Don’t Go To College

Dr. Henry Selby, Headmaster All Saints' Episcopal School, Morristown, TN

Dr. Henry Selby, Headmaster All Saints’ Episcopal School, Morristown, TN

Does anyone ever tire of the debate regarding whether or not a college education is a good idea? I remember playing Milton-Bradley’s “The Game of Life” as a child. It didn’t take long to realize that the odds were in your favor if you chose a college path instead of entering the workplace right after high school. Oh sure, you could make more money in the short term if you entered the workplace, but if you wanted to end up in “Millionare Acres” you just had to go to college!

On the other hand, with college costs spiraling and unemployment still at high levels, how valuable is a college education when compared to the massive indebtedness of most recent graduates? The average graduate now exceeds $25,000 in loans, and the total of student loans now tops credit card debt in the United States! So did college help these grads find a better job? According to some recent data, about 40% of those recent graduates who actually found a job are working in low-paying jobs that don’t require a degree. This is bleak. Very bleak.

But wait! Enter the entrepreneurial spirit of young author Dale Stephens who urges us to consider educating ourselves off campus! His website is A college dropout himself, Stephens says that we can learn at our own pace in areas that interest us for a tiny fraction of what traditional colleges deliver. It’s self-paced, self-directed, and self-networking! No longer tied to required courses where everyone does the same courses at about the same time, we are now free from the curricular and financial bondage of institutional learning. It’s sort of like the movement in business to telecommuting. You know, working from home in your pyjamas.

Except for one thing. Here in the first quarter of the year we are hearing of major companies like Best Buy reversing themselves in the area of telecommuting. And it’s not just service and sales industries that are insisting their employees come to the office. Even internet giant Yahoo! has changed its policies to require on-site work, citing reasons that include collaboration, teamwork, and culture as valuable assets for its continued success. As it turns out, there’s something to be gained by working together. In person. Sharing. Really sharing.

So should I go to college or not? Well, the statistics today still support Milton-Bradley’s assertion that a college education, in the long term, can help one (eventually) to earn more money. If one is strictly looking at college from the standpoint of potential earnings, then do it. But if one is also interested the lively exchange of ideas, experiencing the thrill of shared intellectual inquiry, and perhaps even living in a society that embraces hope for a better tomorrow, I can imagine no better place to be!

“Henry G. Selby, headmaster of All Saints’ Episcopal School in Morristown, is a popular speaker at seminars, conferences, civic events, and professional development meetings. He would be delighted to speak at your next meeting. Please call the school for more information.”

Source: Dr. Henry Selby, Headmaster All Saints' Episcopal School, Morristown, TN