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We’ve all been taught in this day and age–especially us millennials–to get good grades in school, get a degree, and find a good paying job. From an early age, it is drilled into the heads of Americans that this is the best path to success and prosperity. Mention, while you’re still a student, that your dream is to start a business and you’re abruptly “re-educated” on how dismal such a prospect is and advised that your goal should be to become an excellent employee. And it’s not just the teachers peddling this advice, but it’s the parents as well.
With all of this pressure coming from all directions imaginable, daring to explore ones own creativity and talents has little to no community at all for support. This new age philosophy is baffling as starting a business and exploring ones own talents was philosophically more in line with the original American dream.
I give credit to the conservatives of America as they are a small demographic of the American population that know how to run a family business and how to proficiently take care of themselves and their extended family without adopting this new age philosophy.
I’ve looked into what many successful entrepreneurs have had to say about the key to success, and they almost always point out it was the resolve they had to venture away from this new age philosophy. I would add that some were quite critical of it. Rather than enabling one to achieve success with their natural talents, skills or interests, we are being boxed into an educational system that is not tailored toward each individual. If not the learners, then who does this system serve?
I was having a conversation with someone about standardized testing. They brought up how someone local had scored a perfect on their ACT and how bright their future was.
“As impressive as that is,” I said, “you are severely misguided in the same way that this student is if you think so highly of a mere test score.”
They then replied:
“Don’t you know what that means? They don’t have to pay anything for college! And they’re probably smart enough to be anything they want to be!”
I gave credit where it was due:
“Free college is amazing, and having the smarts to score so high is worth striving for, but the score itself is given way too much value.”
Education in America has many problems, but the real problems are hidden behind other initiatives and issues. One of the biggest problems with American education is its over-emphasis on testing. If you would like to better understand this problem, you may read a previous article of mine. In one sentence, education is not so much about learning anymore as it is all about scores, devaluing quality education.
One of the most eye-opening facts you’ll learn after studying the opposite side of the success equation, is that many of the entrepreneurs, oftentimes dropouts with average grades and no degree, end up with all of these high-scoring, PHD students working for them. To quote entrepreneur Tai Lopez who runs a success blog and website:
“The education system failed us.”
Both the education system and the employment system have been molded to produce great “employees.” What doesn’t make sense is that the most academically gifted that score so high are not smart enough to take full advantage of their ability. The education system does a poor job preparing one to be an entrepreneur or self-employed individual. So in most cases, these uber-talented students end up working for large companies that prey on talented people like themselves. They end up with a comfortable 5 or 6 figure salary, while the company they work for uses their talent to make millions.
So this leads me to my main message, which is that we allow a mere test score–a number in some archive–to define us. I would still find this offensive and demeaning even if I scored perfect on everything. Then, we ignorantly allow these employers that prey on our talent to define our worth by trading our time and ability for a comfortable pay check. Even for those that see through this paradigm, they are still caught up in a society that, regardless of how they feel about it, will still define them accordingly.