Ivory Tower: Is college worth the cost?
Looking at TechCrunch and other successful entrepreneurs, I ask myself: “Why go to high school?” “Why go to college?”
“If I’m learning something i will never use, why learn it?”
Today I watched a documentary called Ivory Tower (recommended by one of my professors), addressing these very questions. Is education worth all the cost? This documentary really hit home for me, so I wrote up a tweetstorm about my thoughts and observations on the topic. That tweetstorm is as follows:
- Student loans have become insane. Schools give more financial aid, but doesn’t solve the problem of tuition rising. #IvoryTower
- This extreme cost of higher education makes people rightfully question the worth of going to college. #IvoryTower
- In Silicon Valley, some think they can use economies of scale to do more with less, while making a profit (MOOCs). #IvoryTower
- I’ve tried some of these MOOCs; it is very difficult to stay motivated when nobody to watch you, hold you accountable. #IvoryTower
- The statistics show that person-to-person contact cannot be replaced. There is no “silver bullet” for education. #IvoryTower
- I’m interested in the split-classroom format, where students watch MOOC lectures outside, get help from prof inside. #IvoryTower
- But just because “rockstar” professors are lecturing, doesn’t mean every student will grasp material - many different learning styles.
- Reform in #education, both at K-12 and postsecondary levels, is desperately needed. I wish politics didn’t get in the way. #IvoryTower
- Class on a computer screen doesn’t give students “soft skills” employers consistently demand. But in-person is $$$. #IvoryTower
- There should be more debate on what an #education should provide, both for a #career and throughout life. #IvoryTower
- Personally, I hate school but love learning. I’m in college to meet people, get diverse perspectives. #IvoryTower
- I considered not going to college in HS, also throught abt dropping out a few times in 2yrs at @illinoistech. #IvoryTower
- Still unsure. My final word to institutions: use the critical thinking skills you so often talk about to find innovative solutions.
Tomorrow I will be at Illinois Institute of Technology’s IPRO Day (a bit like an innovation fair) where I will show off my group’s work this past semester addressing an issue I find quite in need of a solution: the skills gap for those students looking to get their first internship. We’ve developed a comprehensive program to help students develop the top skills employers demand (mostly interpersonal skills) and are excited about giving students access to this program. You can reach out personally if you’d like to learn more.
On the topic of education, an underclassmen from my high school asked me to explain what the impact of high school as well as college was, and if one really needs to go for each (similar to the opening questions at the top of this post).
To answer that question, I had a couple points to make (written about a year ago):
- High school may not define your adult life in a noticeable way, but it does have an impact on your behavior and thinking just like any other long-term experience would. Without it, sure you could find other ways to get to your end goal, but you may have missed out on something valuable. Unfortunately, you will never be able to figure it out because you can only follow one path. And if high school seems hard, good. That means you are making the most of it.
- College degrees are becoming increasingly less valuable for tech fields, and some other fields, according to various studies. Should you consider skipping college? Why not. But know that if you go to college to just to learn the skills for your career, you are wasting your money. College is meant to be an experience where you can make bonds you will keep for the rest of your life, among other events and general life experiences you accumulate while in it.
- When I was a junior I thought I could just skip college and go straight into the workforce. I thought I already had the skills needed for the job I wanted. If I had chosen that route, could I have gotten there with some work? Probably. But instead I’m staying in school. Why? Because I don’t want to miss out on another great education experience, where what I’ve done outside the classroom and the relationships I make is what I’m most happy about. My classes still suck most of the time, but that’s okay because I am exposed to a whole new world of resources I can make use of.
- Sure, if you want to think about the economics of it, then yeah you can just take some minimum wage job right now and start living the life of an adult. But there is a whole new world you could explore sticking to the education path - new people to meet, interesting topics to learn about, and much more. Is that worth the cost? You have to decide for yourself.
If you found this post thought-provoking, meaningful, or just appreciated it, feel free to hover over the kudos button below and follow me on Twitter @EricTendian. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter so do reach out.