|Beating the College Bubble|
|summary||Don't go to college. Save your money.|
Chapter 2 works through a handful of examples of people who spent too much on education. Of course he brings up the fact that all of the big guys in the computer business skipped out on college after a few courses. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates started the trend and now it looks like Mark Zuckerberg is following in the famous footsteps.
The author writes out that some of the people in Chapter 2 really did benefit from their education. The lawyers and the doctors who sell their credentials did very well with fancy diplomas.
Chapter 3 is a largely obvious summary of what we all know: lots of college courses don't have any real use in the world. It's not as bad as jokes like: What do you call an English major? (Waiter!) The problem is that the Internet is very good at exporting bits and most college degrees specialize in manipulating bits. The Internet can and will ship this work to the lowest-wage countries in the world. So if you're interested in making money by manipulating bits, the Internet is going to cut you off at your knees. The real secret to making money he says is getting a career in something like sewer maintenance because that can't be exported despite what that famous Senator says about the Internet just being a bunch of pipes.
Chapter 4 is a great piece that explains where the money is going: into the pockets of the college presidents. Many of them make more than a million dollars a year in salary. Well, that's not all true. Some of it is going into the big, expensive buildings. Apparently long ago, students put on shows without fancy state-of-the-art, high-tech arts complexes. They just used an auditorium. No longer. Schools love to spend money on big-name architects. There's a good mention made of the high price tag, the bar, and the leaky roof at MIT's Stata Center.
Chapter 5 is a kind of a nice guy section added so the author couldn't be accused of being completely cynical and nasty. It points out that most schools aren't just spending the cash on the president's new yacht, but on things the students use like fancy dorms and swanky exercise rooms. I know this is true of my school. The dorms are much better. You can't even see the mortar between the cinder blocks any longer. He's still annoyed by this because all of the fancy features pump up the tuition bill.
Chapter 6 is where the book starts to get useful. He talks about how to negotiate for better terms on the debt or how to avoid picking up too much. You can pretty much skip Chapter 7 and move right on to Chapters 8 and 9 which describe how to save money by getting cut rate degrees or skipping college altogether.
I'm not sure whether I buy all of the techniques. He suggests that internet forums like Slashdot are more informative than a college classroom, something I'm not sure I believe. Yes, there's more discussion and the moderation system does a good job of shutting up that bossy know-it-all in the front row, but it would be nice to have a professor. I guess that's what they mean when we're supposed to read the article before commenting. Hah. No one did at my school either.
There are good ones. He tells of low-cost degree programs at most schools. You can save 80% of the price of going to Harvard, for instance. I think he's pretty honest about this because he does point out that you lose something when you take the cheap route. But freedom is just another word for nothing left to pay on your loans.
The book's website is trying to make the book interactive by posting new news stories and alternative solutions for college. It listed the new School of Everything as an alternative.
This is where the meat of the book lies. The only way to avoid getting hurt by a bursting bubble is to get out early. This book made me think long and hard about college. You can't go back and do a scientific experiment because you can only live life once. But I do think that's how he put it. We're really in love with the idea of college that we'll spend anything. It's like when you fall head over heels over some beautiful girl that you don't even know. Then you run up your credit card on an expensive meal to impress her only to find out that she's kind of snobby or flakey or just not interested in the right things (PS3, BitTorrent, Android, Erlang etc). When the bill comes a month later, you feel kind of dumb. This book is trying to help the next generation avoid that headache.
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