Saturday, April 22, 2017

Is College Worthwhile?

Two successful serial entrepreneurs are not optimistic about the future of higher education. In the videos linked below, billionaire Mark Cuban and multimillionaire Howard Tullman share their thoughts on the current trends in higher education. Their entrepreneurial histories demonstrate that these two are usually ahead of the curve.

As a graduate student who plans to become a professor, I can attest that higher education is definitely a worthwhile—even necessary!—option for some people. It can help to teach us how to think and write more clearly, and it can teach us skills that are relevant to our chosen discipline.

That said, it's not for everyone—and perhaps not even for a lot of people! I think the benefits of college are being oversold, and young people are going to college just because that's what they're "supposed to do," even if they don't actually have a plan. That's a potentially humongous problem!

I recognize that it can be difficult to land a high-paying job without a college degree (then again, it's difficult to land a high-paying job WITH a college degree!), so many people want to go to college to improve their job prospects.

If you're not sure what you want to do with your life, or you're not totally committed to a particular field, perhaps it would be wiser to get some hands-on experience working (or even volunteering) in that field before spending over $60,000 (and sometimes much, MUCH more on a degree. And if you do know what you want to do, ask yourself how a degree can help AND how it can hinder your success.

An example from my own youth, where I spent years—too many years!—working in multiple fast-food restaurants at the same time. Let's say that your goal is to open your own restaurant. Will a bachelor's degree in business administration really help you more than experience managing an actual restaurant?

Can you pick the brain of entrepreneurs who have successfully opened their own restaurant? If so, doing that would be a lot cheaper than spending four years and $60,000 on a degree that might or might not help—but will certainly cost you both money and time!

Carefully consider the long-term implications of a college degree for YOU—both positive and negative outcomes. After all, you can never get those four years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars back!

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