I like looking at what the super-rich do for education because they are not bound by the same social rules as the rest of us. For example, it’s so common for Hollywood stars to homeschool their children that we don’t even blink an eye when we read about it.

So I often think that there’s no point in me looking at kids in school to decide how I’m doing at raising kids who will find success. I need to look at parents who don’t feel any pressure to abide by school conventions in order to raise successful kids—because their kids were born successful.

Here’s what those parents think about:

1. Experiential learning rather than book-based learning.
While the non-one-percent in public school focus on books and testing, the really rich are focusing on experiential learning at Waldorf. And they are limiting electronics until the kids are pre-teens—with the notable exception of restaurants and other places where “using an iPhone is preferable to getting thrown out for having loud kids.”

The gap between the kids who can collect experiences and the kids who have to read about them is becoming as clear as the economic gap we see when the 99% are in the news.

I especially liked reading this tidbit in Wired about a one-percenter family in NYC:

“‘The Internet does a great job of providing access to learning,’ says Albert Wenger, a partner at New York’s Union Square Ventures. He and his wife Sue Danziger, the founder of online video startup Ziggeo, are having their three children homeschooled. ‘Pretty much everything you want to learn, you’ll be able to find out there. So that puts a premium on, Is this something you care about? Is this something you want to learn?'”

The biggest thing I learned in that paragraph. The one percent do not homeschool themselves. They have their kids homeschooled. Some at home, some by building their own school for their kids and their friends’ kids. But all the same, experiential learning is the norm.

2. Superiority rather than mere engagement.
It’s not enough to have the experiences. The one percent train kids at an early age to be the best at what they do. One of the reasons that the top twenty schools in the US are chronically overstuffed with millionaires is that in order to achieve the benchmarks these schools look for, children have to be groomed from a young age to be the best at whatever they do.

The New York Times describes the mindset this way: “There is a big difference between a culture that encourages engagement with the world and one that encourages developing one’s own superiority.

“The former promotes a sense of commitment; the latter has the danger of rewarding students for collecting as many experiences as they can without stopping to explore—like tourists who pride themselves on how many stickers they can slap on their luggage.”

3. Laser focus on the top 20 universities.
Success comes in waves. The pull of the person next to you ends up pulling you as well. And the same human factors that make you more likely to smoke if your friend smokes means you’re more likely to be a billionaire if your college roommate is a billionaire.

Sociologist Frank Furedi says that one of the big secrets of the expansion of higher education has been a growing gap between the most prestigious universities and the rest. The hierarchy has become more fixed and these top universities have become the place where global players gather.

If you’re wondering what those top universities are, you can find a range of lists. Like, top twenty universities in the world for billionaires. But the bottom line with the top twenty schools is that if you have to ask, then your school is not on the list.

54 replies
  1. Rae Spellman
    Rae Spellman says:

    I had to ask and my school is on that list.

    Of course I have a degree in Social Welfare from that school.

    And while I know of quite a few who were there when I was there were millionaires before we were 25 or 30, I certainly wasn’t socializing with them or those those who would go on to become billionaires.

  2. Cate
    Cate says:

    This article seemed designed to elicit anxiety. I’d be interested in an article where you talk about something like this: you, a middle class person, go all out and seek to get your child specialized, you homeschool, you pal around with billionaires, and what are the tradeoffs? Is it worth it? Should one generation sacrifice drastically just so their child can move up to another, higher class, when they sacrifice a good life, a loving family life, in the process? Which is better?

    I think the emphasis is on “drastic” sacrifice. Sure, we all sacrifice. But how much is too much, to the point that on your deathbed, you look back with regret (even if your child has indeed become wealthy and successful?)

    I recommend reading “Far from the Tree”, the prodigies section. Parents are required to sacrifice like crazy for their talented kids, and there are no guarantees. You would like the prodigies chapter, as he looks at musicians specifically.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      First, specialized is not the same as prodigy. In most cases, people who are specialized were not prodigies. There are really only prodigies in disciplines where the learning is linear and you can track where someone is in the linear progression (chess, math, music). There are not prodigies in most specialties because there is not strict, linear progression that someone under the age of 14 can accomplish.

      Second, I have repeatedly said that living on a farm and homeschooling is about ten million times easier than my former life, which was paying a consultant to get into private school in New York City, and jockeying around the public school lotteries in (the one-percenter heaven) Park Slope.

      Penelope

  3. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    The word ‘success’ and ‘successful’ is used four times in this post. I think that’s what you and a large majority of parents want for their kids. Success appears differently for different people. It looks different based upon its first definition here ( http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/success ) which doesn’t make any mention of money – (1) the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals.
    Inc and Business Insider magazine have recent articles on success where they ask famous people their definition of success – http://www.inc.com/laura-garnett/how-do-you-define-success.html and http://www.businessinsider.com/how-9-incredibly-successful-people-define-success-2014-5?op=1 .
    I watch very few movies. However, there was a scene in the original Wall Street movie that really made an impression when I saw it. I still remember it well. Here it is from IMDb ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094291/quotes ) –
    Carl Fox: He’s using you, kid. He’s got your prick in his back pocket, but you’re too blind to see it.
    Bud Fox: No. What I see is a jealous old machinist who can’t stand the fact that his son has become more successful than he has!
    Carl Fox: What you see is a guy who never measured a man’s success by the size of his WALLET!
    Bud Fox: That’s because you never had the GUTS to go out into the world and stake your own claim!
    [Long Pause]
    Carl Fox: Boy, if that’s the way you feel, I must have done a really lousy job as a father.
    All of the above is to say simply to give your children all the experiences and tools they need to be themselves and make something of themselves once they strike out on their own path as an adult. Teach them how to reach their goals with the amount of money they earn, invest, etc. Teach them how to market themselves with the character you’ve instilled in them. Make them earn it so they appreciate it and feel proud about their accomplishments.

    • Katarina
      Katarina says:

      Mark, I had the same reaction to the word “successful” in this article. How can a child be born successful? Success is earned, and not necessarily in the form of cash. Though I grew up below the poverty line, we managed to live in a very wealthy area (a miracle my single mom worked so we could go to good schools – yeah, it meant sleeping on the floor for a good while in our tiny condo) and I never considered wealth a signal of success. I don’t look to people with wealth as role models for anything. To me, a wealthy person is a person who doesn’t yearn for things. A poor person never stops yearning for more – of whatever. This is why you can go to Haiti and find smiling people, despite their utter poverty, while wealthy people walk around NYC with glum faces.
      I hope my son never has to deal with the top 1%. I make it a point to engage him with the bottom 1% because they are near and they need us. If he can become a man who has enough self awareness (hopefully with courage and humility) and self-discipline to pursue his goals and contribute to people around him besides serving just himself, I will have considered my mission accomplished.

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        Statistically, kids who are born in economic privilege have better testing outcomes in school and higher earning potential. So you can define success however you want, but the goals we hold out for kids to aim for are goals that rich kids have an unfair advantage at achieving.

        The piece of data that really blew my mind in this regard is that the rich-kid advantage does not change if you put a poor kid at a rich kid school or a rich kid at a poor kid school. You perform based on your parent’s economic status not your school’s status.

        To me that is a huge indictment of school reform.

        Penelope

        • jessica
          jessica says:

          So, it can then be argued that it is almost irrelevant if a rich kid goes to school or not, right?

          But the poor kids, should they still be in school? I don’t think the school system, as we currently know it, benefits anyone. It’s extremely dated. What if we implemented Montessori or Waldorf nationwide. Would that be such a bad thing for those without economically advantaged choice?

          • Bostonian
            Bostonian says:

            Quite honestly, Jessica, I don’t see how the schools in this country can carry the burden laid upon them.

            If we want to compare our schools to those in other industrialized countries, we have to look at the roles they play. In our country, public schools are forced to play roles that go far beyond those schools deserve and can perform.

            I was lamenting with a friend the other day that our public schools aren’t like those in Germany, where kids might just go to school in the morning all the way through elementary. They’ll come home at lunchtime and stay home. I’d rather send my girl to a school like that if I could… but no amount of privilege in America buys an elementary school like that, not even mine.

            I can’t imagine where there would be enough families with someone at home to populate a half-day school. Even among the 1%ers, it’s not possible.

            Because all our schools are full-day, and sending kids home for lunch is a thing of the past, all our schools have to have facilities for lunch. But our public schools have to provide more than a space for kids to eat a bag lunch – as they do in some other countries, like Australia. They have to actually provide food for most kids, whose parents can’t or won’t send a lunch with them. Further, they even have to provide free breakfast for kids who wouldn’t otherwise eat before the school day starts. In my city, the public school cafeteria even stays open all summer, because otherwise some kids would go without food in the summer. This is far from the role a school should be playing, and it detracts from the proper role of the school, but who else is going to do it?

            Besides food supply for the otherwise undernourished, schools need to provide basic medical treatment for children who otherwise wouldn’t get it. Schools need to provide social workers and psychologists, translation services, transportation… a miscellany of social services are provided by the schools because there may be nowhere else the kids who are supposed to be in the school learning can get them.

            That’s all in addition to the extra-curricular needs imposed by an all-day school system: physical education, sports teams, arts and music, libraries… None of that would be necessary in a half-day elementary school in a country with access to such things elsewhere.

            I don’t wonder our schools can’t get around to the business of being good schools with all the other things they have to do.

            Improving the schools in this country is impossible without removing some of these burdens from the schools, which is to say making sure they are provided for elsewhere. Failing and overburdened public schools are a social cost borne by all because of the shirking of our obligations as a society. If schools could just be schools, trusting that the social services and extra-curricular needs of kids were met elsewhere, they might even be easier for kids to deal with.

            We have to have the kids in school for a lengthening day, for a growing list of reasons and remediations, and they get out to play less and less, in smaller and smaller playgrounds, causing more frustration and a vicious cycle of impaired learning.

            The shrinking of our playgrounds and restriction of recess is caused not just by academic drives, but also in large part by the lack of universal health care, as every injury becomes a matter for insurance and lawsuit rather than a matter that’s just treated and forgotten about.

            Kids in public schools can’t go out on snowy days because so many don’t have proper clothing. Why should that also be the school’s problem, and why should the other students pay the price?

            These are not problems schools are going to solve.

        • Katarina
          Katarina says:

          While my husband and I are definitely exceptions to that rule (or statistic), I understand what you are saying.

          I was just really scratching my head with the idea of being “born successful”. It really cracks me up. Being born rich, yes, successful? They are not synonymous to me. Not even somewhat. But I guess I am in the minority in my thinking.
          Final note: Unlike his parents, my son plans on getting rich. He has visions of buying up real estate in dilapidated neighborhoods and building cool high rises. Go figure.

  4. Jana Miller
    Jana Miller says:

    I don’t agree that billionaire status is what I want for my kids. I want them to be decent human beings who do meaningful work and can support their family -I want them to have choice. I don’t think you need to be a billionaire to do this.

    I do like that you are looking at families who don’t care what anyone else thinks about their choices for education. So many of our choices are based on what we perceive other people will think of us.

      • Gretchen
        Gretchen says:

        that post had me til he started ripping on Bill Gates…I mean, huge philanthropist there…why rip on him? Bill Gates like someone who got money through inheritance? nope.

        • jessica
          jessica says:

          Well, I think the point is that Bill Gates was extremely wealthy as a kid and went to top schools his entire life. He had every advantage, plus one. Also, Bill Gates funded the Common Core. I don’t see that as helpful.

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            *IF* you’re going to have a public school system, you should have a “common core”…perhaps the testing is out of hand and the delivery leaves much to be desired but the curriculum is OK.

        • Ponder
          Ponder says:

          Regarding Bill Gates and his philanthropy work,
          just do an internet search with the following keywords: “Bill Gates, Monsanto, eugenics, population control (infanticide and euthanasia), common core”

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            Well, that smacks of bizarre conspiracy theorism. I mean one link called Planned Parenthood a “eugenics group”? Come on!

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Hi Jana,

      You said “I do like that you are looking at families who don’t care what anyone else thinks about their choices for education.” and I think that is what Penelope was trying to say in her post.

      When people stop caring about checklists, and have-to’s, and stop fearing “the gaps” in education, then they can move on to something better for their children.

      I don’t try to copy other people, but I look to “rule-breakers” for inspiration. For us it is self-directed unschooling at home.

      • jessica
        jessica says:

        Right, I agree with this.

        It means, in essence, that if you unschool/homeschool (self-direct) your kid you are pretty much making a decision that people that have generations of good decisions in their DNA are making. It’s not that we all are pining for our kids to be Billionaires. Though, they probably have a statistically higher chance to get there IF that is the end goal.

        I think most people’s goals with education- at least one I keep in the back of my mind, is freedom, which does, to an extent, correlate with economic independence.

        I don’t see anything wrong with a young adult wanting to take care of their bills and then move onto other awesome things. Stability breads room for calculated risk anyway.

  5. C.A. Lewis-McCarren
    C.A. Lewis-McCarren says:

    Being an almost “50” home educating mom for about 19 years now – I think that what most of what is written above in the post is BS.

    Who cares what the 1% are doing…..what are YOU doing? What are YOUR children(s) needs – Right. Now.? Do they need your attention? Do they need some structure? Do they need some space? Honestly, there is so much energy used up by worrying so much if you are doing things right it is ridiculous. It breeds anxiety for both the parent AND child. Anyone with half a brain knows that no one can learn anything when they are stressed. Stressing about the future is totally futile and it pretty much is a neon sign pointed towards yourself saying you have no TRUST in our OWN abilities to actually “teach” your child anything.

    I truly wish people would get past the comparison mode and just go with their own guts with what they need to be facilitating for their own child/family. I have 2 sets of children – 32 and 26 – both home educated, then I have another set of children 11 and 9 – one diagnosed with Autism and the other with ADD. Whoo HOO!!!!!! Guess what?! They are all different no matter what AND I really have to spend a lot of time just in observation mode to understand what the need is at any particular time. Yes, I stress and yes I doubt myself at times and my ability to actually live through raising these two boys who are in turbo speed at any given moment. But the lesson for me – which has been incredibly HARD and humbling – is that no one has all the answers and that if you are so focused all the time on the end goal of a culture that defines “success” in the terms of $$ and status, you are TOTALLY missing the point of living this life and having the honor of being a parent.

    ENJOY the journey people. Quit worrying so much about GMO’s and when to take your kid off of the psych drugs so they don’t get labeled and therefore possibly miss the opportunity to get into some “great” university. Give them a piece of toast and a glass of Kool-Aid and let them actually play in the dirt for a while. I TOALLY GET IT!!!!! I truly do – but at some point to save your own sanity, you might just have to think of yourself as the “expert” on your own child and call it a day. It is all going to be good as long as they are loved and accepted for WHO THEY ARE today.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      It’s a great exercise, no matter where you are in life, to stop and say “what would I do if I had all the money in the world.”

      When I ask that to people I’m coaching, it almost always turns out that they can do that — whatever they would do as a billionaire — they can do that right now. Nothing is stopping them.

      Well, the thing that stops us is thinking we have choices. So the exercise in this post is to try thinking about your kids’ education as if you had nothing to fear and all the choices in the world. Because whatever you’d choose in that case is probably open to you now as well.

      Penelope

      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        “It’s a great exercise, no matter where you are in life, to stop and say “what would I do if I had all the money in the world.” … “Because whatever you’d choose in that case is probably open to you now as well.”
        Those are the type of homeschooling posts I like to read from you.

  6. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    It’s right there in the beginning of this post, success is defined as doing what you want without feeling the need to abide by (school/social/financial) conventions. That is something that anyone at any economic level can be inspired by.

    Penelope is exploring what happens when one type of person is free of the conventions of needing to earn a living. It’s an example of a way to manage a child’s education, not the *only* way.

    If you’re looking for permission for other ways to define “success” go read her posts about stay-at-home-moms who unschool, working parents who unschool, stay at home dads, etc.

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      This is very important. My husband and I are taking very seriously that chunk of time while the kids can fully get the importance of discipline on working on what you like and before they’re legally adults.

      Many times I’ve told my husband that what held me back on trying for a few businesses was the fear of having nothing to fall back on. Of losing it all. But I’d love to lend my kids the opportunity to try for entrepreneurship before they have to be concerned for basic living expenses so they know what to do when it comes to making money.

  7. HomeschoolDad
    HomeschoolDad says:

    College is a joke – even the top 20 schools. It pains me to see so many homeschooling families continue to exalt college. It’s never been more useless, never been more expensive, and never been so thoroughly exposed (as a fraud) as it is today.

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      I think the importance of learning how to make money without college is priority once you realize college is an expensive joke but everyone else still thinks it’s important.

      Very few employers will take a look at someone without a degree. And right now college is one of the most expensive networking clubs. So learning how to make a solid network and learning how to make money so you don’t need college is probably one of the best ways to spend childhood and teenage years.

      • redrock
        redrock says:

        it always astonishes me that there is general disdain for “college” – it is what you as a person make of it. It can be a great learning environment, or one can drink away the years. Why is it acceptable to spend a lot of money on music lessons, but not to spend money on college to become a scientist or engineer? Lets calculate – 2 music lessons a week for 15 years of childhood – that makes roughly 1500 (50 weeks to a year, with 2 weeks of break times 2 times 15) music lessons at maybe (and that is probably the lower end) $20 a lesson comes out to $30,000. If you have a really good teacher or have more lessons or play a second instrument, or have to drive to the lesson you will easily hit $50,000 probably more. So, college tuition at a really good state school is not far off that mark. And it is far more likely to get a good job with a college education with a wisely chosen major then with good but not superstar music abilities. So, overall I don’t think the money spent should be the argument. If a kid wants to play music – go that route, but for many college is a good choice, especially if you want to study sciences or engineering.

        Like music, these specialties need long term planning and study, so you go to the place which provides it and at the same time can if the college is well chosen a density of opportunities which cannot be replicated in home study. Please note that I do not subscribe to the view that college is the only way to go – I am saying that the choice is an individual one and should depend more on abilities, curiosities, and interests then on what everybody else is doing. However, if you go to college to fall into the beer keg for 4 years – that can be had a lot cheaper and tuition is a waste. Same if you don’t choose your college well – but there are a lot of different schools out there just don’t get blinded by the snazzy cafeteria.

        • Gretchen
          Gretchen says:

          “it always astonishes me that there is general disdain for ‘college’ – it is what you as a person make of it.”

          this disdain tends to come from people who fear they won’t be able to pay for their kid(s) to go

          • jessica
            jessica says:

            What?

            I’m pretty sure everyone on this blog, for the most part, can pay for their children to go to college. There are a lot of wealthy people that won’t/don’t pay for college because that choice and financial consequence rests on their kids shoulders. I honestly believe saving for 2o years to send kids to college nowadays and in the coming years is a scam.

            It IS becoming a dated thing. Most people do not need college. That’s all.

          • Bostonian
            Bostonian says:

            I like to imagine the pooh-poohing of college comes from people who are in that small but happy minority who have found relative economic success without it.

            I know there are several professions which may be accessed without college. People tend to pass their norms, ideas, and yes, professions down to their children. So parents who are successful in a profession that did not require college may be able to guide their children well in that matter.

            For my children, coming from two generations of successful people who all went to college, and who all worked in professions in which only people who went to college can work, no such guidance is available.

            Unless my children make manifest as teenagers that they have different professional ideas that don’t require college, they will go to college. As my older child continues to insist he wants to be a mechanical engineer and began wearing MIT t-shirts at five, I don’t find that likely.

            For the record, I loved college. I hated school, but I loved college. I don’t know how intrinsically useful it really was at the time – I wasn’t well and professionally employed until after graduate school (which I double plus loved) – but I would wish to give that gift to my children without regard to their future plans.

            And yes, here’s another part of how the 1% manage education: tuition costs are not a serious concern.

          • HomeschoolDad
            HomeschoolDad says:

            Bostonian,

            I can see that my assertion is contrary what you have understood (probably for some time) and are hesitant to accept it. That’s okay.

            But I have an enormous sample set of personal experience. Do you live in Boston? You know there are more hedge funds on some city blocks in Manhattan than there are in all of Boston!

            My wife works for Merrill too. Over the years I’ve met innumerable co-workers and employees of hers and I can’t think of one that had an Ivy background. I asked her again yesterday and she came up blank. (I do think one of her 25 former bosses did go to Brown.)

            I live in a, if not THE, Wall Street town (Manhasset) and might only know one guy with an undergraduate Ivy degree who works on Wall Street.

            I was not a broker. I traded derivatives on trading floors and trading desks…and personally knew probably a couple thousand other traders (and brokers).

            The point is….there’s nothing there, no guarantees in an Ivy education. And as you demonstrate, many, many people presume otherwise. There’s also no ‘old boys club’ – lifelong profitable connections aren’t being on Ivy campuses. But that’s another popular misconception to debunk.

            You brought up private equity…

            It is funny. Because PE and much of the hedge fund biz is a total marketing scam. Funds tell investors that their entire staff went to top schools, that they have “10 PhDs” working for them, etc. and that wows clueless institutional investors who themselves believe in the magic of credentialism. I’ve even seen one fund that marketed itself as only hiring people “with perfect SATs”. These same funds usually say they use “quantitative” trading strategies and “arbitrage” when in fact most of them simply watch CNBC, trade by the seat of their pants, and end up simply tracking the market averages.

          • Bostonian
            Bostonian says:

            I think that what I find funny, Homeschool Dad, is that you can’t hear yourself contradicting yourself.

            You worked in one aspect of the financial services market, which area you say was relatively low on ivy pedigrees – and I have no reason to doubt you.

            Then you describe another aspect of the same market, which you say is rank with ivy pedigrees, PhDs, perfect scores, etc. but that doesn’t count because it’s all a scam.

            It’s obvious you have a pretty violent reaction to people suggesting that your own Ivy League degree helped you out in life. Let’s assume you are entirely forthcoming and you couldn’t figure out how to make use of it. Even by your own account, others have.

            It’s true that I don’t know people who are or were traders and brokers. It’s not a world which has ever held much allure for me, so I don’t even know what people imagine is prestigious about it.

            The people I do know in the world of finance are managing director / vice president level people in private equity, hedge funds, mutual funds, exotic derivatives, etc. I also know a lot of people with Ivy League degrees and/or perfect SAT scores. Those groups overlap substantially.

            I also know that your description is unusual and does not match those I’ve heard from others or can readily find online. Trying to bully or insult me isn’t going to make me ignore a reality that’s larger than one cranky dude on the Internet.

            Finance is still the number one employment destination for Ivy League grads, followed by management consulting. In 2011, 17% of Harvard grads, 14% of Yale grads, and 36% of Princeton grads went into finance. Those who are interested can google “Out of Harvard and Into Finance” for the data.

            I’m sorry you feel your college education was a waste. I don’t feel mine was, and my friends don’t feel theirs was either. Maybe it’s you.

        • Gretchen
          Gretchen says:

          “I like to imagine the pooh-poohing of college comes from people who are in that small but happy minority who have found relative economic success without it.”

          Maybe, the people I know who are “meh” about it are the people with lots of kids and a stay at home mom who don’t have any plans on how they’re going to pay.

          • HomeschoolDad
            HomeschoolDad says:

            I went to an Ivy League school and can tell you, firsthand, that there’s nothing there and also that I know many classmates who are bankrupt and utterly directionless at age 40.

            I can easily afford to send my kids to any college, now. So please holster the cynicism about “ability to pay”.

            In my homeschooling groups we have numerous parents who themselves graduated from Harvard, MIT, etc.

          • Bostonian
            Bostonian says:

            So Dan, you went to St. Johns and then Penn and then spent 15 years on Wall Street, and you can’t think of something that college did for you?

            I’m wondering how many people you worked with in finance who didn’t have Ivy League degrees – let alone college degrees.

            It’s a peculiar sort of certainty one has when one has benefited enormously from taking a certain path, then recommends against it to others.

          • jessica
            jessica says:

            I think Dan is saying what worked for him isn’t going to be the golden ticket in the future. I think that’s the gist of the argument against college..’what got me here, won’t get you there’.

            Banking is, supposedly, the next thing to ‘go’ in the bubble anyway.

          • HomeschoolDad
            HomeschoolDad says:

            Bostonian,

            Why do you assume that Wall Street is littered with Ivy Leaguers?

            Because it isn’t.

            On the contrary it’s full of “nephews” who went to places like Syracuse and Rutgers.

            And I knew many traders and brokers, highly successful ones, who didn’t even go to college….many of whom started out as minimum wage clerks and key-punchers.

            BTW, I would never recommend working on Wall Street to anyone. Chasing easy $$$ is not a recipe for long-term happiness. Martin Sheen was right.

            Jessica,

            Thanks but I do not consider myself anywhere near a success. I only achieved a fraction of my potential due to the “school route”.

          • Bostonian
            Bostonian says:

            Homeschool Dad, I assume that because the people I know who are in investment banking or private equity have Ivy League backgrounds. I would therefore expect that having an Ivy League degree would be one of the things that helped a person work in those fields.

            I gather you’re indicating it’s different for brokers. I don’t know any brokers. Is that what you did?

    • Beth
      Beth says:

      But…The majority of the people you’ve met DID go to college? Because in your first comment you say college is a joke, but from your other comments….You never technically said the people you’ve met didn’t have degrees, just that they didn’t have IVY degrees.

  8. Gretchen
    Gretchen says:

    Is this some kind of parody?
    “There is a big difference between a culture that encourages engagement with the world and one that encourages developing one’s own superiority”
    How gauche!

  9. Hannah
    Hannah says:

    Going to a university that “produces” billionaires isn’t very useful unless you also have the opportunity to befriend and stay friends with those future billionaires or become one yourself.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think focusing on connections is great for young adults, but I went to a “well connected school” if I were to go into politics, and I made zero useful business connections. I had lots of offers to go to DC and zero to go to Tokyo, Singapore, NYC or London.

    If someone is going to college/university to study engineering then any university will likely do. If someone is going to make connections then the top 20 list will be a fine starting spot, but not that good of an ending spot.

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      Yeah, I know many people in the top 20 list. None are billionares.

      But! I think I’m just nitpicking now.

      (I say this as I’m watching a guy tie his 60′ yacht to the marina. Maybe I should walk over and ask him how his life is and if he unschools or whatever. LOL)

    • redrock
      redrock says:

      There are substantial quality differences between the top 40 schools in engineering and science and bottom 40.however, top in engineerind and science is not identical to Ivy League.

  10. marta
    marta says:

    “There is a big difference between a culture that encourages engagement with the world and one that encourages developing one’s own superiority.”

    That is exactly it. And that is why I couldn’t care less about what the 1% do with their lives.

    The 1% landed-gentry of gone eras were giving the most avant-garde and exclusive education of the time to their offspring. A lot of them died of syphillys, or drunk, or in abject poverty, or ennui, or giving birth.

    Just like the 99%.

    Minus the ennui.

    And that minus is a HUGE difference.

  11. Julia
    Julia says:

    So much to think about in this post and the comments — thanks! It’s a reminder that this is one of the best blogs on education out there.

  12. redrock
    redrock says:

    “Prodigy” actually has a much broader meaning: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prodigy and is not restricted by any means to chess, math and music. And includes extraordinary achievements in any area – the specific application of the word to kids is just one possible use. In addition – neither of these pursuits is exactly linear. Once the technique has been mastered there is no clear linear assessment of whether Mozart is plaid “better” but it is a question of interpretation of the piece of music. Same for math or chess which have a high bar for excellence but not a really linear progression. The fact that there are competitions does not mean that we have an absolute measure of performance. Well, I also think the word child prodigy is highly overused.

  13. Karelys
    Karelys says:

    This comment is regarding the speculations of why some people may view college with disdain.
    I can speak for myself here: a lot of the education acquired through college can be gathered without college and the practices required for the jobs can be acquired through aprenticeships.

    Everything?

    No. But so much of it can be that way.
    So why the disdain? Mine is not disdain. However, it’s frustrating that so far, it doesn’t matter if a young person has an aptitude to do a certain job, but no college degree, and weren’t born in a connected family, they’re not even considered.

    So young people have to continue to commit time and money to college just to have a paper that will allow them a look by the screeners. The training they could have acquired otherwise.

    Let’s say your child has no interest in any STEM areas. They still have to go through college just to be considered educated enough for an executive assistant position. Even if your child is an autodidact, self taught in valuable skills, etc. they’re not considered over other applicants for a job.

    It’s then that Unschooling can provide an alternative. If your family has an extra $30k like its pocket change then college will probably be an okay idea. But the time commitment can’t be replaced even if the money wasn’t a sacrifice.

    If your child is brilliant and gifted, a college education will probably be too small for her. If they’re smart and interested enough to want to commit to years of college they can probably figure out how to get going on their own and Tailor a learning program that trims the fat, wastes time, and actually lets them apprentice and get good at it.

    The reason why many people look down on college as the real path to success is because there are lots of very smart underemployed or unemployed graduates. And they don’t want that for their children. I don’t want that for my child.

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      I suppose my viewpoint on what the young kids are doing nowadays comes from my husbands profession. I have a direct keyhole view of the world they are living in, how they are communicating, learning, and the ways they are making enormous incomes. I see it first hand. I see so and so at 15 making 10k off of one product placement. I see kids at 17/18/19 making 40k off of another. And, they get these offers weekly. These kids are retiring themselves before college age and they are from a smorgasbord of backgrounds.

      The world for kids and what they can do without college is astounding. If they are pursuing things that interest them and contributing back into the world they are miles ahead, income wise, of what previous generations were able to do.
      So, because of this, I truly think college is going to be an entirely different game in 10 years.

      • Karelys
        Karelys says:

        You bring a really good point to the discussion that I didn’t want to touch on.
        My reason is because that’s not my reality right now. No one around me does something remotely close to it. I know several children who were homeschooled and started businesses at 15 and are doing great financially but not at those rates.

        I am unsure how common that is. Looking at children that are my toddler’s age and seeing how they handle development with touch technology added to the mix is amazing. So I’m sure their childhood will be so much different than mine. I’m not sure they’ll go on that path you describe and that’s why I didn’t want to talk about something I only know from afar. But it’s a big truth.

        Children skipped school and went on to successfully try many endeavors. They get to college age and realize they don’t care for college and don’t need it. We’re not talking super genius children. We’re talking average children who had the ability to roam free and to explore options before they became adults.

      • Jenn Gold
        Jenn Gold says:

        Hey Jessica,

        You comment was very encouraging to me as a homeschooling mom. Could you tell me more about how those teens you mentioned got into those opportunities pls? What was the path they took? It is always encouraging to know that there is hope.

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