Updated on 08.12.14

Should an Entrepreneurial High Schooler Go to College?

Trent Hamm

Andy writes in (I touched up his grammar just a bit):

I’m a high school senior. Over the last two years, I’ve built a very successful lawn care business in my neighborhood that filled up my entire summer this year. I will make about $35K this year and I can make a lot more once I graduate. My grades are good and I got good scores on the ACT and SAT. I applied to a few colleges and got accepted to all of them, but I only applied because my mom pushed me. What I really want to do is build my lawn care business after I graduate. My dad sort of agrees with me but my mom demands that I go to college. What do you think I should do?

This is one of those situations where you’re going to have loud, strong proponents on both sides of the decision. Some people believe ardently in the value of a college education – others see the value in a strong entrepreneurial opportunity.

Let’s look at each case.

Build That Business!

Successful businesses require a mix of drive, talent, and luck. Andy already has all three.


Andy wanted to build his own business and had the drive and desire to actually get up off the couch and do it. While his friends were busy with their X-Box 360s, Andy was building a $35K business – that takes initiative.


In order to make $35K from a part time lawn care business, Andy must have stumbled upon a niche and filled it well. That’s a business opportunity that doesn’t come along all that often.


Every day, as a small business owner, you’re called upon to make difficult choices. It takes raw talent to consistently make the right ones and build business. Andy’s obviously got that talent.

Andy has the natural drive to start his own business, the luck to stumble upon a niche that needed filling, and the talent to grow that business into something impressive. That’s a combination of factors that doesn’t come along that often, and Andy needs to take advantage of the situation.

Go To School!

I speak from experience here: college is a life-transforming experience. It is truly an opportunity for you to figure out your beliefs, learn new things, have countless compelling experiences that are almost impossible to replicate outside of college, and get an education in an area you’re compassionate about. Not only that, it comes at a point where your mind is most open to such diverse experiences – early adulthood.

Andy shouldn’t let that opportunity pass him by. He can always return and get an education later on, but the full growing experience won’t be as open to him.

He has the seed of a small business in place, sure, but he can keep that business going during the summer while attending school, plus he can use the business income to pay for his degree.

Plus, if Andy chooses to major in business, he might find yourself walking out of school with a brilliant plan for transforming your the mowing business into something truly amazing. College doesn’t have to mean giving up that dream.

My Thoughts

I think the real answer resides within Andy himself. Andy, are you truly happy mowing cemetery lawns, fixing lawnmowers, handling invoices, and so on? Do you have a desire to keep pushing the pedal to the floor, growing the business, eventually hiring employees and advertising to build a bigger and bigger client list?

Either these thoughts will excite you or they will fill you with unease. Be truly honest with yourself. This is one of the biggest professional choices you’ll probably ever make.

If you can’t imagine anything better than building this business you’ve started, then go for it. Throw all your gusto into that business and make it grow. Along the way, save most of what you earn – put it away so you can walk away from the business at a fairly young age. If you’ve built the business into something large and successful and sell the whole thing at age thirty, you can go to college then if you want to.

On the other hand, if growing the business doesn’t excite you and you just want to mow lawns, go to school. You can still spend your summers (and lazy weekends in the spring and fall) mowing lawns and maintaining your business as it is. You can use that income to pay for your education and when you graduate, you’ll still have your small side business to do with what you wish, plus a paid-for college degree.

You already know the answer, Andy. It’s inside of you. Ask yourself that honest question: is building this business the thing you really dream about? Let your answer guide you.

One final point of advice: if you do decide to go with the business, save your money. Spend as little as possible and sock the rest in the bank for later. If you decide in two years that you want to go to college instead, it’ll be quite easy if you’ve been banking your cash.

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  1. Kim says:

    Whay not both? Build the business and go to a local college and pursue a degree part time. Get in those basic core classes now and use the money from the business to pay the tuition. Many people need to spend some time finding themselves before college. Build the business and work in school on the side

  2. Kim M. says:

    Um, Trent, is that boy running over that little girl with the lawnmower??

  3. This is my life observation is that regardless what subject you study in school, it turns out to be irrelevant at workplace. At work, you need to learn everything from scratch and they will teach you that. Having said that, I still believe a degree is very important. It gives you lifetime self confidence and employers are comfortable hiring you knowing you can handle tasks require intelligence as you have completed education which requires intelligence and problem solving skills. Same login applies to entrepreneurs. Everyone should have a degree.
    A Dawn Journal

  4. Johanna says:

    How about working at the business full time for a year and then going to college? College is a one-of-a-kind experience, I agree, but if you don’t want to be there, you won’t get as much out of it. I don’t know what the tuition rates are like at the schools you applied to, or how much your parents would be contributing to your college costs, but it seems strange to me that your mom is insisting on spending a lot of money on an experience that you don’t want right now. If you put it to her that way, maybe she’d be more agreeable to letting you take a year off from school. You can get the full college experience just as well if you start at 19 than if you start at 18.

    Also, a lot of colleges let you defer your acceptance for a year, so you might not even have to apply again next year. Check with the colleges you applied to now to see if this is the case for any of them, even if you aren’t 100% sure that you want to go to college in a year.

    If you do decide to work full time at your business, you should dive right into the world of adulthood and pay all your expenses by yourself. Move out of your parents’ house, pay your own rent, your own food and clothing costs, your own health insurance, and everything else. Save as much as you can, to be sure, but get a first-hand feel for how far $35K goes in the real world. It’s a nice chunk of change, but maybe not as nice as you think it is.

  5. MJ says:

    Funny that you made a point of saying you touched up Andy’s grammar and then wrote this: “Plus, if Andy chooses to major in business, he might find yourself walking out of school with a brilliant plan for transforming your the mowing business into something truly amazing.”

  6. Terry says:


    I was in a similar position my senior year of high school. I was running an extremely successful website hosting business, and running into the dilemma of whether I should go to college or work full time.

    Ultimately, I decided to go to a local community college, where I learned a lot that helped me further build my business. I think it was the right path for me, and I would definitely advise you to look into it. There are so many things you can learn, and so many people that you will meet who will help you throughout life in college that I don’t think anyone should pass up the opportunity.

    – Terry

  7. andrew says:

    I worked 60 hour weeks all last summer, and made about 7 grand. I thought I did well…

    35K is incredible!

  8. Shane says:

    Totally try the business for a year. Hire people to do the stuff you don’t want to do and just be an owner. Then go to college the next year if things don’t work out the way you hope.

  9. Jen says:

    I agree that he should do both. He can run his business part time and attend school full time if he wants to do. This way, he can even pay for his own college education. Even if he ends not using his degree at all, I still think it will benefit him. I have a M.A. degree and I am a full time stay at home mom. Clearly, I don’t need a degree to be a stay at home mom, but I think my degree made a better person, hence better equiped to be the best mother I can be. I have learned a lot during my years in college & graduate school. I am a firm believer that knowledge is power, so I would not have it any other way. My child will definitely go to college, there will not be any discussion for anything else.

  10. justin says:

    Great post Trent!

    I have a lot in common with Andy, and think he should stay with his business if he loves it. Andy, in 1-2 years you will be making 6 figures and be your own boss. Very few college degrees can give you that. People don’t relize how much money us lawn care guys can make.

  11. Elisabeth says:

    I think that’s good advice. And a kind of scary picture!

  12. Laura says:

    I like the post, just not the photo! It’s honestly pretty disturbing and seems very out of character for your website.

  13. Sara A. says:

    I agree with the sentiment… continue to grow the business, but start taking basic classes at a local college or university. If he decides to move away and go to a bigger university, he can always try selling the business. It sounds like it is successful enough that he would be able to find a buyer!

    Also, I agree with the people who say he should save that money. Put away every cent that you can now, especially while you are young and your expenses are low.

  14. Robert says:

    Here’s a perspective from the other side of the fence: I run a pressure washing business, which is a fair analogue to a lawn care business, and there’s one inescapable fact: Andy’s gonna get old.
    Sure he can breeze through long days in the heat now, but- that goes away.
    On top of that, he’ll need to scale his business, just like anybody else would, and that’s another reason he’ll wind up transferring his part of the labor load to employees sooner rather than later. With that comes complication- the politics of handling people: customers, employees, vendors, the tax man, the municipal powers-that-be, etc. He’ll have to learn how to comply with the law, maintain his paperwork, sell an increasingly complicated venture in an increasingly competitive market as his business grows and on and on.
    This is assuming he sticks with this and his interests don’t change completely in the next 10 years.
    I was in my early thirties when I acquired my business, and I had quite a bit of managerial and supervisory experience along with a stint in the Navy from which to draw. The administrative logistics I learned through self-education, both from spending (and wasting) a lot of time weeding through and reading tons of information and from being under the lash of experience. That’s the hard way; it’s effective eventually (or you go under) but I don’t necessarily recommend it.
    I basically agree with your final points Trent. To my mind it’s not an either/or question; it’s a matter of doing each thing to support the other. I would keep up the lawn care business at its current levels and go to a good local school and major in business, since that’s his bent.
    A 35K/year income is outstanding for a college student, especially if it’s set up in such a way that it doesn’t interfere with school; looking at it that way he has an almost ideal situation. He could live inexpensively at home, go to school inexpensively and invest his income, both in his business and otherwise.
    In four years he’ll still have the business and he’ll also have his degree. The business will have four more years of history/stability and will be more valuable whether he should decide to sell it or grow it, and by then his personal experiences will be about deep and developed as they could be for a kid his age.

  15. Adam says:

    Just a side note – be careful about equating “large” and “growing” with a business’s level of success. Many businesses can stay small and it makes sense for them. It allows flexibility and keeping options open. If you’re happy with what you’re doing and the income is satisfactory, don’t grow for the sake of growing. Growth doesn’t always mean greater happiness.

  16. Trent, you did an excellent job of presenting two resolving arguments. I certainly do not want to make any suggestions to Andy, he seems to be doing great on his own steam. I would like to congratulate him on building such a strong business. My best friend from college started a lawn business in his home town, one man – one mower, not he nets over $150K from it and is also a teacher.

    Andy is the expert on Andy, and I’ll sure he’ll come to the most beneficial decision for himself. That was a great story about a great kid. To do what he’s done, he’d have to be a resourceful and responsible young man who is definitely not afraid of hard work.

    I wish him much success in whatever choice he makes.

  17. I’m in a relatively similar position. I graduated this summer, and my “career” goals have nothing to do with getting a job; I want to be a web publisher — that’s my life goal.

    However, that doesn’t mean I have no need for a college education. There’s still valuable information in school and, who knows? Maybe I’ll have a change of heart in a few years. If so, I’ll need the degree.

    I’m paying for my time at a small community college for the sake of future financial security. I’ll be able to transfer to a larger university in the next few years.

    These days college is too cheap to not get a degree.

    So I say he should go to school while still managing his business. If he goes to a local school, he can end up with the degree, extra cash and a great future in business. :)

  18. eaufraiche says:


    Please remove preschoolers before mowing!

    With that level of success at your age, we can predict that you’ll enjoy fabulous abundance throughout your life. AND probably successfully realize many ventures into entreprenurial endeavors!

    The “college experience” is ridiculously over-rated. But it’s worth the expenditure of time and energy to acquire a degree, so figure out a way to make that happen while you’re building this first business.

    You’re gonna be a star!

  19. First, keep that business growing.

    Second, at least get a general education at a local CC. Advanced math, finance, reading and writing will all help you.

  20. LC says:

    Funny photo! Since he has his own business, he can keep flexible hours. So I would do both: work and study, because he will not feel like cutting grass when he is 50 years old, and he will always regret not finishing college. Certainly college is over rated, until you pick up the want ads and notice that all of the interesting jobs require a degree. It is a lot harder to get a degree than to run a lawn care business. That should indicate what has more value. Decide.

  21. guinness416 says:

    That photo is hilarious.

  22. I hope he has a lot of liability insurance if that is him mowing in the picture.

  23. justin says:

    That is a disturbing picture.

  24. Brandon says:

    My advice to Andy,

    Get in touch with an attorney and get an LLC set up. You don;t want something bad to happen and then your $35k is down the tubes.

  25. Heather says:

    Just two thoughts. My father was a carpenter all his life. He was a master craftsman and loved his work. However, I saw that as he aged (even as young as forty) the decision to do labor that was hard on his body was something he couldn’t go back on because he chose not to get an education. It was heartbreaking for me to see him doing labor that had caused weakness in his body when he was tired. I also have a high-school boyfriend who became a landscaper and his wife recently begged the school counselor to steer their fourteen-year-old toward college because she saw how hard it was not to have options (the dad is 48).

    Secondly, if you do decide to go to college make sure you get into as little debt as possible.

    As a mom to two teenagers and a very content college graduate I sincerely hope you choose college. It is an experience that changes you for the better in ways that you cannnot imagine.

    I do differ with the people who tell you to persue a business degree. You obviously are quite savvy buisness-wise. I say major in PE or art or anything that fascinates you. If you do choose college it will be for the intellectual growth alone since you have already proven to yourself that you can make lots of money.

    I was a history major and there is no particular career path it prepares you for. However, I loved it and have never had a problem getting exciting and well paying jobs.


  26. Mary Jo says:

    I think your advice: “You already know the answer, Andy. It’s inside of you.” is really great.

    And — Just to point out that there are other degree options, besides business…. A friend was in a similar situation 20-some-odd years ago, and went to an Agricultural College. That was the right decision for him. He (along with his father and brother) still own and operate his original business.

  27. Daisy says:

    This picture really surprised me. I find it disturbing and it is also disturbing to me that someone thought it was hilarious.

  28. Joan says:

    A good Landscaping business can give a person all he wants from life. A high school friend of mine and her husband had a Landscaping business and were able to retire at 50. Since retirement they have traveled all over the world. They also raised and put through college 3 children. They accually did better than most of the rest of the class. Not everyone needs to go to college. You can downgrade this to a MOWING business, but the truth is LANDSCAPING is a very good business to get into. If this young man is making 35K a year part time, and if this is what he likes to do, he can go far.

  29. wewally says:

    I think that a year or two running his own business will do him wonders preparing him for college.He will have to tell his mom, I will, just not now. Living at home and saving all the money he can will give him a great headstart on college. Plus he will be a couple of years older than the rest and hopefully much more mature. I does make a difference in learning and budgeting your time,money.

  30. Andy says:

    I feel for Andy’s situation — in multiple ways. My name is also Andy, and I used to mow lawns to earn money as a freshman in high school. Nutty.

    As a sophomore I moved on to doing web development. I was programming for a handful of clients in my sole proprietorship the day I graduated high-school. I was working 1/2 time and making more than most friends made upon graduation from college 4 years later. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, so I went to community college. I ended up enjoying it enough to apply to UCLA Computer Science and was accepted.

    About a year into UCLA I realized I liked business much more than computer science so I stopped going to school about a week after that realization. I starting building my sole proprietorship into a real business by hiring some people and creating products that would allow me to collect income even if I wasn’t there every day.

    Dropping out was the best decision of my life. In my case I wish I had done it sooner. Looking back I only went to college because I didn’t bother questioning the status quo.

    I’d say if Andy can’t find the answer within himself immediately then he should go to community college. Its low commitment and relatively cheap. The key is he needs to take it seriously so he can keep his options open. As soon as he feels a strong conviction either way, go with it.

    Good luck Andy!

  31. Pat says:

    I suggest the same as number #6.

    Run the business, and pay someone 80% to do the work. I’m sure he has buddies who need to make $12/hr.

  32. Frugal Dad says:

    Trent, please consider switching out that photo. My daughter has a classmate who lost a leg in a lawnmower accident at three years old (her Dad backed over her leg in a horrific accident) and wears a prosthetic. It certainly isn’t funny.

  33. Lauren says:

    I immediately scrolled down to post a complaint about the photo (soooo glad I’m not the only one disturbed by it.) Geez and you’re a father! PLEASE remove it!!!

  34. borealis says:

    Trent – Please don’t censor your photos for people who don’t have a sense of humor.

    Andy – Congratulations on your success and keep at it. But remember that education is not the same as college — take some classes from which you will learn to make your business better, or that you find intellectually interesting. Don’t worry if the classes lead to a college degree.

  35. Tall Bill says:

    WOW; Same dilemia I was in back in the 1970’s & now I sit partially disabled and unable to get a job at middle age because I chased that dream & did earn great money & got into real estate inventing, but at this time, funds are tight due to what’s on the news & I’m unable to do what I did for 20 years. I suggest you do both – nuture your business, but pull 10 – 15 credits (heaver on off seasons) and actually earn that degree – a full 4 year, not just an associates in this day and age.

    While I’ve met some folks working outside the focus of their degree over the years, I’ve NEVER met amyone who regretted earning it. And yes, a friend of mine ran over his foot mowing his aunts yard years ago & lost all toes & worked for 5 more summers paying off the medical – his aunt declined to help stating that it was his own fault due to not paying attention.

    Setup the LLC BEFORE hiring anyone – cash in hand or by payroll check. The negatives of not doing so could add another 25 or more comments. Take Care

  36. Mike Sty says:

    @Frugal Dad and Lauren

    I’m with borealis. Sorry to hear about that story, but I’m sure I and others here could follow up with plenty of horrific twists about things that have happened to ourselves or loved ones on things that you might find funny.

    It’s a shame his mother really wants him to go to college and he feels differently. I agree with those who feel like he could continue his business now, and not rule it out. He clearly has the grades/test scores/intellect to be able to do college in the future, and will hopefully still have drive.

    Tall Bill has some good comments too, but I think college is considerably more expensive now (even against inflation). Correct me if I’m wrong on that. I feel like this guy could nurture his business for the next five to ten years and go to college without any problems.

    But what do I know, I’m not even twenty.

  37. jeff smith says:

    I agree with doing both. If you can make 35k part time – then keep it up. You should be able to make more just doing part time college. Degree in business will pay off in the long run. Just my thoughts

  38. Marie says:

    I would tell Andy to get his degree! I’m 40 and going back to school at this stage in life is very difficult. I have 2 children of my own and have told them that they MUST get a degree from college.

    I feel as though my lack of a degree is what hinders me sometimes at my day job. There was a time that hard work and great work ethics were enough, but many, many companies will not even consider hiring you if you do not have some kind of degree.

    Go to college – at least you will not have to worry about being in great debt with a great business like that.

  39. mb says:

    I would recomend as the first commenter did, keep the business and go to school part time. takeing business classes will help with the work, and will hopefully give more ideas for improving this lawncare business.

  40. barbara says:

    Unless mom and or dad are reslly pushing the dorm life aspect of college, I am not sure why this is a difficult choice. choice. Even in a dorm, if the school is close to his family home, he could maintain the business. Most places have four year schools these days near almost every town. After freshman year, you will have more control over the schedule.

  41. Amateur says:

    I thought the whole thing was pretty simple, go to school at least part time and nurture the business. Have fun while taking courses in college, meet people, date, and keep making that money on the side. If the business doesn’t do well, switch to full time student status, continue to have fun while in college while hoarding up credits, graduate, and continue being the successful person you’re intelligent enough to be.

  42. PJA says:

    @ Frugal Dad – I agree – that image is really freaking me out (and I know someone who lost part of a foot so it’s really hitting home for me).


  43. MattPatt says:

    I have to say, I don’t quite see why there’s any reason he couldn’t keep the business and just attend school part-time. A lot of the pro-college comments seem to be assuming that if he went, he’d be pulling twelve hours or more every semester, but nothing actually says you *have* to do that. Because I do agree that it’s better to have the degree than not, but it does seem as though you also ought to keep a good thing going while you’ve got it.

    Also, the part-time plan is probably the best way to avoid family conflict and satisfy everyone; “my mom demands” kind of sounds like Andy is in for a *major* battle if he abjures college entirely, even temporarily.

    But in general, the healthiest attitude is probably to view the business and the degree both as investments in the future, and try to develop the both of them.

  44. David says:

    Andy – I’m a 40 year old entrepreneur that has built a fairly large business with revenue in the $Ms and around 100+ employees. I’ve put together a half dozen other smaller companies along the way (some still exist). And yes, believe it or not I do regularly read this great blog. :)
    I have an undergrad and a master’s degree and have seen and lived both sides of your dilemma. If I was able to go back 22 years, here’s what I would suggest to my lawn-mowing self:
    (In the ordered step-by-step list you’re probably looking for.)

    1) Seriously plan out the next 5 years of your business.
    I don’t mean spend weeks and weeks on a business plan. Use the One Page Planning technique to formulate your current business into a concrete plan. (You can get the One Page Business Plan book at Amazon or wherever.) It’s specifically for people who aren’t looking for funding, but are looking to concentrate on their company. This process, though short, will force you to take a hard look at the business, where you want it to go, what you want to get out of it, and how you are going to take it there. Get the book and then take one full day to read through it, and one full day to plan it (including a spreadsheet showing a realistic financial expectations) and you’re done here.

    2) Defer enrollment for 1 year.
    Pick the two colleges that you are most interested in that accepted you and tell them both that you want to defer your acceptance for 1 year (and if you have to, tell them why – they should be impressed and be happy to take you in a year knowing they’ll be getting someone that much more experienced and mature to contribute to their community). This will give you a hard-fast deadline of one year to get things in order before you go to school.

    3) Plan for and hire a great manager/COO.
    Make part of the main goal of your first year (of the 5 year plan) to be the setup of the business as its own entity (probably as an LLC), and to bring on/hire someone who can run it when you are not around. This step is imperative to ensure that you don’t own a job, but own a company.

    4) Implement!
    This will be the tough part, but stick to your plan. Every day ask yourself what you are doing right now that helps advance your plan, and what you are going to do next to advance your plan. Get the business set up properly as a company, hire a good Chief Operations Officer who can operate the business in your absence (payment is probably best via base plus commission), and you probably will want to get a financial person/accountant on retainer to help with the books. Sometimes it is difficult to think about hiring someone else to manage things because it means you will probably make less money yourself. But that’s only in the short term (and possibly not at all if mostly commission based) – in the longer term, it is the only way to grow your business big and fast. Also, remember that while you may not be making as much as before, neither are you doing the amount of work you were before.

    5) Go to school.
    When the next school year rolls around, head off to the college of your choice. You can continue to be the CEO/President of the company remotely – it will just mean putting in at least as much time into keeping up on your business as any one of your classes. If you look at the work on the business as equal to the time a class would demand, then make sure your class schedule is not too busy.

    6) Repeat.
    So now you are at school taking classes, studying, partying, and running your hometown lawn services business. Since you will have already learned from experience how to set up a business unit and run it remotely via an employee, chances are that you will start up another branch of the lawn services there at school too. And, being the entrepreneur that you are, you will have identified probably 50 business opportunities all around you, as well as at least two or three new friends you respect, with whatever applicable business skills you may not have, and with whom you will end up partnering with on new business projects.

    Yes, you can do it all.

    IMO college is a 4ish year stint learning how to live away from home, learning how to relate to others, learning how to schedule time, learning real-life lessons of dealing with bureaucracy, landlords, cash flow, etc. Yes, you take classes but as others have said, it’s rare that you will use your degree in the workplace (engineers and architects excluded). The real thing you gain from the undergrad experience is just that – the experience. With that experience, you will be able to relate to the majority of other successful people in the business world. And, believe it or not, you may still be judged – even late into life – by the school you went to (and especially so if you didn’t go to one at all). I’ll go ahead and say it – 4-year college is a must. You can have it all, still – just defer for a year, build the business, and manage remotely while at school.

    I have some suggestions for a few other great books that can help guide you in all aspects of taking your business from $35k to $1M and more. Put a comment in here with a way for me to email you and I’ll be happy to shoot over more (or ask Trent for mine). Regardless, I hope this much helps and good luck with everything. I can’t wait to hear about this billionaire presidential candidate named Andy in 20 years!

  45. Tim says:

    Michael Robertson wrote an interesting piece about the real value of a college education in terms of ROI (return on investment). http://www.michaelrobertson.com/archive.php?minute_id=257

    Yes, a college degree can usually garner you a higher wage. But, you’ll probably end up paying most of the difference back into student loans.
    Student loans are debt that you can never shake. They can’t even be discharged in a bankruptcy. Think long and hard before you go to school if it requires you to take out student loans. I know
    people who are paying over $900/month, just on student loan payments. Depending on what your field is going to be it may just not be worth it,
    in the long run.

    On the other hand, if you are going to run a business, I can positively guarantee you that you will learn things in business classes that you don’t already know.

    If I were you, and I wish I had had my sh!t so together at such a young age, I would run the business. I would also hit the local community college and start working towards an Associates degree in Business. That will give you business acumen, at such a low cost, that can only have a positive ROI, helping you understand not only which decision to make, but the underlying reasons why.

    It will also help you determine if college is really something you want to do, or something you don’t want to pursue. Either way, you haven’t expended much to find out. If you do decide to pursue a degree, you can transfer your AA or AS to a local 4-year college and end up with a BA or BS for significantly less financial outlay than 4 years at a 4-year institution.

    The last piece of advice I have is whichever way you decide to go, don’t waste your time. If you’re sure you don’t want to go to college, you won’t be invested in the challenge, and you won’t do as well as you will if you’re going because /you want to go/.

    Good Luck.

  46. jin6655321 says:

    I remember being in college, stressing about midterms and hearing about former classmates (who had lower grades than me) making crap loads working (this was during the height of the tech boom where anyone with basic computer knowledge could make $40-70K a year).

    I also remember graduating, working hard with crap pay at an entry level position while those same classmates were starting their own business, buying their own house, driving fancy cars, etc.

    Despite it all, I don’t regret going to college, not for so much for the education, but for the experience. If he’s able to make $35K part time, clearly the boy has talent. Maybe the lawn business won’t be there when he graduates, but he’ll find something else and, with the experience and networks he built up in college, he’ll be more successful.

    If anyone is fortunate enough to attend a 4 year college/university they should jump at the chance.

  47. Frugal Dad says:

    @Mike Sty (and others): I must be really dense. I don’t look at the picture and laugh about anything being depicted–a child pretending to be run over by a lawn mower? What’s funny about that? It’s like saying, “Hey, I’ve got this picture of a guy shoving his little sister’s hand in a blender and reaching for the ‘on’ button–it’s hilarious!” Sorry, I just don’t see the humor in something like that–guess I’m just weird.

    Not trying to take away from the post, because I liked the concept, but I just thought it was strange to see something like that on this blog.

    On a note more related to the content of the post–I worked for a landscape contractor two summers during college and he encouraged me to continue to school so I could run a lawn business if I wanted to, not because I had to. Obviously, he regretted quitting school to start his business, even though he was fairly successful.

  48. steve says:

    @ “my mom demands” kind of sounds like Andy is in for a *major* battle if he abjures college entirely, even temporarily.

    That really only applies if he’s financially dependent on her. He’s not. It may be that his mom is overly fixated on his going to college, assuming he’s making a terrible mistake if he decides to delay it.

    I would say it depends on the person, but I would definitely say it is worthwhile to study and earn a bachelor’s degree at the least. And delaying going to school by one or two years, instead doing something worthwhile like Andy has been doing, will guarantee greater focus and discipline, and perspective than the average first year college student has. I’d agree with the posters who suggest deferring admissions and building up the business, with the plan to expand the business (if he’s interested in doing so) and hand off management of the company after the first year.

  49. Mike Sty says:

    @Frugal Dad
    I’m not saying your dense, and I’m not saying you have to laugh. I will agree, it’s a pretty strange picture and a bit unusual. I thought it was funny, and a lot of people seem to on the Flickr comments (click the picture) page think it’s funny as well, and I guess Trent found it funny too. I don’t see you as being weird for thinking it’s not funny and I can understand why you wouldn’t and I’m sorry that I can’t explain why I or others see some humor. Maybe we’re perverts?

    “… A lot of the pro-college comments seem to be assuming that if he went, he’d be pulling twelve hours or more every semester, but nothing actually says you *have* to do that…”

    Not sure how universities vary on this, but at my school, 12 hours a semester is the bare minimum to be considered a full-time student. The tuition cost is the same regardless of how many credits you take after that. For example, the minimum Bachelor’s degree requirements are 120 credit hours, so for four years that’s 15/cr semester. For engineering, you need to average 17 cr/sem.

    My point is, going to college is an expensive undertaking. If you’re going to forgo some or all of the opportunity cost of running your own successful business, you really ought to get the better end of the deal. Yes, he could attend as a part-time student, but at that rate he wouldn’t complete the degree in time.

    We don’t exactly know that. We were only given a paragraph of information. Maybe his equipment belongs to his parents, so he’d have to buy his own if he parted ways with them. There could be much more at stake than financial independence.

    Best of luck to this guy though and I’m sure whatever choice he makes will be well-informed.

  50. Kacie says:


    If you do decide to go to college, make sure you’re paying for it in cash. Just say “NO!” to student loans! You’re making $35k a year, you can swing it. And, if you work your business just during the summers, there’s no reason why you should have any debt upon graduation.

    That said, go only if you really want to go. You’ll learn a little bit from your classes, but you’ll learn the most from interacting with people on campus, getting involved with activities, and just generally living the college life.

    There is nothing like it. It’s a ton of fun. Try it for a year, if you want. Good luck!

  51. I found this post SO informative. I was in the same place about six months ago! I JUST graduated in June of this year and am in first year university full-time, I also have a photography business (www.jamiedelaine.com) that is making money and off to an amazing success in a few short months. In the end I decided to attend school full-time for just one year to “get the experience” and broaden my world view, but in April after the Spring semester ends I will be returning to my full-time entrepreneurial pursuits. :)

  52. Vanessa says:

    Some additional thoughts….

    Extra education credits of any kind will help you out in the (very sad and unlikely) event that you will suffer a disability or accident that leaves you unable to do the physical work required in your current job. Back up plans are good!

    University campuses are filled with staff and professors who are your future clients – they are often the kind of people who make enough money to afford your business.

    Finally, you do not have to follow the traditional university model. Do your degree part time as you work and take 6 years to complete instead of 4. Or take a college diploma instead. Or take a program that has a work placement that could mentor you in your field. There are many sides to a business and you can always, always, always learn more. Or, simply, set a goal of continuing education in another kind: take specialized courses, attended conferences, lead seminars.

    Good luck and congratulations on your success so far!

  53. liv says:

    I think this is like wanting to graduate high school early…you don’t want to miss out on those “experiences.” the same is true for college.

    If you can, try to do both. if you need “any” degree to satisfy your parents, get an Associates from somewhere close and keep your business going.

    For me, going to college was an awesome experience and I’d never deny someone of that :)

    Also…the picture at the top of this article is sorta funny, but it freaks me out a little…

  54. Marc Rohde says:

    Andy, I would recommend doing both. Clearly you are an driven young man and could handle running a business and going to school. Keep in mind college course only require you to attend a couple hours during the day and many will offer courses at night which would allow plenty of time to grow your business. In fact, if you major in business and pay cash with the revenue from your lawn care business you may be able to use the expense as a tax write off as training for the “manager” of the business and avoid personal student loans.

    I jumped into the workforce with both feet right out of high school, worked a full time job in was studying and a part time job on weekends, carried a full time load, finished with a double major in three years, and have not looked back since. Drive, experience, and education will make you a success.

  55. southcampus says:

    Having been in school for more than a decade and knowing what I know now. take a few classes, there is more to school and keep your business going on the side. Godd luck and thanks for sharing the story

  56. Maureen says:

    IMO a photo of a child being mangled by a lawnmower is NOT funny! What were you thinking Trent?

  57. brooke says:

    First, the Andy situation:
    I agree with David the most that you should make a business plan, hire someone to manage your business, and go to college. I also agree with those who say what you study doesn’t matter- you learn the important lessons of how to relate to your peers, how to manage yourself in a professional manner, and all the while are improving your writing and public speaking skills. This alone, minus the paper degree, will increase the profits of your business.

    Second, the picture:
    I do not like it either, especially the expression on each of their faces. Not cool, inconsiderate really, and I am surprised you are leaving it up.

  58. Julia says:

    As a community college professor, I absolutely agree with those who say do both. Surely Andy has a community college within reasonable distance if he lives in a populated-enough area for a successful lawn care service. Most such schools offer very flexible class schedules (nights, weekends, even online) and really cater to the non-traditional student. There’s usually a huge diversity of students, much more so than in a traditional college, plus the faculty are usually much more accessible and flexible than otherwise.

    In fact, Andy, you may pick up a lot more clients when your teachers and classmates discover what you do!

  59. Brooke says:

    awful photo! What the heck?

  60. MattPatt says:

    @Steve: “That really only applies if he’s financially dependent on her. He’s not. It may be that his mom is overly fixated on his going to college, assuming he’s making a terrible mistake if he decides to delay it.”

    Finances weren’t really my point; there are more to family battles than just money. This is how major rifts can start, and you really want to avoid those if at all possible. If it were some other relative, that might be a different thing, but parents?


  61. MattPatt says:

    @Steve: “That really only applies if he’s financially dependent on her. He’s not. It may be that his mom is overly fixated on his going to college, assuming he’s making a terrible mistake if he decides to delay it.”

    Finances weren’t really my point; there are more to family battles than just money. This is how major rifts can start, and you really want to avoid those if at all possible. If it were some other relative, that might be a different thing, but parents?

    @MikeSty: “Not sure how universities vary on this, but at my school, 12 hours a semester is the bare minimum to be considered a full-time student. The tuition cost is the same regardless of how many credits you take after that. For example, the minimum Bachelor’s degree requirements are 120 credit hours, so for four years that’s 15/cr semester. For engineering, you need to average 17 cr/sem.”

    Yes, I know, I did a bachelor’s in physics and am currently working on my Ph.D (and I wound up with 149 hours for that BA). That’s why I very specifically used the words “part-time” in my original post. There’s absolutely no sin in doing school this way; I know several people who are doing it or have done it because they need to be able to work enough hours to pay for any classes at all. And let’s get real here; huge numbers of people who are in school “full-time” don’t finish a bachelor’s in four years for a variety of reasons, so I really see no particular harm in just planning out a longer track from the start. Some days I wish I’d done that.

  62. Kris says:

    College is not necessary to be successful in life and is not for everyone. Today’s society has this false theory that everyone needs and must have a college degree, to the point that so many people go deeply in debt to go to college and quite a few of them never use the degree.

    For someone who wants to start their business and is already seeing some success at it, I don’t see how spending the money on college can be of any benefit. His landscaping/lawn care customers are not going to pay him more for his service because he has a degree and according to the false theory, the whole point of obtaining a degree is to make more money in your “career”.

  63. CJ says:

    Do both! Go to school part time (half a full time course) and spend 20 or so hours a week on your business.

    You might even be able to graduate college with a fully paid degree AND a well built business plan!

  64. Asav Patel says:

    Come on Andy…………. Just grow your Business man…………. After all you are passionate about it……… Don’t go to school…….. School system is no longer effective to ensure success….. You are going to develop something (Business) which will create lots of jobs in future man……School will teach you to be Employee or Self-employee….. School will teach you to find a high paying job at the end man…… But by Business you will be in position to create jobs……. My Best wishes with you for your Business……. Don’t leave your Business….. Leave the School……

    And yeh….let me tell you that, I am not a someone who is frustrated from the School system…. I am a Doctor (Ophthalmologist) in India and i have outstanding career in my school and College………… Even though i m telling you that Don’t go to school and Grow your Business like anything man………

    The future is yours……..!!!!!!!!!!

  65. Lynette says:

    Why not defer college for 1 year and see how the mowing business goes?

    After a year, you might realise that mowing or running your own business is not for you and decide on another path.

    College will always be there. A business opportunity might not be there – so give it a go while you can and see how it goes!

  66. April411 says:

    I think Andy should go to a local college and keep his business going. If he was able to run a successful business while in high school, he should be able to do it while in college. It might even be easier because he can schedule his classes around the business.
    BTW I think the picture is funny and I’m the mother of girl who is about the same age as the girl in the picture. I think people find it funny because of the absurdity of it. It reminds me of when my brother took a photography class in high school. I dressed up in all black with a beanie on my head and my brother took pictures of me wielding an axe at my little brother with a crazy look on my face. We thought the pictures were so funny.

  67. TONY MARREN says:

    This is an extraordinary article; while his peers are either home having the folks take care of them OR absent mindedly throwing 12 packs of soft drink on the local supermarket shelf this kid is creating quite a business. I vote he should go to a local community college,take CLEP exams,and invest his hard earned money. I further endorse he gets his resources on a yearly cycle to assure his lawn mowers and grass cutting equipment are in top notch shape. With businesses tanking out I figure he can easily find decent pick up trucks as the need arises. Congratulations! Its refreshing to read such success stories.

  68. Heather says:

    Ok, forget about the morals of censoring. It is free expression, but no one is forcing Trent to remove it. People are offended by it, and he should do what is in his best interest.
    Trent, you have to weigh humor with the fact that it is currently the first thing that people see when they view your site, whether they are new or returning. I love your website, but this is so out of character. With your position as an author, and this site being your most frequent show of your professional writing, I just don’t understand the contrast and why you included it.
    And to anyone who disagrees with me, fine. Just don’t tell me I don’t have a sense of humor because of it.

  69. Sara says:

    I agree with above posters that there is just no reason at all not to do both. Especially with lawn care which might be a seasonal occupation in many areas. Work the business, go to school part-time, maybe take a full course load during seasons when you are less busy. I worked a 40 hour week, supported myself in my own hom, and took 6 credits a semester for years before I got my degree. It was still transformational. Colleges tend to be quite flexible with their program. Night classes, skipped semesters, etc. However, some majors are more flexible than others. Many people settle into a niche and are extremely happy there for the rest of their lives. Others suddenly want more. New faces, new location, new experiences… May as well position yourself to have all of the opportunities that you can while you are good health and young enough to make the most of them.

  70. Lurker Carl says:

    What’s up with the photo comments? Black humor, slapstick – it’s a staged photograph. Everyone has their own sense of humor, don’t look if you don’t like it.

    Mowing grass for $35K annually is great for a teenager living at home. Is $35K gross earnings or net profit? If that is gross earnings, there isn’t much money left after expenses. Lawn service is labor intensive and equipment expensive. Idle mowers is money lost. Maybe Mother knows best, we’re only hearing one side of the story.

  71. nuveena says:

    I would say to Andy to do both. There is nothing that says you can’t go to school part time while building your business. While school and a degree can get you further in life, there are valuable real world lessons that cannot be learned in a classroom or from a text book.

  72. Claudia I Baker says:

    Andy-Go to school. Work on your keeping your lawn business viable while you are in school, but get your degree.
    I have worked in Accounting for over 20 years–but with no degree. At my last position, I did a job previously always done by people with a B.A. I ran the Accounting dept for a fairly large business (170+) employees–did all the financial analysis, payroll, general ledger,etc. But even with 13 yrs of doing this job, I could not get an interview with companies that had a much, much simpler accounting position because they all wanted an AA or BA degree.

  73. Bella says:

    Interesting article!
    It is true: you don’t learn how to do the job in school: you almost only learn how to find the information to do it!
    I studied in university (law) and I didn’t like it much! I think no one should pursue a college or university degree unless he or she knows what he desires to learn.
    I believe taking a break to discover oneself and one’s interests, priorities and goals before embarking into any degree is necessary to make sure to achieve fulfillness.
    After graduating in law, I got to try different things and got to learn street smart: I really believe it is important to test the knowledge you want to acquire before attending higher degree to perfect it: the process gets soo much more meaningfull!

  74. Laura says:

    You can go to school anytime. Keep up your great business and don’t waste your money and young energy on college right now. You have made yourself a respectable income for a person still in high school. My mom went to college at 55. It is never too late. Good luck to you. There are a lot of millionaires that didn’t even finish high school.

  75. Another Elizabeth says:

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned the option of doing on-line classes. I am getting my master’s degree this way and it works great for me! I know that many undergrad classes are also offered online and I highly recommend looking into that option. You have to be self-motivated to do well, but the flexibility is wonderful for working around jobs and other responsibilities.

    My husband has been an undergrad student for 7 years now. He doesn’t like school, he has dyslexia, and he has a really hard time with grades. He’s brilliant, but not very academic. He has kept offering to drop out and just get a regular job, and I have kept telling him “No, I’ll work until you finish”. I’m just now starting to realize that some people can be genuinely satisfied without a bachelor’s degree. I was brought up with the constantly reinforced idea that no one can be fulfilled and happy on a long-term basis without having gotten at minimum a bachelor’s degree. My dad has a master’s in education. My mom did nursing school plus a one year Bible college certificate program, plus an extra year of classes for personal enrichment. My grandma always regretted not going to college, so she instilled that drive in her children. My older sister and I are already pursuing further education, and my little sister (a freshman) is making serious plans for her doctorate. We were wired this way. I could never quite believe my husband when he said he would be happy quitting school. Now I regret my obstinacy. When I consider where he is coming from – His father has been a very successful entrepreneur who never did college – I see that maybe my belief that one cannot be happy without a degree isn’t entirely accurate. I could not have felt complete without my education, but I’m starting to learn that people really are different. Besides, if I hadn’t been paying for a degree my husband never really wanted for the last few years, we could actually have a down payment for a house by now.

  76. Kathy says:

    Continue the business, go to school later. Most young adults aren’t ready for college anyway, you will get much more out of it when you are a little older.

    Trent, the picture has to go.

  77. Kathy says:

    Just clicked on the picture and am dismayed by the Flicker comments there. I thought more highly of your intellect. I am sorry to see that you follow such Cr@p. I have lost a lot of respect for you.

    Lose that photo and remember who your audience is, the majority of us are not 21 year olds posting disgusting pictures followed by infantile comments.

  78. Samantha says:

    Get over the picture everyone…it’s funny, and it goes with the article well.

  79. Robert says:

    Re: the picture; I mangled my right foot in a mower when I was thirteen and of course that’s the first thing I thought of when I saw the picture. I also have a daughter right at that age (though I don’t have any grass and therefore no mower at the moment).
    However I also recognized that the picture was staged and is in the vein of ‘black humor’. I don’t have a problem with the picture per se, and I obviously don’t know what Trent was thinking when he decided to post the picture but since he’s familiar with the people and the backstory it probably had a completely different impact on him than it does on the random stranger.
    I think the main problem with it in regards to the blog is that Trent’s identity as a young and caring father is a narrative thread that runs rather strongly through the posts and the picture is incongruous with that image and is rather jarring in that light.
    My suggestion to Trent is that any further decision he makes regarding the picture is for the sake of his intentions for the design, image and impact of the blog and not to appease commenters. He’s going to look like an insensitive ******* to some if he leaves it up and spineless to others if he takes it down, so I’d file that under ‘you can’t please all the people all of the time’ and forget about it.

  80. Tim says:

    Trent, I for one thought the picture was hilarious. It’s clearly in good humor and fun, no one actually got hurt, and we all know what a dry subject personal finance is, so it is logical that you would try to find pictures that would add levity to the topic. Anyone who is offended by this picture is a fuddy-duddy and should clearly be disregarded, Trent. So keep up the good work, and just so you know- I read your site because you add humor to such dry material (and I suspect many of your readers on this site choose to read you for the same way, however, the type of people who leave comments are probably the anal people who would take offense to such a thing…)

    I just got a kick out of the fact that you wrote about touching up the high schooler’s grammar, and then went on to write this gem, “Plus, if Andy chooses to major in business, he might find yourself walking out of school with a brilliant plan for transforming your the mowing business into something truly amazing.”

  81. Jennifer says:

    I think Andy should go to school and study something to do with plants and lawn care, as well as a few business classes thrown in. he doesn’t even have to go the full 4 years and graduate (although I think he should), but taking classes to gain knowledge in what he is obviously very good at will only benefit him in the long run.

  82. Tre says:

    My father was a high school dropout but he was desired to make money and serve God, so far so good and he has enough money to live a great life.


  83. Zach says:

    Do you lawn care for 5 years. Grow the business and save 40% of your profit in either ING or an index fund. During the winter keep your mind sharp by completing some MIT open courses (can be found online) or via correspondence with the University of London. After 5 years is up you should have MORE than enough cash and plenty of options open for you. You may even be able to outsource the mowing of the lawns to other people. You can keep you time overhead down with online invoicing (click on my name). If you do decided in favor of college keep working on your own thing if you can, but I understand it will be much more difficult if you move and have to find new clients, get your lawn equipment out of your parents garage, etc… In my view you should try to make and save as much money as you can now before the baby boomers start to retire and taxes start to really go up. Good Luck!

  84. K says:

    I would also like to add that I thought the photo was very clever and humorous and a creative addition to your article. Clearly it is set up and likely took a lot of staging to get the agles right. I don’t think it was meant to make light of serious injuries that can occur from lawnmower accidents but to show some artistic ability and add something unique to his article.

  85. Mule Skinner says:

    The longer you delay starting college, the less likely it will ever happen. Business will become more demanding. Other things will come up, like marriage.

  86. conny says:

    agrees width Dave#30 and Vanessa#36. And my on 0.02
    Doing both is a really good resume booster. But study a field you love, A degree is overrated and the cost is high ( alternative cost). Follow Daves plan is really good. My own collage experience was good and I had my business as a side venture, so it took some more time, but no loans.But the alternative cost still hunts me. At 46 I can say that I will never earn back the alternative cost of my college experience, so don’t select the college for the money. The cost is there most of the benefits expected of a education is not.

  87. Michelle says:

    “I like the post, just not the photo! It’s honestly pretty disturbing and seems very out of character for your website.”


  88. Staci says:

    My brother owns a lawncare business. He stayed in the local community where he built his business and took several classes per semester so that he could at least get his associates degree. The only issue he has is that he wanted to get a horticulture degree but hasn’t done so because he would have to go to a university out of the area to get that degree. I think it gets harder and harder for him to go to school with every year he builds his business.

    Personally, if you aren’t too excited about school I would keep the business and go to school for a business degree part time. The skills you learn are valuable to running a small business.

  89. Mitch says:

    @ Staci

    Your brother should check around for online horticulture degrees. I considered a horticulture degree a few years back, and I remember finding an online program through a university in Texas–either Texas Tech or Texas A&M if I remember correctly.

  90. Mitch says:


    I checked to make sure, and Texas Tech offers an online program in Horticulture and Turfgrass Sciences, which sounds right up your brother’s alley.

  91. J says:

    I’ll agree with the “do both” people. I’d really encourage attendance at a school that provides training for agribusiness/forestry/horticulture. Lawn care will be OK for now, but eventually the business will need to expand by hiring others, or diversifying into other areas — for instance, tree services or landscape design. With a network of existing customers, these service can be sold to them. Also, as an earlier poster wrote, you will get old and at some point you will want to have people working FOR you — and will need to know more about the business aspects of management.

  92. michael says:

    Nearly everyone who plans on going to college should take at least a year off after high school. I can’t count the number of folks I met in college who did poorly because their first taste of freedom led to unintended consequences. Enjoy a small taste of freedom before making life-changing decisions like choosing a major — you’ll be much happier and your chances of success will increase dramatically.

    And not everyone needs to go to college — in fact, many shouldn’t.

  93. SwingCheese says:

    I have to say, as one who deferred enrollment to grad school, and as the spouse of one who took 10+ years off befire returning to college, I dislike the “If you don’t go now you’ll never go” argument, always said with an ominous tone, as though the speaker knows something about yourself that you, personally, don’t know. I was given those dire warnings by friends when I took two years off between college and grad school to work. I have since completed grad school. My husband will have his professional degree in about 2.5 years. We both knew ourselves better than our friends professed to know us, and we both realized that we would gain nothing if we forced ourselves to attend school when the time was “right”. I think that the advice for Andy to look inside himself for the answer is perhaps the wisest advice that anyone could give. (That having been said, I also really like the working-full-time, school-part-time idea, simply because I’ve seen a number of people who took the work-full-time, nothing-part-time option who have been sturggling to find work. The degree is, in many instances in this day and age, a necessity in order to be considered for a position.)

  94. Diy Joe says:

    As a person who took 17 years to get his first degree, don’t go to school because you think you have to. Sure, some portions of my life probably would have been better if I would have slaved away at a degree, but I am a far better student now than I ever would have been right out of high school. You will do so much better when you WANT to learn. What is working for me right now is working full-time and going to school nights/online part time.

  95. No Debt Plan says:

    I agree with the very first comment (and admit I haven’t read all of the comments)…

    why not do both? Go to school at night, or online (at a reputable school… not University of Phoenix).

    Do both… keep the business and go to school.

  96. Georgia says:

    My situation is a little different. I worked for one full year before attending college. I did it to earn money to pay for it. I was unable to go back after my 2nd year, but I left with no debt and a good job. I also took a few more classes in between.

    Now I am 71 and am planning on going back p/t in January to test whether I am up to the grind of studying again. I have always wanted to finish my degree just because I like to complete what I begin. If I manage all right in the spring semester, then I will attend p/t or f/t at my original college – about 450 miles from home. I will go f/t if I can get enough assistance. I refuse, at this late date, to ever have student loans. If I can only pay for p/t, that is what I will do.

    So, I agree with others that Andy could do both for at least one or two years. The work experience would be a great forerunner to the discipline needed to study. I worked while going to college f/t also those two years, sometimes for 40-48 hours per week. Didn’t hurt me and I got pretty good grades. (But I had also had the experience of doing this in high school.

  97. Lisa says:

    I would like to know why the guy says “what I really want to do is build my lawn care business.” This is a question he should be asking himself and goes along with Trent’s advice. Is it the building something, seeing instant results, or simply the money? I think that for a high school student, 35K can seem like a huge amount of money. It really isn’t. Follow David’s advice if you decide to not go to school next fall. There are a thousand ways to make money while going to college.

  98. Lisa says:

    I meant to say:
    There are a thousand ways to make money while going to college when you are young, free, & footloose. If you like being an entrepreneur you will find something next year at school.

  99. Nick says:

    As a current undergraduate, I’d say why not try and do both? Sounds like you’re a good student, and have a business mind. Attend school some place local and continue with your business, and see what’s right for you. Ready someone to run your business if you then wish to continue with college, or just flat sell the business if you’d like.

  100. Sophia says:

    About the picture- first, I didn’t even notice it until I saw all the comments about it. Also, if you click on it, you can see a bigger version of it. The little girl has happy eyes and looks like the corners of her mouth are trying not to smile, she is clearly acting and enjoying it. I can appreciate that horrible accidents happen with lawn mowers, but I think this is a good lesson in something my father taught me- “not everything is about you”. They, nor Trent, didn’t think “I know people have lost limbs, and I think it’s so funny, and I totally don’t care, screw you guys!”.

    Horrible accidents can happen in myriad ways in many different circumstances, but it’s funny because it’s a staged photo, and to me it shows two kids being goofy and having fun.

  101. I have seen both ends – because I own a karate business but did go to college. College did not help me at all in starting my own business, in fact, I feel it almost destroyed my dream.

    Let me explain…
    I graduated college in Environmental Science and got a job out of college with the intent to become a business owner. Well, the pressures and salary of the job and the uncertainty of a starting business steered me away from my dream. I finally broke through because I thought I may get laid-off and wanted a back up plan. I think these same feelings of uncertainty are what stop most people.

    I found that College is more about creating great employees not business owners. The trap is entering the paid by the hour mindset.

    With that said…
    This reader is very talented but still needs an education about Entrepreneurship. I believe he should do what Steve Job’s did. He (Steve Jobs) dropped out of college and dropped in on the classes he was interested in.

    1. Find a Mentor
    2. Take College courses on small business, sales, and marketing. Our Community College teaches a certification class on entrepreneurship run by local successful business owners
    3. Network with others in your business especially the extremely successful.
    4. Read, Read, Read – Start reading anything you can get your hands on about small business.
    5. Get a copy of the E-Myth – Right now, pushing a mower may seem alright but do you want to do it when you’re 30, 40, 50 yrs old. You will need to build a business system and hire employees soon.

    Follow these steps and like me, you’ll be on your way to a six figures income in no time.

    Tim Rosanelli
    View my blog at
    Sensei Talks
    Join our sit-up challenge at
    60 Situps in a Minute Challenge

  102. Ty Brown says:

    Forget college. Nothing at college teaches you how to make money. It teaches you to get a job. Tell that kid to get a real life education.

  103. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “Horrible accidents can happen in myriad ways in many different circumstances, but it’s funny because it’s a staged photo, and to me it shows two kids being goofy and having fun.”

    That’s exactly what I thought when I saw the picture. It made me think of kids having goofy fun.

  104. Aubrey says:

    The photo actually made me get off the reader and comment because I had strong negative reaction to it. Which actually increases site readings, so I guess it does have a benefit. I do enjoy your blog.

  105. Here’s a drop in the bucket from a 19 year old. I do not plan on going to university to get a job, I may go later to learn things I can’t figure out on my own or if for some wild reason I feel a job is a good way to pass my time. I already own a corporation. I know that I won’t exclusively run this company my whole life, but I think it’s very important to note the topic of this post. Trent said “an entrepreneurial high schooler.” Most entrepreneurs fail, that’s a fact. True entrepreneurs will keep going and try something else.

    I don’t believe a person with an entrepreneur’s spirit would run a lawn care company for any number of years, especially not doing the work themself. This guy will think of something else. Don’t jump into school now if you’re having success now. School will still be there next year or in 5 years. Starting out at $35,000 while going to school full time is nothing to complain about. Even with no growth, in 2 years you’ll have $70,000 in the green rather than $20,000 in the red. Judging but what you’ve done thus far you’ll grow.

    Don’t live the life other people want you to.

  106. lvngwell says:

    When my daughter started college she chose business as a major. She went one semester and then because of her health had to take the next one off. When she went to return she decided to go part time mostly because I had started a home business that had just gone through the roof – sales doubled every month for over a year. Being a business major she reasoned that the experience of working and shaping an emerging business would be invaluable and only make her studies that much more relevant. She wants to own a business some day so what better way to learn than to help someone else develop theirs? But she was not foolish enough to think that she could not sharpen her skills in any way – thus she still returned to school – but part time.

  107. Andrea says:

    My daughter’s husband is a pharmacy tech, trained on the job starting at a grocery store, to a drug store now to a major pharmacy. He makes about $13 per hour with benefits. He has no debts. He applied for a house loan and qualified on his income alone for a $102,000 loan. In my area, that buys you a nice house trailer. (They bought an $82,000 house in horrible condition, but cost $2,000 in materials to make it nice.)
    My second daughter started dating a guy has $80,000 in student loan debt. He is working in his chosen profession, but the job requires that he live where real estate is more expensive. He got pre-approved for a house loan, and due to his debt, could borrow only $80,000. He might be able to buy a few acres of land, but would have no money leftover to put any structure on it.
    Right now daughter number three is in state college. Four years ago, her college introduced online courses, and now 60% of classes offered are online, and she thinks most online courses are useless. She plans to lump all the online courses to one semester, and do that semester from home. She also thinks many of her school mates are really dumb, literally one didn’t know where Africa was.
    As far as I am concerned, college is a racket. The price escalates every year because society says we need it, so we comply. How come you need a four-year degree to get hired to be a police officer? A generation ago college was not required for that career… you just went to police academy. Now you need it because you’re competing for openings against other people who have a degree. We now need degrees only because everyone else has degrees. Also the government loan program, which is intended to be helpful, is actually driving up the costs. There is no reason why college costs should rise faster inflation, unless there is some outside market force that allows it… the price of any commodity is determined by what the market will bear. So make it easy for consumers to borrow money and the price floats up. Same thing happened with the housing market when the government decided there should be cheap loans to help people get into housing…. the cost of housing went up. But it is more insidious with college tuition, because 18-year-olds really don’t understand how hard it is to pay off these huge debts.
    If you go to college, don’t go to “broaden yourself.” Instead self-educate… read smart stuff, like history. Watch smart TV, like PBS. Don’t go because society expects you to have a degree in anything, just to advance in a job.
    Go to college train for a specific career. Be sure that career is in demand. Also be sure that you will make enough additional money with this career that you can afford to pay back loans and actually be better off financially. Factor in that many professions that require a degree also require that you live in urban areas where the cost of living is high. Do independent research on this, as opposed on relying on the say-so of your college professor, who must sucker enough students to take his classes to get tenure.
    So crunch the numbers and make no assumptions. Find ways to do it cheap… Clep tests, community college, free college courses at the high school level, etc. College is not a sacred cow… you are allowed to look at the cost/benefit ratio.
    So for this young man with a lawn-mowing business, sure go to community college for a few business courses. This might be the first of many businesses he starts.

  108. Justin says:

    I read a lot of fear based advice here.

    – Limit your liability – LLC or S-Corp.
    – Automate your business; i.e. – train someone to take over. You won’t make as much money, but if you hire the right person they will be good a marketing, customer relations – thus growing your business so you will regain the lost income from hiring a manager over time.
    – Go to college to learn about business and/or accounting. Not so you can do everything, but so you know the basics and no one can pull a fast one over on you.
    – Once your personal income from business is over 55K to 56K consider hiring a book keeper (not CPA they are too expensive).
    Peace Man.

  109. Allison says:

    Trent, I was directed to your site from facebook. Thank you so much for including my picture in your post, and for holding your ground and keeping it up. The man in the picture is my brother and the little girl is my niece. She is a very dramatic, lovely child and the picture was actually her idea. When it was taken, we were not in any way trying to make light of the horrible accidents that can happen with equipment like that. We were just trying to appease a happy little girl by taking a father/daughter picture for her. If any one was to scroll a couple pictures over from that one in my flickr stream, they’d see a very sweet picture of the two of them on a hill.

    Keep up the good work, Trent.

  110. Alan Suggs says:

    I am the father in the picture and the little girl is my lovely 9-year-old, Elora. I’m sorry if anyone was horrified, but we have a sense of humor some find a little unnerving. I think there have been horrific accidents in just about any imaginable situation and to bar humor over someone else’s misfortune is political correctness at its worst.
    On the college thing, who really knows? What’s next year even going to be like? If you’re productive now and making a decent living, stick to it. Go to college later.

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