Stop Going to College


As fall approaches, hundreds of thousands of high school students are being asked that nagging question: “What college are you going to?” These students would be wise to follow the advice of Peter Thiel, a billionaire Silicon Valley investor. For most of us, college is an expensive waste of time.

Not only is entrepreneurship a nearly impossible skill to truly teach at college since true entrepreneurship boils down to risk-taking (read: outside the box thinking) and self-motivation (read: not a classroom environment) — but enormous amounts of student debt severely limit the options of graduates in the marketplace by forcing them to take jobs that cover loan costs and provide for basic living costs.

This may be the ultimate folly of college education in my eyes. How many bright, young people are stuck in the rat race of professional jobs, or worse government, who are simply unable to follow their passions, be entrepreneurial, or develop something socially useful because they took on $100,000 in student loans when they were 18 and they just are not able to take the risk due to that looming $600/mo tuition payment.

This is why the Thiel Foundation is offering $100,000 scholarships to budding entrepreneurs to drop out of college for two years and develop their ideas. At least 20 students are awarded the scholarship each year, with some impressive results.

40% of full-time students fail to get a degree in six years, and with roughly one of three college graduates in a job the Labor Department says requires less than a bachelor’s degree, it is clear that our emphasis on the need to go to college is misguided.

People are spending a large amount of time getting degrees for jobs that may never be there.

Today, the proportion of society’s resources going to fund higher education has tripled during the last 50 years. College, which continues to require a larger portion of families income, is artificially expensive because through government-backing of loans and grants, money is essentially dropped out of helicopters over universities, which proceed to use the money extremely inefficiently.

And while accreditation-issues and government regulations make it challenging to start a new universities, demand continues to skyrocket due to the availability of credit, which allows universities to keep tuition costs rising much faster than inflation.

Sound familiar? People had the same incentive structure when they took on debt for the American dream of owning a home that caused the last bubble.

As a country, we now have more than $1 trillion in outstanding student debt. As defaults continue to rise, this burden will become unsustainable, and we will see another financial crash similar to the 2007 housing collapse.

Accomplished graduate students may believe their current teaching position will lead to becoming an Associate Professorship. But in the era of Obama and with an uncertain economy, tenured professors will stay in those positions longer than ever, prohibiting universities from hiring young talent.

Remember also that there are 15 years or more of graduates ahead of you who are also aiming for those academic jobs.

As an employer myself I am eager to hire bright employees with entrepreneurial spirit and motivation to do more better — and really pay no mind to college degrees.

After all, the technology our company utilizes for clients evolves faster than professors could ever hope to keep up with - especially those who have no incentive to innovate due to a non-competitive tenure system. With high salaries and without the burden of school loan payments, our young programmers are free to be creative, innovate, and develop cutting-edge web applications in ways that no university could teach.

Before considering college, especially right out of high school, graduates should examine the true costs while exploring possibilities of becoming entrepreneurial through starting your own business or beginning your higher education with internships. With initiative and risk taking, the market will soon be driving young people to avoid debt to allow them to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.

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