Dropping out from college is not a shortcut to success
Vishwas Mudagal

History has shown us that some of the most successful startups are often led by school dropouts. However, it does not give us a clear picture of the truth. Let me tell you why.

At a recent event, a student asked me whether it’s a good idea to drop out of college to pursue his startup idea. He cited Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and many others as examples. Recently, I received another message on a social media platform from a management student asking whether it’s justified to glorify dropouts and idolise them, citing some TV reality shows that are promoting such themes.

Honestly, dropping out of colleges is a devastating and absurd idea, no matter how glorified it sounds. It will lead you on a path to decline. Don’t get carried away by stories of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg who quit college to achieve cult success. Not everyone is as lucky as them.

Nobody ever talks about dropouts who walked the unfortunate road of failures. They are the exceptions, not the examples. The truth is that most college dropouts suffer terribly in their lives, struggling to do anything meaningful. Even statistically speaking, over 94% of top leaders have completed college.

Failure rates for startups are high these days and we should be practical and prepared for the worst-case scenarios. With a college degree, you have a solid foundation and formal recognition to find a job in case you fail. Society respects you when you have completed your graduation and your degree is also essential for your Plan B.

I honestly feel that having an educational qualification is a must before you venture out on your own. On one hand, it allows you to obtain skills and knowledge that you may require in the long run, and on the other hand, it also serves as a standby in case you fail. Life is better when you have contingency plans. Be practical.

Whatever you want to pursue in life and even if you think you are ready for it, do not be immature and drop out of school for it. Times have changed, and job requirements have become a lot more competitive. Further, as a dropout, you could also face the peril of not getting funds for your venture. Think about it, who is going to take you seriously if you present yourself as a college dropout? You will find few people who will be convinced with your vision. Real life is more brutal than reel life.

The problem with the current generation is that it is easily influenced by the media. A few reality shows glorify dropouts and we lose our minds on it. We never talk about the 15-year-old kids who have completed their master’s degree or about entrepreneurs who made it big after completing their formal education. (Perhaps because it’s mundane?) The need is to be practical and more logical in our approach towards education and career choices.

Before even attempting a dangerous stunt such as quitting formal education, I would like everyone to make a list of pros and cons. You will ultimately find that the number of cons exceeds the pros. Risks are good, but only calculated ones. Don’t let the media fool you into believing that leaving something halfway is an easy route to success.

Before you start to think that school is a complete waste of your time, let me show you something that stands out distinctively in the examples of the billionaire dropouts.

Each visionary had a deep longing and focused energy when choosing their line of business. Zuckerberg had already developed his initial Facebook idea when he dropped out of college. Michael Dell was shipping PC units with rain checks when he exited school. For the vast majority of these individuals, their need to pursue something began in school. That was nothing short of a miracle. Understand that!

If you have a billion-dollar idea, you shouldn’t blindly quit. You should negotiate with your college to pursue it, while you stay on. Utilise college resources/mentorship. No matter what, dropping out is not justified.

Be sensible, be rational and most importantly be educated. Your professional and personal life will stay in harmony.

Vishwas Mudagal is chief executive and co-founder of GoodWorkLabs, a technology product consulting and development firm

Like this column? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get our top reports.

Leave Your Comment(s)