Monday, March 19, 2007

Is Your Kid the Next Kevin Durant?

I'm always trying to tie Varsity Dad posts to the latest sports news, and Texas phenom Kevin Durant's early exit from the NCAA Tournament lends itself to an interesting proposition:

If he decides to turn pro, he will be one of the Top 2 picks of the upcoming NBA Draft. It's a lock. Given his status, he'd be crazy NOT to go pro.

(Of course, Florida's three star players -- coming off a national title -- were all expected to be high NBA draft picks, too. Joakim Noah would have been number 1 overall. But all three decided to return to school to defend their title. But it's not like Durant has a similar incentive; what's he going to defend: His team's single NCAA Tournament win?)

Anyway, here's the question: If your kid showed a professional-level aptitude in something like engineering or finance or journalism and they had the opportunity to leave college early and make a TON of money -- and in industries where the value of the actual degree is dubious -- would you support them?

After all: Can't they always go back and get their degree later on? What, precisely, is the value of a college degree when one substantial end-goal of college -- getting a job and building a career -- doesn't necessarily require one, particularly in the cases of extreme talent?

-- D.S.


SCK said...

Entrepreneurship is the one avenue where a degree isn't required, and the home runs of starting your own business are similar to the big payouts pro athletes get. Michael Dell dropped out of college to start Dell, and Bill Gates dropped out to run Microsoft full time. And if my kid could achieve half of what they did you bet I'd let him leave school early!

The Brooklyn Boy said...

I attended UNC-Chapel Hill, and have been making this argument ever since I went there. I graduated in 2005, covering the NCAA Championship team for the school paper, and as much as it annoyed all my friends, I told them over and over it made NO SENSE for any of the juniors (Felton, May, McCants) or Marvin Williams to stay at UNC.

The hypothetical argument I proposed was that if I, an aspiring journalist, had reason to believe the top 30 print media organizations (SI, The New York Times, etc.) would pay me a guaranteed minimum of $1 million for three years while I learned on the job, I would have dropped out of Carolina in a second, great experiences and friends be damned. There's simply no way you can reasonably pass up that kind of opportunity. I never question the decision for these guys when it's clear they're going in the first.

Steve S said...

I graduated from a technical/engineering school (GaTech! Go Jackets!) in the late 90s, and saw many people, mostly from the computer science areas, drop out to work for various dot com startups, due to salaries that far outpaced what had previously been seen. You could even say I bailed on grad school to go work (stopping at an MS, versus PhD).

Short answer - no, I wouldn't begrudge someone for striking while the iron is hot, if they're like most who attend college with the goal of getting a better job upon graduation than they'd otherwise have available. It's simply a matter of one's goals, and what he or she feels is the best avenue for achieving them.

Marcus T said...

Leave school early and make a ton of money? Where do I sign?

However, this decision is a lot easier if it is to become a pro athlete. I could shred my knee, or lose an arm in a horrific sailboat accident, and my career as an athlete would be over in a heartbeat.

But if this was journalism or chemistry we are talking about, yes, I might stay in school. I loved my friends, and had lots of great experiences. I just entered the working world a month ago after graduating last year.

From the ages of 18 to 23.5 I had no responsibility, except for school, and it was the greatest time in my life. The working world is nice and all, but waking up 5 days a week at 6:45am isn't the most pleasurable experience.

All that said though, I am a greedy bastard and would prefer the "TONS" of money.