College Degrees Are for Suckers (Like Me)

College has become a great way to make friends and a bad way to learn how to build a successful career.

I’m generalizing here, there’s always exceptions to the rule:

Becoming a doctor, lawyer, nurse — anything requiring specialized practice.

But wait.. why aren’t all majors set up like those?
Doesn’t every skill require practice to become a master?

Sure, there’s internships (which is a loaded word) but in the current college environment tests and grades are much more important to school. The game is more important than the results. As long as the money keeps rolling in who cares?

Grades aren’t a sign of knowledge: Just the gamification min / maxing of learning.

At least this has been my experience. I have a burning desire to learn and improve myself and skills yet I'm completely put off by the whole system. We’ve been duped. I’m not telling you to drop out — I’m telling you something needs to change.

The worst crime is the fact that the classroom can’t keep up with the industry.

Businesses move quickly, things you learn in textbooks are outdated if not obsolete by the time you started. In my programming classes, certain foundational theories were transferable, but there was no practicality to the exercise. If you didn’t self-teach yourself outside of the class, you were dead in the water. I️ had classmates who didn’t know how to program applications. Imagine that, a coder who knows code but can’t make anything. It’s like knowing the entire dictionary without knowing how to form complete sentences! The same goes for most creative majors.

But what’s are potentially solutions?

The tides are turning. As student debt rises, people are getting fed up.
The smaller the gap between what we learn and what’s happening out in the world the better we will be. I think there will be a Renaissance — revitalization — of apprenticeship. Why not combine an old school mentality to a new age of technology? Apprenticeships meets the internet. 

What if we cut out the middleman? Businesses teach the students. As a student, you learn under the wing of someone who has a job you desire. Mentorship in action. Sure, you still have classes that give you well-rounded wisdom about how the world works, but when you want to get practical, you go to the cutting edge.

I'm sure there are holes to my logic of course. But what would you rather do: learn business from a classroom, or from Arianna Huffington, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos..? learn to code from a teacher who doesn't, or from Steve Wozniak, Paul Graham, Matt Mullenweg..? learn to direct from a classroom or from J. J. Abrams, Tarantino, Christopher Nolan..?

But of course we can't all apprentice under one titan. There's where the internet comes into play. Universities aren't isolated learning silo's anymore: I can be on the east coast and look up exactly what another university is teaching in psychology on the west coast. (There's probably even video too) I think the future of education is the mesh of hands on learning with the internet giving us access to direct insights from the best of the best in what we want to learn.

Let me know your thoughts / outrage in the comments below.

Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

“Don't let schooling interfere with your education.” — Mark Twain