Christian Genco

Go to college for free

Below are my presenter notes for this talk, given on November 4th, 2013 at Grapevine High School. Here are the slides.

It's kind of jumbled; you'll likely have a better experience by just watching the video. I'll go through sometime and reorganize it in essay form better suited for reading.

I know of at least one person that's followed this advice since I gave this talk and received a full academic scholarship (Terrance Alexander, President's Scholar at SMU, class of 2020). If you or someone you know are in a similar enlightened boat, let me know!

See also: Peter Thiel's Graph of the Year, Mike Rowe's Work Smart and Hard movement, and The College Conspiracy Documentary.

Outline #

Why Listen to me? #

SMU President's Scholarship #

I'd like to teach you how I did it.

I read a book by Felix Dennis - a billionare media mogle from the UK - on how to get rich. The first two chapters are about why you don't actually want to get rich. The reasons people think they want to get rich are to be happy, or have financial freedom to do whatver you want, but his point was that you don't need money to accomplish these things. Money doesn't make you happy, and it doesn't give you fulfillment. Ridiculously wealthy people can be some of the most miserable people on earth.

He tells you all of this in his book about how to become rich because you must understand what you want before you can get it. In this spirit, for the next few minutes, I'd like to try to convince you not to go to college.

Why do you want to go to college? #

Reasons people go to college #

A waste of money #

What college should be/reasons you should go #

If you're going to go to college, you need to know why you're going to college. I've seen so many people at SMU that were there because that's just something they were expected to do. They picked a random major, took the casses their advisor told them to, show up for class most of the time, if a class was too hard they switched majors, they memorized useless information before exams and then brain dumped immediately after, and kept going for 4 years.

Think long and hard about why you want to go to college, and realize that in most parts of the world (Australia, Europe), coming to the conclusion that you don't want to is perfectly fine.

3. What colleges look for, and how to make them want you #

Now the fun part: if you can convince a university that you're the kind of person that would be successful and happy even if you didn't go to college, they'll pay you to go there.

Aside: you want an academic scholarship. More money in academic scholarships than in athletic scholarships: $9.5B vs. $1B, and you don't have to do anything time consuming to keep getting money (just keep learning)

So what are colleges looking for? I sat on the scholarship interview committee for all four years I was at SMU, and got to interview two or three candidates each year, so I know exactly what SMU is looking for; other colleges probably aren't that different.

Maximize cirriculum and GPA #

Test Scores #

Studying for the SAT #

"but you can't study for the SAT!"

This should be your full time job. If you can raise your SAT score by 10 points in 10 hours of studying, and you go from a 1700 to a 2100 in 400 hours, and you get an 80K scholarship you wouldn't have gotten otherwise, you've made $200/hour. If I were your parents, I'd find it very worthwhile to pay you $20/hour for studying for the SAT.

AP Tests #

Same strategy as the SAT. Get a good review book at least a month before, read it cover to cover, and take ~4 practice tests, reviewing the ones you got wrong. Even if you didn't take the AP class, you can get a 4 or 5 in a month of studying.

Subjective stuff #

The Essay #

The only time to see you in your application.

General Application Tips #

4. Hack the System #

Here's a list I found googling for a bunch of small texas scholarships.

5. Recap #