As a direct contrast to the Baby Boomers and the Gen X-ers, these younger generations want to do it differently than those who have come before them.  The “old” way of looking at education was, go to primary school and get good grades, then as a late teenager you go to secondary school (College or University), then after that would you have a degree and get a good job.  Once you secure that good job, you stay with that company until you retire.


A lot of Baby Boomers held an average number of 2.9 jobs in the professional career, according to census data.  This is excluding teenage years and early twenties before they would be considered to be in a professional job. Millennials are often referred to as “hoppers” as they tend to hop from job to job, with less than 29% of this generation feeling “engaged” in the workplace.  


As a result, most industries are finding ways to adapt and appeal to these very large generations that are coming of age.  Where does that leave the educational system?


Knowing that there is a very large difference in how this group views the world and how they want to live in it, should adjustments be made to the process?  For the Baby Boomers, it was very common to go to school, get the education and then find a good job. This may have been to a College, University, or Trade School, but there was that need to get the education and then get that job that would be able to provide for them and their families for years.  These earlier generations often would follow their studies into their career, which is a little different in the newer generations.


Now it seems there is a different sentiment towards education, and more questioning about the relevance of what is being taught in schools.  The very common situation to now find is someone who went to school under a certain study, and now works in a completely different industry. It is harder to find someone who works in the area they went to school for if you look outside the medical, and legal professions.  Do changes need to be made in the process, or is the ways it’s always been done good enough?


What are the Millennials and Generation Z’s looking for?


They aren’t buying homes, cars, getting married, or doing anything the same way the generations before them have, so there has been a lot of research to predict this group as the early millennials are getting into their years for dominate spending power, and the late Millennials and Gen Z groups are entering their secondary education phase and entry to the job market.  


These generations are also highly inspired by the entrepreneurs that came before them, looking up to people like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Michael Dell of Dell, and Bill Gates of Microsoft.  Also, these people created highly successful companies and are some of the wealthiest people in the world today. Another thing, they didn’t need a college education to make that happen. Peter Thiel recognizing this in this new generation even had a scholarship he awards to a student who drops of out school to pursue their business idea, and that award is $100,000 (yes US Dollars to drop out of school).  Thiel is now most well known for his venture capital firm, but before that, Thiel was one of the Paypal founders and one of the first investors in Facebook. So you could say he knows a little something about spotting a great idea and the talent behind the idea to make it a success. Although he went to Stanford University, he’s now encouraging talented kids with great ideas to drop out of their schooling.


So who is wright and who is wrong?


Is it better to drop out of school and start a business, or is it better to get that education?  Also the topic of kids who don’t have the funds to do either hasn’t been discussed yet, so what are they supposed to do?  


The question still stands, does it make more sense for these generations to get the schooling or to start their own business?  There are very strong arguments that can be made from both sides, with some agreeing that at the age most youth is when they can either decide to continue their education or start something else, they just don’t have the level of maturity to start a business., with people on the other side saying that it’s easier now for anyone of any age to actually start and launch a business at any age.  So, like everything, there are opposing views and arguments that can be made to support both sides.


Let’s speak with an expert…


Wanting an outside opinion and seeking someone with experience, the choice was simple, Dr. Jennifer Herrera, with over 16 years in the educational space, a PhD from University of Arizona in Language, Reading and Culture, and being a business founder and CEO, she has a lot of experience.  The business she has founded and ran of 16 years is Tucson International Academy, which is in the education space. However, at Tucson International Academy, things are done just a little differently.  That is why Dr. Herrera’s input was what we wanted to hear on this topic.



(The Powerful) Why did you start the Tucson International Academy? 

(Dr. Jennifer Herrera) While teaching in the public school system in Arizona for 12 years with primarily Hispanic students, I noticed that many of my very smart and talented students were not going to college.  When I asked them why, they said they could never afford college or university and did not know how to even apply.  I was so surprised!  My parents never let me consider NOT going to college.  I was expected to get a 4 year university degree and that seemed natural and easy to me.  So I went and achieved my BA in Education, as I always enjoyed working with students.  So now I’m seeing my incredibly gifted students NOT even attempting college!  It is an injustice!I  At that moment I decided I would find a way to change that outcome to 100% of students prepared to go to college, if they had discipline and desire to go to college.       


I had just completed my PhD in Language, Reading and Culture, and my teaching colleagues asked me what I was going to do with my PhD to make a real difference in education.  So, we started dreaming of what would the ideal school look like……what resources, structure, curriculum, and unique aspects of learning would we implement. Also what OUTCOME did we want?  I wanted to create a school so focused that any students wanting to go to college would be more than adequately prepared academically, financially, and emotionally with a confident mindset.   And that dream was so compelling that one night I couldn’t sleep.  So that night I looked up information online about the charter school authorization application for the state of Arizona where I live and have taught for 28 years. (Charter schools are free public schools that offer families school choice- the right to take their child to any school they want, regardless of where they live in a city.)  It was an easy format to follow, so I began filling it out and couldn’t stop.  By 5:00 AM the next day, I had completed the first level application for approval.  And, I hit “submit.”  One week later, I was invited to finish the application process and was offered a contract 5 months later. Now, 16 years later, I have 4 charter school campuses that serve kindergarten through grade 12 at each location.  For the past 10 years, 100% of our graduates are accepted to college!  This is unique because 92% of our students’ parents do not have a college or university degree.  This is WHY I started the Tucson International Academies.  


(TP) What do you think the benefits of going to University are?

(Dr. Jennifer Herrera) A university education opens doors of opportunity that might not otherwise be opened and can break the cycle of generational poverty. Education sets one apart in background knowledge and expertise.  The higher education one attains, the more distinct one becomes in his or her industry.  In the United States, 83% of Americans have a High School Diploma; 33.4% of Americans have a Bachelor’s degree from a 4 year university college; 9.3% of Americans have a Master’s degree, and 2% of Americans have a Doctoral degree.  


As the #1 Wealth Coach and genius in business, JT FOXX urges us, his clients, to become the expert and the authority in our businesses. Part of being the expert and the authority is to know your area and work in your strength.  Education can greatly help train, equip and challenge cognitive growth to build confidence and expertise in any area. Educational credential lend credibility to business and intensify the level of tribute and trust given to people who are the authority.  The discipline it takes to complete a degree transfers well into healthy business practices.  While studying at university, key relationships form and grow and are excellent for doing business together.  College also exposes one to multiple cultures, languages and value systems, expanding the ability to do business with many different kinds of people all over the world. How do degrees translate to the concept of “expertise?”   


In a book published in 2011 entitled Outliers: The Story of Success, written by Malcolm Gladwell, research is examined from the early 1990s. The study found that people become efficient in a profession after focusing and learning and practicing around 1,000 hours (4 hours per day for one year of focus, practice and study).  However, those who demonstrated outstanding expertise at a genius level in their profession had focused, studied, and practiced an average of 10,000 hours (6 hours per day for 6 years and 4 months)!  It appears that only by reaching 10,000 hours of practice could one become an “outlier” or genius level of expertise. Gladwell states that the “Tipping-Point” of greatness takes 10,000 hours. These numbers of hours equate to college degrees.  The basic efficiency level of mastery is about 1 year, which is equivalent to a training certificate in a higher learning program or intensive practicum or internship. The genius level of mastery is about 4 years (Bachelor’s degree) if one spends 8 hours of focus and study per day OR 6.5 years (Master’s or Doctoral Degree) if spending 6 hours of focus and study per day.  


 A university education is a place to grow, exchange ideas, create, innovate, discuss and further research that leads to incredible discoveries and advancement.  Living on a campus while in college is an added learning experience as you share living with other scholars and students.  Together you have incredible experiences and build relationships unique to the university setting that last a lifetime.  


(TP) Do you think some youth is better suited to start their own business?

(Dr. Jennifer Herrera) I do not see the choice.  I think we do well to advise and encourage students of all ages to pursue BOTH a college degree AND start a business.  The college degree will develop expertise and authority.  The business will provide income (whether making lots of money or a little money) while giving opportunity for the college student to apply what he or she is learning at university in a practical way. 


Many of the skills needed for college are ALSO needed for business. There are 5 main sets of skills:  Communication Skills, Thinking Skills, Learning Skills, Entrepreneurship Skills, and Personal Development Skills.  Each set of skills contributes to both academic and business success!  Together, an education and business experience set people up for the best long term success.  


Can one skip education and start their own business?  Yes.  The question is do they want to be the expert or authority?  If so, they need to either go to school themselves or affiliate or partner themselves with someone highly educated or with huge success in that field so “amazing genius” can be demonstrated to set them apart, far and above, the competition.  


(TP) Are there personality traits or indicators of who should go to University vs. Be an Entrepreneur? 

(DR) University students and Entrepreneurs have all kinds of different personality traits.  What helps is to get an understanding of your own personality traits early into your studies or business building so you can surround yourself with the right supports.  For example, know if you tend to be more right brained or left brained.  Take a DISC or similar inventory to see what skills will be easier to obtain for your success.  What do you want?  Why do you want it?  Answer these 2 basic questions and you can ground yourself with your unique motivation for creating your vision! Create a mission statement and implement systems in your life to BE and DO what brings fulfillment and success authentically into your life.


(TP) How can TIA help both segments of youth?

(DR) In our model high schools at TIA, we help both college bound students and future entrepreneurs.  At TIA we help students by creating disciplines to attain high academic achievement while competing in local entrepreneurial competitions in a business plan contest via our Business Club.  Once the business plan is established, students at TIA are encouraged to implement the business plan and begin receiving a profit.  It is a huge learning curve well managed with experienced school staff and with the relationships we establish through our annual Career Fair when 35 local businesses showcase their success in miniature conferences for our students. We also partner with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for mentorship.   

That seems to be what Herrera has worked to create at the Tucson International Academy, instead of choosing one side or the other Dr. Herrera is looking to find that education and entrepreneurial balance with her schools.  At TIA, they have a Business Club in which the students can take part to help foster growth for their idea and turn it into a business. TIA isn’t exactly taking the Thiel approach and encouraging kids to not continue school or drop out, but instead encouraging their ideas and showing them what they would need to do in order to make it an actual business.  Integrating both education and entrepreneurism together in one environment. Results of the Business Club at TIA are some unique ideas, and business that these students have created.


Meet Cristian Navaro, Owner of Project Kickz, Currently Attending college.  He attended TIA for 4 years of high school and is now in college, and is a business owner.  In an interview, Christian says , “I’ve been into business ever since I was young. The thought of owning a business and being my own boss seems to be for me.”  His time at TIA in the Business Club allowed him to develop Project Kickz, a sneaker restoration and customization business, which he now looks at as a way to help pay for college, food and gas while he continues his education launched in Business Club at TIA.  Dr. Herrera remembers Christian as a stand out student because of his interest in business, and that is the exact reason that they started the Business Club. It allows the students to really develop their business idea and become an entrepreneur at the same time.  


Teo, Owner Landscape Kings, Senior at TIA.  Feels that before starting the Business Club he was a little shy, and not only did he learn the skills needed to start a business but also the confidence.  He looks at TIA like a family, where everyone wants to help each other achieve something great!


These are just two of the entrepreneurial stories to come of the TIA, but there are so many more just like it.  Dr. Herrera looks at the opportunity to offer the experiences to students that will not only educate but also help inspire the entrepreneurs in the youth as well.  She thinks that it doesn’t have to be a one or the other, but rather an educational environment that can speak to both groups and help both grow not push them into a direction.  


The economic issues facing education… how do we solve that?


What happens when we have a child that wants to go to continue their education but doesn’t have the funds to do so, regardless where they are from?   It is another challenge that must be overcome. Yes, different secondary education outlets offer scholarships, but that isn’t going to work for everyone, and student loans aren’t always a viable option either.  So how do we address creating opportunities for everyone to be able to get to college that wants to?


Dr. Jennifer Herrera started Tucson International Academy with that very objective in mind, their tag line being “We Make College Come True.”  There are a few different ways that the TIA team makes this happen for their students. One of the things they have found is that sometimes you only know what you are exposed to.  Meaning that if you come from poverty, and that is what you see on a daily basis, you can’t always open up to other possibilities and opportunities out there. As a result, it becomes easy to believe that maybe you don’t have the same things available to you that others do.  One of the things that TIA does to overcome this is incorporate travel opportunities into their programs. Yes, a lot of the students families wouldn’t be able to send them to walk the Great Wall of China, eat lunch in the Eiffel Tower, or to feed Kangaroos in Australia however, that is the point of what they are doing with their travel program.  


Dr. Herrera says that they are able to make this happen as they work out great group rates for the school, and then it’s up to the kids to make it happen.  Each child that goes on the trip is responsible for completing fundraising efforts to be able to go on the trip. There are multiple lessons behind this project.


  1. Goal Setting – Not everything in life is going to come easily to us, especially if we don’t set a goal and then develop a plan to get there.  
  2. Accomplishment – it helps these children understand what it is like to set a goal, and then achieve that goal.  This is a great lesson to teach, especially to someone who isn’t sure that they can accomplish something.
  3. Overcoming Obstacles – Once you find out you can overcome an obstacle you start to see other things that you thought might not be possible, and now they become possible.


After they come back from this trip, with a new view of the world, other cultures and how other people live they develop a new world view.  Then the magic happens as they start to believe that things are possible, and that they are capable of going to college, starting a business, or making whatever vision they have a reality.  Something happens when you start to expose people, really at any age, to other cultures outside of their own.


The travel and outreach doesn’t stop there either.  The Tucson International Academy is also committed to finding communities around the world and creating programs to help them get their kids into college or university.  TIA wants to create a World Education Network to make this happen and really make it possible to have children from communities around the world have the ability to make their dreams come true.  We asked Dr. Herrera for some more incite on this global project.



(TP) Why get involved in community outreach around the globe?

(DR) We have a successful program because we found a specific community with a shared Hispanic background where parents said, “We need help to send our kids to college.  We want our kids to have the American dream of College come true and to be more successful than we are.”  With the full support of our families, we created the structure for disciplines for our students.  We walk them through the steps of the applications, financial assistance, and matching universities and programs to their strengths and interests.  We have 100% success for 10 years!


There is a subconscious level of thinking that causes people around the world to assume they can’t be successful in their own country.  While there may be many advantages for education and business in America, the US is not the only place the dream of college can come true.  We believe our program can be customized to achieve the desires of any community committed to furthering the education and success of their children.  Successful business woman from South Africa, Johanna Mukoki, co-founder of Travel with Flair mentioned in a speech that she partners with educational prep schools to recruit graduates to work in her company.  She is an example of a great business that can offer opportunities for career development and employment for a local community that so desires.  If there is a booming business benefiting the economy of a community, why not create specific programs in the community to better prepare and educate students to be proficient to genius level for that industry?  If the community will ban together and work together and follow the plan created, their children will succeed!  The African proverb applies: It takes a village to raise a child. My PhD dissertation in the country of Aruba taught me the power of community to preserve the island language and culture while providing a quality education to the nation.  As an expert and authority on Language, Reading and Culture, I want to share what I know will work and facilitate successful programs for committed communities wanting a massive change for their children.  Education and community and business together are the winning combination.  


(TP) What is the profile of the communities that you want to work with around the world?

(DR) Communities around the world who are best suited for education and business “breakthrough” success are 1)  united in a specific value, 2) honoring of the community’s culture-language-values, and 3)willing to sacrifice for the children / students to achieve more than their parents.  4) Parents are essential, and if there is not a strong family support system, the community must be willing to create secondary familial support for each student.  It will indeed take the “whole village.”  Change is hard!  5) So a strong commitment, hard work, trust in my team and I as we give direction and set up structures, and long term perseverance and consistent action must be 100%.  We can start small with a handful of students.  Then we can guarantee success and refine the programs with the first test groups.  Two years later, the program can grow and success will be a simple following of the recipe, expanding each year with more and more students.  The success of the first groups will fuel the flame for the next groups until success becomes the new norm for that community!  


(TP) Who would be a great partner to work with?

(DR) Partners are 1) the community themselves AND 2) local, regional, national businesses.  We need a target outcome for the students.  Who wants to grow?  Who is able and willing to invest time, energy and money?  That is who we MUST have as a partner.  Funding is essential. And the benefit for the businesses, community and the economy will be worth every dollar/ rand/ baht/ krona/ ruble spent to make college and business come true for the community’s students. 


Anyone or any business/ corporation/ or life changer who wants to leave a legacy that works…(guaranteed success, audited financials, and a 10 year history of success by a fully trained, experienced and educated team of experts who have become the authority in this field) are a perfect match for these projects.  Let’s bring hope and fulfillment to communities around the world!  I invite the Family from Mega Success to step up!  Join together!  Contact me and let’s be the difference in the world!  You can find out more by visiting our website as we are always looking for the next place to help the community send their youth to secondary school.


Dr. Herrera really sees the value in achieving a balance of education and fostering that entrepreneurial experience.  There can be a balance and you can really help the next generation determine what will be best for them. After all, not everyone can be a business owner as there will be people who need to work in and be part of all the businesses.  To find out more about Dr. Jennifer Herrera, you can search for her on Amazon, connect with her on social media, or through the Tucson International Academy website. It’s never too late to get involved and help foster the next generation.