Ever since there’s been an America, there’s been a general consensus that going to college is something you should do, if you can do it. That getting that diploma will be a sure-fire ticket to a better life than you would have without one. It’s a pretty widely accepted belief that staying in school and going to college is not only preferable, but downright necessary, and decent fathers everywhere have socked away money for their kid’s college fund.
Still, there’s been a growing dissent that college is overrated. First, you have the popular entrepreneur/folk-hero myth of the “College dropout who’s a wild success” perpetuated by folks like Bill Gates, Matt Damon, and Mark Zuckerberg. One can almost hear every stripper/waitress/single mom at a community college saying “Well Bill Gates dropped out, and look how he turned out,” forgetting that all three of the people I listed dropped out of HARVARD, and knew how to write software.
Then you have people who seem downright hostile towards higher learning like Peter Thiel (a Paypal co-founder, early Facebook investor, and Libertarian nutter), who has written many articles about what a waste of money college is and actively pays people to drop out if they can win a grant from him.
Not to mention Rick Santorum—-a very well-educated man despite his tendency to believe that gay sex produces demons and Obama could be the anti-Christ—-going on multiple rants about the evils of college. Although, of course, he means less that it’s a waste of money than it will “corrupt,” young people by liberalizing them and exposing them to sex and/or pornography. This may seem like more hyper-partisan rhetoric from a man incapable of a unifying thought, but since most of the conversation about the “worthlessness” of a college degree seems to come from various places of conservative thought, Santorum may have inadvertently tapped into something…gasp…relevant.
Although Santorum the homophobe Bible-beater and Peter Thiel the homosexual libertarian probably don’t see eye-to-eye on why college is bad, they share common ground as businessmen who think go-go capitalism trumps lofty intellectualism any day of the week. In fact, there has always been a “Capitalist Caveman” slant to the anti-college elitism rhetoric (“Money good…however you make money, good…professors who are smarter than me, bad…very bad”), and Santorum/Thiel are the perfect examples of petulant rich people who don’t like to be told how bad their ideas are. If they aren’t seen as the smartest guys in the room, they’re uncomfortable, which may explain why they don’t care much for the classroom in general.
Anyway, “Is a College Degree Still Worth it?” even as student loan debt has now sky-rocketed to an all-time high? The answer could be “yes and no.” Most people agree that an undergrad is now the equivalent of a 1960’s high school diploma, and you’ll have to get a graduate degree to really stand out…but I’ve pointed out before that a grad degree isn’t usually worth the money it takes to get it either. So the answer is a resounding “maybe.” Maybe in that a degree is really expensive, won’t guarantee you a job, and if you expect your college professors to really teach you something you need in your career, you’re kidding yourself.
BUT I don’t see you have much choice. After all, everyone can dream about being the next Zuckerberg or Gates, but if you don’t have a helluva gift for programming script, you’re much more likely to be the guy who dropped out of college…and kicked his own ass later for such a horrible decision.