Counterpoint: Don’t Go To College (?)

Here is a very successful software engineer (Instapaper founder) with his thoughts on college:
“In The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2014, I joked about college not being necessary if you thought you didn’t need it.
Attempts at humor are often missed. In this case, a lot of people missed it, which was my fault. To clarify, I was joking.”

“I was a C student because I was (and am) a slacker and lacked the self-discipline to do better, not because it’s the smartest path to take. Performing better opens more doors.”
[snip… read on]

The funny thing about these two snips is that they are contradictory… On the one hand, he says go to college, on the other hand, he says that he personally was a lazy/slacker C student and sorta wasted his opportunity. My guess is that hie figures he would have been EVEN WORSE off hand he not gone to college. Perhaps he feels that he got a lot out of college in the non-academic realm. Great!

My current thinking is that these posts/articles where people argue about whether or not college is “worth it” are moot because really, if you are a privileged teenager trying to decide one way or the other, it is likely pretty clear which way to go.


1. time
2. money
3. opportunity cost of the time/money (IOW, it’s not only the money spent, it’s that if doing something else, you might be MAKING money)
4. what you want to learn about – outside of concerns for employment. (college doesn’t HAVE to be only about career prep!)
5. On the other hand… it reasonable to also think about future work – depends a lot on what kind of work/life you want. Obviously if you think you might be seriously interested in becoming a doctor or structural engineer or ____ then certain degrees will be required. But that’s no different than the certifications/licenses needed to do all different types of work… dentist, plumber, electrician, etc.
6. Your personality
7. Other options for learning/doing the same things (e.g. many things can be learned on one’s own if you are the sort of person who is self-directed especially if you have thought through #1-#6)


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