Ambitions Beyond School
In the face of poignant rote learning in the confines of the classroom, it is very common, especially in Africa, for youth to contemplate dropping out of school with the aim of wanting to become iconic entrepreneurs.
However, entrepreneurship is not the real motivation behind their desire to drop out. The pathetic education curricula are often why they want they want to drop out. Entrepreneurship is often looked at as a by the way and or a run-to resort.
The youth’s desire to drop out has even led to the emergence of many motivational speakers who give “feel good examples” of how Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs are the 21st century’s most impactful and successful entrepreneurs yet they are college dropouts.
The youth often find consolation and comfort in the existence of such billionaires who have defied the conventional social construct and definition of success, man has created for himself.
There is also another notion, also spread by motivational speakers, that, it is the C-students who often make successful entrepreneurs.
So, one day I engaged my friends who have budding entrepreneurial ambitions, in a dialogue about: “To Drop Out? or Not to Drop Out?”
As the dialogue unfolded, we realized that Bill Gates did not drop out of Harvard University so as to find what to do. Rather, he found what to do then dropped out of Harvard University.
Bill Gates was not a C-student either! He was an A-student, who even got assigned to write the scheduling program for his Lakeside school. There are similar anecdotes, about most of the successful entrepreneurs who have been erroneously dubbed C-students.
So, before we conclude that C-students make successful entrepreneurs or not, we ought to really first find out the truth about the lifestyles of these successful entrepreneurs.
Successful entrepreneurs who don’t complete school are not necessarily C-students. They are students who have and or had ambitions, wit and wisdom beyond school.
They don’t drop out of school to find what to do, but, they find what to do and then drop out.
Their motivation to drop out is not running away from terrible school curricula but is mainly anchored in their strong will to see their ideas and phenomena, shape the society in which they live.
So, let’s not run to entrepreneurship as a resort. It is evident that entrepreneurship requires more wit and wisdom, beyond the confines of the classroom you are running away from.
The correlation between your grades in class and what kind of entrepreneur you can make is insignificant. So, if your idea is really an all-consuming one, one that you can die for, you could drop out and pursue it irrespective of whether you are an A-student or a C-student.
The Sting of Stigma
As my dialogue with friends went on, we also realized that, in Africa, we have successfully been trapped by the very social construct we have created.
In Africa, there is a predetermined “path of success” one must follow, otherwise they are a failure. This path of success, is: to be born, go to nursery school, go to primary school, go to high school, go to university, get a job, get married, have children and then die.
Anyone who develops ambitions and desires that could lead to dropping out of school, like Bill gates, is not only looked at as a failure but also attracts multi-pronged stigmatization from family, friends and the society in which that person lives. The stigmatization is mainly because one has diverted from the conventional path of success.
So, at the end of the dialogue, my friends and I suggested that until there is an escape from this passionately held wrong notion of success, ingenious entrepreneurs who are ready to defy societal dynamics will be rare, especially in Africa.