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Is formal education really needed? Students rethink ‘education’ during depression

student loans debt bondage

“You certainly don’t need a college to gain knowledge. For example, there’s an outfit called The Teaching Company that hires the very best professors in the world in all sorts of subjects to deliver superb audio courses.”

Unfortunately for students, this year proved very difficult in the job market with record unemployment levels among students. While it is easy to say “get a job!” just as some people do to address homelessness, the larger reality is sometimes much more complicated than giving up your cell phone or saving your paycheck. I think a lot of people tried really hard to help pay for their education and were left out of luck by the recent economic downturn. Where does this type of advice leave them?

There are too many students in University who simply should not be there. Grade inflation has made high school assessments often pointless. Students who were fed a steady diet of top marks through high school are often indignant when faced with their first set of mid-tern grades and line up to complain. Outraged parents believe that their honour role high schooler should be doing the same thing at University and sometimes complain themselves: ever had the parent of an adult call to complain about their treatment?

A problem in the Western world is the attitude toward ‘technical’ education. Those with university degrees often look down their noses at those who have technical diplomas or skilled trades. This often shows up in the way the ‘technical’ and trades people are treated by managers who often have a university degree.

Ideally a person would have the wide ranging knowledge, literacy, communication, and critical thinking skills attained in a liberal arts program down the more technical, down to earth skills required to have a satisfying career — the first set for the mind, the second set for the bank.

Unfortunately, technical and trades training is seen to be something to do if you can’t make it in university, and from many student experiences this is also the attitude of the technical institutions — they believe their students can’t do university level work. Many courses are so easy as to be laughable, but whatever post-secondary institution you attend, your real education starts on your first job.

Looking at the countries which do provide State-funded (“free”) post secondary education; the problem isn’t that the quality is lower. It’s more so that it widens the education gap even further. These universities become more competitive and restrictive to get into.

Some people may say that it’s a good thing that universities should be competitive and only for the top students, but in certain countries (Argentina), it gets to the point where mostly the rich children get into them even though the tuition is “free.” Indeed, in the US and many Western countries, education has become largely unreachable because of government intervention where they attempt to make education ‘acessible’ for all either by guaranteeing student loans, increasing funding, and a combination of the two and other factors. The long term effect of this is just an increasing cost for tuition and a larger debt load for students. Period. If education were treated like any other market, tuition would fall, and faculty/staff who are unproductive would be replaced with more successful people. In the current system, faculty are largely given free reign and hold students hostage.

Is there really a point to going to college?

There is no point at all in going to a college today, unless you’re looking to learn a trade. Or, perhaps, because the people you meet in college might be of some future benefit to you. In other words, it’s pointless unless it’s Harvard, Princeton, Yale, or the like. Because of the classes? No. It’s because the kids that go to such schools are the most intelligent and ambitious “up and comers” – so the connections you make and the patina you get at these places can open a lot of doors.

But if you look closely, the very best and brightest – people like Bill Gates or Steven Jobs – drop out, or don’t even go.

I would suggest that a parent thinking of allocating $40,000 to $50,000 per year for four years of college education instead grubstake their kid with that same money. You could even make it a fraction of that, to be put into actually doing something, like starting a business or trying out different investment strategies, and get a lot more experience and knowledge for your kid as a result.

You certainly don’t need a college to gain knowledge. For example, there’s an outfit called The Teaching Company that hires the very best professors in the world in all sorts of subjects to deliver superb audio courses. I listen to these things all the time in the car. I watch the ones that have important visual components on my computer, and I can go back and repeat anything I don’t understand clearly – when my mind is receptive to it. It’s much more effective than going to college would be, and it’s vastly cheaper. Superior in every possible respect. Source


  1. Ben Ben July 10, 2010

    You…just…nailed it…like…totally nailed it.

    I went to college. Guess where it got me? No where, and I went looking for jobs. It turns out I wasn’t socially gifted and couldn’t forge the right connections to get my foot in the door.

    Now…my advice?…if any parent is going to spend $100K on college education for their kids, maybe they should instead look at investing $100K in gold and silver bullion for their children. I mean, like holy crap, they’d be doing their kids a much better chance of surviving, especially with all this scary stuff about to unfold. It’s not worth sending ANYONE to college. Not even for a trade, unless it’s tied to agriculture, but that isn’t hard to learn.

    Most money in this world is gained not by college degree sophistry but by forging the right connections, using your freaking brain (yes, I admit, some people don’t have one), and knowing when to act, how to act, and why.

    Silver and gold my friend. SILVER AND GOLD. And don’t forget to buy a month’s supply of food in case there is a nasty bank run and you can’t get money out of the bank…oh, forgot to mention, you shouldn’t have that much money in the bank anyway, you should be taking 90% of it out and investing it in gold and silver.

  2. Creation Creation July 12, 2010

    true. i studied foundations towards university studies years ago. But the fee’s cost me dearly. my parents had to go out to loan from friends and all that. That really put me off. I decided to stop studying and pick up a skill trade or 2. After a couple of years ive got involved in Network Marketing company, After a few years , ive gained alot of experiences in the business world and also gained alot of contacts all throughout the world. Seriously that is not something a college/university degree can get you to. I am now running 2 finance company and a internet business resource sharing company. For all the fee’s that i’ve paid up to the useless institutes. Its seriously pointless and a waste of time. The syllabus is so simple even G0-gle can get you educated just by searching whatever you wanna learn. ive also started to Invest in Silver greatly recently. Have been seeing alot of potential growth in the future. And this is true assets you should own. Not paper trash money. Those things will lose value in a matter of time. But Precious metals will always hold value. ~ Think about it ~

  3. DK DK August 19, 2010

    In ths US it’s truly becoming a waste to get advanced educations. When a corporation can hire an engineer in India for $5k a year, it’s obvious who is not getting hired here.
    The jobs that are left in the US are burger flipping, retail etc.

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