The following article from The Collegian published today caught my attention:

A 4.0 grade point average was not enough to keep Billy Willson, freshman in architectural engineering, at Kansas State. On Dec. 17, the first Saturday after finals week, Willson posted on Facebook that he had dropped out of college after finishing his first semester at K-State with a 4.0 GPA.

“It’s one of the best choices I’ve ever made,” Willson wrote in his post. “Not because I am adverse to learning, but actually the exact opposite.”

Willson said in an email interview he has always had big goals to become an entrepreneur, and after college he planned on working for an engineering firm before starting his own. He said there was no exact moment where he realized college was no longer for him. “It probably first began when I started questioning how old I would be when my engineering firm would actually become profitable. I estimated I would be at least 35 before then. That was one of the large factors in my decision, the amount of time it would take me to achieve my goals.”

“Many things happened at the same time that affected my decision, one of the other huge ones was finding videos on YouTube that literally teach you step by step to build an online business with little money,” Willson continued. “If there was any platform that swayed my decision, it was definitely YouTube. To see so many entrepreneurs with dreams like my own, achieve them at ages of 20, 22, 24 was really inspiring for me. Many of them also had extremely valid points of reasons not to go to college as well, especially if you want to become an entrepreneur.”

The number one reason he decided to drop out, however, was because Willson said he was learning much more outside of school than he was in the classroom. “I honestly have learned more in the past six months on my own than I have my entire school career,” Willson said. “That may seem like an exaggeration, but it truly is not. I’ve been able to learn an immense amount through entrepreneurial videos, podcasts, meeting entrepreneurs, reading, and especially through actively creating my own business.

Willson’s business is RaveWave, which specializes in accessories and clothing related to electronic dance music, raves, festivals and concerts. Willson said time is his most valuable asset and is the only thing we have a limited amount of. Because of this, he said his biggest regret was the time he spent in class and on homework, as he can never get that time back.

Willson continued to write in his post that college students are being scammed and not learning about what will actually benefit them after earning a college degree.   “Colleges are REQUIRING people to spend money taking general education courses to learn about the quadratic formula (and other stuff they will never use).   “To have students learning more history after 12 years of history in primary and secondary education makes absolutely no sense to me. And having students being forced to pay for a class like college algebra when they are in a major which will never use high-level math, is a complete waste of their money and time in my opinion.”

In a clarification tweet on Twitter, Willson wrote to make it clear that he does not have anything against K-State specifically, but the college system as a whole. “There certainly are exception situations where college can be an amazing opportunity for a person, but I so feel this is overrated for a majority

From a graduate from Berkley and New England Conservatory who wishes to remain anonymous:  “I’m going to be a harsh: unless you have a lot of money to play with (and i mean a LOT), music schools are a tremendous waste. i went to both Berklee and the New England Conservatory, have two advanced degrees, and while i learned a huge amount about my interests and enjoyed myself greatly, i spent the next 6 years after graduation UN-learning all the nonsense. No client has ever asked a single question about my schooling”.

Berklee and most schools music or otherwise teach a curriculum that is inherently unrelated in any way to what it actually takes to work within “the music industry”. because “the industry” is just clients who are interested in results, not pedigree.   If a kid with a laptop and fruity loops with a bit of buzz can do a nice track that fits the scene/game/commercial/whatever, and he is cheaper than someone with multiple degrees from fancy schools and a $500,000 home studio, guess who gets the job? Nobody is going to hire you as a musician for the fact that you have a degree or did well in your counterpoint class. Nobody cares. So why bother spending $150k+ on it ?

The only things that WILL get you jobs and a career is experience, a solid demo reel and name recognition. 4 years of listening to out-of-touch teachers talk about their brief careers in the 1980s isn’t going to get you any of that. and coming out of school with 6 figures of debt to pay off certainly isn’t going to.

My suggestion, if you actually want to work on music for you livelihood, would be to (surprise) ‘actually work on making music’. write a ton of music, learn you DAWs inside and out, get involved in projects, take a few years and work for free and for experience. That’s what you’d be doing at school anyway, but here you get actual experience and your name on projects that exist in the real world, not some teachers filing cabinet. Then if you are any good, you can use that leverage to freelance or send in your reels and experience to a bigger company for hire.   If you are not any good, well then at least you are not $160k in debt and also not any good. I’m telling you this as a person who won the game. I just wish someone had the experience to tell me this when i was young.”

On a personal note, I remember years ago going to my son’s high school counselor, asking for permission to take my son out of school for about 6 months to work with me on an international music tour I was handling. The counselor’s words to me were “don’t let school interfere with your son’s education.”    After finishing high school, my son continued on the road with me. Today he is one of the most successful tour managers out there in both rock and country music, a feat he could have only achieved through experience.  I am not blasting all higher education – I am blasting trying to put everyone in the same box.

When it comes to a career in music, there are still some schools out there that seem to keep it relevant if you choose to go that route:

The BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology is a British performing arts and technology school located in the London Borough of Croydon, England, with a mandate to provide education and vocational training for the performing arts, media, art and design and the technologies that make performance possible.   Selective in its intake, the school is notable for its numerous famous alumni including Marsha Ambrosius, Adele, Tara McDonald, Leo the Lion, Stefan Abingdon, Katy B, The Feeling, Imogen Heap, Jessie J, Cush Jumbo, Rizzle Kicks, the Kooks, King Krule, Loyle Carner, Leona Lewis, Ashley Madekwe, Katie Melua, Kate Nash, Shingai Shoniwa, Amy Winehouse, Ella Eyre, Rainy Milo and Antonio Orozco. Established in 1991 under the CTC program, the school is funded by the British Government with support from the British Record Industry Trust and maintains an independent school status from the local education authority. The school is remarkable as being one of only two performing arts and technology schools in the country that are FREE to attend, the other being Birmingham Ormiston Academy (BOA) in Birmingham city centre.

I have had several people ask me about Full Sail University in Winter Haven, Fl.   I have met some of their staff and they seem to be nice enough people and competent.  It is probably a good place for those on the technical side to consider for schooling, but it will always be experience that gets you the gig.

Right here in Nashville a class of Belmont University students have joined their professor, legendary musician and The Turtles founding member Mark Volman, for an East Coast run of the “Happy Together Tour” for the third consecutive year.  The tour’s “classroom” and schedule include one tour bus, a precious few hotel rooms, long hours and many stages—for two and a half weeks and a grade.  Under the guidance of Volman, assistant professor of entertainment industry studies, and staff adviser Lucas Boto, the students are working with touring artists and crew professionals in the areas of tour management, stage management, audio engineering, tour accounting and merchandise sales.


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