Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Good to Debate: College at 18 years old?

My blog has been getting the short end of my attention recently. So, let me spice things up a bit with this entry. I came across this on my home e-mail, "Yahoo" page. The topic caught my interest.

Obviously, we in the public K-12 school arena are in the business of readying all of our students to have the option to go to college upon graduation. The question that this individual raises is whether college is the right choice.

I am not convinced of the complete argument that would cause one to forgo college entirely. For most of us, there is much to be gained by attending an institution of "higher learning."

I do think the concept of taking a year or two to do some of the things referenced here and then making a decision about college is interesting. I say that because I believe there is a real benefit to taking college courses with some additional, real life experiences to draw upon. The entire college experience for an individual could benefit from that sequence.

Take a look at the article from the internet that was posted on the Yahoo site (copied below). Also, I have activated a link here so that you can go to the site to view a brief interview with the gentleman making the argument for life experiences over college.

So -- thoughts?

James Altucher's 8 Alternatives to College
Posted Feb 08, 2011 08:00am EST by Aaron Task

It's been nearly a year since Formula Capital's James Altucher discussed his theory on why sending your kids to college is a bad idea. The segment proved to be one of Tech Ticker's most popular...and controversial of 2010. (See: Rethinking College as Student-Loan Burdens Rise)

More recently, a report based on the book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses found that after two years of college, 45% of students learned little to nothing. After four years, 36% of students learned almost nothing. (See: Brain Drain: Most College Students Learn Next to Nothing, New Study Says.)

Meanwhile, the cost of college keeps rising -- 20 times the rate of inflation and much faster than say healthcare costs -- and student loan debt keeps growing. As of mid-2010, U.S. student loan debt totaled $850 billion vs. $828 billion for credit card debt, according to the Federal Reserve.

So with more people coming around to the idea that maybe Altucher is onto something (vs. being on something), the money manager and author is back with a follow-up: The 8 Alternatives to College:

-- Start a business.
-- Work for a charity.
-- Travel the world.
-- Create art.
-- Master a sport.
-- Master a game.
-- Write a book.
-- Make people laugh.

"Whenever I suggest 'don't send your kids to college' a lot of very smart people invariably come back with the response, ‘well what else should they do?'," Altucher writes on his blog. "So I figure I will help people out by coming up with a list and try to handle the criticisms that will certainly arise even before they arise. I can do this because I have a college degree. So I've learned how to think and engage in repartee with other intelligent people."

In the accompanying video, Altucher "repartees" with Henry and me about his alternatives to college and addresses the most powerful thing working on behalf of higher education: The huge gap in employment between those with and without college degrees.

Aaron Task is the host of Tech Ticker. You can follow him on Twitter at @atask or email him at altask@yahoo.com

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