People laugh at me when I talk about higher education in negative terms. And I understand - it sounds hypocritical coming from someone with multiple academic degrees. But times and environments change. For my generation, higher education was far less expensive, more intellectually challenging and somewhat more rewarding than it is for young people today.
Now colleges lower their educational values, so that the degrees seem more intellectually accessible. The individual thinking is not cultivated anymore and slowly disappears together with independent studies. It became all about mechanistic skills of test-taking instead of true intellectualism.
Except for a few institutions still adhering to their academic values, most colleges' coursework does not require any reading beyond the textbooks. This is how we end up with scores of degreed "professionals" who never read. My famous pet peeve is having young subordinates with accounting degrees who don't understand the fundamental principles of double-entry bookkeeping.
So, for $200,000 you get a low-grade minimal intellectual input and the promise of... What? Nowadays, nothing. Ok, so wealthy parents may be willing to pay this kind of money in order to delay their children's exposure to the doldrums of the adult life - as far as I am concerned, not a bad idea if you love your children and can afford to do so. But other than that - it's really just nothing but a bad investment.
Yet, more and more children continue entering colleges, ending up with unbearable debts. Some are locked forever in terrible jobs, others are not capable of getting a job at all. And people still insist that the degrees open some highly desirable doors? Why is that?
Because, of that stupid club mentality that pollutes every aspect of our lives. Hiring managers and recruiters, themselves college graduates, will look down on those without the degrees, regardless of their abilities and knowledge. This idiotic pattern has to change. Not to boast or anything, but I always look for a spark of an intellect in a candidate's eyes before I look at the Education section on his resume.
At the same time, we cannot deny the fact that having graduate and post-graduate degrees inhibits entrepreneurial potential of many bright and capable people. I have been saying for years that the possibility of being paid good wages prevents people from entering the entrepreneurial route. It's too scary to gamble on your business success if you have a steady job. Thus, instead of building small and midsize businesses that could revive our economy, kids "all go to the university, and they all get put in boxes, little boxes, all the same."
But this point becomes even less relevant now: those highly paid jobs opportunities will not be there in the near future. Young people, please, you don't have to follow the rest of the sheep. Think for yourself; let your creativity take you on the self-fulfilling journey. And you don't have to strive to be rich and famous overnight either - not everyone is meant to be Gates or Zuckerman. There is nothing wrong with building your own small business that will provide you with middle-class living, while creating jobs for other people on top of that.