Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Do you need to go college?

Peter Thiel writes:

Perhaps the least controversial thing that President Obama ever said was that “in the coming decades, a high school diploma is not going to be enough. Folks need a college degree.” This vision is commonplace, but it implies a bleak future where everyone must work harder just to stay in place, and it’s just not true. Nothing forces us to funnel students into a tournament that bankrupts the losers and turns the winners into conformists. But that’s what will happen until we start questioning whether college is our only option. . . .

If a college degree always means higher wages, then everyone should get a college degree: That’s the conventional wisdom encapsulated by Obama. But how can everyone win a zero-sum tournament? No single path can work for everyone, and the promise of such an easy path is a sign of a bubble.

Of course, you can’t become successful just by dropping out of college. But you can’t become successful just by going to college, either, or by following any formula. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg aren’t famous because of the similar ways in which they left school. We know their names because of what each of them did differently from everybody else.

Learning from dropouts doesn’t require closing colleges but rather questioning them carefully. Higher education holds itself out as a kind of universal church, outside of which there is no salvation. Critics are cast as heretics or schismatics endangering the flock. But our greatest danger comes from the herd instinct that drives us to competition and crowds out difference.

A Reformation is coming, and its message will be the same as it was 500 years ago: Don’t outsource your future to a big institution. You need to figure it out for yourself.
The whole article is worth reading.


CatherineM said...

When I started out as a secretary 25 years ago, you got a great job after attending vocational training for 1 year at a Katharine Gibbs type school. Graduates were extremely professional. Now the same job requires a BA (in something) from a good University/College. Almost all of the grads think they are too good for the job, but they are actually half (if that) as prepared for the job as a Gibbs graduate. So they are deep in debt for a job they aren't trained for that they do half-heartedly.

I had to go back and get the 4 year degree to make sure I wouldn't be left out of the running for jobs (don't check the BA box, resume in the garbage by the agency).

This is not progress.