“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
I interviewed twins Rasmus and Christian Mikkelsen, owners of a multi-million dollar online education company called PublishingLife.com, to get their expert advice.
There’s no doubt that American society is obsessed with college. We’ve been told that we can’t hope to achieve success unless we get a good education from a reputable school. After all, consider how society measures success – high wages, prestigious job titles, luxury cars, designer clothes – you name it.
For a long time, the college route was the only path to financial success… But as the world continues to rapidly change, traditional education isn’t changing with it, deeming much less effective now than ever.
On average, college tuition rises by 8% a year – far above the standard currency inflation rate. This rate means that college tuition doubles every nine years. A baby born today will see a threefold increase by the time they’re old enough to attend university.
Student loans are now a staggering $1.56 trillion, with an average of $32,731 per borrower.
Worst of all, many college students are struggling with finding a job while dealing with student loan debt. Just look at these statistics:
- According to a study from The Association of American Colleges & Universities, 58% of employers think that colleges aren’t preparing students for entry-level jobs.
- A 2013 Gallup poll found that only about 1/3 of business leaders believe that American colleges are preparing graduates with the necessary skills for their business.
- A 2013 study by Chegg found that only 39% of hiring managers reported that the college graduates they have interviewed in the past two years have been well-prepared for a job in their field of study
As many as 43% of college students are underemployed in their first job. Of those 43%, two-thirds remain underemployed within the first five years, and over half remain so after a decade.
An Alternative to College
“I think the things that are most important to be successful in life aren’t taught in school,” said Rasmus Mikkelsen, a 25-year-old entrepreneur.
“For example, one foundation of achieving anything great is having strong habits that you consistently follow every day for years,” he said. “I think people need to be taught what valuable habits look like and how to stick to them. If you really want to set people up to be successful and productive, teach them that. But it’s rarely ever discussed throughout a child’s education.”
Rasmus went on to talk about how schools should have classes for financial management, self-confidence, relationships, mindset, health, and other topics he feels the education system overlooks.
“Self-development is the foundation to achieving greatness, but it isn’t taught in school,” he said.
His skepticism towards college isn’t surprising. After all, Rasmus and Christian did attend college, but they feel the education learned from online courses, mentors, and real world experience is the real reason they have succeeded.
“I remember I took a class in college called International Business where a big amount of focus was put into learning definitions… I was shocked,” said Rasmus.
“When we were 21, and we looked into the future envisioning what life would be like if we stuck with the traditional college to corporate job path, it was terrifying,” said Christian. “If that’s the life I am going to live the rest of my life, I might as well be dead. The thought of a future like that was so painful that there was literally no way we would ever put up with that.”
Instead, the Mikkelsen Twins took an alternative path. They began an online business built on self-publishing e-books, print books and audiobooks on Amazon.
Within three years, their side hustle evolved into a full-fledged online education business earning multi-million dollars a year.
They achieved all of that, not because of their degree, but because of their forward thinking, self-development, habits and a strong work ethic.
“It is the alternative education in the form of online self education and traveling that has really changed our life,” said Rasmus. “The impact has been a hundred times that of what I learned in 15 years of school.”
The Mikkelsen Twins’ situation is unique. As business owners, they don’t need a degree to be successful. Just look at Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Michael Dell. All these prestigious men dropped out of college and became tech innovators.
The Mikkelsen Twins believe a college degree is extremely valuable for specialized fields like doctors and lawyers. But, getting a Business degree is almost entirely useless for a modern entrepreneur.
“Based on the price you’re paying, you should get a successful business owner teaching you how to start and run a business,” said Christian. “Instead, you are learning from someone who either never owned a business or failed, and settled to be a teacher instead. That’s who you are learning from.”
Travel: The Best Education
The Mikkelsen Twins also believe that travel is one of the best ways to learn all about yourself and gain knowledge of the world.
“The best way to learn is to go out and experience the world for yourself,” said Rasmus. “The amount of learning, expansion, and growth as a person that happens when you travel cannot be matched in a classroom setting.”
Their sentiment isn’t uncommon. For example, Mark Twain once wrote that “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
Bryan Cranston once said that young people should take a gap year after high school to travel, explore, and get to know themselves. On a long trip young people can take travel writing jobs online to share their experience and make some money.
According to the Mikkelsen Twins, college won’t answer big questions such as “What’s my purpose?” and “Will I still be happy doing this for the next 50 years?”
“I don’t believe most will find those answers in a classroom,” Christian said. “They will find it by exploring new places, trying many new and unfamiliar things, and meeting a lot of different people.”
What Would Make College Worth It?
Investing in education means investing in educators. Students pay tens of thousands of dollars in tuition, yet, teachers still earn notoriously low wages.
“I think it’s a catastrophe how little teachers are paid,” said Rasmus. “Being a teacher is literally one of the most important positions in the world. They are responsible for raising and educating the next generation of people. Being a teacher should be a prestigious position where it is only the best that have the privilege to become it.”
Universities have been slowly decreasing how much of their budgets go towards paying teachers. According to Richard Vedder, a professor of economics emeritus at Ohio University, colleges in the 1970s allocated 40% of their budget to professors’ salaries. Now, he believes that the number is down to 30%.
But investing in better teachers results in a better learning environment. According to a TIME magazine poll, 76% of respondents believe “many of the smartest people in society don’t go into teaching because being a teacher doesn’t pay enough.”
Consider that Korea, Singapore, and Finland only recruit teachers from the top third of their graduating class. In comparison, only 23% of U.S. teachers come from the top third. If teaching were considered a prestigious job, perhaps more well-educated people would gravitate towards it.
“Schools need to attract the best teaching talent in the world,” said Rasmus. “If it were the best minds in each field teaching their craft, the development of their students would increase dramatically and mean more prosperity for the human race as a whole.”
The Mikkelsen Twins believe deeply in the value of education and teachers.
Unfortunately, the current system is not providing the best education and people are starting to question that path and look for better options.
This means unconventional teachers are stepping online and becoming millionaires by serving life changing education to millions of people.
Featured images used by permission of The Mikkelsen Twins