What is the point of higher education?

04 Sep

Peter Thiel and an angel investor have funded a group of “college dropouts” (they must leave school for two years) with $100,000 so they can go into the real world and work on their start up companies. (See story here)

As a now-proven entrepreneur, this makes me smile.

I believe in higher education. It is on my mind daily that I would like to finish my oh-so-close Bachelor’s degree in communications with an associate’s degree in criminal justice so that I may go to law school. Then I look at the student loans I already have and I cringe. I’m still struggling to pay those, along with the other bills that accumulated during my year off work battling an illness.

Do I get flack in my industry because I don’t have a degree? I used to. Then I landed a job that took me from staff reporter to managing editor of a newspaper. That took me to a position as a sports editor of a larger newspaper working with Olympic gold medalists. I then started my own media outlet, which was later acquired by a large radio station that put me on Fox news as a talk radio co-host. And the future plans from there are tremendous.

So while I am currently enrolled at a Utah college and taking classes online, I wonder what I’m getting out of it. One of my biggest critics is a teacher who has never worked for a real newspaper outside of a college. I honestly don’t think that teacher would survive a week in the real world. How many construction workers, police officers, firefighters do you know who have more knowledge than their supervisors – but one has a four-year degree and the other doesn’t?

Young students every day are piling on student loans and free government money (paid for by the taxpayers) so they can get away from the tight grips of mom and dad and go out in the world so they can figure out what they want to become. They waste the first few years partying and taking general ed classes, having no idea what they want to do with their lives, because they were raised that going to college is just “what we do.”

But is it? Should going to college be something you must do?

I stated in the beginning that I believe in higher education. And I do – for those who go for the right reasons. I cannot become a lawyer without going to school and who would want to hire a lawyer without specialized training? So college works for me if I go down that path. But what if I want to become a mechanic? Would my specialized training be a four-year degree or would an applied technology school be more suited for me?

When the recession hit, I remember writing a piece about how more people were enrolling in school than ever before. Enrollment numbers were going off the charts, but no one could tell me how many of those students would actually graduate. Now they can, and the number is sickening. I interviewed state Senator Steve Urquhart and the gradating rate at Dixie State College was less than 50 percent.

The state needs to cut spending and four-year colleges is one area where spending must be cut, by 7 percent or more. The schools are obviously angry over this, but why are we spending so much money when not even half of the students are graduating? We are pumping more debt into an already tumbling economy. We are putting money towards students who don’t even know why they are going to college or what they want to do with their lives.

I believe higher education has become a crutch for people who don’t know what to do. Some are dedicated to see it all the way through, more than half drop out without having accomplished anything more than adding to their already bleak looking financial debt.

You will not find real world experience in a classroom and you cannot develop your own ideas if you are listening to educators who use the classroom to promote their agendas. If you are going to college to figure out what to do with your life, you will learn more by actually “doing.”

Figure out what to do with your life first, then decide the best path to get there. Internships, a community college class here or there, the Khan academy online are all great tools to help you figure out what to do with your life before you take on that $10,000 student loan.


Posted by on September 4, 2011 in In Jen's Opinion


Tags: , , , , ,

2 responses to “What is the point of higher education?

  1. Anonymous

    September 5, 2011 at 10:42 am

    10k student loan Hell i wish, my loans were 40k. but the job i want needs a masters degree. you right to figure out your path first. most of the billionairs dont have a degrees. so just be smart on how you finace the education, military? acadmecs? atheltics? it can be done. Good Luck!

    • Jen

      September 6, 2011 at 9:38 am

      10k a year is more accurate 🙂


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