James Altucher | 50 Alternatives to College and How to Choose Yourself (Episode 300)

“The best indicator of a successful tomorrow is having a successful day today — that’s the only thing.”  – James Altucher

The Cheat Sheet:

  • Why starting a business is better than going to college. (27:00)
  • Anyone can take the bar exam in California: true or false? (30:20)
  • US economics in three minutes.  (34:40)
  • Where is the money in today’s economy and is there enough? (39:35)
  • James’ Choose Yourself message: what it is, and how and why to apply it to your life. (44:50)
  • The story of how James thwarted a $30 million financial fraud. (1:05:45)
  • And so much more…

Could you get more education from starting and failing at a business than from going to college? If someone said to you that sending an 18-year-old to college is like sending an 18-year-old to Vietnam, would you agree? That’s what James Altucher believes, and he’s our guest for episode 300.

Having founded over 20 companies along with creating and publishing 11 books, James Altucher knows a few things about how the world works and he doesn’t see the necessity of college for most people.

Today, James and I talk about alternatives to college and why they are important to thriving in today’s economy, how the American Dream has gone through a death and a rebirth, how to choose yourself every day, and how James stopped a $30 million financial fraud…accidentally.

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Although he is not in favor of college for the average person, James did attend undergraduate and graduate school. He’s an alum of Cornell for his undergrad degree in computer science and he earned his graduate degree at Carnegie Mellon, also in computer science.

Despite this stellar education, James’ programming skills were so limited his first employer sent him to a remedial school to get up to speed. Although his programming skills were eventually brought up to par, James went the entrepreneurial route.

In fact, it’s a route he considers to be far more valuable than a college degree for most people. If you start and fail at a business, you will learn just as much  or more than if you would have  gone to school for a college degree, according to James.

He believes starting a business is the best alternative to spending thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt for a degree you may not use later in life.

Another alternative he offers is to actually work in the field you want to go into. Want to be a doctor? Go work in a hospital changing bedpans for six months. If you still want to heal the sick and be in medicine, go to school for it. Think you want to be a lawyer? Go work in a law firm and see if you still like it at the end of summer. If you don’t, at least you didn’t waste your time and a lot of money on a legal degree.

You need to do this before investing your time and money into a degree that you hate because America’s economy has shifted. No longer are there a plethora of middle management jobs. According to James, that entire layer of the US economy has fallen to the wayside.

While that may raise some eyebrows and some concerns, he says there is still plenty of money and innovation in our country. It would benefit everyone to explore other options instead of trying to hang on to work that is no longer there.

And that’s where self-care can be such a powerful tool. Instead of fretting over things you can’t control and worrying about how to network your way to the top as the old mindset teaches, James believes in focusing on four areas of life every day to ensure you’re healthy and happy on the inside. Everything external comes from your internal state, so take care of the internal and the external will get taken care of too.

Our conversation on the topic of skipping college and alternatives to higher education may be a controversial one, but it’s a discussion worth having. As always, we don’t leave you hanging! We point out alternatives and options if you decide not to go or not to send your kids to college.
There’s plenty more James and I talk about; I hope you’ll listen and digest all the great takeaways…and then start applying them to your life for self-mastery.

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AJ Harbinger - author of 1161 posts on The Art of Charm

AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality. Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.

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