Friday, May 30, 2014

Is It Worth It To Drop Out of College?

By Alisandra Wederich

We've all heard about college drop-outs who found their way to success through hard work and entrepreneurship. Names like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Lady Gaga, Oprah and Michael Dell are just a few that come to mind when we think about those who have succeeded by dropping out of school. There is even the annual Thiel Fellowship which offers $100,000 to a handful of students under the age of 20 on the condition that they drop out of college and pursue a business venture instead - an effort by Peter Thiels to offer legitimacy and support to those who want to try the drop-out "path." However, in the midst of all these success stories, and in an age where student loans cause many to question whether it is worth it to start a college education, much less finish one; we often fail to hear about those who drop out of college and flounder.

It can be very misleading to think that dropping out of college will just land you on the path to a multi-million dollar project. Even in it's generous monetary offerings, the students selected to receive the Thiel Fellowship are extraordinary: a student who was matriculated into MIT by age 14, one of the youngest students at Harvard, and a student who was a Ph.D. candidate by age 16. These are students whose history already attests to their hard work and astounding success, so offering them money to continue their endeavors is less of a risk and more of an investment in already proven and focused efforts. Yet the story we hear when recounting many college dropout successes is not about a history of incredible success, but how dropping out of college provided them with the opportunity to launch their successful careers, leading to the belief that dropping out of college leads to success, rather than the key elements being luck, intellect, talent, or any other array of contributing factors.

The facts tell us a very different story than the "American Dream," we hear about. Many college students, daunted by student loans, have decided to drop out rather than push on to graduate, and it often comes with a great loss: these students are less likely to be employed, and will earn significantly less on average than their degree-wielding counterparts. In fact, according to the O.C.E.D.'s report, a college degree is worth $365,000 for the average American man (subtracting all its direct and indirect costs) over a lifetime. For women, who still struggle for wage equality in America, a college degree is worth $185,000. This makes a college degree incredibly valuable - far more valuable than what a Thiels Fellowship would offer.

Additionally, compared to those who finished their degrees, college drop outs are four times more likely to default on their student federal loans, and are unlikely to earn much more than those who only have a high school diploma. We never hear the stories of failure though - only those of success, which can offer a warped perspective on what to do when a desperate student is confronted with the abominable price of student loans.

There are, however, alternative solutions to these problems. While the Thiels Fellowship offers possibility to already exemplary individuals, other opportunities are available to those students who are not already successful young stars of the education world. Offering more financial aid to students is certainly a step towards making those student loans less daunting, but the best solution is providing a more affordable education to begin with. There are many already existing affordable and even FREE websites you can go to in order to pursue higher learning and many are already listed on our website. MIT, Stanford, and Cornell, already have online learning options available, but if more institutions invest in technology as a means to serve their student body, we will find that the cost of education does not need to be so outrageous. Technology serves to improve our world in countless ways, and the realm of education need only take its reins (or touch-screens) to find the benefits it can offer. We have already mentioned some here on our blog, but keep reading for more ways in which technological innovations can aid with education at little to no cost to students!

Sources: Peter Thiel and the Cult of the Dropout by Alison Griswold and Dropping Out Of College and Paying the Price by Eduardo Porter for the NY Times

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Nice blog and keep posting this type of informative post.