Is College Necessary?

Question: Do you have any regrets when it comes to your career?

Steven Abrams:  It’s a very good question because I’ve been thinking about it a little lately, and I’ve been approached by some younger people asking me what I think about that.  One of the things that I would say that I didn’t get until I was a little older is to get into a business – I don’t care if you love it—but you have to get into a business that provides you with cash flow.  To be in the business world and to grow, you need money.  The axiom that the rich get richer is very, very true because opportunity comes to the people that can take advantage of it or opportunity seized by the people that can take advantage of it.  At every step of the way, I had opportunities to save more money and I didn’t, so then when certain opportunities came my way I wasn’t actually able to take advantage of them.  By the time Magnolia came my way, I had smartened up, but it took me until I was 40 where I had a very successful construction company that I made a lot of cash.  I saved a lot of it; I invested it and saved that money, so when Magnolia came my way and I had to put up over a million dollars cash, I had it.  That sounds like a lot of money and that took me until I was 40, but if I had been saving and investing since I [was] 22, when I started being an entrepreneur, I would have had that amount of money much sooner and been able to take advantage of other opportunities sooner.  I don’t regret it because life leads you where it’s gonna go, and Magnolia is a wonderful opportunity and probably one of the best ones I could have gotten.

Question: What about dropping out of college?

Steven Abrams:  No.  The one regret that I have about not going to college is when I look back at my life, that four years I would have given up in my mind -- it was giving up time that I could have been doing business and becoming this world famous businessman in my mind that I gave up this wonderful time you have as a young person to explore yourself, to explore your intellectual and creative pursuits without the pressures of being in the world.  I do regret missing that and at the time it seems unimportant and so important for me to get into my life that I thought I wanted to have as being a businessman.  Looking back at it, there was no rush.  Nothing that I did between the age of 20 and even 30 ultimately, other than give me some experience, really made a difference.  If I had taken even six years to go through four years of college or went to graduate school, my life -- nothing would have change[d] in what I was doing, I don't think.  I think it is important to stay in school for those reasons, but it's not for everybody, and I understand why people leave.

Recorded on October 23, 2009

Steve Abrams, owner of Magnolia Bakery, dropped out of college one semester in. Would his life be different with a degree?

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