Why does college cost so much (And is it worth it)?

Why does college cost so much?

There are several factors influencing the cost of college. Many of these interlocking factors seem to be catalysts for other price increases. The whole price issue with colleges is such a mess because there are just so many factors. As such, nobody knows who to blame, which makes it a tough issue to fight.

A few factors that contribute to cost include:

  • Text Books – Considering the fact that many text books are just regurgitations of existing writings, mixed up in a different form, there is absolutely no reason the book should be worth $200. Take, for example, a calculus book. Nothing has changed, in regards to the information, yet the publisher forces us into a new edition by rearranging a couple chapters and swapping out a few math problems. Overall, no new value is added, but the company comes out pretty good.
  • Labor costs – Professors and staff are sometimes overpaid for the value they provide. This is especially true when you add in benefits packages, tenure, and so on. It is true that some employees are paid less than they are worth, but these are usually the exception. Auxiliary staff consume large amounts of resources as well.
  • Freely available student loans and grants – The readily available student loans create an upward push on the education market. Since the loans are neither tied to actual performance or to the student’s value (in terms of career wages after school), vastly more loans are issued than should be issued.

Is college worth the cost?

As a guy who went to a few colleges myself, I’ve had some time and experience to think about the true value of college. There are parts of college that are very valuable if it makes sense in your career path. Then again, there are many, many, parts that are less than useful. They simply consume precious resources that you will repay after graduation.

Outside of the fact that most employers demand a degree, there is little need for college in most circumstances. A high level tech school, or an intense on the job training program would do a much better job preparing an individual for life than a college degree would do.

There are hundreds of thousands of waitresses and parking lot attendants who worked hard through college and are now paying off a lot of debt. They would have been much better off skipping college and forgoing the debt.

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel, who made his fortune building PayPal and Facebook, is so eager to wake people up to alternatives to college that he’s paying students $100,000 each if they drop out of college and do something else, like start a business.

Even in my field (programming), there should theoretically be little need for college completion. Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook, echoed this sentiment when he would recruit people away from college. Why program in a classroom, when you can do the real thing right now?

Mark was right. In reality, the best programmers got that way outside of the classroom. Computer Science classes can be beneficial, but if you want to find the true superstar programmers, you need to look outside the classroom. Look to the open source coders, the hackers, and the innovative individuals that code not because they were told to do so, but because they need to invent, create, and build. Here, you will find your best “workforce,” whether they have been to college or not.

So, is college worth it? That is a question for you to decide. I lean towards “no,” but given society’s aversion to individuals who buck the system, it may be necessary at times. Check out the video and also let me know what you think about the matter below.


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