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.
A while back, I wrote a post asking the question of whether college was over-hyped. This was based on a John Stossel column and it really deserves some consideration. After all, many very successfully people never went to college, and some college educated people are sleeping on park benches in this country. Well, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Maureen Downey isn’t ready to say they’re over-hyped, but she seems to think they’re definitely overcharged:
My niece loves most of her academic classes at grad school, but found that some living legends of her department are only there because of reputation rather than teaching skills and put in minimal effort or appearances.
“Ultimately, the faculty are really what makes a school,” says Naomi Schaefer Riley, author of “The Faculty Lounges and Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For.”
“They have the most long-term effect on campus atmosphere and student’s educational experience,” she says. “Students on campuses come and go, but faculty are there forever in many cases.”
In her book, Riley deconstructs the cause of such faculty longevity, taking on one of the most cherished perks of high education, tenure.
She asks whether the awarding of jobs for life, often as a result of a professor’s research and publication in rarefied journals, leads to some faculty staying too long at schools and doing too little of what ought to matter most — teaching.
Tenure, she contends, is dragging colleges away from their original and most important mission, and stifling the young, innovative professors, in addition to cheating students of the education they deserve.