Ahhh…yes. Every day, you and I are exposed to a myriad of dogmas that we blindly and uncritically accept as truth. This food is bad for you, doing this is good for you, don’t eat this at night, do this and you’ll have job stability for life….you’ve surely heard it all. Unfortunately, we live in a society where questioning normalcy and being critical of the status quo is highly frowned upon. Not only will you be shot down if you attempt to do this, but you also risk being mocked/made fun of for “not being real” or “living on a cloud”. Critical thinking is the oil that keeps our engines running smoothly. It’s the precursor for innovation, pioneering, and monumental achievements. If everyone always listened to what the masses said, we wouldn’t have iPhones, professional athletes, or Teslas.

With all of that being said, we wanted to have a little bit of fun here and go through some common conventional sayings that may (or may not) be true. All of these are lines you’ll frequently hear from peers, friends, and family…but we never seem to stop and think to ourselves, “Is this even true?”

Here they are:

  1. A College Degree is a Prerequisite to Success

This is by far one of the most common narratives in modern-day society, and there is certainly no shortage of people who utter this exact phrase on a perpetual basis. People commonly make the claim that “People who’ve completed a bachelor’s degree make more money than those who didn’t attend college.” However, this supposed statistic is a flawed way of viewing this narrative. Why? Because people who don’t attend college, on average, aren’t necessarily making less money BECAUSE they skipped out on college. In other words, this is a classic example of correlation, instead of causation. How do we know this? Because there are so many alternative pathways to gaining knowledge/skills that don’t center around the college.

Skillspire Instructor, Danyal Khan, is a perfect example of this. Danyal finished high school and opted to attend a coding bootcamp straight out of graduation, foregoing college altogether. Today, he’s a guy in his mid-20s who not only teaches with us but has also worked for multiple companies whilst receiving rave reviews for his knowledge/skills. You might be thinking to yourself…”That’s just one person though.” Nope, it isn’t. In fact, many big corporations are starting to realize this, as well.  

Apple CEO, Tim Cook, stated in 2019 that about half of Apple’s US employment the previous year consisted of people who did NOT possess a 4-year degree. Cook even mentioned that there could be a gap between the skills that students are learning in college when compared to what’s required to make it in the real world. Lazlo Bock, Google’s former Senior Vice President of People Operations, said this back in 2014: “When you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings, and we should do everything we can to find those people.”

We’re not here to tell you that college is useless, or that it’s always preferred to forego college in favor of alternative routes. Rather, we’re simply trying to open up the discussion for some open-minded discussions around this topic. A college degree simply isn’t a pre-requisite to success, and countless millionaires & billionaires are perfect evidence of that.

  1. Coding is Hard

I am not a techie. I’m in Marketing. I’ve taken a few coding courses and felt that it wasn’t for me. I simply wasn’t able to grasp the concepts as seamlessly as my more technically-inclined classmates, and it just wasn’t my calling card. Even with that being said, I’d be the first to admit that coding is NOT “hard”. I did not refuse to become a techie because I felt that coding was too difficult. Nothing in life is truly “hard”. The issue here is that coding is a skill…and with any life skill, it requires that you pay your dues. Sweat equity, long hours, grinding…you have to respect the process.  

Try telling Mike Trout that hitting a baseball is hard: “But Mike, I heard hitting a baseball has been scientifically proven as the most difficult skill in all of the sports!” Mike might come back at you with, “Nah, it’s easy…I’ve been doing it my whole life and I’m still taking daily swings at the cage.” Try telling Ray Allen that draining three-pointers is difficult, try telling Jay Cutler that throwing a football over 60 yards is impossible, or try telling a powerlifter that bench pressing 405lbs. is HARD! I can already tell you how they’ll respond. The truth is that coding is just like any other life skill worth having. Sure, it may come easier to some people, but that’s with all things in life. The 7ft. guy has a smaller gap to dunk a basketball, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for the 6ft. guy…it just means that the shorter guy must train harder to improve his vertical jump.

The take-home point is that you must commit to the process. Long hours in front of your computer, debugging code, frustrating missing semicolons, skipping out on hanging with your friends…there is always some form of sacrifice. The key is to remain persistent. You want the new dream tech career, the big payday, and the financial benefits…which are all well and good. I want that for you, just as badly as you do. However, don’t expect that it will simply “come” to you. If you start off with HTML and find it confusing after a month of hard work, don’t simply say something like, “Eh, my classmates found it to be so easy and I couldn’t really grasp it. I think coding just isn’t for me. I’ll keep searching to find my true talent.” Your true talent can be whatever you want it to be. Don’t travel throughout your life expecting valuable skills to randomly fall into your lap without any effort. You can land that Senior Web Developer position you’ve always dreamt of with a Silicon Valley company…but you need to remove the word “hard” from your vocabulary.

  1. “I don’t have the time.”

This is probably the ultimate scapegoat for anything and everything that we AREN’T keen on doing. This one is listed here as a myth, but there’s a bit of a unique twist here. We should swap out the above statement and instead say, “I’m not willing to spend the time.” Don’t get me wrong, many of us have tons of obligations/commitments. Between work, family, health, and hobbies, time can be a struggle for many of us. With that being said (and I’ve definitely been in this boat, myself), how many of us are willing to admit that we spend too much time scrolling through Instagram? How many of us are bold enough to admit that the TV is on for several hours every week? How many of us can truly look in the mirror and say that we capitalize on every hour of every day? I’m not saying that we can ever be like robots because we can’t. We need time for a deep breath, a coffee, a dinner, a night out with friends…that’s totally fine. At the same time, would it be possible for us to cut out an hour of TV time and study coding? Would it be feasible to put our phones away for a few hours and commit to watching some free courses on YouTube? These are the questions that we have to constantly ask ourselves. If we find ourselves in positions where we can admittedly use our time more efficiently, then we have to stop saying that we don’t have enough of it.

The three points we talked about are just a few of the myths that center around the tech industry. Honestly, two of them apply to many other life circumstances, as well. My goal here is to stir the pot; to get us thinking, rather than simply nodding along with everything that we are told on a daily basis. Critical thinking is an amazing mental exercise. It forces us to view worldly circumstances with objectivity, leaving out personal bias. Confronting these types of issues allows us to discover market inefficiencies, uncover misconceptions, and make new discoveries. From now on…any time someone tells you even the simplest thing, just ask yourself, “Is this really true?”

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