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Education News

Just Say No To College 716

Posted by samzenpus
from the how-about-a-nice-trade-school dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Alex Williams writes in the NY Times that the idea that a college diploma is an all-but-mandatory ticket to a successful career is showing fissures. Inspired by role models like the billionaire drop-outs who founded Microsoft, Facebook, Dell, Twitter, Tumblr, and Apple, and empowered by online college courses, a groundswell of university-age heretics consider themselves a DIY vanguard, committed to changing the perception of dropping out from a personal failure to a sensible option, at least for a certain breed of risk-embracing maverick. 'Here in Silicon Valley, it's almost a badge of honor,' says Mick Hagen, 28, who dropped out of Princeton in 2006 and moved to San Francisco, where he started Undrip, a mobile app. 'College puts a lot of constraints, a lot of limitations around what you can and can't do. Some people, they want to stretch their arms, get out and create more, do more.' Perhaps most famously, Peter A. Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, in 2010 started his Thiel Fellowship program, which pays students under 20 years old $100,000 apiece to bag college and pursue their own ventures. 'People are being conned into thinking that this credential is the one thing you need to do better in life. They typically are worse off, because they have amassed all this debt.' UnCollege advocates a DIY approach to higher education and spreads the message through informational 'hackademic camps.' 'Hacking,' in the group's parlance, can involve any manner of self-directed learning: travel, volunteer work, organizing collaborative learning groups with friends. Students who want to avoid $200,000 in student-loan debt might consider enrolling in a technology boot camp, where you can learn to write code in 8 to 10 weeks for about $10,000. 'I think kids with a five-year head start on equally ambitious peers will be ahead in both education and income,' says James Altucher, a prominent investor, entrepreneur and pundit who self-published a book called '40 Alternatives to College.' 'They could go to a library, read a book a day, take courses online. There are thousands of ways.'"
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Just Say No To College

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:31AM (#42168417)

    First of all, most of those "billionaire dropouts" were dropouts from Ivy League schools with plenty of startup money from daddy already at their disposal, not dipshits coming out of no-name-high-school. Secondly, most of them only left college when they already had contacts and solid plans (and financing) in place for starting their own businesses. They didn't need degrees because they were going to be hiring *themselves*, not having to worry about some HR department that will toss any non-degree applicants right into the trash.

    For most of the non-rich, non-Ivy League assholes like the rest of us--we still need a college degree if we're going to get beyond the front door to any stable job. We're not Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates.

    • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:36AM (#42168479) Journal

      Yep. If you drop out with your cash-cow already moo-ving (sorry, had too)... You are taking a huge risk, and just as likely to end up on the street or in your parents basement.

      A college degree isn't a surefire way to become rich, or even get a job, but it does improve your odds of at least getting a decent paycheck. The world cannot support everyone being a billionaire entrepreneur - and for those who don't have the ideas, or just get them too late, college is a good way to increase the odds of a decent 'consolation prize' to not being a billionaire entrepreneur.

      My guess is that the people promoting this want one thing: cheap, desperate labor, which these dropouts would become, when the majority of them fail to be successful.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:55AM (#42168705)
        Exactly. It is like saying, "you don't need to get a job and work for a living because you can take those last $5 you have and win the lottery with it." Newsflash for them: most people don't win the lottery. Most people can't just drop out of college and become rich either.
      • by halltk1983 (855209) <halltk1983@yahoo.com> on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:57AM (#42168733) Homepage Journal
        Saddling people with soul-crushing debt to pay for an education is a great way to make them desperate. Myself, I went into IT, where my skills and abilities, earned me my current job (and the last 4). They then paid to get me a couple certs. They also pay me well above the median household income, and allow me to work from home, all because I was able to demonstrate my ability. The key is to find a field you don't mind working in that needs workers. Electricians, plumbers, welders, mechanics... the world needs more of these. They make more than most college graduates, after 4 years of getting paid instead of paying to learn a craft. The ideal that you're espousing, that anyone that doesn't pay for a degree or have rich parents is doomed to fail is complete bollocks. It just takes effort, drive, and a willingness to work for what you want.
        • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:55AM (#42169473)

          It just takes effort, drive, and a willingness to work for what you want.

          Thought about using modpoints, decided to pick up on this point instead, just because it's a common and very misleading argument.

          Yes, step one to success is effort and drive, as well as having a vision of what you want to achieve. But that's just step one. To take the NBA example for inner city kids: they all believe that all it takes is hard work and determination. Little do they know that millions of others also have that. It also takes athleticism - or at least height - fine motor control and good hand-eye coordination. Actually, to play in the NBA, it takes exceptional levels of at least one of these. If all you have is effort and drive, you will be a side note in your high school's hall of fame. And on top of that, you need luck: don't blow your ACL in high school and get bad care for it. Don't get hit by a bus. Don't be forced to pick of a McDonald's job because you need to support your family in high school. And don't be subject to chronic injuries, for whatever genetic/random reason. See Greg Oden as the poster child for how that can kill your NBA career.

          Same thing in tech. If you don't have the brains and ability to absorb code and technical documentation all day long, all your drive and vision won't help. If you can't schmooze people, forget about leading a business. And that's why I think that people like Thiel are well-intentioned, but doing much more harm than good. They're the equivalent of the basketball clinics, but instead of just saying "here, you'll be a better basketball player if you pay us", they're saying "we'll make you an NBA star".

          In short: not everyone can be a business mogul, and there's nothing wrong with it. We need to stop telling people that a) they will be if they work hard enough, and b) they're not a business mogul only because they're lazy. Neither of those statements are true, and they're behind a good chunk of the problems the US is facing.

          That said....

          Electricians, plumbers, welders, mechanics... the world needs more of these. They make more than most college graduates, after 4 years of getting paid instead of paying to learn a craft.

          More people should take this to heart. There's nothing wrong with being a blue-collar worker. Some of those jobs pay very well. Notice though: some of them do. You can pull down $150k as a welder, but it's hard, technical work that you won't be doing forever.

      • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:25AM (#42169059)

        Yep. If you drop out with your cash-cow already moo-ving (sorry, had too)... You are taking a huge risk, and just as likely to end up on the street or in your parents basement.

        A college degree isn't a surefire way to become rich, or even get a job, but it does improve your odds of at least getting a decent paycheck. The world cannot support everyone being a billionaire entrepreneur - and for those who don't have the ideas, or just get them too late, college is a good way to increase the odds of a decent 'consolation prize' to not being a billionaire entrepreneur.

        My guess is that the people promoting this want one thing: cheap, desperate labor, which these dropouts would become, when the majority of them fail to be successful.

        A college degree isn't a sure fire way to get rich but it is rather difficult to get rich in the tech industry without people that have a college degree or some other form of higher education. I am really tired of people trash talking college education and then pointing at a selection of cherry-picked individuals like Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, Dell, Jobs etc. as if they somehow constitute conclusive proof of the fact that we can disband our Universities. Now it may very well be that you don't need to be college educated to found a start-up that grows into a multi billion dollar high-tech megacorp but I wonder how far any of these people would have gotten without people that have a college degree? Does Dell rely upon self-educated people to design and manufacture components for their computers? Does Microsoft / Apple software get written by people who learned to program from "Teach your self in 7 days" guides (Ok, sometimes I wonder about those last two but but I happen to know what kind of people work for these two companies and trust me they are mostly educated pros). I think that the likes of Gates, Zuckerberg, Dell, Jobs were just as lucky as they were 'mega talented visionary dropouts' and that applies particularly to the first two. I will give Michael Dell credit for having an natural talent and feel for logistics, and Jobs, whatever else you may think of him, had an uncanny nose for products with great potential (the whole iPod/Phone/Pad line) as well as companies with great potential, like Pixar for example. People thought Jobs was nuts when he bought Pixar.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:44AM (#42168565)

      Yes, and this should be the last comment, but every white male douche with any kind of spoon up his ass is going to post with some Ayn Randian explanation of how you're wrong and school is a scam foisted upon unsuspecting saps, while he's doing just fine through hard work and good choices, and the world is better for it, thank you very much.

      Emulating Zuckerberg => Silicon Hoop Dreams. Kids, college can be a good investment. So could "uncollege" with MOOCs and/or the IRL startup experience. It fucking depends on you. You should try to objectively evaluate your own situation and ignore pithy counterculture sentiments like "say no to college," because they may not actually apply to you, your potential, your drive, your network of support, or your pocketbook/pursestrings.

      • by SJHillman (1966756) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:31AM (#42169119)

        " It fucking depends on you."

        That's about the size of it. College is great for some people, military is better for others, entrepreneurship for others, and just getting an entry-level job out of high school for others still. There's no "right path" for everyone. College will provide more opportunities for the vast majority of people (assuming they think about the school and degree they choose before committing), but no, it's not right for everyone. I've seen many people flounder and fail with a college degree, I've seen many people succeed without one and I've seen quite a few put off college until their 30's or later when they've already established themselves in their field of choice (an option many people overlook but it certainly valid).

    • by Manmademan (952354) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:54AM (#42168685)
      Exactly.

      Let's be honest, the skyrocketing cost of college and debt are very real issues, but a $200,000 bill for a bachelor's degree is extremely rare. Your average state university might be a quarter of that, and the cost can go even lower if one starts at a community or junior college and transfers in.

      Now, if you're talking $200,000 for a BA plus the cost of a graduate degree like an MS, M.D, PHD, or JD- that's a completely separate issue as those fields are entirely off limits to those without advanced degrees. "good skills" without the degree won't allow you to practice law, medicine, or teach at a university level.

      The article summary also concentrates on the argument that "learning to code" doesn't take a four year degree, and perhaps it doesn't- but the american workforce consists of far more than just coders, and its very likely that if said coders want to advance up the corporate ladder later in their careers, the lack of a degree is going to stop them dead in their tracks. The article fails to note that the unemployment rate for those with just a high school degree is three times higher than those with a bachelor's degree- 12% vs 4% or so. You can't ignore a statistic like that, and a large part of the reason why is that HR departments and Recruiters are in the habit of asking for a BA by default and will automatically trash a resume that lacks it, despite how good one's skills may be.

      The "skip college' argument is extremely short sighted here, ignores the realities of the hiring landscape, and is really only useful advice for a very, very small percentage of those looking to start businesses.

      • by BVis (267028) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:10AM (#42168871)

        Let's be honest, the skyrocketing cost of college and debt are very real issues, but a $200,000 bill for a bachelor's degree is extremely rare. Your average state university might be a quarter of that, and the cost can go even lower if one starts at a community or junior college and transfers in.

        The state university I graduated from is now close to $25,000 / year. For IN-STATE residents. And that doesn't include books or any specific lab fees. Now, I might be a product of public higher education, but my math says 4 years of that is $100,000, which is significantly more than a quarter of $200,000. (If you're out-of-state, it's closer to $37,000 per year.) For a degree that is more of a stain on your resume than an asset, I might add. After all, if you had any brains, you wouldn't have had to go to that aggie school out there.

        You can't ignore a statistic like that, and a large part of the reason why is that HR departments and Recruiters are in the habit of asking for a BA by default and will automatically trash a resume that lacks it, despite how good one's skills may be.

        Skills don't enter that equation at all. Introducing the concept of 'skills' divorced from a degree introduces thought into the equation. Thinking is hard. And, since HR is usually staffed by morons, or so overworked that they aren't physically able to evaluate each resume they receive, they use the lack of degree as a filter to narrow things down.

        Anyway, companies don't really care about your skills or education. They look for weaknesses that they can exploit when they're evaluating someone for a job. By exploiting the weaknesses (like, for example, if someone has a family to feed and/or provide health insurance for) they can keep salaries down, which improves the bottom line. It's not about your skills (which nobody but your hiring manager gives a shit about, and that's the reason why they rarely have input in the hiring decision - they want 'good', not 'cheap'), it's about how cheaply they can get you.

      • by SJHillman (1966756) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:37AM (#42169191)

        I've seen a few different numbers for "average loans for a Bachelor's degree", but they're pretty much all in the $23-$27k range, which isn't too bad for a ten year loan. The huge six figure numbers are usually the result of bad financial decisions such as repeated deferments, etc. I graduated with about $24000 in loans at the beginning of 2010. As of now, I have $3800 remaining in spite of being paid far below industry average for this area and having an nice townhouse for nearly double the rent of a basic apartment. The main problem most people have is a complete lack of money management. We have a Wii and a handful of games. We subscribe to Netflix but don't have cable and our 32" TV is plenty big enough. Most people make plenty of money to handle student loans, they just handle it poorly. Of course, there are some truly useless degrees out there that aren't worth it (I'm looking at most of you people with a BA) - I just wish a guidance counselor would have the balls to tell students "Are you sure that's the degree you want? It won't net you any more money than you'll make without it"

    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:03AM (#42168805) Homepage

      The vast majority of jobs at https://www.facebook.com/careers/ [facebook.com] require a BA or BS degree. I'm sure the job requirements on the other "drop-out companies" are pretty much the same.

      Most entepreneurs fail. Most of those wannabe billionaire dropouts are now few-thousand-aire low-level employees.

      Also; how many of those dropouts dropped out BEFORE there business was succesful?

    • by fufufang (2603203) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:12AM (#42168891)

      We're not Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates.

      I don't think Bill Gates used his family money to start up the company. However Bill Gates was (possibly still is) extremely talented.

      If you read Idea Man[1] by Paul Allen, Bill Gates sneaked around WSU's computer lab with Paul Allen, fixing PhD students' code. That's before Bill Gates went to Harvard to study a degree in law. If you think you are as capable as Bill Gates, feel free to drop out.

      I happen to think that the law degree might have helped Bill Gates in running his company.

      http://www.amazon.com/Idea-Man-Memoir-Cofounder-Microsoft/dp/1591845378 [amazon.com]

    • by mcmonkey (96054) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:16AM (#42168943) Homepage

      First of all, most of those "billionaire dropouts" were dropouts from Ivy League schools with plenty of startup money from daddy already at their disposal, not dipshits coming out of no-name-high-school. Secondly, most of them only left college when they already had contacts and solid plans (and financing) in place for starting their own businesses. They didn't need degrees because they were going to be hiring *themselves*, not having to worry about some HR department that will toss any non-degree applicants right into the trash.

      For most of the non-rich, non-Ivy League assholes like the rest of us--we still need a college degree if we're going to get beyond the front door to any stable job. We're not Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates.

      Your first point is important. Going to college (particularly a well-networked one like Harvard) and dropping out is not the same as never attending. The reason is your second point. You can get what you need from a college without getting a diploma. It is much less likely you'll get what you need (or even know what you can get) if you never attend. It's the old "how do you know you won't like like/need it if you've never tried it?"

      To your last point, a kid saying 'I don't need college, look at Zuckerberg,' is kinda like me saying, 'I don't need to work, look at the lady who just won millions playing the lottery.' You may say, the Zuckerbergs of the world are in control of their destiny, the lottery winners rely on luck. I'll say, there are more lottery winners who've won enough to live off the rest of their life (if managed properly) than there are billionaire drop outs.

    • by nebosuke (1012041) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:25AM (#42169061)

      I went to Harvard and dropped out after my first year not due to having a great startup idea, but having to deal with family issues. I'm also not a trust-fund baby, as neither of my parents has a college degree, my mom's family business was destroyed by a natural distaster when I was a small kid, and my dad has always been a blue-collar worker in a low-paid line of work. My family qualified for food stamps and subsidised lunches but my parents wouldn't take either (and they're dyed-in-the-wool liberal democrats--imagine that). I grew up paying for my own school supplies, field trips, etc., from the money I made selling crops that I grew personally--my dad funded my initial startup in terms of seedstock and about $80 of fertilizer in lieu of allowance for working on the farm.

      I started my post-dropout career at a $11/hr job technically classified as temporary field labor. There I helped my boss write a field data collection/productivity app on what was the closest thing to a hand-held tablet (the 2004-version of a CF-07 from Panasonic).

      Second move was to a different company as a temp for $20/hr--also still considered field labor but I was expected to be able to operate a gps unit. There I set up their entire GIS system and surrounding business processes from scratch.

      Several years later and I'm now in a full-time position (which had been advertised as "MBA + X years experience required") with that second company managing planning for regional operations and developing strategy and processes for a global multi-9-figure operations unit. Working on a degree through University of Phoenix just to get the piece of paper--but even when I do it'll be useless because I'm already at a level that requires at least a masters per formal requirements.

      In short, it can be done. That being said, HR fought my initial hire as a full-time employee, and one person even made it her personal mission to limit my promotions and pay and to try to exclude me from consideration for potential promotions. The only reason I advanced the way I did was because my managers personally and specifically fought HR on my behalf. If I had the MBA and hadn't had that resistance from HR I'd be paid double what I'm paid today at the very least.

      Here's my advice. If you are willing to start at the bottom, and earn recognition via tangible accomplishments, you can make a career in corporate America without a degree. It will require that you not only outperform your credentialed peers by orders of magnitude, but also build very strong professional relationships on the business management side such that your manager+3 will be willing to boot stomp HR on your behalf. You will in all likelihood still be undercompensated unless you are willing to jump ship and objectively prove your desirability as demonstrated by other companies headhunting you. As that is largely opposed to developing strong relationships with your managers, this is a delicate balancing act. If you are willing and able to do the same while actually having a degree you will earn much more $ at almost any large corporation . Also, do not kid yourself--people actually learn stuff in college, so you have to be willing to actively self-educate in order to be competitive.

      If you want to start your own business in an industry that is not heavily credential-sensitive, and you have a capitlization plan that does not involve stuffy bankers and conservative investors, and feel that you can spare 4 - 6 years gaining experience, I absolutely recommend jumping in to industry and reading Drucker, Kaplan and Norton, etc. on your own as opposed to getting a degree. 4 - 6 years in a real career will be much more valuable than a degree once you're your own boss.

      If you will "only" be a highly competent and consistent performer looking for a decent, stable job, GET A DEGREE.

  • by Anrego (830717) * on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:34AM (#42168451)

    I’m all for the elimination of college/university as an almost necessity to get a decent job.

    That said, for every tech millionaire dropout, there are probably 1000 guys with good technical knowledge eking out a living on a hell desk. At a minimum, not having a degree is going to make things harder and reduce your options. Again, for every small startup you can wow with your cool open source contributions, there's a dozen companies who will just shredder your resume (and before you say "who wants to work for such a company", keep in mind HR is usually not reflective of the working environment at most places).

    Much as it sucks, I still think the best bet is to learn on your own, then sweat out the degree.

    Then again, here in Canada tuitions are high but not insane. I worked a McJob part time through highschool, full time through summers, and was able to pay off the remainder of my debt fairly quickly after graduating.

    There is also something to be said about college/university as a good thing. It forces you to take stuff you’d have no interest in otherwise, there is some social development, you learn to deal with different personalities, etc..

  • Drive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichMan (8097) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:35AM (#42168463)

    If you have drive you can succeed by yourself.

    With high-school becoming a pat-on-the-back-thanks-for-showing-up affair college is what teaches people to knuckle under and get stuff done. If you need that lesson you need college.

    • Re:Drive (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anrego (830717) * on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:47AM (#42168599)

      Some people have entrepreneurial drive, some don’t and probably never will. I am one without. I have no interest in starting my own business and no serious career ambition.

      That said I make one hell of a wage slave. I love what I do, and I get shit done.

      I guess my point is that college isn’t so much about learning to "knuckle under and get stuff done" as a required part of the process for us that lack the drive to go out and do our own thing and instead just want to get a job working for someone else and do the thing we are good at.

    • Re:Drive (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xaoslaad (590527) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:54AM (#42168689)

      One thing college proves is that you have the drive to stick with something for 4 years and succeed. You learn a whole lot of other valuable lessons and information while doing that too.

      Look, I'm not a fan of rising tuition costs, and the growing requirement for manufacturing jobs, that clearly have no need, requiring a college degree. But we need to stop encouraging people to be stupid and give up while insinuating that they're doing the right thing. They're not. As mentioned most of the drop outs already had lots of contacts, maybe a good idea, and mommy and daddy's money to carry them. Most of us don't.

      Instead, maybe they should get a degree and use their new found skills and insight into the system to help reform it and make it better for everyone. The message certainly should not be to ignore the broken system and subscribe to a life of indifference and complacency. That message is crap served with a steaming side of bullshit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:37AM (#42168493)

    The unemployment rate for college grads is half that of non-college grads. Yes, there are these billionaire dropouts, but they are the exception not the rule. Besides, if you're capable of having a billion dollar idea without a college degree, aren't you just as capable of having a billion dollar idea WITH a college degree? Why take the risk? Stay in school and have the best of both worlds.

    • by MacDork (560499) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:55AM (#42169459) Journal

      Besides, if you're capable of having a billion dollar idea without a college degree, aren't you just as capable of having a billion dollar idea WITH a college degree? Why take the risk?

      Because a college degree costs six figures? RTFA much? Colleges are the next bubble to pop. They've had sustained 10-15% increases in tuition for more than a decade. It is now 4 times more expensive to get a degree than it was when I went to school 15 years ago. The worst of it is that these kids can't default on their student loans. It's unprecedented predatory lending by Sallie Mae and friends. But just like those AAA rated housing bonds, it won't matter if the kids have no job to pay it back. Kids coming out of college today with $100,000+ in debt are a lost generation. They're now on the hook for 30 years for that 4 year party experience. The university towns are going to implode BTW. If you live in one, you might want to sell now and relocate while prices are still high.

      TFA doesn't say give up on education. There's coursera, udacity, udemy and others steping up to make education affordable again. TFA says don't be screwed by going to college. lrn2read

      • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Monday December 03, 2012 @11:38AM (#42170035)

        Because a college degree costs six figures?

        Correction: Some colleges cost six figures. There are many paths to a degree which cost less than 50 grand out of pocket. At the time, my undergraduate university had the top tuition in the nation ($35k per year + room and board), and I graduated with a total of $30k in government subsidized (government pays interest while I'm in school) loans. I did this through merit based scholarships, need based grants (1/2 off tuition), work study, living off campus with roommates, cooking for myself instead of using the meal plan, taking the bus to school instead of driving a car, and working part time on the side.

        Other paths to a cheap education include:

        • *Start at a community college and transfer credits to a state school
        • *Go to an in state college, especially a satellite campus
        • *Go to a state college other than Big State U with the expensive football team and partyschool reputation. Here in PA Penn State is that school and it actually can be very expensive if you go to the main campus, but we have other state-run colleges here which are much cheaper.
        • *Go in with a plan: Don't spend 2 years not knowing what you want to do and finally settle, ending up with a total of 5-6 years. Get in there, do it right, and get out.
        • *Choose a 3 year or accelerated program, and get a 4 year degree for the price of 3 years.
        • *Choose a major with job prospects. Math, science, and engineering are all worth the money, even if you spend 6 figures because a) it's the best way to learn the field and b) you'll pay off the loans with a job, even in this down economy all my STEM friends got jobs after college. Art, English, and drama... maybe not so much.
        • *Take time off before you go to college to work and save for your education. It will cost a lot less than having to take out loans.
        • *Choose a college that offers a fifth year masters if for free. Many schools do this, which basically saves you $20k - $30k and you leave more qualified with the potential for a higher starting salary.

        Any one of these methods I've outlined can lead to a college degree at a fraction of six figures. Sure, it means you're not going to the most expensive brand name. Sure it means having to worry about your grades or risk losing your scholarship. Sure it means working after you get out of class instead of partying. But you'll probably actually grow up of the course of the 4 years by taking some personal responsibility, instead treating college like an extension of your adolescence and leaving as a twenty-something with the mentality of a high school teenager like most college grads.

  • by jonnythan (79727) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:37AM (#42168495) Homepage

    This comes from the same mentality as people who skip vaccinating their children: we have a generation who grew up taking things for granted, so they feel free to reject the very things that gave them that privilege. Grow up without being surrounded by disease, and it feels safe to throw away vaccines. Grow up taking an educated populace for granted, and it feels safe to throw away college.

    It's also the same mentality that leads people to stop taking medications. I've seen so many people with seizure disorders stop taking their pills after a time because they don't have seizures anymore..... then immediately have seizures again. I know one person that died as a result of this.

    As a person who has gone to college, dropped out, and is now going back, I understand the value of the education and experience. It's not for everyone, but it really does have immense value. Very few people have the disposition and dedication to focus themselves and spend their time doing something better than college - most who drop out or don't go will spend their time doing something far less valuable.

  • Outliers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Synarus (2782873) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:38AM (#42168501)
    See, but if you went to college you would learn that outliers exist in all populations. One should not make conclusions based on an outlier because they do not provide significant evidence for a result. If instead you look at the vast majority of successful people they have college degrees. That being said there is evidence that certain programs such as vocational or even Ivy League programs have negative effects of certain subsets of the work force. But let's try not to make grandiose claims on faulty evidence.
  • multiple options (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:38AM (#42168503) Homepage

    Skipping college and starting your own blockbuster company is an option, much like winning the lottery is an option, or being born with millionaire parents is an option.

  • Yeah, right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jawnn (445279) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:38AM (#42168509)
    And anyone with any athletic ability should just head straight for the pro's. I mean, the odds against becoming a basketball star or the next Zuckerberg can't be that long, right? Right?
  • by SpuriousLogic (1183411) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:39AM (#42168511)
    or NBA, or music, etc, etc, etc The VAST majority of people who skip college will never achieve anywhere near the financial level they could have achieved by going to school. Skipping college and becoming a billionaire is akin to being the lead point scorer in the NBA without ever playing in college. Yes, it happens, to one person out of millions that play basketball.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:40AM (#42168519)

    Up here in Canuckistan, 'college' means Community College. Community Colleges are mandated (in Ontario at least) to serve the local job market. That means that if there aren't jobs in a particular field, there should not be a college program.

    In other words, if you attend a community college, you have a very good chance of getting a job. Some programs have 100% job placement year after year. The statistics are available, you can check the graduate placement and starting salaries before you enrol.

    In my particular program, we often get university graduates who can't get jobs. Community Colleges don't get nearly enough respect.

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:41AM (#42168531) Homepage Journal
    where you can learn to write code in 8 to 10 weeks for about $10,000

    Just what we need, more shitty code for someone else to figure out how to work around the problems created by said code.

    Considering the amount of work I spend every day fixing issues or trying to resolve problems due to bad coding from multi-million dollar companies, the last thing we need is more people shoveling out more shit when there is enough shit already out there.

    We don't need the latest and greatest shiny. We need code that works.
  • Students who want to avoid $200,000 in student-loan debt

    Yeah, I don't know how this happens. I mean, I know how it happens ... you go to a school on the East Coast so you have the name on your resume. I went to the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities for four years and came out with $20,000 in loans (worked three jobs in college). A coworker's cousin just graduated from George Washington in DC and came out with $250,000 in loans. Tuition rates at the University of Minnesota [umn.edu] versus tuition rates at GWU [gwu.edu] (note that those are per credit hour! and they don't give you every credit over 13 free like they do at the U of MN).

    Frankly, I think this article should be titled, "skip the overly expensive college because you'll get a more than adequate education somewhere else." Okay so I have to prove myself in an interview over someone from GWU. Challenge accepted.

    And if everyone drops out of college to start their own thing, who are you going to be hiring when your startup needs to transition to a medium to large company? Other dropouts whose ideas were crap. Are you sure you want to advocate this to be a more widespread phenomenon?

  • HR (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:44AM (#42168573)

    Please, do tell of all those Silicon Valley kids who didn't make it. Or the drop-outs who didn't go into CS? How do they get their foot in the door with HR? Those kids who "made it" were very bright to begin with, and they had an opportunity they couldn't pass up by the time they dropped out. What the article is saying is if you drop out, opportunities will come - that's the mentality of every actor trying to "make it" in Hollywood.

    I have a certain set of skill that unfortunately aren't too profitable. I'm not in CS nor in dog-walking (as the article suggests). I don't have the aptitude to be a cop. But my skills require a college degree to get my foot in the door. The problem isn't college, but the HR system. And unfortunately, I'm not as bright as Bill Gates or Zuckerberg (both who went to Harvard) to make up the diploma deficit with talent. I went to a state university and as the world goes, pretty average.

    What annoys me the most of all, are the examples cited in the article. I bet most, if not all, the kids came from an affluent background, where if they fail there would be a financial safety net from the parents. As for me, I saved up and only had one shot. I tried my hand and didn't make it. My life has changed now where I'd have to save up again for a couple of years for another shot in entrepreneurial career success or start a family.

    God, I hate articles like these. It just feeds into every high school kids' fantasies into never going to college and think they can make it big. Opportunity follows talent, not the other way around.

  • Yeah, right. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MaWeiTao (908546) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:48AM (#42168615)

    It's amusing that people would advocate this when statistics show that college graduates not only face a lower unemployment rate, but they average higher incomes as well.

      As others have pointed out, you'll notice that the successful entrepreneurs who dropped out either went to ivy league schools or had wealthy parents. Even if they had to scrape for their own money, their backgrounds conferred instant confidence in their abilities amongst anyone they approached. One of the most important aspects of a successful business, contacts, where there from the start.

    A second important factor here is that these guys were already actively engaged in whatever lead to their success. They would have been successful just the same had they completed college because the drive was already there. These aren't random students more interested in partying than schoolwork. But sure, let's perpetuate the idea that we don't need college so that we end up with an even bigger group of resentful individuals resentful for not having been multimillionaires.

    Of course, we should be talking about the cost of an education. College tuition is seriously overpriced but instead everyone harps on student loans. And the government backing those loans simply adds fuel to the fire, creating a massive bubble. Certainly, we should be looking at trade schools, but I think the real problem in the US is perception. Most people think trade schools are beneath them. But when you've got MBA's sucking everyone else dry in a race to bottom, who can blame them?

  • Better inspiration (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sunking2 (521698) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:48AM (#42168617)
    Let's look at the vast majority of people who haven't gone to college and be inspired by them. This is like saying that the 2 people who won $250M each in the lottery should inspire us all to spend all of our disposable cash on lottery tickets. Statistically your chances of becoming rich as a professional athlete are probably better than becoming Bill Gates or Zuckerman. Oh, not to mention, both of them were in college, and without it and the resources that were available to them because of that neither would have what they have now.
  • a better idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lluc (703772) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:49AM (#42168629)
    Wait! I have a better idea to avoid $200K of loans. Don't go to an overpriced private school; do go to a good state school. Get a major in a technical area where you can work on internships or co-op often to cover a good portion of your tuition. Get an automatic job offer when you graduate from your co-op / internship company.
  • by alen (225700) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:50AM (#42168637)

    Bill Gates had Steve Ballmer who also went to harvard and made lots of contacts
    Zuck hired a hardvard educated COO
    Michael Dell also hired a college educated COO when it was time to really grow the company

    same with all the other startups that made it big. they all hired college educated senior officers, gave up a lot of control and ownership in the company to have it grow. writing up some code on the weekends and renting space on amazon isn't going to turn your startup into a billion dollar company

    running a startup without someone who knows how to grow the company means you will always be some small fry and never make it

  • Students who want to avoid $200,000 in student-loan debt

    If you are taking on $200,000 for a 4-year degree, you're doing it wrong. While it is increasingly more difficult every year to work your way through college (as I did), nobody should need to take on this much debt for a 4-year degree. Likely someone taking on that much debt is living way outside their means.

  • Just Say No (Score:5, Funny)

    by twmcneil (942300) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:53AM (#42168675)
    Go ahead, just say no to college, that's fine by me. Degreed people like myself need ambitious young people like you to work for us and do all the shit we don't feel like doing.
  • Cost vs Value... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bayankaran (446245) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:05AM (#42168821) Homepage
    There are two issues - 'value of college' and 'cost of college'.

    As many other posters have eloquently put, the value of college for most of us is priceless. Very few of us have the entrepreneurial spirit. For every successful entrepreneur or 'self made millionaire', there are thousands who did not make the cut. In a winner takes all society, we forget the majority and we focus on the minority and aspire to be a part of that rarefied circle. This is at best wishful thinking, and at worst will have disastrous consequences to ones morale, prospects, motivation and energy. This is what the guy who says "in Silicon Valley, being a drop out is a badge of honour" fails to notice.

    The actual issue is 'cost of college'. There is no reason - absolutely no reason - for a four year degree to cost more than $20 or $30K without scholarship or stipends. The classic American aphorism "follow the money" should be applied to find out "why college costs a bomb"? You will end up in the door steps of American government, lending agencies, universities becoming a profit centre and other vested interests.

    Americans should fight "cost of college education", not "value of college education".
  • gah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by buddyglass (925859) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:09AM (#42168867)

    Basing a decision not to get a degree on outliers like Zuckerberg and Gates is pretty dumb. Some thoughts:

    1. People who are highly successful sans-degree would likely also be highly successful with a degree. The lack of a degree did not juice their success; they succeeded despite a lack of credentials.

    2. Choosing not to get a degree creates a much crappier "worst case" compared to getting a degree (a. from a reputable institution, b. in a marketable field and c. with decent grades). Many more non-college-graduates experience this worst case than wind up like Zuckerberg.

    3. College needn't cost $200,000. Especially if you're the sort of high-achieving person who is likely to be successful even without a degree. If you're paying $200,000 for a degree you're most likely attending a private university and have wealthy parents. My household earns more than 85% of households; my kid would pay $15k/year to attend Harvard. Paying full price at a top 25 public in-state university would run $10k/year. Toss on a national merit scholarship and we're looking at ~$5k/year. Depending on the field of study that could be earned back via paid co-ops during the final two years.

  • smell a rat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:12AM (#42168887) Homepage Journal

    You don't need college if you're going to compete with $1/hr third world labor. You just need the ability to work 16 hours a day and not ask questions.

    You don't need college, son, but we've got a dormitory waiting for you.

    The past year, I've been reading a lot of these "You don't need college" stories, mostly in right-wing and pro-corporate media. I don't think it's coincidental.

    Nobody is telling Mitt Romney's kid that he doesn't need college, even though (guess what) he REALLY doesn't need college. In fact, it's one of the trending memes of 2012: "You fucking proles don't need college because there are pictures of cheeseburgers on the cash register buttons."

  • by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:34AM (#42169161)

    Yes, there are a lot of examples of people becoming successful without a degree, but there is MORE examples of people living on the streets because they don't have a diploma and cannot find work, or are working their asses off just to barely scrape by.

    To say that college is completely a waste of time and money is just plain irresponsible. There are far more career paths that must begin with a diploma then those that can start by being self taught. Even in software development just because you can code doesn't mean you are good at it, and there are far more skills learned in school then just how to code, such as better problem solving skills, social and organizational skills.

    College is a 4 years sacrifice that prepares you for a 40 year career.

    A generation of kids not going to school because of schmucks like this telling them they don't need a diploma to get a job will be the last nail in the coffin that is the decline of the USA into a 3rd world country. An entire generation of kids thinking they can get rich quick without education and instead saturating the welfare system and social assistance programs will bankrupt the government and force more American companies to use outsourcing solutions.

  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Monday December 03, 2012 @11:16AM (#42169751)

    In order to drop out of Harvard or Princeton and start your own (hugely) successful company, you first have to get accepted to, attend, and pay for the aforementioned schools. You just might already have a leg up on the majority of potential entrepreneurial dropouts.

  • by srobert (4099) on Monday December 03, 2012 @11:16AM (#42169757)

    You know who else didn't have college degrees. Those people who won the lottery this last week. That proves it. Don't waste your time and money on college.

  • by bradgoodman (964302) on Monday December 03, 2012 @11:19AM (#42169785) Homepage
    I dropped out of college (electrical engineering) after a year and a half and have had a very successful career in the twenty years since, both in my own companies, and working at others.

    That doesn't mean this is the path for everyone. This is not an invitation to every slacker on the face of the planet to drop out of school and keep smoking weed because "the man's" diploma isn't worth anything. I worked very long and hard before, during and after college, perusing engineering and computer science interests.

    In the end - College didn't fit my learning style: Hands on, highly practical, very project-oriented. Combining my need for that with my ADD, meant I learn much better staying up all night tinkering in a lab working on my own projects, than sitting in some lecture hall for a mandatory "humanities" course on "Modern European History". I still read books at home at night on DSP and Theoretical Physics.

    I also think the analogy to people like Gates or Zuckerburg is stupid. There is a one in a billion chance of doing something like that - but when correctly executed for the correct individual, a VERY good chance that they would have a very good career, rivaling those of a [typical/average] college grade.

    It's totally dependent on the person.

  • Networking (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Niris (1443675) on Monday December 03, 2012 @12:12PM (#42170453)
    They forget to mention that one of the best parts of college, apart from being introduced to new things (not necessarily taught new things, but shown that they exist so you can look into them yourself in your spare time), is networking. During my upper division coursework, I've spent far longer at the bar than I should have, but that time at the bar has been with guys from my computer science classes and we've discussed a lot of ideas, brought in our laptops and worked on some awesome things (released an Android game recently that was programmed 100% at the bar, and usually after a drink or two. Comments galore so I could keep track of my thoughts >.>). You meet people that are _awesome_ at things that you barely grasp, and vice versa. You make friends and team up and work on projects that would take you far longer on your own than if you hadn't collaborated and met people along the way. Example: I generally handle a lot of the Android, web and database stuff for my group of friends, whereas another guy handles circuitry if we want to do something with the Audrino, and is awesome at C and 80x86 assembly, and the last guy is _great_ with math and algorithms for making things "just work."

I'm all for computer dating, but I wouldn't want one to marry my sister.

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