First of all, congratulations. 

Dropping out of college may not seem like something to celebrate, but it is. You made a decision. You took action down a path that many people are afraid to go down. 

In 2020,  40% of people who started at a 4-year college dropped out. So you’re not alone. 

Although dropping out is stigmatized as a bad thing, you might have dropped out for some enticing reasons.

  • You save yourself an average of $35,720 a year.
  • You left behind the cookie-cutter education that was extremely helpful and necessary in the industrial era, yet insufficient for the needs of today’s information age.
  • You can explore a multitude of industries and job types to find the one that really aligns with you. Instead of guessing which career path you might like, then spending 4 years and thousands of dollars to find out if your guess was right.

Over the past 100 years or so going to college has been the default recommendation for leveling up your status in life. And for good reason. The world realized that knowledge was power, and life was changing quickly thanks to constant innovation.

But the world has since changed. Mainly thanks to companies like Apple and Google. Apple put access to the internet in everyone’s home and pocket, and Google gave free access to the world’s information to anyone who had a device. 

The medium of knowledge changed from books to something else. And you need an education that reflects the fact that knowledge comes from different sources than it did just 20 years ago. 

So how do you get this magical gift of education from the spirit of Steve Jobs?

The first and most important thing to start with is Steve Jobs’ style realization that your path is different. 

I’m not trying to suggest you should walk barefoot around Stanford sitting in on the lectures for free because nobody will kick you out. Kind of makes sense though when you think about it because like… how would anyone know you’re not a student?… Actually, that sounds like a good idea. If you try that out, let me know how it goes. 

The point I’m trying to make is that college is part of a strategy to reach success in a given field. That’s an important distinction. It’s not a winners take-all, it’s just one piece of a strategy, and we’re opting for a different approach.

They say that college opens doors, and it’s a horribly generic and cliche thing to say, but it’s true. That’s partly what has made college an effective strategy. What they don’t tell you is that there are other keys to the door.

We’re gonna look for some more keys right here, right now. 

What is the alternate path for people who don’t go to college? How can you compete in the job market with college graduates? How can you earn more despite your lack of diplomas? 

Since the industrial era education system, the first and most basic principle for success has been “go to college.” Since college isn’t the advantage it used to be, we need to rethink our first principles.

Buckle up, and let’s dive in. 

Don’t Play The Game You’re Bound To Lose

When I was in high school I knew I wasn’t going to go to college. I forced my hand by getting bad grades.

My siblings and I were expected to get an education, so my parents struggled with my lack of school interest. I would debate regularly with my dad about the usefulness of higher education and he would always say, “If two job applicants are the same and one went to college and one didn’t, the one with the degree will get the job.”

It doesn’t take a genius to know that he’s right. And when it comes to the debate floor, it’s a hard argument to dissect on the spot. But it’s also very sly (I see you dad.) because it makes a lot of assumptions. 

First, it assumes that we live in a world where everybody is exactly the same except for their level of education. The argument relies on the experiment being a controlled study. Meaning everything is exactly the same except for the variable that we’re testing. But in the real world, that never happens. It’s a red herring. 

His logic is the logic that most people are using when they approach this argument. And for the most part, this logic is what you are battling. College education has become the one thing that most people evaluate themselves and each other on. Universities have monopolized credibility, and credibility is the ultimate social currency. 

If you want to succeed you can’t play that game. If you try to measure up against graduates using the same metric they value themselves on, you’re obviously losing.

You have to go about your career advancement creatively. You have to find unique ways to establish credibility in the marketplace. 

And there is a silver lining to this. We, humans, have a tendency to prefer what is unique and different. The problem that college grads have is that they are really no different from the millions of other college graduates. Because of that, they suffer from a different credibility issue. They have an advantage over non-grads, but they struggle to find an advantage over each other. 

You on the other hand have an opportunity to find an advantage that pushes you over the top. 

There is one thing that establishes credibility above a degree. That thing is competence. Being an employer myself, when I’m hiring someone I neglect their degree. I analyze their character, and their ability and eagerness to learn. Because college doesn’t teach people how to do the job I need employees to do. I have to teach it to them anyway. 

Maybe I have survivor bias. Very plausible. 

The complaint I hear the most from college grads is that the entry-level jobs they apply for all require a couple of years of experience. 

If college was doing such a great job training people for the work world why would all these recent grads be going through a quarter-life crisis finding enough money to pay the rent? 

To them, it makes no sense. It kills all the expectations the education system gave them about life after graduating. But the message is clear. Experience and character trump degrees.

Sit down and think about what you want out of your life. What are realistic financial goals? I don’t mean what’s your big extravagant fantasy goals. I mean, how much money would you have to make in the near future to live decently, take care of your responsibilities, and save (really invest) a reasonable amount?

Then move onto lifestyle ideals. How much of my time will my financial goals require? What about my relationships? Map it all out. Don’t make a dream board, make a how can I improve my life in 3 months board. 

Small Fish, Big Pond

The more competitive a field or industry is, the less likely you are to succeed in that industry.

This is a concept that Malcolm Gladwell spelled out ruthlessly in his book, David and Goliath. Through his research, he actually discovered that you are likely to be more successful attending a lower-tier college and being top 3rd percentile, than being in the bottom 3rd percentile at an ivy league that you barely got into.

I hate to use a college reference but it applies in other places. The concept is simple, be a big fish in a small pond, not a small fish in a big pond. 

In other words, doing something different is of great value for the simple reason that fewer people are doing it. 

Every entrepreneur in Silicon Valley knows this idea well. That’s why their main goal when starting a business is to find an idea that doesn’t have any competition because that’s much more likely to succeed than a new business in a crowded space. 

People want to see that you’ve done something interesting. Even if it’s not a huge success. 

I got the job I have now because I told my interviewer (now partner) that I tried to be a real estate agent right out of high school, and told him all of the things I tried to do to be successful at that, even though I didn’t succeed. It separated me from all the other candidates who had done everything society expected of them. 

Ultimately, someone who was taking a unique and creative approach was more appealing than the standardized options coming out of college. It didn’t matter that I was a few years younger than everyone else.

Be A Little Bit of An Outsider

Millions of years of evolution made us extremely social animals. Almost everything we do comes from a base-level desire to fit in with our community. 

“In the group setting, we unconsciously imitate what others are saying and doing.” – Robert Greene, The Laws of Human Nature

From inside of the status quo, it’s all we can see. Our nature takes hold and our concerns become fitting in with what’s expected. I assume that’s where much of the drive for going to college comes from. 

It’s less about education and more about the stamp of social approval. That’s not to put everybody into that box, but I assume most people go to college out of perceived obligation and not desire. 

But from outside the status quo, you can see clearly. You take the time to figure out what’s truly important for your success. It’s this thinking that drives people to the thought that maybe the rat race is not all it’s hyped up to be. 

It’s this thinking that Tim Ferriss opens up his book The 4-Hour Workweek with. The first thing he prescribes is to reframe your idea of success. John Wooden gives the same advice in his memoir. 

Let’s do a quick exercise. Assume the path of getting a degree, landing on a career, getting a 9 to 5 job in a career, and working until you can buy a house and retire at 55 isn’t an option for you. Put this constraint on yourself and then ask, “If this isn’t available, what do I want to do with my life?”

Building a life is a creative endeavor, but it’s something most of us approach with a lack of any creative effort. It may seem like putting constraints on yourself would stifle your creativity. In reality, it forces it. 

It’s much easier to listen to what the people around you suggest you do with your life than it is to decide for yourself and create something new, so most people don’t do the work. 

When it comes to building your life, Jordan Peterson has the best advice on the subject. First, take aim at something high. The higher the aim, the more motivated you will be to accomplish it. Having a high aim will push you to become extraordinary. Then, focus ruthlessly on your day-to-day activities. 

We’ve all heard the proverbs. The Great Wall of China was built one brick at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You run a marathon one step at a time. 

It’s all true. Literally and figuratively.

Once you’ve picked a goal or an aim. You focus on your day because your daily habits are what set your trajectory in life. It’s like aiming and bow and pulling back the arrow. Your future will just be an exaggerated version of your daily habits. Because your future is created by the compounding effect of those habits.

Don’t Be Competitive

In business, there is a common practice. Something that whether it is or isn’t applied has the largest impact on success or failure. 

Yet it’s something that the general population is celebrated for doing the exact opposite of. And it’s to the detriment of many people and their careers. 

Businesses, consultants, writers, and artists who follow this rule have a much easier time becoming successful. 

Benjamin Franklin, the philosopher, America’s first media mogul, inventor, postmaster, diplomat, ambassador, scientist, and musician, followed this rule whether he knew it or not. 

The rule is, find a problem people have, that you can solve, that no one else is solving. And in this way, avoid problems that everyone is already competing to solve.

A startup with no differentiation in a crowded space won’t get funded, won’t easily get in front of their desired customers, won’t sell their product at a profitable price, and more often than not won’t be successful. 

On the other hand, a business that found a problem that people want solved, but no one else is solving, is going to have a much easier time growing because they don’t have to enter a war with another company to persuade the same customers. 

This is why there is a father and his son who make millions of dollars a year filming themselves playing with children’s toys and putting the videos on YouTube. Kids wanted to watch other kids play with toys and no one else was doing it. 

This idea is completely absent in the way most people go about choosing a career path for themselves. Statistically speaking, most people who go to college end up in business admin, marketing, finance, or communication. But the competition in those areas is fierce. It’s not likely that they will be of any unique value. Forcing them to work much harder, not because their job is difficult, but because their main task is beating the competition. 

When you’re thinking about building your life creatively, you want to think of something unique you can provide. It may cause you to learn common skills, like accounting, writing, marketing, finance, but in a way that empowers you to do something that is not commonly done. 

Short Term Planning is Better Than Long Term Planning

The idea of short-term planning is completely counter-culture to what young adults are told to do. 

Everybody concerns themselves with a 5-year plan or a 10-year plan for their life. But that’s too much time. 

It’s too much time because a plan, by its nature, is a prediction of the future. In most cases, it’s very inaccurate. What happens if you commit to a 10-year plan and realize in year 9 that the plan is bad? That’s what most people do. Think of all the people who have their life planned out just to realize they hate their jobs, their path, or even their spouse. 

Plans have faults. Especially when you’re young and rookies at planning like we are. We don’t know much about the adult world because we haven’t experienced much of it. It’s not likely that we will create a full-proof long-term plan. 

Take someone like Tim Ferriss who I mentioned earlier. He’s started one of the most popular podcasts in the world, has won the Chinese national kickboxing championship, was a finalist in the world tango championship, an angel investor in startups like Evernote, Shopify, and Uber to name a few, has written a best selling book that changed the way people design their lives, has one of the most viewed Ted Talks, and a bunch of other stuff that I’m probably missing. 

It’s hard to think that Tim had a 10-year plan with all of these accomplishments tailored inside of it. He admittedly didn’t.

“My entire life is basically six-month projects and two-week experiments. 10-year plan? no idea.”

Isn’t thinking about what you want to do for the next 10 years extremely daunting? Doesn’t it freak you the f out? It does for me and most people that I talk to. 

But 6 months? Two-week experiments? That’s not intimidating. You can easily commit to doing a challenging project for 6 months. Or trying something new for Two weeks.

Be a Scientist

This plays on another idea. Actually, it’s an idea that came from one of the co-founders of Netflix, Marc Randolf, on Tim’s podcast. 

Marc battled the commonly held belief that there are no bad ideas. He believes the opposite. That there are no good ideas. Only ideas that haven’t been tested. 

Nobody can predict whether an idea is a good one or a bad one. No one has a crystal ball to see the future. Pretending to know good ideas from bad ones is just snobbery. 

So Marc practices something that Tim also practices. Experiments. Experiments meant to take any idea, good or bad, and test it to see how it performs in the real world. 

The key here is how long you take to test your idea. And well… If you rely on 5-year plans, you’re not going to be able to run that many experiments.

Does that mean there is no place for long-term planning? The argument could probably be made, but I don’t think that’s right. 

Remember the advice I gave from Jordan Peterson?

Take aim at something, and make it a high aim. Give your life a goal. The type of person you want to be, the problems you want to solve for the world, the destination you want to reach. 

Be precise when you’re taking aim. It does you no good here to be vague. And being precise with this long-term aim is hard. It takes a lot of deep thought and will need constant course correcting. One thing Dr. Peterson noticed through his years working with patients and trying to improve their lives is we have an extremely hard time admitting to ourselves and others what we truly want. 

It serves us no good. It creates a bad relationship with ourselves and with our loved ones. So take the time to sit and really try to determine what it is you want long-term.

Once you have that, focus ruthlessly on the short term. Create some two-week experiments for yourself. 

Want to see if a certain industry or field is something you want to pursue? Just start by reading a basic book about the subject and see if you’re still interested. Maybe you’ll be even more interested.

When I started writing, it wasn’t because I dreamed of a 10-year plan of what I was going to accomplish with my writing. It was a 6-month project to see if I would still want to write after doing it consistently for a while. Ultimately, I decided it was a worthwhile side project for me. 

When you take this approach you can get through more bad ideas. And the only way to find your great idea is to get through a lot of bad ones. 

Also, every time your bad ideas fail, you’re in a better position. Now you have more data. You’re smarter because of it and become better at seeing whether or not another idea is going to fail before you commit too heavily to it. 

Create Habits That Compound in Value Over Time

There are a lot of different things that go into being successful. More than I care to pretend to know.

Darren Hardy, the founder of Success magazine, wrote an amazing book outlining the power of good habits over time. 

To summarize it for you: the more you practice a habit, not only the easier it becomes, but the more valuable it becomes. Not all habits are like this, some are compounding and some aren’t.

The easiest example of a compounding habit is investing. If you invest $10 a week for 10 years in a row, in year 10 you will have made a lot more money than you did in year 1, even though you’re still only investing $10 a week.

The same idea of compounding results applies to habits outside of investing.

Let’s say our imaginary friend Jesse is starting a YouTube channel about dieting and healthy eating. 

She spends about an hour a day focused on coming up with content ideas, filming the videos, editing, posting them on YouTube, and working on her YouTube SEO.

When she is first getting started, she’s slow. She can only post about 1 video every couple of weeks. 

But she stays consistent. 

The first thing that starts to happen is she begins to get better at the new skills she’s learning: planning videos and editing. This makes her creation process faster and less frustrating. Because of this extra speed that naturally happens when you improve at something, she can now post more than once a week. 

The next thing that starts to happen is Jesse feels like she can start to recognize the difference between a good video idea and a bad one. Based on how many times she’s seen other people’s videos on an idea, and what people are asking for.

Now we have faster video production, and a better understanding of which content ideas are important and not important. Already much more traction than when she started, even though she hasn’t upped the amount of time she’s spent on the project. 

She will keep getting faster, she will keep getting smarter with her ideas, but that’s not it. 

At this point, each one of her videos is getting around 100 views, and some, her breakout pieces, are getting two to three thousand views. It might not seem like much, and it isn’t, but it starts to add up. A small portion of those people subscribe, and a small portion go to her channel to watch more videos. 

It may only be 2 or 3 people per video right now. As time goes on that number will compound because YouTube will favor you and show your videos to more people. 

In this way, starting a YouTube channel, or creating content in some way, is also a compounding habit. The longer you practice it, the more valuable each session becomes.

These are the kind of habits you want to fill your life with. Habits that have a massive long-term effect on your life. There are lots of these habits, and you can use them creatively.

Among them might be:

  • Investing
  • Creating Content (With a Goal)
  • Reading (This one is huge)
  • Networking

Those things have no cap to them. They can grow infinitely.

There are other habits that, while not compounding, are useful in helping to supplement your compounding habits.

I don’t know what to name these habits. I think for now we will just call them “normal habits.”

“Normal habits,” as we call them, don’t naturally expand to an infinite limit. Take working out for example. Working out is a great habit to implement in your life. Many people would agree. But it’s not a compounding habit. By running for an hour each day, you won’t eventually run faster than a car. 

Don’t downplay these habits though, they are still important. Let’s say Jesse has 3 or 4 habits in her life that are compounding. She’s making her YouTube videos, she’s investing a portion of her income, and reads for an hour and a half a day. Eventually, those habits will bring more value to her than they do today.

But here is the thing about compounding habits. We’ll use investing as an easy example again. When it comes to compounding interest, the more you can invest at the beginning of your journey the more output you see at the end. The incremental investment amounts you make in your twenties are what generate a huge difference in money in your 50s and 60s. 

The same is true for the other habits. The more you input now, while it’s all of little value, the more compounded results you’ll see down the road. 

This is when your other habits come in. To keep tough and draining habits going, like reading, investing, and creating content, (mind you all outside of a day job because none of those things make money yet) you need to stay sharp. 

Habits like:

  • Working out
  • Eating healthy
  • Journaling
  • Meditating
  • Yoga

These things aren’t compounding habits. But each day that you practice them you will be in a better mood, you will have more energy, your ability to focus will be greater, all of which allow you to put a higher and more consistent effort into your compounding habits. 

Embrace the Frugal Life

Although I can’t find the podcast episode where he said this (please excuse my poor citation), Ryan Holiday says (in essence), “There are two ways to become wealthy. You can either make more or want less.” 

It’s a good quote that expresses the philosophical benefit of wanting a simpler life. A simpler life requires less money. It doesn’t mean that your life won’t be exciting or you won’t have fun. It’s just a different approach. But the statement doesn’t express the whole picture.

Wanting less and being frugal is actually a key ingredient to making more money, not a substitute.

There are a lot of people in the world who have understood this and practiced it. Benjamin Franklin, John D. Rockefeller, Warren Buffett, and millions of millionaires who enjoyed their millions in silence.

Those people knew the hidden financial benefits of being frugal with their lifestyle and spending habits. 

The best way to visualize this concept, funny enough, is with the help of a board game. The board game was invented by Robert Kiyosaki, the author of one of the highest-selling personal finance books of all time, Rich Dad Poor Dad.

The board game is called Cashflow. And as you might have guessed it’s meant to teach children the basic principles of creating cash flow. It’s like monopoly, but maybe a better reflection of how wealth is actually built by normal people like you and me. 

As far as board games go, it’s not that fun, but the lesson is important. In the game you get a job, then the goal is to go around the board until you reach the point where your revenue from your investments covers your living expenses.

That moment, when you win, is called leaving the rat race.

The key to leaving the rat race, in the game and in real life, is to save enough money after paying your living expenses that you will be able to jump on a good investment opportunity when you see it.

This is where being frugal helps you make money. Remember, it’s not about being frugal so you can save. Saving is just a middle step. A holding place for cash before it’s invested into something that makes more money.

With the goal of eventually making enough money from your secondary streams to focus on investing full time instead of working.

There are benefits to frugality other than putting yourself in a position to make more money. It’s likely that being frugal will actually make you a more dangerous weapon in general. 

Being frugal means getting rid of the time and money-sucking habits that most people indulge in: Going out for drinks, getting high and watching TV, useless party-cations to Cabo.

The more of those habits you can get rid of, not only are you saving a bunch of money and investing it, the more time and energy you can put into your compounding habits, including, obviously, investing.

As we talked about the power of compounding habits in the last section, I won’t go further into that. 

How To Frugal

A big question that comes to mind when I think about frugality is simply, how do you do it? What is the trick to frugal living that won’t crush my spirits and turn me into a wandering nomad?

The first and most important thing you should do is make sure you don’t have any bad debt. Bad debt is debt that you personally have to pay for. Different from good debt, which is debt that pays for itself because it’s debt you took on to acquire a cash-generating asset. 

Credit card debt, school loan debt, and home mortgage debt are the biggest money eaters in most people’s financial lives. They weigh people down under the guise of social acceptance and status. 

We praise people for having limitless credit cards, buying a house early in their lives, and, of course, taking on massive loans to go to college. 

Should we be praising them though? Is that really such a good thing that they have dug themselves into a financial hole that’s extremely hard to get out of?

7% of people who take on college loans will never pay them off in their life. Yet we praise them for selling their soul when the secret they are missing (the one that you and I know) is they can educate themselves practically for free. 

By dropping out of college, you’ve already embraced the frugal lifestyle. And you will be more financially literate for the experience. 

Use it to teach yourself how to get the things other people are paying a lot of money for, without all of the costs. Education is a good example. 

But embracing frugality might also mean buying a multi-unit property for your first investment and renting it out, instead of taking on a home mortgage just to show people that you own something people will praise you for owning. 

Make no mistake, debt eats people alive. It should be treated with extreme caution. 

Pick Skills, Not Paths

Instead of choosing a career path you would like to go down, turn your focus towards skills you would like to learn. In a sense, this is a culmination of the other sections I talked about. 

Choosing a path is choosing a destination. Choosing skills to learn is to make yourself a more capable and competent person. If you’re a more skilled person, solving problems and finding ways to capitalize on your skill sets will come a lot easier for you. 

This is also similar to focusing on short-term projects instead of long-term goals. A skill may take about 6 months to a year to develop. Obviously, only putting in 6 months won’t make you a master at a skill, but it will make you good enough to hold your own in most real-world situations.

With today’s unlimited access to educational content and information, learning something like coding, writing, accounting, marketing, stock investing, real estate investing, search engine optimization, social media marketing, can all be done in a relatively short period of time. 

And there is nothing a small company wants more in an employee than someone who can handle multiple responsibilities. By doing this you essentially become every small business’s most valuable asset.

It’s an easy way to become a big fish in a small pond. 

Two Skills Are Better Than One

There are two things to consider here, your aim in life, and the compounding habits that will put you on a trajectory to accomplish that aim. 

If investing is the compounding habit you intend to practice, then it benefits you to pick skills in that genre. Maybe the first skill you chose to learn is stock investing. It’s not a bad place to start on your investing journey. But it could be anything, find out what’s the most timely and relevant to you right now.

If the skill is stock investing, once you get a useful grip on that, you want to pick another skill that’s relevant to the first skill, but not the same. Maybe real estate investing. 

Stock investing and real estate investing are two skills that combined become exponential to each other. 

We’ve all seen those graphs that show the benefits of long-term stock investing, and show that if you start investing $500 a month when you’re 25, by 60 you’ll have $1.5 million or something like that. For example, when I use my investing app, Acorns, it shows me I’ll have $1,159,243 at the ripe age of 64 on that investment schedule.

But once you tie that in with real estate investing, the returns get much larger. It may be that you save up just $40 thousand in 5 to 10 years then use that to acquire a multi-tenant property that brings in an extra $20 thousand a year in cash flow. Then you can re-invest that back into your stocks until you have enough to do it again.

But to accomplish that, you have to skill stack stock investing and real estate investing. 

Let’s use a different example, like writing. Let’s say you are developing the skill of writing and publishing your work. Over time and practice, you get a lot better. 

Then you can stack search engine optimization and digital marketing on top of your writing skill and you immediately become extremely valuable to companies who want to grow their business through content. 

Skill stacking, in itself, has a compounding effect. The sum of the value of multiple skills becomes greater than the value of each skill individually.

Work to Learn, Not to Earn

At a young age, your greatest advantage is your low living expenses. This is why frugal habits at a young age are so important. If you begin tacking on expensive habits, you’ll miss the natural strength you have in not needing much money.

When Warren Buffett went to his mentor, Benjamin Graham, in his mid-twenties and asked for a free internship, Benjamin rejected him. He said something along the lines of, free is too expensive. 

What Benjamin meant was, his training and learning were so valuable that to do it for free is undervalued. Warren should be paying him for the opportunity to work for him. 

Today, the general public righteously feels the opposite. We talk about how unpaid internships are unethical. We’ve even made them illegal in some states. This is a bad attitude and will stop you from getting the education you need to be really successful in a field. 

Being able to trade your time and hard work for education is maybe the best tradeoff you have the capacity to make. 

There is no better teacher than the apprenticeship model. There is a reason apprenticeships have been around since the Middle Ages. It’s a chance to get hands-on experience in a professional setting, without any of the real risks. Plus, because of the free nature of the exchange, there is very little pressure on you to perform right away. 

If you’re getting paid to do a job you don’t know how to do, it’s pretty likely that you will get fired for messing up. But if you’re not getting paid? What’s the point of firing you? In that case, it’s in everybody’s best interest to keep you on after your mistakes, because it doesn’t cost your mentor anything.

What does an apprenticeship look like?

An apprenticeship can happen in many ways. It’s not always a super formal relationship between mentor and mentee. 

At the core of an apprenticeship is practicing the skill your learning in a low-risk environment. You could even have a self-induced apprenticeship with no mentor. Or with a mentor that you can only steal an hour a week from to comment on your practice. 

Either way, the point here is to get yourself in the mindset that at this stage in your life and career, doing and learning the work is more important than making money. In fact, the longer you can hold off from taking a paycheck and focus on ruthlessly learning and practicing, the more money you will make when you finally do take payment for your work. 

Working for free allows you to take on responsibilities that you wouldn’t normally have access to if you were getting paid. When you’re taking a paycheck your responsibilities are predetermined and it is much harder to have mobility and autonomy. 

But when you’re apprenticing the dynamic of the relationship is that they have to teach you, that is their payment. So they will teach you beyond the small role you would have at entry level pay. 

So where do you go to find an apprenticeship like this?

The quick answer is a small, but succeeding (and preferably growing) company. Big companies will have too many procedures and the resources to not have to take on the struggle of an intern. 

On the other hand, to a small company, or to a self-employed professional, you are valuable. Paid or not they would have to teach a new employee how the business works so it might as well be someone they can teach for free. 

If that company is growing, you’ll be at an advantage for being there through the early stages of the business and having an open door to the executives. It’s also likely that you’ll be able to take on responsibilities at the company that a normal entry-level employee would never see, and because of that, your resume will become way more appealing to the next small or medium business you apply to.


Once you drop out of college, one thing immediately stares back at you. It’s the thing that creates the fear that drives most people to go to college in the first place.

You are responsible for what happens next. 

You’re not on the conveyor belt anymore. You’re not drinking the kool-aide that guides you on what to do with your life and gives you counselors to make sure you’re reaching the milestones other people have made for you.

Universities are amazing for many reasons, but they’re not great if you don’t know why they’re great. And most people in college don’t know why they should be there. Which means they shouldn’t. 

Taking responsibility for your life choices is scary, but it’s not a task we can avoid. Even those who try to avoid it by living up to society’s expectations will eventually face the questions themselves, usually in the form of a mid-life crisis, which is usually the realization that the life they are living is not the one that they would have picked.

You, however, have the whereabouts to pick for yourself.