The topic of college education and its usefulness is a hot issue these days. After reading many opinions on this subject, here’s my take on the debate. It seems to me that where you stand on the issue is – I’m afraid – greatly biased on one simple factor: do you have a college degree or not?
No one likes to feel stupid. If you have a degree, you want to think that you made a wise investment in your future earning power. If you don’t, you want to congratulate yourself for not wasting your money on a useless piece of paper. Our minds will rationalize it from there. Not that these rationalizations will have no value; they simply can’t be taken without a grain of salt.
Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.
Jim Rohn – American entrepreneur, author and speaker
But that is perhaps the greatest education of all – that there are no longer any sure bets. The paradigm of go to school – get good grades – get a college degree – set for life, is an anachronism for most careers today. Similar to the advice that your stocks will earn 10% and real estate always appreciates. Feed the bubble enough add it’s likely to burst.
So for those reading this for advice on whether to pursue a degree or not; sorry, I don’t have any answer. You’ll need to answer it for yourself. You’ll need to do your homework (no pun intended). But here are some ideas to get you started.
A 12min podcast from the Harvard Business Review asks whether you can become ‘endumbened’ by college.
Also from HBR, an article that asks the question: does an entrepreneur need a college degree?
An article geared towards 50+ who are thinking of going back to school
This Fastcompany article points out that not all college degrees are equally valuable.
Here’s what economists think of the value of a college degree:
Of all the topics that economists have studied, I would say one we are most certain about are the returns to education. And the numbers that people have come up with over and over are that every extra year of education that you get will translate into an 8 percent increase in earnings over your lifetime. So someone who graduated from college will earn about 30 percent more on average than someone who only graduated from high school. And if anything, the returns to education have gotten larger over time. They’re as big as they have ever been.
And from this podcast as well
Blogger Scott Young explores the differences between practical (experience) and theoretical (education) knowledge and how you really need both.
Practical knowledge is important, but it’s a different kind of knowledge than theoretical learning. Most claims about the uselessness of book learning strike me as similar to complaints about a screwdriver being useless at hammering nails.
Instead, I think the biggest implication is that there is a lot of value in learning things that aren’t immediately or obviously practical. Will you use most of them? Probably not. But that isn’t the point. The value is in being able to hop between peaks instead of getting stuck on the nearest hill you find.
The Polymath Programmer says: Make good use of your downtime at college – start a business. Totally agree, I remember all kinds of free time before a career and family that I could have put to better use.
Sir Ken Robinson talks about the changing paradigms in education. (11min video)
Finally, here are some infographics:
Here’s an infographic showing average GPA vs time
This one shows how much education do successful entrepreneurs have
Is a degree worth it?
originally posted on RoguePolymath blog
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