Posted by: crudbasher | June 9, 2011

College is a waste of time –

Update: A relevant article: Is College Worth the Money? Reflections from Six Graduates of the Class of 2011. As you might expect, they have a variety of opinions on the matter.

What is the main purpose of college? Is it learning? Or is it credentialing? I think a lot of students look at it as a stamp of approval they need to get before being accepted into the workforce. If you are a college teacher, how many students have asked you “What do I have to do to pass this class?”. It seems that is an important factor.

So at least some students are paying a huge sum of money for a piece of paper. This is the credential.

Last week I wrote two fairly long posts about how things related to information are being digitized and then disaggregated. I think if you look at all of the things a college does, if it loses the credentialing part, then their business model blows apart. For example, if you aren’t going to be driving anymore, you don’t need to buy a new car do you?

Now, unlike the author of the article I have linked to, I am not saying that college is a waste of time. Actually even the author says medical school is really useful. (I think the title was written by CNN for shock value). There are different types of colleges. Some schools focus a lot more on concrete skills, and some more on liberal arts. Even so, I think way too many people go to college for the wrong reasons and do poorly, or else graduate with huge student loans but no job prospects.

I also came across this article this morning on why this argument is wrong. 🙂 In it, the author says that this has all happened before, so don’t panic. While I agree it has happened before, the Internet may have changed the rules. This current period in history isn’t just economic turmoil, it’s a reshaping of established systems; a disaggregation if you will.

Keep in mind, newspapers have had sales slumps too but they always bounced back. This time is different. Time will tell if colleges will continue as they have been, or if the rules have changed and their jobs too are disaggregated.

So what I conclude from this is the following:

  1. College isn’t for everyone.
  2. When something costs this much, it’s natural to ask if it is worth it. That’s up to each student to decide.
  • article written by the Thiel winner

    tags: education edubook credentials profound nell

    • I left college two months ago because it rewards conformity rather than independence, competition rather than collaboration, regurgitation rather than learning and theory rather than application. Our creativity, innovation and curiosity are schooled out of us.
    • Failure is punished instead of seen as a learning opportunity. We think of college as a stepping-stone to success rather than a means to gain knowledge. College fails to empower us with the skills necessary to become productive members of today’s global entrepreneurial economy.
    • College is expensive. The College Board Policy Center found that the cost of public university tuition is about 3.6 times higher today than it was 30 years ago, adjusted for inflation.
    • Learning by doing — in life, not classrooms — is the best way to turn constant iteration into true innovation.
    • We must encourage young people to consider paths outside college. That’s why I’m leading UnCollege: a social movement empowering individuals to take their education beyond the classroom.
    • A major function of college is to signal to potential employers that one is qualified to work. The Internet is replacing this signaling function. Employers are recruiting on LinkedIn, Facebook, StackOverflow and Behance.
    • Of course, some people want a formal education. I do not think everyone should leave college, but I challenge my peers to consider the opportunity cost of going to class. If you want to be a doctor, going to medical school is a wise choice.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.



  1. people must decide from themselves, you cannot walk into a college and earn degrees without making a informed decision. You need to investigate the job openings, outlook and base this on results in 4-8 years into the future. Do you make more money with a degree? Yes and No; Some do some don’t. Don’t earn a degree in some philisophical area of study and expect to earn more than 20k a year. You may earn more money with less monetary or time investment by gaining job skills through a trade course (i.e. barber, cosmetologist, medic etc.).

    • Yeah I agree John, I think it depends on the individual. You can go into any college class and some of the students will do very well, but others would benefit from alternate forms of education.

      Thanks for commenting!!

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