OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

Why go to college at all?

Programs and initiatives that encourage students to not go to college.

Photo of Izabela Correa
39 12

Written by

Although I know that the focus of the challenge is college affordability, I believe it is important to recognize that college is not always the right answer. 

As Sasha showed on her post Why Go to College?, "students are faced with high level of pressure by society and parents at the time of High School graduation". And I believe many of them don't really think if college is the right next step for them. They just do what society expect them to do; go to college. 

However, people can follow other paths and still be successful. There are many entrepreneurs who drop out college or even high school. Check a list of examples here, it includes even an American president. 

The idea of not going to college has been promoted by some programs and initiatives over the last years.

The billionaire, Peter Thiel, has a program called Thiel Fellowship, in which he pays students with promising ideas to drop out of college.

"The Thiel Fellows are given a no-strings-attached grant of $100,000 to skip college and focus on their work, their research, and their self-education. They are mentored by a network of visionary thinkers, investors, scientists, and entrepreneurs, who provide guidance and business connections that can’t be replicated in any classroom." (http://thielfoundation.org/project/#thiel-fellowship) 

Peter Thiel thinks his program is a viable alternative to what he sees as a largely ineffective university system where costs far outweigh benefits. According to him, "Today, everybody believes that we need to go to college, and people will pay-- whatever it takes."

Another program is the UnCollege and its Gap Year Program. The core principle of UnCollege is that people should be empowered to take control of their own choices for education. Their experience-based program teaches young adults the practical skills they need to succeed today through a blended approach of self-directed learning, accountability training, mentorship, and bounded risk-taking. (http://uncollege.org/)

So, I am not saying that college is not important. The point that I would like to make with this post is that there are other options. And while they have some drawbacks (as college also has), they are still valid. 

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Is college the right path for everyone? Is possible to have a good education (and job) without going to college?

39 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Anupriya Loganathan

Thank you for sharing this Izabela. This is so true and I completely agree with you that most of the students think that they must just get into college/ university right after their schooling as that's how it is been done in the society by all the people. I am a masters student as well as I work part time in one of the restaurants here in my suburb and my colleague who didnt go to uni after school worries and talks to me all the time if she is doing the right thing. This is because she sometimes thinks that society respects only those who have a degree. According to me, she is a polite person and way too well mannered than most of of my classmates with whom I have studied so far. So, it is not just college/uni that teaches you about life. Its definitely the real world work experience that is way too better than what these universities teach us.
I really hope this practice changes sometime very soon. People must go to uni or college only if they want and not just because everyone else is doing that.

Photo of Izabela Correa

Hi Anupriya! Thank you for your comment and for sharing your/your colleague story. I completely agree that real-life experience is a powerful source of knowledge. And that going to college doesn't mean that you are going to be a better than those who do not go. As, you said people should go to college because they want, not due to societal pressure.

View all comments