Bill Gates and College

Bill Gates is often pointed to as one guy who became extremely successful without ever graduating college. The problem with that notion is Bill Gates has always been 100% supportive of college. Forbes recently had an article about college ratings, Bill Gates was one of the main figures in the article.

Many people like to look at US News & World Report for where colleges are ranked. A lot of others can be utilized to: Huffington Post College, Forbes, Princeton Review, just to name a few.

Bill Gates’ biggest reasoning behind the perverse college ratings is that none of the top rating groups use much feedback.

The problem is that it gives credit to schools that attract the best students rather than schools that take poorly prepared students and help them get ready for the next stage.

There are MANY colleges that do a good job of taking poorly prepared students and doing good with them. I assume, there are many colleges that also get good students and do nothing to prepare them for the next stage. I think that there are more schools that actually fail students than actually get them prepared.

I have a history of being a lifelong learner. I graduated high school, have an undergraduate degree, one Master’s degree completed, and one more Master’s degree almost completed. I can honestly say that all three have failed in preparing me for the next steps — either real world jobs OR further education. My high school really lacked in preparing me for college. My undergrad did nothing to prepare me for a job, but did do well in preparing me for graduate school (basically how to write papers). My first graduate degree did an excellent job of getting me to think a little differently with things. My current graduate program is probably the most worthless educational experience I have been through.

We’re huge believers that if you want teachers to be better, test scores are simply not the way to do it.

This is extremely important and true. Education is so based around tests, it’s terrible. Not a good way to do it. Yet, nothing will change anytime soon.

What sucks is…education is required to make it anymore. Unless someone is born-into money, which is the easiest way to be a millionaire these days…the opportunity to be a start-up or entrepreneur is extremely challenging. Education has to be the route. But, now, education is hardly affordable. I’ve incurred tens of thousands of debt. It sucks. I’ve also became more “qualified” for certain jobs, but the problem is, no one is hiring unless you know someone. This is clearly the easiest way to gain employment, know someone. Which, this is also what college does for you. It enhances your social and professional network. You will come into contact with people who know you and know what you are capable of.

Bill Gates went to college for 3 years. He’s taken more classes than anyone else, he says so himself. He sees the pluses of higher education. He’s also taken advantage of numerous free courses. That’s important too. If you cannot afford education, there’s ways to get higher education at a free or reduced rate (here, here, and here— for example). Find a way to get educated. Find a way to meet people. Find a way to be a positive impact in society.

Most importantly, figure out a way to know the things that college doesn’t teach you. Bills. Insurance. House buying, renting, or leasing. Car buying, renting, or leasing. Older age situations like assisted living, funeral costs, and wills. There are all kinds of important things that are crucial to living that all the education in the world never touches — unfortunately.

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2 comments

  1. People should be very, very careful when using Bill Gates as an example pertaining to anything in education. Here are two of the reasons we say that: 1) Gates came from a wealthy family and was enrolled in an exclusive private school at the age of 13. At the time, his school had one of only three easily programmable computers in America, and due to his connections, the young Gates was permitted access to that computer where he learned to write code. By his teens – owing in large part to luck and wealth – he had gained extensive experience writing computer code. He didn’t need college. 2) He’s currently throwing A Lot of money at public schools in the name of… philanthropy, we guess. He’s identified teachers as “the problem” with our schools, and beginning with that wrong-headed conclusion is throwing good money after bad with “solutions” that simply aren’t working. Meanwhile, he is ignoring the seminal problem in our public schools – poor administrative leadership. In the military, on sports teams, in the private sector, success comes down to leadership. It’s precisely the same in our public schools… That this has eluded Mr. Gates is, to say the least, troubling.

  2. In regards to your post:
    1) The same can be said about NUMEROUS people — a lot of wealth out there, a lot enrolling in exclusive private schools early, etc. He didn’t NEED college, you are right. But he admits the value in it. He probably did use a lot of his college connections to get where he is too.

    2) Bill Gates has done more for education than most people, and probably a lot of people…combined. He can blame a lot on whatever he wants. I do the same. Poor administrative leadership is only the tip of the iceberg. It goes WELL beyond that. It starts at the top. The very top. The government. Teachers, like any other leaders, can make the best of their situations. No different than coaches. No different than military leaders. There’s a lot of people put in unfortunate situations — or even choose them — that make the best of everything.

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. I, by no means, am a HUGE supporter of Bill Gates. This was more of a topic of what he had to say about college, and some of my thoughts as well.

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