USA TODAY: More students thinking twice about the value of college degreesPosted: December 10, 2012
Today, I was quoted heavily in a USA TODAY column: More students thinking twice about the value of college degrees. It also features the work of Michael Ellsberg and Dale Stephens.
It outlines my thoughts on college and the underlying problem in public education fairly well:
Nikhil Goyal, a 17-year-old high school student, speaker and author of One Size Does Not Fit All: A Student’s Assessment of School, argues that while doctors, lawyers and engineers should go to college, those with a desire to major in the liberal arts should think twice about attending. Seminars, online communities and classes, forums and freelancing could replace it.
“I don’t believe there’s anything in a liberal arts course that you can’t find in the library or on the Internet, except for the discussion aspect,” Goyal said. “However, there are seminars and online groups, very cheap and accessible, by which you can fill that discussion facet.”
If students have the opportunity to go to Ivy League schools, however, they should still attend for the opportunities that being associated with that brand name will reap, Goyal argues.
“If you have an opportunity to go to those universities, you should,” he said. “While the likelihood that you will have real-world experiences and engage in meaningful work is slim, having that degree and that stamp of approval can make a significant difference later in life.”
“What I’ve noticed when I’ve spoken with employers is that their perceptions toward prestigious degrees and just college degrees in general are really declining in the sense that they are taking people who have real-world experience, who have apprenticeships and internships under their belt, who can actually solve problems and do real work versus somebody who just has a 4.0 GPA, who went to Harvard and got a degree,” Goyal said.
Goyal said the public education system has been indoctrinated with the idea that the purpose of school is to create obedient and submissive people, an idea brought to the United States with the birth of public education.
“We can’t treat children like factory workers and people who are just going to memorize and regurgitate information,” he said. “We have to shift that mindset to understanding that learning is messy, learning does not necessarily happen in an academic and formal setting.”