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Better Than College: How to Build a Successful Life Without a Four-Year Degree Paperback – June 7, 2012
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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Before you spend four years in college, devote four hours to hearing what Blake has to say.
A brilliant and important proposal. The unquestioned college path deserves to be challenged, and this is the right book to do it.
Blake Boles has scouted out information and ideas useful to more than just young adults. There is joy and hope in new directions, and Blake is an inspirational guide.
--Sandra Dodd, author of The Big Book of Unschooling
How did we get tricked into believing that success, fortune, and self-knowledge only come with a college degree? Better Than College explodes this myth and shows how any young adult can craft a powerful and affordable higher education--no institution required.
--Michael Ellsberg, author of The Education of Millionaires
If you are ready to take control of your learning--and save a bundle of money at the same time--this book will provide you with compelling inspiration and practical information. You couldn't choose a better guide to creating your own future.
--Wendy Priesnitz, editor of Life Learning Magazine
Better Than College is a clarion call for independent thinkers and self-directed young people to take control of their learning. Bypassing college may not be the right move for everyone, but reading this book will help anyone think anew about education and the future.
--Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind
Blake convincingly argues that not everyone benefits from a traditional college education, and he presents a highly researched guide for pursuing self-directed education. This is a practical manual for motivated students on how to take your education into your own hands and thrive in the new world of work.
--Ben Casnocha, coauthor of The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career
The possibilities for success without college are rich and glorious--and potentially so confusing in their vastness as to be crippling. Blake Boles offers a clear and compelling roadmap: grounded in real-life examples and insightful analysis, lofted by a wide and exuberant sense of what life can become.
--Grace Llewellyn, author of The Teenage Liberation Handbook
From the Author
- college is overpriced,
- college no longer guarantees economic success
- college doesn't necessarily offer a rigorous learning experience
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The idea that college is the only path to success is an assumption that needs to be questioned, especially given the cost of college versus the benefit for many students. College can be a fantastic experience and is the right choice for some people. However, leaving aside the credential of the diploma, is there a way for someone to get a similar (or greater) educational and experiential background than college gives?
Boles' answer is yes, and besides just making the case for that statement, he spends most of this thin and readable book on concrete actions for embarking on a life of self-directed learning (SDL) and service. He calls this this SDL 2.0, in that SDL 1.0 is learning for yourself, while SDL 2.0 the focus moves towards serving others while gaining the experience and knowledge to fulfill your goals. We're not talking about not doing college and working at the grocery store here - this is replacing college with a proactive agenda for growing and experiencing, but based on an agenda of one's own construction.
College is often seen as the "no risk" option for those who can afford it, but Boles makes the point that there is also risk in going to college. You may spend tens of thousands of dollars only to find out that you don't enjoy what you're majoring in, or even if you do, that finding employment is difficult. Although there are a number of statistics that show earnings of college grads are significantly higher than non-grads, he makes a good point that this is skewed by the small number of Ivy League schools and by particular majors (law, engineering, medicine) for which college does result in good paying jobs, but that don't represent the average college student. Again, the point isn't a that attending college is a bad idea, but more that the decision is far more nuanced and deserves more attention than the majority of people - and indeed our culture - give it.
One positive about college is that it will force you, through required classes and coursework, to learn something - you will be extrinsically motivated, through grades and quest for a degree, to do so. In this book Boles spends an appreciable amount of time addressing the motivational aspects of self-learning: how do you set goals, how do you motivate yourself to those goals without an external force, how do you choose goals that stretch you?
Some favorite ideas from the book from people he quotes:
From Peter Thiel: college is about scarcity and status - if Harvard were really the best model for education, why hasn't it been franchised and duplicated? (that is a GREAT point IMHO).
From Paul Graham: The best protection is to be working on hard problems. Writing novels is hard. Reading novels isn't.
From Tina Seelig: Real life is the ultimate open book exam.
This a book worth reading, if you are a young person or a parent of a young person at a point in life where college has become the question, or if you question the idea that our current educational system is the only way to create a successful, enjoyable life. You can see more about the book at [...] and if you are a teen or student, Boles has a link to download the book for free. This is a very cool gesture, but if you aren't in that group, or the cost isn't a barrier - please buy the book - he deserves to be supported.
I especially love this book for explaining the difference between going to school and getting an "education." His view on what an education actually is has opened up my eyes. Because the vast majority of Americans have not received an education I think that most adults would find this book inspiring. It's amazing that we waste so much money on college without ever even really questioning whether universities are providing what we want. I wish I'd read this book when I was younger (although it hadn't been published back then) but I still found much of his advice to be extremely useful now that I'm 34. I urge people to read this book and let his advice sink into your heart and mind. Don't follow the herd unless you really, really believe that's what you should be doing. I congratulate Boles for writing a fantastic book! It's amazing that he's managed to write such a profound and inspiring book at such a young age (he was in his 20's), but that's the power of actually providing yourself with self-directed learning!