Entrepreneurs Should Stay In School

Recently I posted a column on PandoDaily that urged entrepreneurs to stay in school. It led to a spirited debate on Twitter. Jason Calacanis, for one, disagreed, and said that young entrepreneurs should pay HIM to learn at his feet. As he tweeted: “Seriously @Penenberg someone send me their kid at 18 and I will work them to death for $10k a year.”

No doubt he would. One thing I’ve always admired about Jason is his work ethic and his take-no-prisoners approach to life and business.

At any rate, Jason claimed the debt of an NYU student would be between $100K to $200K, but this is not true. Average college debt is $27K, not $100K. The average earnings difference between college grads versus high school grads is $21K. So within 18 months the difference in earnings between a college grad versus someone with only a high school diploma would equal the school debt undertaken.

It’s true that college debt is staggering, but compared to the alternative—not getting a college degree—it’s a good deal.

Would you tell someone who wanted to be an actor or musician to drop out of school. Perhaps, if she’s really, really good. But perhaps not if the person isn’t in that top 5%. And if you are a coder the same rules don’t apply, since there is a severe shortage of people with your skills. But for everyone else, shouldn’t you use the same metrics for entrepreneurs?