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More university-age people saying no to traditional college experience

Published: Wednesday, July 29 2015 12:08 p.m. MDT

In this Jan. 3, 2011 file photo, shows Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg smiling in San Francisco. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Apple all were started by people without college degrees. (Paul Sakuma, AP) In this Jan. 3, 2011 file photo, shows Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg smiling in San Francisco. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Apple all were started by people without college degrees. (Paul Sakuma, AP)

Our take: More university-age people are opting not to take the road of a college education. With a sagging job market and fear of student debt, people are embracing risk and coming up with ideas and businesses without a college diploma.

Benjamin Goering does not look like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, talk like him or inspire the same controversy. But he does apparently think like him.

Two years ago, Mr. Goering was a sophomore at the University of Kansas, studying computer science and philosophy and feeling frustrated in crowded lecture halls where the professors did not even know his name.

“I wanted to make Web experiences,” said Mr. Goering, now 22, and create “tools that make the lives of others better.”

So in the spring of 2010, Mr. Goering took the same leap as Mr. Zuckerberg: he dropped out of college and moved to San Francisco to make his mark. He got a job as a software engineer at a social-software company, Livefyre, run by a college dropout, where the chief technology officer at the time and a lead engineer were also dropouts. None were sheepish about their lack of a diploma. Rather, they were proud of their real-life lessons on the job.

“Education isn’t a four-year program,” Mr. Goering said. “It’s a mind-set.”

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