It's Graduation time. My brother, Kevin, is graduating from UC Davis today. He joins hundreds of thousands (millions?) of other people getting a Bachelor's.
Dale Stephens is 19 years old and in the Thiel Foundation. Naturally, he's firmly in the No camp. He wrote an opinion piece for CNN.com, from which I've pulled a few excerpts--
"Failure is punished instead of seen as a learning opportunity. We think of college as a stepping-stone to success rather than a means to gain knowledge. College fails to empower us with the skills necessary to become productive members of today's global entrepreneurial economy."
"Of course, some people want a formal education. I do not think everyone should leave college, but I challenge my peers to consider the opportunity cost of going to class. If you want to be a doctor, going to medical school is a wise choice. I do not recommend keeping cadavers in your garage. On the other hand, what else could you do during your next 50-minute class? How many e-mails could you answer? How many lines of code could you write?"
"It's not a question of authorities; it's a question of priorities. We who take our education outside and beyond the classroom understand how actions build a better world. We will change the world regardless of the letters after our names."
Jessie Rosen is a self-proclaimed "20-nothing" living in LA who, in her spare time, writes a blog the same name. She says "it depends," but it seems like she's actually saying Yes. Excerpts--
"I graduated from that college and took a job that I got through a connection from my college. Worth it? Yes. Very much so."
"During my college years I focused on four extracurricular activities (NERD ALERT!!). I wrote for the school newspaper, produced and hosted a weekly news show on BCTV, participated in volunteer programs, and started/ran a website that provided weekly reviews of Boston-based events and businesses...
I could have easily done volunteer work and started this website without the help of Boston College - so that goes in the "not worth it" pile, but it isn't likely that a real newspaper or real TV station would give me the kind of hands on experience that my college versions allowed - so that's a "worth it" feature.
But here's the thing. I didn't know I wanted to do any of those things until I entered college - specifically Boston College. These activities/programs/projects grew out of interests I developed based on friendships I made and lessons I learned about myself and my abilities inside the classroom. College - for me - was a place to realize my potential - to incubate, if you will."
I'm in the same mindset as Jessie, there was no real skill or technique I need for work that I could only learn in college. Reading, writing, shooting, and editing. Only a bit of reading and real-life experience can teach you that. As Matt Damon's character in "Good Will Hunting" said, "you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a education you coulda got for a dollah fifty in late chahges at the public library."
But, it's all about the contacts. People I met in college are now my closest friends, grooms for whom I'm best man, and the references who got me the job I'm at now.
Plus the real world experience. I got to shoot, edit, write on super high quality cameras and computers.
And I lied earlier. There was stuff that I learned that I use everyday at and away from work. Critical thinking, public speaking, team leadership skills, and a humble, humanistic worldview.
So, yes. Yes, college is worth it.
But I'm biassed.