By now, nearly everyone has heard about the Thiel Fellowships, which is a grant of $100,00 given to 20 students under the age of 20. This fellowship provides support and funding for each student's entrepreneurial endeavors. However, each receiver cannot be enrolled in higher education during the 2-year fellowship.Dale Stephens, one of the recipients of this year, recently wrote an article discussing his thoughts about college and entitled it as “College Is a Waste of Time”.
No matter, Stephens is right or wrong, what do you think? Is college really a waste of time?
After reading Stephens opinion, I thought about the entire education process for a while. As a new parent, I've started to brainstorm the best path for my child. While college is far away for my kid, it's an interesting topic, especially since I'm only a few years out of my college. I will only say, the idea of college itself isn't a waste, just the way it's run.
I also agree that college may not be for everyone; it is expensive, sometimes detrimentally and prohibitively so; that many students graduate with a diploma without learning the skills they both wanted and need to learn. However, I do not agree with other statements Stephen made in his piece. In fact, I find them to be remarkably ignorant. Those statements are sweeping, bold and accusing the colleges that fail to empower students with the skills that are essential for becoming today's global entrepreneurial economy's productive members and the collages that reward competition rather than collaboration, conformity rather than independence, theory rather than application and regurgitation rather than learning.
Do these accusations and statements talk about Stephen's experience in college? Of course. Are they same about everyone's? Of course not. While you think whether college is a waste of time or not, I would suggest you to consider what your life will be on each side of the fence, the side with as well as without a post-secondary education. Do you believe, without a post-secondary education you will have success in finding a job that pays what you are capable of earning? No doubt, some will, but I think the odds are against it.
Most people think that college is expensive for them, so it's better just getting a job straight out of high school, and not incurring any student loans, and starting to save for your retirement right away. For me, I will encourage them to pursue the highest level of education they can to maximize their personal potential; not only for their own benefit, but also for the benefit of society.
Of course, there will always be exceptions of a handful of successful entrepreneurs like Michael Dell and Bill Gates who were very successful without completing college degree. But the fact is that 97% of CEOs in America have a college degree. And by the way, Michael Dell is a great believer in higher education, and has invested millions through his own foundation on programs like AVID as well as college scholarships.
The bottom line is that the business world and society that we live in today pretty much demands college degree for any significant level of success. I think, the goal is to make sure that you have spent your 4 (or more) years of college learning marketable, specific skills which will make you valuable and give you the opportunity to succeed. If your degree or course work doesn't offer this opportunity, then it's up to you to find other educational opportunities outside your typical course work.
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