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By Vincent Nguyen
This is a guest post by Vincent Nguyen, author of Selfstairway.com. Vincent helps people build confidence in themselves and challenges people to think unconventionally. Learn how to be confident and charismatic with his upcoming free eBook.
We all want to go on and do amazing things, right? Of course, we do. In America, we’re raised to believe that to achieve success you have to go to a good college and wait until graduation.
It’s the golden formula and is preached as the only way to success. People who want to go another route are foolish, lazy, or unrealistic. Anyone who hears “college isn’t the only path to success” will shake their head and talk about how only Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg got lucky. It’s all luck. Why take the risk? Then these same people will tell you everyone has to go to college.
Since you’re on UnCollege, you’re no stranger to unconventional thinking. You’re well aware that college is no longer a guarantee and you know that it has many risks, with many students drowning in debt and struggling with unemployment as a graduate.
Even though you know this, you may be stuck attending college against your will. There’s no one holding a gun to your head or anything, but there are a lot of external pressures. Society’s disdain for people who don’t want to go to college, your family’s traditional mindset, or peer pressure from your friends, any of these can be factors.
I don’t hate college, nor am I anti-college, I actually love most of the experience. However, I know that my passion doesn’t lie in a field that demands a piece of paper. People much rather see experience and talent, which is why I’m setting down the framework for a flexible lifestyle filled with passion-driven projects that bring in a decent flow of cash while waiting for graduation.
Most people in my position would just wait out the four or so years of college and then go off to do their own thing after. Or worse, they force themselves into a career they absolutely hate and they continue to live a miserable life they had never wanted.
I looked into the future and I couldn’t imagine myself doing something I wouldn’t be excited to wake up and do every morning. I also couldn’t just wait another 4 years before I started something I’m proud of.
So what am I doing in the meantime? I started a personal development blog on January 23, 2013. That doesn’t sound like much does it? Well, that’s not all.
I self-taught myself things like Search Engine Optimization (SEO,) Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO,) copywriting, and some other content marketing skills through my journey of building up my site. It paid off very well as it helped me grow my blog incredibly quick. Then I used these skills to build up my resume and get 3 internships.
It gets better.
My blog’s traction attracted people who wanted me to write for them, so I had guest blogged on several of the biggest personal development blogs. Those posts attracted companies who pay freelance writers and sometimes I make more than $150 for a single article.
Having my blog made me reach out and connect to a lot of influencers. Just last month I cold-emailed dozens of famous authors, entrepreneurs, and writers and got them to help me out on a project. I can’t really talk about that yet but I made several connections as a result of what I just did.
None of this would have happened if I waited around until graduation. There are so many things you can do while you attend school and I’m only one example. Don’t make excuses either. “I don’t have time,” just doesn’t cut it. If you have kids, a few full-time jobs, all while attending college then maybe you can say you have no time. Fortunately, most college students aren’t in that situation.
Stop waiting for graduation. Do something amazing right now.
Need ideas? Here are a few things you can do right now. There’s bound to be something you can have fun with:
Practice your informal writing skills. Don’t let college be the only time you get practice writing. Most of what you learn in classrooms is formal and restrictive writing. Most writing outside of journalism allows you to be flexible with rules and more personal.
Reach out to influencers and connect. You’ll be surprised with how easy it is to get your foot in the door or to become friends with someone you think is very busy. Start becoming a part of the community of someone you look up to. Casually chat with them on Twitter. Email them one day. See if you can get a reply.
You are going to get rejected or ignored by a few people, but that’s good rejection therapy. Best-case scenario is that you make a new contact.
Start a blog. I’m a bit biased here but it really is a lot of fun. If you take the time to learn all the basics then graduating to more advanced forms, you’ll realize there is a lot of work that goes into building a successful online presence. I’m personally seeing exponential growth and it brings a lot of personal satisfaction. Also, it’s really cool to have other people read your thoughts. This does take a lot of work though.
Study what gets people to take action. Lacking motivation? It’s always good to hear how people began their journey and what pushed them through. TED Talks are one of my personal favorites. They’re engaging, intellectual, and relevant.
Get published on a popular blog. Why not try to see if you can get your name out on a popular blog? Believe it or not, you don’t need your own website to get accepted.
Figure out how to rank your full name on Google’s first page (especially if it’s a common name.) Search Engine Optimization (SEO.) A lot of people think it’s sleazy and that you pay your way to the top of Google results, but that’s not true. There are some people who deploy illegal tactics to dominate the rankings, but they usually get fleshed out pretty quick.
Learn the basics of SEO. It’s fun and it may benefit you in another course.
I did everything above. Why can’t you?