Should You Drop Out of College to Startup?

Many highly successful companies began as startups that were founded or co-founded by college dropouts – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg are perhaps the most notable examples of entrepreneurs who never finished their college degrees.  And out of the latest Forbes list of the top 400 wealthiest entrepreneurs, some 63 were college dropouts – so things seem to be favorable.  But it’s important to keep in mind that at the same time, a college degree does look good to prospective employers – which, if your startup fails, you will want to impress.  And depending on the nature of your business idea, it might be useful to have more expertise in a particular subject, which could require more advanced degrees.  Another option, the middle path, would be starting up your business while still attending college, and seeing where that takes you.  Regardless of what you do, you need to think about your situation, your resources, and the importance of your degree – if you’re studying engineering because your parents forced you into it and have a dream that will get you beyond an education which means nothing to you, grab the damn bull by the horns and drop out to start your company.  But if you are into what you’re studying and have the opportunity to start-up your company while continuing to study, you might want to stick with that – especially if your business idea is related to what you’re learning formally.  And if you’re either just sick of studying or feeling too lazy to do so, and think that starting a business will be easier than sticking it out, you’re wrong – to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to work harder than you ever would in college . . .  So consider your situation carefully, and only then should you proceed.

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Ultimately, your decision whether or not to drop out should rely on two major factors – do you need to startup your business now (and can you successfully do so)? And is getting your degree in whatever going to be of any use to you (in terms of your business or personal fulfillment)?  Let’s say you only went to college because you thought it was the next logical step, and/or your parents dictated that you will study a particular subject – and then suddenly an idea hits you.  Or perhaps you come up with something small like an app or a device, and it quickly turns out to have a huge potential.  A college education can be very important for some people, but this isn’t always the case – if you have abilities and talent to learn things on your own more effectively, and think that you’re only being held back by having to attend classes or it would be a waste of money to continue doing so, then go right ahead and start your business.  But don’t have any two states of mind about it – if you think that you’ll regret leaving college, you probably will.  Remember this – you don’t need a damn sheet of paper to qualify you as a successful entrepreneur, but if you genuinely value getting an education or don’t have a clear vision for what you want to do with your startup, then stay in school.  And it’s very import to remember that you have access to a lot of on campus resources as a student, resources which will no longer be yours if you decide to drop out.  So, if you need access to your college library or any other on-campus resources for your startup, dropping out would be a bad idea.  And perhaps the most important thing aside from being driven by your ideas is not having any regrets – so keep that in mind.  After all, you can be a successful entrepreneur with a college degree, just as you can without one.  There’s no right or wrong way to go about this, so long as you remain dedicated in your pursuit.  Weigh the pros and cons carefully, taking everything into account, because while you can be successful either way, hasty decisions aren’t a path to success.

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