"Is a College Education Worth It?" by Alpha Unit

A lot of people have heard by now of what Peter Thiel has been up to. Thiel is the co-founder of PayPal. The billionaire is giving fellowships to 24 college-aged students, paying them $100,000 each to not attend college for 2 years, as media outlets are reporting it. Instead, they will spend that time developing business ideas in fields like biotechnology, education, and energy.
They’ll be working in Silicon Valley with over 100 mentors who will help them develop their ideas. Thiel has drawn students from prestigious institutions like Harvard, Stanford, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Of course, Peter Thiel has been on the record for some time with his belief that college education is greatly overrated in this country. More and more people, some of them highly educated and successful themselves, are openly challenging the idea that a college education is always a great investment – no matter how much massive debt you incur in the process.
People are revisiting an old debate, actually: What is the utility of higher education? Are too many people going to college? What are people really hoping to gain by getting a college degree?
The Pew Research Center released a report entitled “Is College Worth It?” wherein they questioned 2, 142 adults about the value of higher education.
On the question of why kids should attend college:

  • 47% said the main purpose of a college education is to teach work-related skills and knowledge.
  • 39% said that it’s to help the student grow intellectually and personally.

College graduates put more emphasis on intellectual growth, while non-graduates emphasized career preparation.
Among those who graduated from 4-years schools,

  • 74% said their education was very useful in their intellectual growth.
  • 69% said it was very useful in helping them grow and mature as a person.
  • 55% said it was very useful in helping them prepare for a job or career.

College graduates believe they earn $20,000 more a year as a result of their education; non-graduates believe they earn $20,000 less a year. This is consistent with the median gap in annual earnings between a high school graduate and a college graduate – $19, 550 – as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010.
As for whether or not a college education is worth the money,

  • 57% of respondents said college fails to provide good value for the money.
  • 75% said it was too expensive.
  • However, 86% of the college graduates said that college was a good investment personally.

While the nationwide unemployment rate hovers around 9%, for college graduates the rate is 4.5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For high school graduates it’s 9.5%, and for those who never finished high school, it’s 14.7%.

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13 thoughts on “"Is a College Education Worth It?" by Alpha Unit”

  1. I believe my University education was worth it. The most important reason is because my parents funded it, so I have zero debt. It also helped me grow intellectually. Unlike lots of students I also took my electives very seriously. It’s these electives that help you achieve a well rounded education. I took courses on early Christianity, Pre-Socratic philosophy and textual criticism of the Biblical texts. Stuff that would help me understand western civilization. My Uni days were some of the best days of my life.

  2. The big, dead, stinking elephant in the room is that not all college or university educations are the same. In theory, a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Phoenix is identical to a Harvard B.A., and no one in the mainstream media or other societal thought control institutions will say otherwise. But to say a “college education” is not worth it (whatever “it” is) is either a naive and moronic statement, or (as I suspect is the case WRT Mr. Thiel) consciously misleading and deceptive. Some college educations are worth it, i.e. those obtained at the Ivies or the better public or non-Ivy private schools. Institutions like the U of Phoenix are strictly scams perpetrated by the likes of Thiel to separate ordinary Americans from their money and pump it into the the prison/therapeutic/”educational” industrial complex. It is just another arm of the vast redistribution of wealth from the poor to the super rich that makes this country what it is today. Thiel’s statement’s should be regarded with extreme suspicion. He is pushing the idea that ordinary people don’t have a right to an education–just like they don’t have a right to healthcare–and sugarcoating it with a layer of good ol’ Tea party anti intellectualism which assumes that the purpose of education is to learn how better to serve him and his cronies.

    1. Very good comment from Matt, especially this:
      Thiel’s statement’s should be regarded with extreme suspicion. He is pushing the idea that ordinary people don’t have a right to an education–just like they don’t have a right to healthcare–and sugarcoating it with a layer of good ol’ Tea party anti intellectualism which assumes that the purpose of education is to learn how better to serve him and his cronies.
      I always thought it would be cool to go to a school like St. John’s and read the classics for four years. Unfortunately 40 grand a year is a bit steep for me.
      After Reagan hollowed out US industry, TPTB started pushing the idea that everyone should go to college, like 200 million of us are going to be sitting in cubes tapping away to each other on our computer keyboards. Colleges are not going to stop encouraging young people to fill up fluff majors like sociology and human resources of their own accord. Teachers have rent and mortgages to pay like the rest of us. Higher education is a wonderful thing, but buyer beware.

      1. Agreed, its not the end all be-all that its sold as, but it’s a useful tool towards a particular end, it’s not for everybody, but you need to have a specific purpose for doing it, not college for college sake.

      2. I agree Thiel’s motives should be viewed with skepticism but his actual idea is spot on. In the age of ratemyprofessors, college education is a joke. Many college graduates from upper class families have never held a job because they spent their entire lives preparing for higher education and many with advanced degrees do not enter the workforce until they are in their thirties. increased education and intrusive parental involvement has only contributed to the Peter Pan epidemic that plagues my generation. John Taylor Gatto says the point of eduction is to reduce as many individuals to the same level and breed standard citizenry, to create more willing employees and vulnerable consumers and to segregate youth from the rest of society and prevent them from pursuing education outside the confines of the classroom.

    2. I agree that toward the ends of job attainmen,t not all degrees are created equally, but a BA degree in basket weaving(even from an ivy) is not very useful,

  3. College is just one element of the dues-paying social club/cultural matrix that dictates whether you get to enter or not. Anything else is foolhardy and just means you’re not useful.

  4. Let’s put it this way…Would you want to fly on a jumbo jet, knowing full well that the “engineers” who built and designed it, did not have college degrees in engineering from an accredited academic institution?

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