I Dropped Out of My PhD Program in Criminology at USF to Start a Business on Video Game Addiction

Are you ready for a little story time here with me Jerry Banfield? I’m a full time YouTuber and I trust if you haven’t already, you’ll join me and hit that subscribe button to see my videos every day.

I try and consistently tell you stories because to me stories are really powerful.

This is a story of how I dropped out of my Criminology Ph.D. program to start a business initially on video game addiction.

Then I morphed my business into selling t-shirts, about video games. From there, I morphed it into helping people with Facebook advertising, teaching online cryptocurrencies, then over to music production, video gaming.

Now finally to being a full time YouTuber and to being a founder of Uthena.com, which I vision as a place where you can build your entire business and network and be the main go-to place to make money online.

In the thinking about dropping out of school, here are some of the things I considered. I consider that as I was going for my PhD in criminology, I love to criminology, I loved helping people in it.

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I’d been a police officer, a corrections officer, mental health transport officer, I was an intern in a federal courthouse, I had a good variety of job experience and an undergraduate degree in criminal justice, I had a lot of experience and people enjoyed my teaching for criminal justice.

At the same time, I saw that if I wanted to help people, I could do it immediately in my business with almost no restriction. I could post whatever I wanted to online and directly help someone.

I started with video game addiction and then I just captured whatever I was learning posting that online, trying to teach that. I’ve since put up over 5000 videos online. I love that I’m able to just share whatever I want.

What was getting me down in my PhD program and criminology was looking at my life trajectory, and the blocks to being able to help people.

I would have needed to spend thousands more dollars in student loans borrow that much more and look at all the last income from just continuing to work on my PhD versus immediately building a business up and having almost unlimited earning potential, versus having kind of a very fixed income potential and needing to take at least three more years of being underpaid and overworked, to finish my PhD program just to try and then compete for jobs at universities.

When PhD programs all over the country turning out plenty of criminology, PhDs, making it competitive to get a job at a university.

My projected life path was to get my PhD and then to start teaching at a university, which would have involved moving, often the first jobs you can do as a PhD in criminology involve working in places that most other people don’t want to work, often moving in a place that’s out of the way. That’s why they’re hiring, and then trying over the years to work their way up. Maybe in 20 years, you can earn $100,000 and maybe you’ll be in a position to consistently publish research papers, write books, etc.

What I got frustrated with in my PhD program especially was all the editing and revising on everything I was doing, now some viewers might argue I need some editing and revising.

What I thought the ridiculousness of it is that anything I wanted to submit, for example, I did a research study in my PhD program, comparing online crime versus offline crime and showing that people who are committing crimes online were also that was correlated with people who are committing crimes offline, thus, that online crimes and offline collateral crimes are related, and trying to publish that it was one seemingly unnecessary hurdle after another.

That I need to get this edited and revised by people at my college, then I need to have it go to a journal with a bunch more people who are going to tell me how it ought to be written.

If I write it a certain way, they won’t even publish it based on the topic, certain journals wouldn’t even accept it and I got to see that “-Really? I’m going to spend years trying to share something in a journal that maybe a few people will read”.

Because I wasn’t in the reading criminology journal that thought, -Who the heck reads these?- only other people at universities and maybe researchers that a few other places actually read these journals.

Are police departments really taking action on something published in a criminology journal?

One would hope so but from what I saw as a police officer, absolutely not. The majority of the time.

I saw that my ability to help people was going to be consistently blocked in terms of research, that I wasn’t going to be able to just do research and put it out there, that you’d have to get your studies reviewed by review boards.

Now, there’s good purposes to a lot of these things. But there’s big downsides to them also.

Compared to say, on mine, I can just say whatever I want to I can study whatever I want to and then I can just put that out there immediately and I don’t have to go through all these hurdles.

On top of that, with a PhD in Criminology, I’m looking at doing a lot of teaching now. I love teaching, and I enjoy teaching.

At the same time teaching in an environment of a University is extremely restrictive with a focus on grades, and test, there’s a lot of busy work and my opinion, being a professor just having exams.

I personally think exams are useless, life gives you enough exams. Next time, things get difficult -this is unfortunate because this has been a difficult morning for me and afternoon- next time things get difficult. This is a real life exam.

And all the rest of life is time to study and prepare for the real exams and I hope I passed my real life exam today.

I’m so grateful I dropped out of my criminology PhD program, because it’s been seven years since I’ve dropped out now, at this point, I can see what trajectories my friends are on, they’re often on their second job, they’ve moved now once to another job and a second time to a different job, these are the ones that have been able to actually get jobs, they’ve taught a whole lot of classes.

Now teaching in person classes can be a really good way to help people at the same time that you often are up there and people aren’t paying attention. They’re on their phones, that thinking about what they’re going to do later, you’re teaching material out of a book that’s boring.

You can argue how effective it really is to teach a class like that. Now there are opportunities to be an outstanding teacher and to stand out in that environment and I imagined I would have done that.

I can see today though, I’ve been able to reach hundreds of millions of people on line and many of those people reached 5-10-15-20 times with what I’ve done and created versus any university, maybe I could have reached more people at a greater depth at university. But as a criminology professor, I’d be very restricted to my topic.

I’m able to help people out online with diet, exercise, online entrepreneurship, all basically whatever I feel like talking about today, as long as the money actually comes in for it.

I’m so grateful I took the leap of faith because at the time, it seemed kind of crazy. My business was at a complete loss. At this point, the safer option was to just stick with the PhD program, it was much safer to just stay in the PhD program, take my predictable income take my predictable career. And I went for it I went for the risky option.

They’re all in the scary option, I hadn’t had any profit yet in my business and I dropped out of a $14,000 a year system suit ship plus massive tuitions assistance, plus health insurance. I’ve dropped out of that for a business that was had lost money for a year since I started it and would go on to lose money for much of the next year and would run me into $100,000 in debt or so the next two years after that, but then things went really well.

I have put this up today as a story. I hope it’s helpful.

If you’re at one of those points in your life where you’re making a big decision, I went with my passion.

I have a huge passion to try and reach and help people online, I loved that there was different resistance not really lower, different resistance to reach people online. I love the flexibility and the freedom and offered, which is often difficult.

I hope sharing this story is helpful for you today. Depending on where your life path is at, take a look at your options and I’m grateful I went for the riskier option that my heart pursued because I knew I wouldn’t feel good if I chose the safe option that mentally made a lot more sense.

I knew I also couldn’t keep doing my business as a side project and finish my PhD because after a year doing my business, I was almost completely uninvested mentally in my PhD program. Meanwhile, I loved and had so much passion for my business. Even though it offered so much certainty.

I’m so grateful I went for that today and if I had to start over back in high school, I’d probably drop out of high school in ninth grade and go straight for working online and learning skills that are really helpful online because from what I see schools are not doing a very good job preparing workers that companies actually need to do a good job in with their products and services and sale systems.

In a world where we’re getting even automated kiosks at McDonald’s to place orders the trajectory we’re looking at here is, learn skills that are really in demand, build really good long term relationships or, you’re looking at being unemployed and, even if you do all that, it’s still maybe a tough ride.

It’s still a tough ride for me lots of days, I’ve struggled with a lot of financial insecurity as my business depends completely on you and other people watching which sometimes goes really well, other times is kind of a drought.

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Thank you for being one of the only people who stayed through the whole video.

I understand that you are really who I’m serving here and who I’m reaching with my message. I’m honored to have the chance to help you today.

I love you. You’re awesome and I imagine you’ll be back for more soon.
Jerry Banfield