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Posted at 3:18 PM ET, 09/10/2010

Skipping college to save money? Oh please

By Valerie Strauss

A hedge fund manager, Formula Capital President James Altucher, is quoted in a Washington Post article today as saying this: "You’ve been fooled into thinking there’s no other way for my kid to get a job . . . or learn critical thinking or make social connections.”

Really now.

How many people, do you suppose, Altucher (who went to college) would want to hire who don’t have college degrees?

But Altucher, who has been bashing higher education on financial grounds for a long time, was not the only person quoted in the article, by my colleague Sarah Kaufman, who wrote that “the hefty price tag of a college degree has some experts worried that its benefits are fading.”

Apparently Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, doesn’t agree.

The company recently announced that it would offer some U.S. employees the opportunity to obtain affordable college degrees through a Web-based university. Why? It wants to build a better workforce.

Setting aside Wal-Mart, it remains true that college graduates on average make more money than high school graduates. Sure, some college dropouts can do spectacularly well -- Bill Gates and Michael Dell and Paul Allen did -- but we can all agree they are exceptions.

But there's more than just money to consider. It has been documented by research that more educated people are generally healthier, commit fewer crimes, have more resources to draw on in emergencies, etc. That’s good for individuals; it’s good for the country as a whole, too.

This is not to say that college is for everybody. It isn’t. As Matthew B. Crawford, who has a PhD from the University of Chicago and owns and runs Shockoe Motor, a motorcycle repair shop in Richmond, Va., said in an interview:

“The tragedy is that someone who is kind of a mediocre student who goes on to be a C student in college ends up working as a telemarketer. That same guy might have become a crack electrician, more engaged in what he is doing, and probably making more money.

“But that course isn’t really presented as an option” in American schools today, said Crawford, whose book. Shop Class as Soulcraft, is a powerful argument in favor of the trades and a new way of looking at the value of work and how American schools prepare young people to become adults.

But our economy has become increasingly technological, meaning that more people who want even basic jobs must have more education than ever. They need to know how to do more than ever before.

There is no question that college costs can be exorbitant and have left millions of students in terrible debt. That’s why the Obama administration pushed to overhaul the federal student loan program to make it less costly for students to borrow money.

These reforms, the biggest change in the government’s efforts to help students pay for college in decades, means that now the federal government will grant all federally backed loans, saving $60 billion over the next decade that would otherwise have gone to private lenders serving as middlemen. The savings will be used for Pell Grants, which help students from low-income families pay for college.

Those steps aren’t enough. Colleges and universities, communities and states, are going to have to address the cost questions as well or risk a real erosion in America’s education level at a time when it is rising in many other countries.

But none of this is the same as saying most kids shouldn’t get a college education. It’s kind of silly to say they shouldn't.

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By Valerie Strauss  | September 10, 2010; 3:18 PM ET
Categories:  College Costs  | Tags:  James Altucher, benefits of college degree, formula capital, is college overrated?, price tag of college degree, s, what is a college degree worth  
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Comments

Thanks for your eminently common sense blog, Valerie! What I found most appalling about Altucher's position was his comment that he would not "send" his daughters to college.

Aside from the fact that nobody "sends" kids to college any more --- college students choose their schools affirmatively and often independently of parents --- the very idea that he would deprive his daughters of a higher education is stunning.

Millions of women around the world experience horrific poverty and oppression every day because they are denied the basic human right to achieve an education, and women, in particular, influence the educational aspirations of children. Encouraging women to attain their highest academic potential should be a top goal of every parent because women then transmit their academic values to rising generations.

At Trinity today, we have more than two thousand women enrolled who are literally turning around their lives and the lives of their children and families through the higher aspirations and achievements that come through higher learning.

College is about far more than getting a bigger paycheck --- the current attacks on higher education smack of the anti-intellectualism that is all too fashionable in some places today. Yes, institutions of higher education should do more to control costs and prices (we surely do so at Trinity!) and to ensure great results.

Expecting accountability is a very different position from trashing the entire idea of advanced learning. And beyond the obvious fact that most employers do require degrees for managerial and executive jobs --- hence, a real difference in earning potential for college graduates --- higher education's real purpose is the enlargement of the human mind and soul, the cultivation of habits of philosophizing, understanding and communicating that are essential for successful leadership in this contentious world.

College not for everyone? Sure! But with fewer than half of all Americans possessing even some higher learning today, the problem is not too many college-educated citizens, but too few. Education is the best weapon we have against fear, poverty, oppression and terrorism. We need more education, not less --- and we need women educated to their highest potential.

Posted by: TrinityPresident | September 10, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I found that article very odd as well. My husband does not have a college degree, but went into the Navy and luckily has done well because of his work ethic. But he has hit a ceiling because of his lack of a degree. His company has recently tightened the rules so that today, he could not even apply for jobs he has held, without a degree. We agree that our kids will go to college, and are saving for it.

To think that any large number of people will be as successful as Bill Gates without a college degree is ridiculous. I wish the article had gone to U of Maryland or Texas, picked a few arbitrary names of dropouts from over the years and tracked them. Are they also living in mansions? Or are they just getting by?

Posted by: jennypalmer1 | September 10, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I think that higher education costs are the most recent bubble in our economy. I understand that a college degree might not be for 100% of the U.S population, but it is still the best route for most high school graduates regardless of what career they ultimately pursue. The problem is when costs for a private education exceed $200,000. Even for families who can scrape by and pay that much I can't see how that amount is worth it. And don't tell me that colleges offer financial aid. For most families that can afford to live in the D.C area, their income does not make them eligible for any college financial aid. That is what our family found, even with a very high achieving student!

Posted by: prnt23 | September 10, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

I have two kids in college, both in private universities whose costs exceed $50,000 per year. I encouraged them to apply to those schools and am thrilled that they're attending them. And while it is a challenge to pay the costs without financial aid, it's a sacrifice--if that's the right word--that my wife and I are more than happy to make. College is not just about getting an education, though that is, of course, the primary purpose. It is the totality of the experience that gives it value, and I don't think the question of whether it's "worth it" can be boiled down to simple dollars and cents. One of my children is spending a semester studying in Europe; I reckon the value of that experience as far greater than the cost of a semester's tuition, room, and board. For myself, I have friends whom I met in college more than 30 years ago. Those friendships have enriched my life, and some of those people, students and faculty alike, have had a significant influence on my career path.

One does not have to go to a high-priced "elite" university to enjoy the benefits of the "college experience." There are many fine public universities, as well, for which the price tag is far less than $50,000+ per year. And there are obviously people for whom college may not be the right choice. Skilled craft jobs (mechanics, electricians, welders, carpenters, etc.) can be rewarding, intellectually and financially, and the military provides an alternative path for learning job and life skills, as well. And I don't doubt that one can pick up the skills for running a business by the "trial and error" method that Altucher seems to have employed. (I wouldn't recommend it, though, for a career in law, medicine, engineering, or teaching, just to name a few.)

The question of whether a college education is advantageous from a career earnings point of view is one that has to be considered. However, dollars and cents should not be the sole criterion used to judge college's "value," just as salary is not the only measure of the value of a job. Such a narrow definition of "worth" is--to put it bluntly--absurd.

Posted by: oldguy2 | September 11, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

I'd skip a liberal arts degree to save money, but not a bachelor of science.

Posted by: slydell | September 11, 2010 2:08 AM | Report abuse

Slydell: More fortune 500 CEOs have liberal arts degrees than BS degrees.

Posted by: gasmonkey | September 11, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

One reason some are saying college is losing its value comes from the American college students reluctance to undertake Bachelor degrees having majors that provide the graduate and job-seeker with skills sought after my business and government agencies -- skills such as engineering, science, mathematics, and even business majors such as project management, finance, and law. Softer, easier majors are the overwhelming choice of the American college student -- ones that do not require laboratory hours, advanced mathematics, applied logic, and most of all -- are not held in esteem by the icons of American pop culture. It would serve American Colleges well to annotate the list of Majors they offer and detail in their College Catalogs with clear and easy-to-comprehend indicators of a student's potential for getting a job (and the entry pay for that job). Perhaps that would make clear to the students that a College degree is not always a value maker when value is measured in terms of a well-paying job. Of course a degree offers other values but that is not the value proposition discussed too much in a time of 10% unemployment. Oh, perhaps college loans ought to be made easier to get and with lower interest rates if the student applying for the loan is majoring in a discipline sought after my American businesses and government agencies. Thank you for the opportunity to comment, Gary Armistead, Colonel, USAF, ret.; B.S. Geology, M.S. Geology.

Posted by: armisteadg | September 11, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for your article. I am someone who immigrated to the US, began as a housekeeper, got a masters degree, and now I have a very nice income that enables me to send my daughter to an ivy league university. This would not have been possible had I not gotten my education and graduate degree.

Those who reduce college education to mere salary numbers are plain ignorant. College education is about preparing individuals to find good jobs as well as becoming better individuals.

Posted by: mcsuarez | September 11, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

A lot of people with college degrees are out of work. I think that is why some people are disillusioned with higher education. College degrees don't keep people from being laid off.

My one nephew without a college degree is the one who is doing best financially.

Posted by: educationlover54 | September 11, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

"It has been documented by research that more educated people are generally healthier, commit fewer crimes, have more resources to draw on in emergencies, etc. That’s good for individuals; it’s good for the country as a whole, too."

I think you're confusing CORRELATION with CAUSATION. There's no evidence that it's the ACT of going to college that makes people healthier or less likely to commit crimes. More likely, it's that the KIND OF PERSON who is likely to pursue a college education is likelier to live a healthier lifestyle and one without turning to crime, even if he or she was prevented from getting that college education.

A college education has become less about an actual education and more about signalling. Employers want employees who have college degrees not because they have any special skills (seriously, "American Studies"? What skills exactly does that give you?), but because they feel it communicates something about you ("I come from a background where education is valued" or "I have the commitment to start a project and finish it"). Is that really worth $100,000? And is it even accurate? There seem to be plenty of bad employees with college degrees and plenty of good employees without them.

I went to college and got a B.A. in English, and I had some good experiences. But I will be paying off the loans for those good experiences until I am in my 40s. And the salary that is paying off those loans? It comes from my job as a massage therapist, the certification for which cost me a year of my life and $6,000, paid off by the time I finished the course. I make around $50,000, which is pretty close to what my college classmates are making. Oh, and I only work 20 hours a week.

Posted by: falcongirl | September 11, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

The debate over whether college is "worth it" has been, to a great degree, misframed in my view.

First, the answer isn't the same for everyone, and as Sarah Kaufman's article indicated, it may also depend on whether a student chooses to focus on engineering (for example) or sociology.

Second, more Federal subsidies are part of the problem, not part of the solution. The subsidies drive up the cost of education for those who depend on family savings or borrowing, and hit taxpayers with the bill for educating those who don't. That's not a healthy or logically sound approach.

Third, as recent research reviewed in this past week's Economist magazine (article here: http://www.economist.com/node/16941775?story_id=16941775 ) indicates, the cost surge in U.S. higher-ed is attributable to bloated administrative positions and salaries, competition to provide luxurious campuses, generous tenure packages, and other management dysfunctions. At the same time, top faculty members are actually teaching less than ever before.

While the U.S. still holds a leading place globally in higher education, how long will that last, particularly in competition with low-cost internet models, if these trends persist? Moreover, however "worth it" a college education is at today's tuition prices, wouldn't a bachelor's degree be worthwhile for more people, and more worthwhile for everyone, if colleges and universities were managed properly?

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Posted by: shoestrade57 | September 11, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but college is NOT typically worth $200,000. That doesn't mean it's not worth SOMETHING or that it's not beneficial to some people, but the costs have gotten way out of control, and the degree is NOT worth the price that a lot of places are charging. We need to reform far more than just the loan process. We need to reform the actual costs involved in college, and we need to stop selling it as a one-size-fits-all EVERYONE-needs-to-go-to-college-to-make-anything-of-your-life solution. College is not for everyone, and we do our youth a great disservice by pretending that it's the only way to success.

It's a real shame that people are finishing school sunk into so much debt, particularly when they've chosen a career without great income potential. Columbia is supposed to have one of the greatest teaching programs in the country, but I think you'd be crazy to pay that kind of tuition for a job where you'll make $40-50k for several years (or even less, in many states). As a nation, as students, and as parents, we NEED to become much more critical of this whole college process than we've been over the last decade or two.

Posted by: LadybugLa | September 11, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I think that it is terrible that everyone makes the assumption that a degreed person is somehow more “educated” than one that does not have a degree. I have encountered many “advanced” degreed people in the field of education over the last 30 years who were absolute idiots! Furthermore, for every single person that is degreed right now there are seven non-degreed people that actually keep the wheels spinning in this country. The time may come when the local garbage collector has a BS degree and boy will the economy be messed up then. That, or the work that keeps this country functioning will be outsourced at a cheaper price.

Posted by: jdman2 | September 11, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

It may be that employers want employees with a college education. But I doubt that many of them know why or that much of what people learn in college is of any real use in employment. There is no doubt that students mature over the time that they are in college. Those who are pursuing technical careers do get some basic training that is needed as a foundation for later learning either on the job or in some form of graduate school. But the academic world has succeeded in pushing up its income out of proportion to any real value that they provide. The biggest value of a college education is the social status that a degree provides. For those aiming at the elite roles in our society, the social experience and contacts that can come from time spent at the very top schools may really be worth the money. But cost effective institutions could provide the technical training that is needed for entry level technical jobs at a much lower cost than the obscene amounts of money that the academic hogs are raking in.

Posted by: dnjake | September 11, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me, but I know a considerable number of working middle class folks who work for the Post Office, Home Depot, UPS, and quite a few other places who don't have a degree, and who are doing quite well. I also know degreed engineers and school teachers who are working as service reps, aerobics instructors, and wait staff. So as with everything in America, our reality is far from our feel good philosophy of what is or should be acheivable. For I've been riding the wave of the building trend over the past 20 years which purported that everyone must be educated and have a degree in order to keep their job ? And I've seen a lot of highly skilled people escorted out of buildings and off of projects becuase they did not have a degree. Regardless of their work history and the projects that they helped support. And so I ask, are we doing any better today because of this initiative? For I know that I'm just as broke now as I was then. And I consider myself to be educated. So what did I miss along the way? For other than limiting my use of my education to about 4 important classes which carried me through to today, I don't see any difference in my use of the capabilities that I was born with. So, instead of using a Degree as a formal attestment to your ability to overcome your gene pool, maybe what we should instead seek to identify which 4 important classes are required in order to become better educated than you would otherwise be. For with the exception of how to handle your liquor, everything else is learned through osmosis.

Posted by: jralger | September 11, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

If colleges want to cut costs, they should pressure textbook publishers to stop taking advantage of students. Last year I paid more than $100 for a Spanish textbook, much of which wasn’t used. First, it was supposed to cover a three-class sequence—except I tested out of the first two classes and only used one-third. Even those who planned to take all three classes may have changed their minds (or had them changed by their grades!), and the entire price had to be paid at once. Second, the book included a CD that provided “reinforcement”—a video mini-drama in which very immature college students schemed to get match up their friends, pronunciation exercises (in addition to the language lab work required of us), and computer games in which we were supposed to “shoot down” the correct verb form. Most of us considered the book more suited to junior high. Third, the price of the book included an access code to Internet exercises. I happen to have a dial-up modem, and for a variety of reasons no better connection is available to me right now. My connection was too slow to download the video or audio exercises and even took a long time to open a file containing a lot of graphics; I did as much as possible out of the book, saved the Internet work until the public library was open and a computer available, and then hoped I could complete everything in the one hour allowed. (The community college has a computer lab, of course, but my ill, elderly father was already eating TV dinners two nights a week so I could attend class there.) The students’ evaluations at the end of the course, we discovered in conversation afterward, dealt almost exclusively with the problems and general uselessness of the Internet exercises.

This fall I registered for an accounting class, only to find it also required some exercised to be done online. This time, it took at least 10 minutes for my computer to open the needed page, between a slow connection and navigating through all the introductory screens; I say “at least” because I finally gave up and went to bed. Again, I am going to have to find time to go to the libray and do the work out of sequence or use precious gas (I am unemployed) making an extra trip to the college. And, as before, the book covers two courses, although I only need an introduction to accounting and probably will not be taking the second course. It cost more than $130 dollars, all of it payable at once; even if I could find a used edition, the required Internet access would cost $100. (A classmate who is repeating the class asked what she should do, since her Internet access from last year expires a few weeks before the end of this term. The professor is trying to find a way to save her paying $100 for a few weeks.)

It can't really cost $100 per student to make an Internet site available; colleges should make it clear they will not order these texts.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | September 11, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Because, I guess, the "ruling class" is heavily populated by academics, the rising costs of college have escaped the magnifying glass of government. I believe the data shows higher education costs actually have outstripped health care over the last 15 years. Obama did what a good progressive would do to help "reduce costs of college": he took over a private industry. That will do nothing to reduce increasing costs of college --- whatever a student would "save" in avoiding bank fees on his or her loan, will easily be gobbled up by government administrative costs, or increases in tuition, room and board, etc.

I cannot miss the high correlation between the ability of students to obtain loans and the rise in costs. As long as kids can go into huge debt, colleges will run up their costs to milk that cow.

One other comment: there is too much generalization in a column like this. The market for college educated engineers, scientists, and health care professionals is excellent and will only get better. However, it is true that while not everyone should be a college graduate, it's also true that no everyone who goes to college should or could be an engineer, scientist, or health care professional. Some parents, and kids, confuse a college degree with success. There are lots of electricians and plumbers out there earning many many times what art, history and philosophy majors earn (if they are employed at all).

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | September 11, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

The wisdom of the elders is getting lost in this debate. There needs to be BALANCE - not everyone in college or everyone in to the trades.
College is not for everyone, as my father pointed out to me years ago when I started my first year. He was a plumbing contractor and made more money than mid-to upper level management and created a thriving business. No college necessary to build his business, and plumbers will always be necessary.
Currently, 25% of the country's population has college degrees - the percentage is sure to rise if the costs involved become less profit oriented and more altruistic. The focus on STEM is a sham, as more math and science majors are graduating to find there is no work, yet a nephew who is now a journeyman electrician has more work than he can handle.
Balance, please.

Posted by: Care1 | September 11, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Many thoughtful comments here; I'd like to reiterate the ones that address the issues of employability and the cost of a college education:

- when I was teaching a few years ago, one of the computer teachers was commenting that with all of the outsourcing, many of our students would be better off studying one of the trades. She was absolutely right: a hairdresser, plumber, electrician & home repair person will almost always be able to find employment because they can't be outsourced! And those skills are always in demand.

- It is a disgrace how students have to go into MAJOR debt to get a 4-year degree anymore. When I went to college (eons ago) , it was possible to work your way through - long hours and stressful, but possible. I graduated with no loans. My daughter and most of her friends wound up with horrific debts, and I have been waiting for the newspaper story that will investigate WHY tuition rates and other expenses are so high at colleges - the teachers aren't paid that much - with the exception of a few 'star' professors. It seems that college costs are now rivaling medical costs.

My own contribution regarding the liberal arts: PLEASE consider that there is all kinds of 'money' - what a person may gain by studying the many expressions of humankind - music, art, philosophy, anthropology, history, etc. - is usually a kind of humanistic enrichment that not only benefits the the well-being of that person, but often of those around him or her. Those kinds of monies are not measurable in the usual sense, but we would be a much poorer culture without those who choose to study the liberal arts.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | September 11, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

You're ignoring the fundamental question: is *college* worth the money.

That completely depends on who we're talking about. Blanket answers like "the job market now requires more education than ever" don't answer the question, because college is not the only way to get a good education and there's no guarantee that you will get a good education if you go to college.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | September 11, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Likewise there's no guarantee that you will get a good job with a college degree or that you will even use it other than to fill a checkbox on an application.

And certainly the fact that you have a degree and that your job requires it doesn't make you competent at your job or your job competitive in the industry.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | September 11, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

...besides if Wal-Mart is willing to put their workers through school, why isn't the average employer.

Most of the engineering companies that I know of will pay an employee to go to school, the Federal government will...it's not like you have to go to school and *then* get a job. And you have to pay for school somehow.

What *is* a problem is the idea of spending 8 years in school part-time and spending $50k or more on a bachelors or masters and then getting only a slight bump in salary as a result. Knowing that the people you work for might have an MBA on top of a tech degree if they're lucky, but they're making 2 or 3x what you're making. But this is what happens when you start to trade on your degrees instead of on your career-accomplishments.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | September 11, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

So it breaks down into 5 cases:
a good job that requires either a masters or a bachelors' degree, a good job that doesn't require a college degree, or a person with a masters or bachelors' degree who is, shall we say, "underemployed".

And by "good" I mean a job that pays more than the cost of the degree, within a timeframe approaching the time that was required to get the degree. Counting tuition room & board and traveling, not "lost opportunity wages" from getting a great job that doesn't require a degree instead of going to school. Which is quite possible, you can Google "millionaires without college degrees" and you'll find more than Bill Gates. But who needs to be a millionaire, I think most people would settle for a decent salary around $75k/year. That's very easy to do now in the IT market.

In the end you play the first two cases off against the last two to a draw, and the middle case is what rules the day. If you don't even try to get a good job before you go to college, then you're putting all your money on that play. It might work, it might not. And there are the people who say "I'm 18, I'm going to college while I'm young and single". Same as before: it might work out, it might not. Less than 25% of college freshmen actually graduate within 5 years, on top of less than 25% of US citizens who even go to college. And the more expensive the degree will be, the more time required to get it, the easier it is to say that it just isn't worth it. People make that decision every day.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | September 11, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Anyway what I keep remembering from my years in school is that the stand-out successes in industry often did not have a college education but found it necessary for some reason, after making their fortunes, to hire people with degrees, even Ivy-League degrees. Society has a way of making a college degree a requirement, one way or another. this is a tricky issue. Do most intelligent people go to college? Possibly. Do most industries "mature" to the point where colleges absorb them and begin to teach classes on those industries and in so doing produce college graduates for those industries? Probably. But stockbroking, filmmaking and acting, performing in general, & certainly computer-programming, for a long while one could make quite a bit of money in these areas without a degree. Naturally this attracts people who aren't really qualified to be stockbrokers, the industry regulates, and now it's pretty hard to get a job as a stockbroker without a least a finance degree. If you work for one of the Big Six as an accountant or consultant with an MBA, your Ivy-League degree is certainly worth the $50k+ that you spent to get it. If you're washing dishes and busing tables at a diner in L.A., that film-school diploma is not worth the $10k that you spent to get it. Unless one day you actually get a break and become the next winner of the Sundance Festival...

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | September 11, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Maybe if colleges stopped spending millions and millions on new athletic centers and palace dorm rooms in order to entice students to come, I might be convinced that they are actually committed to bettering their students for the workforce and not being 4 years of summer camp.

Posted by: someguy100 | September 12, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I posted this underneath the original article to which this article is a response: I recently completed my junior year and have to say I agree with the majority of arguments made in this article. My college education thus far and the funds spent on it have been a pretty bad investment. Sure, once I have that piece of paper – getting a job will be a bit easier, but I’m ready to work in the “real world” now. I’m tired of sitting in classrooms and writing papers that only one person will read. I live for active learning and hands on work. In college, I have made great friends, maybe been to a decent party or two, and had a couple of interesting discussions – but the experience has certainly not been worth the $50,000 price tag per year that is being paid. My school’s career center is of little to no help, all the jobs, internships, and connections that I’ve made have been purely of my own effort and accord. I’ve been able to work for fortune 500 companies, with rapidly growing small businesses, and in both retail and food service. I don’t want to return for my senior year and frankly I don’t want to finish. I had enough of my college experience freshman year and believe that I am mature and capable enough to handle any entry level position that normally requires a bachelor’s degree (in fact, I know I am – I’ve worked freelance for a few weeks after an internship in an entry level position). If I wanted to apply for a job today I know an employer might immediately eliminate my name from candidacy just because I don’t have my degree even if I do have the talent, the will, and the capabilities to go above and beyond the required position. College isn’t for anyone or everyone – some people actually thrive without finishing it. I’m not disregarding the experience as a whole, but I do believe it’s overvalued and that hands on work is way more important. I love learning, I enjoy learning from peers, experts, books, and so forth on my own time. For science, engineering, and similar disciplines – I get the value of the 4 year and beyond—but for people who want to work in a less controlled/highly skilled position where life and death and construction really isn’t an issue – it’s way too expensive and much of what you learn in the classroom isn’t applicable to your field/job. I’m going to have to finish, I know I must in order to be considered for employment in my fields of choice. I don’t want to go back to sitting in a desk when I’m ready to work, right here, right now and stop spending money and start earning it while learning and growing in a field that I want to work in. I’m just rambling here – but I just wanted to show that I really respect the point of views offered in this article.

I would finish my degree online, but that is almost as limiting as not having a degree to begin with as most people won't take an applicant seriously in comparison to an applicant w/ a degree from an "actual" school... Maybe that's where we need middle ground

Posted by: ajf2 | September 12, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Also, college isn't educating a lot of us to do the jobs we end up having or wanting-- I want to be perpared, stimulated, and engaged in the classroom for my future

Posted by: ajf2 | September 12, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure the debate should be "college or no college," based on financial return. Instead, the question should be "What do I want to do for a living, and does it require a college degree?" The article states that college isn't "worth it" if you want to be a teacher or social worker. But if you want to be a teacher, you MUST have a college degree. Doesn't that make the degree "worth it" because it allows you to do what you want to do? If Altucher's daughter decides she really wants to become an elementary teacher, should she abandon that goal because it requires college?

Posted by: fab5 | September 14, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

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