This is Why Young People Go to College

Most people don’t realize just how much pressure young people feel to be mediocre, monotonous, dull, dependent, unproductive, and unhappy.

They will get unlimited support and praise if they stay on a conveyor belt taking them away from independence, productivity, creativity, and personal success.  If they set out to build a life they want, they will get the opposite.

This is why most young people go to and suffer through college.  Not to learn.  Not even because they think it will help them get a job.  They go because what they’d have to endure from family to do more is a price too high.

Here’s an email (shared with permission, slightly abbreviated, anonymized, and italicized for emphasis) I received from a recent Praxis applicant that describes what so many individuals face:

“I just turned twenty years old. I am currently working two jobs to keep myself afloat in California. I’m originally from New Jersey. I’m out here on my own and it’s great! I am gaining so much independence and learning how to handle responsibility.

I came out here at first to give college a go. I was studying Spanish and business and my whole family was happy and impressed. And I was dissatisfied.

I felt like a baby. My tuition was being paid for by a family member. My rent was being paid for, as well. I wasn’t taking responsibility for anything and more importantly, I was not challenging myself or taking my life into my own hands.

So, I did end up leaving university in search of more independence and maturity. I decided to go all in on developing my skills and value to offer to the real work force. I have been building my website every day after work and it is still a work in progress but I am loving taking it day by day, task by task and learning from my mistakes.

It’s a roller-coaster, and learning to deal with little mishaps to big mistakes is actually really nice compared to a year ago when I felt like I could just coast and still be seen as ‘successful’. Now, I am getting real experience with a real project. I have been reading books on subjects like SEO and social media marketing because these are areas I would really like to be knowledgeable in and use in the work force. I’m inspired and amped up thinking of the freedom, innovation and collaboration that can happen when we utilize the internet to connect, serve and share with each other.

That is how I found Praxis and that is why I kept returning to the blog and finally applying to the program. I want to set out on my own path to creative success and I would like to do it working with other people who can challenge me and I, them. I am looking for an opportunity to learn how to contribute quality and be a respected team player as well as independent innovator.

I really appreciate the opportunity this program provides people like me, who have a lot of drive and passion and just need an environment and the tools to really exceed their potential.”

Notice her life was made materially easy, and she was praised by family so long as she went along with years of dullness.  She knew deep down it was moving her further from her goals, and she wasn’t engaged with the world or creating value.  But the support was strong.

The cost of breaking free isn’t that she’ll struggle to learn valuable skills or build a great career – far from it!  She can do those much better away from college.  The cost was losing that comfy financial support and heartfelt emotional support.  If she failed as a college grad, no one would blame her.  To fail being something more means to fail alone.

She didn’t let that stop her.  You can feel the pride and self-ownership in this email.  And my guess is that, after the initial pushback, her family will end up respecting her more in the long run, and supporting her in healthier ways.

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Isaac Morehouse is the founder and CEO of Praxis, an awesome startup apprenticeship program. He is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom. He’s written some books, done some podcasting, and is always experimenting with self-directed living and learning. When he’s not with his wife and kids or building his company, he can be found smoking cigars, playing guitars, singing, reading, writing, getting angry watching sports teams from his home state of Michigan, or enjoying the beach.