This article touches many different problems with higher education. Best line: At some point, parents are going to decide that $160,000 is too high a price if all you get is an empty credential and a fancy car-window sticker.
If you can go to college on scholarship, do it, the best scenario is to graduate free of debt.
I definitely learned at Cornell and OCC, but the most important college “learning” I have done is in my public speaking class (so many people 40+ still talk about how much of an impact public speaking was to them) and my conversations with professors. It wasn’t the class material, but the environment these two things provide. I am also not counting things I have done within the college culture, like clubs and things like that. Just classes. Public speaking (at least for me) makes you confront a lot social things you worry about, and you come out of it a more confident and out-going person (as with everything, you get back what you put in) and office hours with professors provided me the most intellectually transformative and stimulating situations for me. That’s what I tell people: I go to college to talk with professors. This is EXTREMELY important for freshmen to know. It’s not about the classes. You are going to forget everything you are tested on.
I don’t see myself working a 9-5 wage job into my 30s. The jobs kids my age and younger are going to perform haven’t been invented yet, and that’s probably because we are going to have to invent them ourselves. That’s why it’s important to learn from people who are embedded in the real world, who know what it’s like when college ends. How can a college student possibly learn about the world by talking to kids his own age? Everyone has virtually the same perspective on life.
College and universities are going to fall hard. Investing in athletic centers to attract more students is so stupid. In one way it’s smart that they have caught on to the fact that college sports culture plays a major role in prospective’s student decision making, but building a new super dome is just making them run faster towards the cliff they’re inevitably going to fall off.
The bottle-neck on information no longer sits with universities like it did 20 years ago. The internet levels the playing field, and anyone can become a relative expert in a field that interests them before their freshman year of college. This poses a lot of questions for what professors are going to do in the future. Currently, they depend on universities to fund their research and to act as a base camp for broadcasting whatever knowledge is in their head. I think the future will be a lot specialization and professors teaching independent of universities. I don’t know how it will look, but I doubt that professors will feel tied down to one university if they can make a living without one.
I elected the traditional college path. Luckily I am going to get out with not a lot of debt and an Ivy League degree. As backwards as it is, having that on my resume makes people automatically assume certain things about me. Regardless, I am in no way looking to pursue more degrees. The only one I could sort of rationalize is getting an MBA, but if it costs two years and $100k, I can probably learn more about business by starting one of my own or playing around with different investments, than I can by going to business school.
Note: I have a fancy car-window sticker.