Venture capitalist Peter Thiel recently opined that higher education is a bubble: an overpriced good, and that bright students can often think up better things to invest their time and money in. I concur. Robin Cangie now responds, saying that higher education has come to be considered a commodity rather than a social good, and is suffering for it. I disagree.
I appreciated Peter Thiel’s thoughts from a while back because he talked a little bit about the economics behind higher education, and why in some cases it doesn’t make sense for some bright young kids to go to college. Couldn’t agree more.
This post from Robin Cangie, on the other hand, smells more like baseless weltschmerz. It’s the kind of stuff I used to hear all day long while I was getting my education in the liberal arts, from both students and professors: universities aren’t what they used to be, we should get all the stupid people out, universities have become slave to the industry, it’s gotten so easy to pass I could do this in my sleep… after which those same students proceed to get barely passing degrees “because why would I bother going for more in an environment like this” and so on and so on.
I like a bit of random pessimism and carping as much as the next guy, but I kind of thought most people were smart enough to realize that the whole “universities have lost their soul” thing was just a fun shtick rather than the actual state of things. Apparently not.
Higher education is having a tough time adapting to new realities, but “my history major sucks and everybody around me is stupid, thus universities hold no value” is an awful way to frame the problem.