Education Matters - There are No Shortcuts to a Meaningful Life

I recently came across a video by the online company Jumpcut. It is a promotional video about the services they sell that will help you “Design your life. Follow your passion. Become an influencer.” (you can see it by clicking on the image above).

I watched the video with the sound off first just to see how the images are used to convey the company’s message. Then I watched it with the sound on. Interesting...a few initial thoughts:

  • they are selling a lifestyle

  • they are encouraging you to pursue the path of least resistance

  • they are pandering the false dichotomy of "work smarter not harder"

  • they are not guaranteeing security, just the appearance of freedom

  • they are targeting young, mostly white, childless people

  • they are selling "the now", and ignore "the future"

Most of us are struggling to recover from the last decade of declining wages, investments, and job prospects. All of this has taken a toll on our emotional wellbeing. It can make us vulnerable to those selling “get-rich-quick” schemes. Selling hope sells. Selling the hope of a lifestyle sells even better. Selling vicarity and envy is a great way to also make money. What Jumpcut does is tap into that emotional vulnerability and give you a way out…or at least that is what appears to be the case.

In the video they (rightfully) critique the unfulfilled hype of the “American Dream”. Where I take issue is when they set their sights on critiquing the purpose of a college education. They focus on the motives for going to college: to please parents, because that is what we were told to do, that is what we are supposed to do. They present these motives as the only reason why most people go to college. That is blatantly false. They literally said, “You have something they (your parents) don’t…Youtube!” Really?! Hang your future on Youtube?! Goodness gracious…

A college education is as necessary for this generation as a high school diploma was for their grandparents. It provides the foundational knowledge and exposure to new ideas and people that will inform how we live in the world. A college education gives you a structured way to make meaning out of these new ideas. A college education provides the foundation for a new way of engaging with the world. It gives you the tools to secure a future where you do what you want to do. Don’t disregard the college experience because you didn’t (or don’t want to) take the time to figure out what to do with your time there.

That is your main task. You need to take advantage of the resources available to you: go to office hours, attend interesting lectures, sit in on protests, engage in critical conversations with roommates, take classes outside of your major, become part of the alumni association. A large part of the educational experience occurs outside of the classroom. That is where the in-class learning comes to life. That is where you learn how to apply the big ideas and concepts to address the important issues of the day. That is where you learn to make meaning out of your education. College is more than just about preparing you to make money. It is preparing you to make new and unique connections between and among seemingly unassociated ideas. That is where creativity lives.

Dropping out of college shows that you lack the maturity and insight to carry through a decision to the end. If you do, what makes you think you will have the maturity and insight to succeed in a business venture? Commitment is a life skill that must be mastered; you must be able to endure through the good and the not so good to reach your goals. Starting a Youtube channel takes sustained effort, resources, and time. Having just a high school or an incomplete college education diminishes the skills you have to tackle the problems you will face.

Online, you are also disconnected from accessing critical skills needed that you are taught at a college or university. Neuroscience has proven that the human brain develops new neural connections through struggle and challenge and those are experienced in college. Taking the path of least resistance diminishes the cognitive ability and intellect you will need to be a good leader. It sets you up for a much harder road to success than if you just completed your education.

A college education is a value-added experience. It enhances everything you will ever do in life. It also allows you to think outside the box, to expand upon what you’ve learned and to think more critically about the future. Right now you may not have a partner or children, but maybe you want that in the future. The critical thinking skills you learned in college will help you set a plan in place to ensure that your desired future materializes. It enhances you as a person, both intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically.

On this point, Jumpcut is flat-out wrong. To encourage others to drop out of college because it worked out “for you” is irresponsible. It proves my point that it truncates your ethical and intellectual growth. Focusing on making money at the expense of the investment in yourself that comes from getting a college education sets you up for a precarious future at best.

I am not saying that what Jumpcut is selling isn’t going to bring wealth. I am sure if you follow their advice, you may be very successful. All I want you to consider is that your education will enhance the success you will have on Youtube. How you put these two experiences together will be a reflection of your character, expertise, creativity and drive.

That is how you learn to work both harder and smarter.

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This blog post is part of a newsletter I publish weekly called The Gigster 'Zine. It is a production of the Colégas Group, an organization that seeks to offer new opportunities for anyone with a college degree. To learn more about us, to receive valuable strategies for improvement, and to find innovative employment opportunities, sign up for the complete newsletter at
colegasgroup.com.