Flaviu's Blog - Read'n'Code

The Value of a College Education

A few weeks ago 60 minutes did a segment on Peter Thiel, the Paypal/Facebook billionaire that gives $100,000 to kids under 20 to quit college and build startups.

Thiel, I should mention, is a graduate of Stanford Undergrad and Stanford Law School.

Glenn Beck, the eternally hallucinating talk show host, provides a simple solution for the $1 trillion of student debt in this country: Kids who can’t afford college shouldn’t go. Instead, they should “go to the free public library.” He gives himself as an example.

Also, student loans are a big presidential campaign issue that, oddly enough, the two candidates agree on a solution to: “we must do something to lower the cost of going to college.”

Meanwhile, NPR publishes the infogram below showing that the Net Cost of College (sticker price - grants and scholarships) has remained more or less the same over the years.

Ok, I get it. The cost of college is what we’re willing to pay for it. As long as people pay $62k to go to Harvard, Harvard will keep increasing its tuition. Basic Supply & Demand.

But what about Peter Thiel’s claim that education is a bubble and we are greatly overestimating the value of a college degree?

I know several people in their 60s that had a successful career without a college degree. Yet they all wished they had gone to college.

Take T. Banks, a friend who worked for BellSouth his entire life. He is a stellar electrician and had security clearance to work in the White House. However, when he is around “people with college degrees”, he feels inferior, and refuses to voice his opinions on anything, as though they were somehow less valuable that his Bachelors-holding friends’.

My point is that going to college is a decision that will haunt you for the rest of your life.

It’s not just a certificate or a piece of paper in order to get a job. For many, college provides the confidence and social skills to succeed in building relationships with others and pursue success in any profession.

While college may not have been greatly beenficial to Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, think twice before you recommend that no one should go to college.

It’s often the ones who have gone to college (like Peter Thiel) or that were accepted in the top institutions and left to pursue their dreams (like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg) that inspire kids to skip college.

The vast majority of 18-year-olds are not like Peter Thiel, Bill Gates, nor Mark Zuckerberg. They have much more in common with T. Banks.


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