The Truth About Networking in College

One of the biggest reasons students are told they need college is for “socialization” and “networking”. There’s a fantastic cultural vision people have that inside a college campus sons and daughters will be connected with some magical insider to the industry of their choice, who will then usher them into a world of fulfilling employment, rainbows and lollipops.

Networking = Getting Crunked Thursday Night

Um, no. In reality, the sons and daughters of the world are going to be doing one thing with his or her new friends: Getting cccccccccerunked.

College is Great for Making New Friends to get Alcohol Poisoning With.

College is Great for Making New Friends to get Alcohol Poisoning With.

According to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse,

“about four out of five college students drink alcohol and about half of college students who drink, also consume alcohol through binge drinking.”

I’m no prude, but from an Adult perspective college binge drinking as some nasty shit. It’s one thing to have a couple of beers or a glass of wine with dinner but these future geniuses are actually killing billions of brain cells every weekend – they are paying $50,000 a year to do so.

Last I checked it was possible to get shit faced without attending college, though I have to admit some of the proud “party schools” in the country cannot be beat. I think it’s great that the Princeton Review ranks party schools. I think it’s important when determining where you are going to spend $50,000 of your child’s savings and put them another $50,000 in debt for the rest of their life — you make sure the school their attending has a good reputation for wild, underage drinking and date rape.

Thankfully, one of the top contenders this year was the University of California at Santa Barbara. So that should ease up some of the tuition tension. This is an actual screenshot from a video celebrating UCSBs insane party life.

This is college networking, and the industry leaders of tomorrow.

This is college networking, and the industry leaders of tomorrow, at State School Tuition prices.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Students do occasionally go to class and read books from time to time. But this is really the “college experience” that so many parents bafflingly desire for their children, and it is somehow ridiculously believed to segway into the growth of a professional career.

Now, it’s true this may be the case for the Finance Industry, where the ability to ingest alcohol and stimulants is practically a pre-requisite. But what about everybody else?

Skipping College for Smarter Networking

Dogs network by sniffing each other’s butts. It’s not very calculated. The “College” approach to Networking has a lot more in common with how dogs do it than how successful people do it.

A bunch of dogs end up in the dog part, they sniff each other’s butts and may, by chance, make whatever kinds of connections that dogs make and learn whatever it is dogs learn by sniffing said butt.

Similarly, in college, you have an 18 year old student who has no clear goal or idea what he or she wants to do with his life, studying material that is totally irrelevant for their future, partying and getting blitzed with other random other students who are similarly directionless. Friendships may be made, but it’s very primitive.

Note the similarities between the dogs ritual and the frat ritual.

Note the similarities between the dogs ritual and the frat ritual.

Now imagine that the same student holds off a year to figure out what career he wants to pursue, instead of blowing that first $20,000 on Freshman Classes. He then goes out into the web and begins to reach out to people he has researched that he would like to get advice from, or share his ideas with and takes an intentional approach.

I teach networking to high school students and have helped people as young as 15 begin professional relationships with people in the field of their passion.

Smart students that skip college network by seeking out people with similar passions goals, leaders in the fields they want to work in, and finding creative and compelling ways to contact them. I recently saw a person I admire on The Colbert Report – found his blog, friended him on Facebook and now we in touch. I email regularly with contributors to the Washington Post and U.S. News and World Report not because I got  a hook up from a professor in college but because I learned to send compelling emails.

It’s very intentional.

So during your early 20s, definitely enjoy yourself, get drunk, and get laid. But don’t pay some asshole $100,000 to do it. And don’t confuse that with actual networking.

To learn about how to meet and connect with like minded people and build your network, starting when you are in high school, click here for our Skip College Networking Guide.

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