Better Than College is a book about how to achieve success in life without going to college and getting a degree. Once read, you will have realized it is so much more.
Blake offers his book to students for free. As many students have a lot going on, he values their time. So, right in the Preface he asks, Does This Book Deserve Your Time? His answers are outlined in the following six propositions:
- College is just too expensive.
- Higher education and college are not the same thing.
- You can give yourself a higher education without college.
- Skipping college isn't the best idea for everyone.
- It's a gamble either way.
- There's a culture of fear around college, but it's the wrong fear.
Blake tells his own story at the end of the Preface. This is smart because it's relevant to the rest of the book and draws the reader in closer to Blake as he progresses on. (In contrast to telling his story at the book's end).
The first section is titled, Good Reasons to Skip College. Blake demonstrates that self-directed learning is not without costs. He offers tools and ideas that the student will need in addition to activities that cost nothing. The concept of self-knowledge is introduced here. Without it the student will not succeed. Blake talks about gap years and testing assumptions, which is closely related to the design thinking methodology in Standing Out in a Sea of Sameness. Two chapters are devoted to financial security without college.
The next section is, What to do Instead of College. Blake begins with the stories of five young adults who discovered success without college. Next is the ZTC Strategy. This is the process designed to lead to success without college. Blake goes into detail on these core components:
- Build self-knowledge.
- Give yourself assignments.
- Create and share value.
- Find support.
- Market yourself.
Blake concludes his book by providing fourteen ways to begin your journey and listing authors of influence to him on his own journey.
My initial, quick gut reaction upon reading this book: Insanely clear, concise and coherent with zero fluff. Secondly I thought, students who are not mindlessly attending college could benefit from this book as well.
The most important take-away for me from Better Than College is the importance of self-knowledge. Blake lists it as one step in the ZTC Strategy, but I thought it permeated every page of his book. The more the young adult knows about herself, the less waste in her life. Tens of thousands of dollars spent on a degree that one might not use (or gone into debt for) along with the time it took are examples of waste.
Better Than College should be required reading for every ninth grader and their caretakers. It should be read by all college students who choose to not mindlessly muddle their way through school. And it should be read by folks who just plain and simply care about kids.
Finally, Matt Hern's testimonial for Better Than College pegged my relevancy meter so hard it broke.