In a country where student loans are on the rise, yet skills are declining, it’s only fair to question what’s going on behind the doors of America’s educational institutions. Several years ago, it took a highly educated individual to acquire wealth, but today, not always. We asked Dan Lok, a multi-millionaire entrepreneur who didn’t take the traditional route when it came to his education.
“I dropped out of college because I found that the education system was just outdated. I started my first business in high school, but I found myself always disagreeing with teachers because they continued to teach from the textbooks; I wanted to learn from real life experience,” says Dan Lok. Dan didn’t just talk the talk, though; he went out and found what he was searching for. He goes on to explain that he believes educating yourself is, of course, a great thing; however, the current education system leaves students with appalling loans, a lack of modern skills, and with a lack of interest in their work.
“In what world does that make you successful? I remember losing my mother’s entire savings, maxed out credit cards and even started borrowing money from my relatives. The debt put so much weight on me, and it made me feel so desperate for money! Do you know hard it is to do good work when you’re desperate?”
Dan makes a valid point. There’s about $1.5 trillion total U.S. student loan debt, 44.2 million Americans who are part of that statistic. Meanwhile, anxiety disorders are rising and reaching an all-time high. Dan says the people behind the system are partially to blame. “They know the statistics and the damage they’re doing just as much as they know the good they’re doing. It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry, and the education system is just a business. They are so focused on how they can charge more each year rather than help educate people. Most of these institutions’ intentions aren’t to educate people; it’s to educate them just enough until they come back for more and realize they don’t know enough. What I find crazy is the student who works so hard and finally, graduates, goes out there and realizes he still can’t find a job, and then goes back after seeing a marketing campaign for an MBA or some other degree. Then you go back out, and you’re ‘too educated and over-qualified.’ After all of that, you’re in thousands of dollars of debt. That’s insane to me.”
Lok seems quite right, and he’s not the only one doing well who thinks so. Even Michael Bloomberg, Founder and CEO at Bloomberg L.P. says he “thinks the education system in our country is going in the wrong direction.”
Lok brings our attention to how easy it is in today’s world to reverse engineer the kind of job you want; he says roles are becoming much more diverse, and the education system is not. Today, you can modify your education to a specific type of job just by learning things for free – online or in the library. “The problem with the education system is that humans run it, but algorithms run the internet, and algorithms are much faster than humans,” Lok says.
Lok strongly believes technology has a lot to do with it, suggesting that formal education institutions start catching up. Meanwhile, he recommends everyone else continue to self-educate even alongside schooling to get a personalized education. “Nobody has the same two goals – it’s up to you to perfect yours instead of fitting someone else’s mould.”