheaply while working from their laptop. Everybody at our marketing agency works remotely, and although they don’t fit the vagabond mold, we travel all the time and work from the road. Since the pandemic, this kind of remote work lifestyle has only gotten more popular. Getting started with this is relatively simple too. It requires that you learn an in-demand remote skill. This can be accounting/bookkeeping, graphic design, writing, media buying, project management, virtually anything that allows you to do all your work remotely. Then you can go to sites like UpWork, Fiverr, FreeUp, (fill in any freelancer marketplace here), and begin building your book of clients.
A little caveat here, it’s difficult to work and travel. You can definitely earn enough to vagabond frugally, but making the big bucks in the freelance world takes a lot of time. It’s being an entrepreneur. But if you can get started and keep moving, you can build a beautiful life.
17. Pay for coaching/training program
If you can’t find someone to teach you for free in exchange for your free labor. Pay for it. Yes, ideally you are resourceful and hack your way into a high-end on-the-job education for free. And even better if you can get paid to do it, which is certainly plausible. But if all else fails, find a way to pay for it. If paying for experience and education wasn’t worth it, nobody would attend college in the first place.
The benefit of paying a coach is simple. The quality of their service and ultimately income is based on the quality of the education they provide. This isn’t to say there aren’t a bunch of people selling courses and programs that aren’t worth the money. There are. So you have to act like an educated consumer for once and investigate who is the real deal and who isn’t.
One perfect example of a great coach is Brian from Backlinko. There are thousands of SEO courses out there, but the one that stands out is Brian’s. If you go to his website you’ll see his testimonials aren’t coming from shmo joe. They come from people at some of the most highly regarded companies in the digital marketing world. That being said, his program isn’t cheap.
18. Collect Mentors
Regardless of what approach you take in the development of your life and career, mentors are a crucial element. I can’t think of one successful person who can’t reference the person or people who had the most extreme impact on their success. Jonathan, Kale, and a couple of others come to mind when I ask myself who cleared the path for me.
Finding mentors starts with understanding what direction you want to go. Then you need to do the work of figuring out who is already further down that path than you are and reach out to them.
People want to teach. They want the opportunity to pass down knowledge and help those who want to follow their path. It almost feels like it’s embedded in our human nature to help young adults make something of themselves. Take advantage of that as much as possible. It will serve you well.
If you dropped out of college, or just never went, it’s imperative that you think of yourself first and foremost as an investor. Even if your real dream is to be an artist or an astronaut, you’re an investor first.
That means you start where you are and spend your time and energy on creating a better future. That’s all investing really is. You don’t get an education, you invest in your education. It costs time at the least, and often money.
Once you take on this mindset you can begin to ask yourself some crucial questions. “If I carry out the habits I have today for another five years, will my life be made better or worse?” “If I committed to learning every day, what will the compound result over a lifetime be?”
All of your habits create a feedback loop. Their result, positive or negative, gets bigger and bigger the longer you hold onto them. Make sure that your daily habits put you on the trajectory you intend to go down.
It’s very easy to predict whether or not someone will be successful. Just analyze their habits.