38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
If you're a "what kind of crazy person doesn't go to college?" person, please read this book!,
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This review is from: 40 Alternatives to College (Kindle Edition)There seems to be little middle ground in the argument over college. Some people (including me) are in the "college is an expensive scam, and almost everything you learn there you could learn cheaper and more quickly elsewhere, and there are much more productive ways to spend four years of your time, and someone please build a time machine so I can get those years back and use them to instead start Google" camp, most everyone else is in the "what kind of crazy person questions the value of college?!" camp.
If you're in the first group, there's probably not much new for you here. Altucher's arguments against college are (for the most part) the same ones that I always badger people with at cocktail parties, at weddings, at college graduations, and so on. (They are presented nicely, though.) Some of his 40 alternatives are new to me (I would not have thought of encouraging my daughter to go on a "spiritual quest", for instance), but most of them are what I expected.
So this book is written more for the "what kind of crazy person?!" people (and the handful of "I'm not sure about the value of college, but who am I to flaunt the conventional wisdom?" people), and how I hope they'll read it! Altucher nicely lays out the case against college; he has good, brief answers to all the pro-college arguments; and if you're someone who believes that college is the one true path to success in life, then hopefully some of his 40 alternatives will resonate with you. It's a really short book, so it won't even take you long to read.
In the end, you're paying 99 cents to read the case against spending (or borrowing) tens of thousands of dollars. That's a pretty good return on investment!
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Initial post: Jul 12, 2013 8:54:51 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 12, 2013 9:05:55 AM PDT
Personally, I believe there is a big middle ground. And yes, Atucher (and you) don't seem to see it. For example, please list for me the the number of self-taught surgens in America. More to the point, would you go to one? If not, why not? The same is true for any professional (or should be). A better book would have been about how to make college a better experience. For example, I wish I had someone tell me to never take a class unless it was with the best teacher (and how to determine that). I always got randomly assigned the worst teacher and then failed to drop the class. I so wish I had learned the words "Your Fired!" earlier (as well as the importance of a study group, meeting the campus obudsman before school started, etc). But, what seems to be missing for most is a clear sense of who they are and of what they want to accomplish. We do a poor job of teaching our children what it means to be an adult. Every primitive culture required at a minimum that before a person could be considered a valuable member of society that they succeed, a person had to complete a Vision Quest and be able to articulate a personal Vision and Value statement. While a few businesses do this (and understand the difference from a Mission Statement), people never do. At the beginning of modern society (thousands of years ago), things like math and critical thinking were added. Plato's full list was Ethical Warrior, Rational Leader, and Producer. In Plato's time, these were all part of an education as everything in life is a basically a waste of time (and not just college) without having a clear roadmap of where you want to go.
Plato's earliest known work was the reporting of Socrates' courtroom defense (the first meaning for the word apology - very different from how we use the word today) for the charges of questioning popular beliefs and thusly breeding rebels. His boastful language in the face of the death penalty likely only aggravated the jury. Socrates began by telling them he didn't know if they had already been persuaded by his accusers. He explained valid philosophies always begin with a sincere admission of ignorance and clarified by saying his wisdom had certainly been birthed in the knowledge he knew nothing. Plato asked the men of jury to not decide his fate on the eloquence of his words (or intentional lack thereof). Ultimately, while Socrates made a logical and persuasive argument, he was still put to death. Many historians believe his intent was to communicate that any righteous man who believed in free speech who could be put to death in a society hypocritically claiming to defend personal freedoms should demand the very death he was offered. Similarly, Nelson Madela has said a good man in a country that jails good men should find his way to jail. The trial of Socrates is typically seen by scholars as history's most interesting suicide, producing the first martyr for free speech. We have forgotten such things should be required to be an adult and have fully stripped them from our educational system. All I ever got in college was one class that required a paper on ethics where most students had no idea what to write.
I would say there are many great althernate careers to those found in college (like being a basic computer support person) where certifications rule. My personal favorite alternative is Court Recorder (where most work is not found in courts) that after about 4 years of training can produces a minimum of about $120,000 a year (and can generate well over $250,000). Alas, such jobs are never discussed with high school students. In the end, however, a GOOD college education is a waste to no one. It's just we've forgotten what one looks like and NO college in America sees education as their primary product (which is typically research). MIT has forever had six times as many grad students as undergrads simply for the relatively cheap labor. We've become poor consumers and rather than providing a market place for institutions to be sucessful providing more, we just give up and walk away (just as we've done with our K-12 schools). In the mid 1600's, the Pilgrams passed the General Education Laws that fined any community that did not prepare every child for enterence into Harvard. How is it that those dirt poor farmers had a higher respect for a college education than we do today? It's the same reason we don't buy simply bicycles on the Internet in the way we buy complex computers... our values are upside down.
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