Written By: Robyn Shulman
Higher Education Bubble?
If you happened to miss the episode of 60 minutes last night, (you can view it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7ZBOBZUyiU) there was a cover story about Peter Thiel’s 20 Under 20 Fellowship program. In a nutshell, the program provides eligible students who are currently enrolled in college to compete for a chance to present an idea to bring to fruition within a 2-year period. Thiel provides the winners of the scholarship with $100,000 as well. The only requirement: participating students must drop out of college to pursue their entrepreneurial idea.
Thiel believes “the bubble” has landed in higher education, stating that some plumbers now make a salary that is equivalent to doctors, while only 50% of new graduates have full time jobs. The debt for student loans in the U.S. has reached $1 trillion.
Is it a matter of when or how the higher education bubble will burst?
Vivek Wadhwa, a professor who teaches at both Duke and Stanford, and who is also a former high-tech entrepreneur in the Triangle, says Thiel is sending out a dangerous message to the world about higher education: that dropping out of college is okay.
I see many sides and have many questions regarding this paradigm:
- Students who have world-changing ideas should be given the chance to pursue their dreams.
- There are still only a handful of Mark Zuckerbergs, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs.
- Is the program realistic?
- How many of these students will succeed? How many will fail and then go back to school 2 years behind?
- Have we hit the ‘bubble’ in higher education?
- How do we look at our country and say we are successful when we have $1 trillion in student loan debt, while only 50% of current graduates have full time jobs?
- Are universities turning into fast, online, degree mills?
- For traditional universities not offering fast track degrees, how will they survive in an online competing environment?
What do you think? Is the bubble in higher education about to burst, or has it already?
In my opinion, a college degree is not worthless. A college degree becomes worthless when it is not beneficial to the learning process of the student, and when employers do not value it. Choosing the right college and course of study is a contributing factor to student success. Many schools have lost their decent reputations, online learning is not highly valued by employers yet, and higher education is changing and moving as we speak.
On the other hand, I do like Peter Thiel’s idea, as it is provides a one time special opportunity for students who might possibly change the world as we know it.
Toward the end of the segment, one of the scholarship students stated she was struggling in school because she was required to take courses in which she had no interest. As a teacher myself, her statement re-affirms the fact that we must realize that our students cannot nor should not be molded from cookie-cutters. Natural curiosity, creativity and the freedom to explore areas of interest create an environment for motivation, success and life-changing services and/or products.
For more articles about this topic, please visit: http://www.ednewsdaily.com/.
Higher education is still a gift.