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  • December 02, 2014 11:02 AM
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  • Last Modified: December 02, 2014 01:07 PM
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Career Lessons Learned from "BEAUTY SCHOOL DROPOUT"

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Many parents remember the musical and movie Grease, which is set in 1959. Lately, this song – "Beauty School Dropout” – has been haunting me!

Your story's sad to tell,
A teenage na'er do well
Most mixed up non-delinquent on the block.

Beauty school dropout,
No graduation day for you.
Beauty school dropout,
Missed your midterms and flunked shampoo.


So why is this "oldster” song on my brain? Because as a college to career consultant for 2MyCareer (http://bit.ly/11npjB5), I have been contacted a lot lately by understandably concerned parents of excelling college students who are threatening to drop out of school. Why are these top-ranked students even thinking about leaving college? The answer lately is twofold: "I have a great entrepreneurial idea that I want to pursue with complete focus before someone else does, it will save us money, and - all of the really smart cool kids are doing this!” They invariably go on to mention Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs etc., all of whom dropped out and got a huge return. Thanks for that newsflash! More recently of course, Peter Thiel has gotten a lot of press for dropping out and encouraging more students to do the same with the incentive of grants for those with a good entrepreneurial plan.

Not so fast, Mr. Thiel - while there are those successful examples of billionaires who, with the advantage of hindsight, can confidently boast of not needing college, what about the thousands who take their advice but wind up having to move back home with nothing to show for it.


My response for these students and their parents which, as you have likely guessed by now, is actually a question - can you list all of the very intelligent budding entrepreneurs who dropped out of college but were not successful? No? Since you are doing so well in college, please don’t throw away the time you’ve put in and leave before you get that degree. The time spent at college and the effort to get there will be meaningless once you drop out, and by and large, you will not be taken seriously without a college diploma. Instead, use any free time to get started on your entrepreneurial ideas -- research, plan, network, strategize , and of course intern for one or more entrepreneurs -- there is not a better way to learn than that. An internship may in this instance be even more valuable than a traditional internship as it will give you lots of valuable intel for your own venture. There is no clearer way to understand the innumerable angles involved in creating a business than to be in the trenches; if you can get some time in someone else's trenches, you will be that much more ready to launch!

As for what the "cool kids” are doing? I think everyone knows the answer to that...! If not – time for another screening of Grease …or practice jumping off a cliff.

I do have an overall message for these conflicted parents and students, as they assess the daunting costs of college: Graduate, Graduate , Graduate- it’s worth it. The world is still a much easier place to navigate armed with a degree, and I promise, that degree is at minimum an exceptional back-up plan so that you can get that much-needed sleep while you are becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg.

Baby don't blow it
Don't put my good advice to shame
Baby you know it
Even Dear Abby'd say the same.

GRADUATE.

 

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