Why Not Skip College?

John Seiler:

Katy Grimes reported here at CalWatchDog.com on the protests against cuts in aid to college students. That means higher tuition — “fees” — to attend state colleges and universities.

Here’s an idea for how kids can cut the costs of going to college: Don’t go.

It’s a myth that going to college always leads to higher pay. Sometimes it does. If you want to be a doctor or lawyer, there’s no choice but to go to school for the better part of a decade.

But a degree in sociology or psychology or English is almost worthless. You end up with debt totaling maybe $50,000 and have wasted four years taking pointless classes between smoking reefers when you could have spent those precious years starting a career or a business — or getting married and having kids. And let’s face it, after Social Security and Medicare go broke, the only retirement security most people will have in 20 years or so will be their kids.

Do college people generally make more money? Yes, but that’s because they’re smarter in general. And smart people, in general, make more money. If the smart kids had skipped college, they’d still be smart at whatever else they did.

Look at Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs. They dropped out to start computer companies now worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Would they have done better if they had gotten degrees in postmodern poststructuralism posteverything studies?

The Altucher Plan

One of my favorite bloggers is James Altucher. He’s written a couple of times against college. He has a new blog up about it, “Did Obama Really Say He Wants Everyone to Go to College?” He writes:

“There’s a weird debate happening out there. Apparently Rick Santorum “accused” Obama of insisting that every child go to college. Other websites have said that Obama has never said this but instead has encouraged every kid to seek a higher education. I don’t care about Obama or Santorum. I don’t care about politics at all. But it’s interesting to me how this issue has again sparked a debate.

“Expect lots of lies and cutting and stabbing for the next few months until the election. Santorum clearly lied. Obama lies. Everyone will lie about everyone else. Which is why I hate politics, why I think Congress should be abolished, and why I think Nobody should be voted in as President.”

You can see why I like this guy.

“And now suddenly, and sadly, ‘to go or not to go’ to college has become a political issue. Yet another pressure trying to ruin the lives of our children.

“Then a friend of mine, Kathryn Schulz, the author of the book ‘Being Wrong’ suggested that I am the ONLY person who thinks kids should not go to college. This is clearly not true: Peter Thiel and Seth Godin being some examples and there are many examples of successful people in the arts and business who did not go to college.”

Put me on the list.

Six Reasons

Altucher lists six more reasons not to go to college. A couple of them:

“over the past 40 years, college tuitions have gone up 10 times faster than inflation and three times faster than healthcare costs. Healthcare costs is an ongoing national debate. Why aren’t tuitions? Why should we force our 18 year olds now to take on so much debt. Its three times as high now as when I graduated college and I graduated with about $70k in debt that I had to pay back….

“Many will say it’s about learning. However, the tools for learning are so much more advanced now (because of the Internet) that there are cheaper, more effective solutions for education than ever before. And yet, more than ever, kids feel coerced into going to college.”

Right. The Internet provides all you need to learn something. For example, the Khan Academy provides, free, the best math course going, as well as numerous other free courses. He has more than 3,000 videos up — with thousands more to come.

“Does anyone learn anything in college? Let me ask you a couple of quick questions. At some point you came across these facts in either college or high school. See if you can answer quickly and correctly without looking it up. They are very simple: When was Charlemagne born? Name the different types of clouds? Who was William Mckinley’s Vice-President?”

OK. How’d you do, without looking anything up? My answers: I remember Charlemagne died in 814, but can’t remember the date of his birth. My guess: 750. Turns out it’s around 742. I think I learned that in high school. Clouds: I remember cumulous, but forget the rest. I learned that in 8th Grade Earth Sciences with Mr. Smith. That was in 1968 back before Earth Sciences became politically correct Global Warming Humans Are Evil Sciences. Here’s a list of clouds.

McKinley’s VP: Teddy Roosevelt. I probably read that on my own when I was maybe 10.

See? College is worthless.

“a college education will fill your memory. Teach you a lot of facts. Maybe teach you basic analysis that conforms with your teacher’s opinions. But will NOT teach you how to really think. Will not teach you how to come up with ideas. How to sell ideas. How to be creative. How to navigate through interesting experiences so you won’t get hurt.

“Let’s not forget that high school and below are primarily advanced babysitting services. So what makes college different? You’re still with the same demographic of people. You still have homework and tests and memorization of facts. The only difference is now you (most likely) live on your own. Is college the safest environment to do that? Is that the wisest use of the highest tuition costs ever? I doubt it.

“Learn how to learn. Then go wherever in the world you want to go. Because the world will be yours then.”

I like how Altucher always ends his blogs with zingers.

Bull Sessions

One more thing. What about one of the best things about college, bull sessions with your buddies? Here’s how to take care of that. Get together at somebody’s house with some of your smartest friends. Get some Jack Daniels and some cigars (or Virginia Slims if you’re women). I won’t encourage you do do doobies, but some of you might do that anyway.

Sit around and smoke, drink and talk about philosophy, history, English, movies, books, the Internet … whatever.

Total cost: $50. Cost of college: $200,000. Your savings: $199,950.

— March 6, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

8 comments

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  1. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 6 March, 2012, 11:14

    I totally agree with you, Mr. Seiler. For the average kid – college is WAY overvalued. Do we need doctors, attorneys, engineers, accounants? Sure we do. But the kids who attend college and go into one of these professions is a small subset of all graduates. Many kids waste their money on college and become debt slaves for a good part of their lives. Many of the degrees offered by universities are near worthless in the job market – even during the good economic times.

    One thing you did not mention that needs to get addressed is this: Kids go to college because they can access easy money in form of student loans to do so. The Mr. Bankster is eager to disburse these loans because if the kid cannot pay the money back Mr. Bankster does not have to eat the loss – the TAXPAYER is forced to eat the loss. Also, the former student with an outstanding loan cannot declare bankrupcy and dissolve the student debt like he could for practically any other sort of loan or debt. The government enacted that recent law to protect Mr. Bankster. Another form of CRONY CAPITALISM is that is rampant in American society. If Mr. Bankster would be forced to EAT THE LOSS OF A BAD LOAN then perhaps he would be more careful who he selects to give his money to. That would automatically reduce the student population (much to the chargrin of Mr. Bankster and Mr. University President) which would bring higher education back to where it should be. We have complete idiot attending universities today. A good share of them must take REMEDIAL COURSES in college for what they failed to learn in high school. THE CAUSE IS EASY MONEY!!!!

    I follow Altdoucher too. This is one of the few topics where I agree with him. In general, he is a socialist and I can’t stand him. He favors Wall Street privatizing profits and socializing losses. His opinions are largely absurd – especially when it comes to investing money. I view him like a clown. I watch him perform, laugh and walk away.

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  2. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 6 March, 2012, 12:14

    Look at Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs. They dropped out to start computer companies now worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
    Ridiculous argument.

    Gates was accepted into and attended HARVARD, the most elite school in the nation.

    These two people were in the right place in the right industry at the right time – nothing else.

    You will NEVER make it in this country with a HS diploma in the real world UNLESS you’re connected into (have strings pulled) a private sector job or connected into a gov job-neither of which will be offered to a GEDer or HS grad when there are graduate students unemployed.

    Reply this comment
  3. Peter G
    Peter G 6 March, 2012, 13:04

    The only reason everyone needs to go to college is the same reason we created high schools during the Depression: It removed workers for four years that could not be employed. The same reason for four years of meaningless college, you get a “loan” to

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  4. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 6 March, 2012, 14:04

    “You will NEVER make it in this country with a HS diploma in the real world UNLESS you’re connected into (have strings pulled) a private sector job or connected into a gov job-neither of which will be offered to a GEDer or HS grad when there are graduate students unemployed”

    Rex, I agree that people need education to make it in this world. But people don’t necessarily need a college education. Plumbers, hi-tech auto mechanics, electricians, computer techs, home builders, etc… can all make damn good money without a college degree. A BS degree in psych, sociology, art history, minority studies, etc… is pretty much worthless unless you get a job in government.

    People don’t have to go to college to be smart. These kids are sucked into the university system and come out with few marketable skills worth more than $12/hr in the job market and $50,000 in debt. IMO that’s a crime.

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  5. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 6 March, 2012, 18:39

    “It removed workers for four years that could not be employed. The same reason for four years of meaningless college, you get a “loan” to”

    Higher education has been turned into a massive industry just like the health care system. Neither really exist to serve the consumer (patient or student). Both have been transformed into rackets that serve the banks, insurance companies, healthcare corporations and University staffs. If a kid was not intellectually gifted and focused on a certain profession I would steer him toward a trade. After he learned his trade if he wanted to attend college I would support him. You would not believe how many kids I met in college who went there primarily to party. At least half of the students were not really serious about getting an education. It was a place to hang out with their buddies. An extension of HS.

    Reply this comment
  6. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 6 March, 2012, 20:44

    Here, read this:

    “Over 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees (over 8,000 of them have doctoral or professional degrees), along with over 80,000 bartenders, and over 18,000 parking lot attendants. All told, some 17,000,000 Americans with college degrees are doing jobs that the BLS says require less than the skill levels associated with a bachelor’s degree”

    http://chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/why-did-17-million-students-go-to-college/27634

    Suckers who’ve been duped.

    Reply this comment
  7. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 6 March, 2012, 22:29

    But people don’t necessarily need a college education. Plumbers, hi-tech auto mechanics, electricians, computer techs, home builders, etc… can all make damn good money without a college degree. A BS degree in psych, sociology, art history, minority studies, etc… is pretty much worthless unless you get a job in government.

    #1- I agree 100% that college is NOT needed, and should not be forced on, all students. There is value in ALL work, no matter what it is-even digging ditches. Nothing wrong with that. The problem is those jobs in the real world pay minimum wage with no benefits. You can not live on the jobs today do not require advanced training. Mechanics, electricians, plumbers-they ALL got o school, trade schools, and many time trade schools are 5 times the cost of college. The ONLY trades people today that make money was gov employees-or ones who work on gov jobs,which are a minority-few and far between. My dad was a carpenter who made twice what a teacher made int he 1960’s and 1970’s, toady a teach makes 3 times what he would make because his job/s have been 100% taken over by illegal immigrants willing to do it for $5 an hour while teachers have had 5-7% raises the last 30 years.

    #2- I waited and bused tables for years going through college. Hard to get in 40 hours a week and n benefits. Pay is OK, not great but good, but it does not make up for a regular job with decent benefits.

    Reply this comment
  8. Taylor
    Taylor 7 November, 2014, 00:47

    I’m a freshman in college, I really want to drop out. The other classes I’m required to take are bullshit, and I’m so impatient. I just want to produce music already. I’m only going so I learn techniques and how to record but honestly I feel I can do better. I also want to become a cosmetologist and I don’t even think I need to be taught for that because I’m already self-taught (of course they still want cosmetology certificates anyway). If I can self-teach myself with makeup I can sure do it for music. I just don’t know any cheaper education around… Most importantly I don’t know how to break this to my parents, my mother thinks that college IS better.

    Reply this comment

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