Too Many Kids Go To College

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TooManyKids

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

PRESENTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CHICAGO IDEAS WEEK

The herd mentality that assumes college is the only path to reaching one’s full potential is under fire. Student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt, unemployment for those with bachelor’s degrees is at an all-time high, and entrepreneurs like the founders of Facebook and Microsoft prove that extraordinary success is possible without it. But recent studies show that college is economically beneficial even to those whose jobs don’t require it. Is it still the best way to ensure social mobility, or is America’s love affair with higher education unjustified?

  • For the motion

    For

    Peter Thiel

    PayPal Co-founder, Tech Entrepreneur, Investor & Philanthropist

  • For the motion

    For

    Charles Murray

    Author of AEI Article, Are too many people going to college?

  • Against the motion

    Against

    Henry Bienen

    President Emeritus, Northwestern University

  • Against the motion

    Against

    Vivek Wadhwa

    Entrepreneur Turned Academic

  • Moderator Image

    Moderator

    John Donvan

    Author and correspondent for ABC News.

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Thiel

For The Motion

Peter Thiel

PayPal Co-founder, Tech Entrepreneur, Investor & Philanthropist

Known as the mentor to the PayPal mafia of entrepreneurs, Peter Thiel is a leading advocate of young people exploring alternatives to a college education. This year he launched the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship, a two-year mentoring program that provides $100,000 in grants towards building the fellows’ businesses in biotech, technology, finance, education and more. In 2004, Thiel made the first outside investment in Facebook and now serves as a board member. Thiel currently serves as President of Clarium Capital Management LLC and Managing Partner of The Founders Fund, a Silicon Valley venture capital fund.

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Murray

For The Motion

Charles Murray

Author of AEI Article, Are too many people going to college?

A political scientist, Charles Murray is the author of two of the most widely debated and influential social policy books, Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980 and, with the late Richard J. Herrnstein, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. In his most recent book, Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality, Murray challenges educational romanticism with his third truth: “too many people are going to college.”

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Henry Bienen

Against The Motion

Henry Bienen

President Emeritus, Northwestern University

A member of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Economic Development and Planning Committee, Henry Bienen launched his career in academics at Princeton University in 1966 as an assistant professor. In 1994, he was elected President of Northwestern University and currently serves as President Emeritus. Mr. Bienen is one of the first three university presidents awarded the Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award for innovative leadership in higher education, Chairman of the Board of Rasmussen College and on the board of the Chicago Public Schools.

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Vivek Wadhwa

Against The Motion

Vivek Wadhwa

Entrepreneur Turned Academic

Vivek Wadhwa is Director of Research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University and a Senior Research Associate for the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. A respected pioneer for his groundbreaking research on the globalization of R&D and innovation, Wadhwa advises several start-ups, founded two software companies, and is a columnist for The Washington Post and Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

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Declared Winner: For The Motion

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    57 comments

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    • Comment Link tdrag21 Wednesday, 11 December 2013 00:31 posted by tdrag21

      I agree that too many “kids” go to college. I think we have too many kids on campus who are there because mommy and daddy made them go. If that is the case then I don’t think that is right. I am all for a person going to college to get an education and better themselves, but only the people who are truly there to do just that. A person should go to college by their own choice.

      I have witnessed some kids in one of my classes who were obviously not in that room to learn. They goof off and Instagram on their phones all class period. So because this student has “done the time” at college he gets a better job because he has a degree, over someone who has experience and no degree?

      Now I don’t consider any education to be considered a waste, as long as some knowledge is attained. I just think people need to make their own decision and go when they are ready to learn.

    • Comment Link jason Tuesday, 10 December 2013 20:57 posted by jason

      What I saw in this debate is that both sides want the same thing. They should have reworded the motion, something to the affect of education reform. Wadhwa challenges Peter Thiel to reform education but not at the college level. The problem isn't higher education, it is elementary and high school. Many young people are victims of a failing education system do to apathetic teachers. According to the National center of education statistics 21 percent of first year college students have to take remedial classes such as math or English because somewhere in their education someone dropped the ball and college professors have to pick up the slack. Nobody talks about how we rank almost last in almost every subject around the world. Literacy in this country is atrocious. According to the program for international student assessment the U.S. ranked last out of the nations sited with a score of 498 out of 1000 while china came in first with a scored of 570.
      We are supposed to be the shining light the beacon of humanity but we have, as a nation gotten lazy. However we can't just blame teachers for our failing education system we must also hold parents accountable. Not enough parents are involved in their schools or they don't convey to their children the importance of education. I also challenge anyone who can help to actually help not throw money at the problem but get involved. You can't rebuild a house from the top down. You have to start at the foundation.

    • Comment Link Riley C. Tuesday, 10 December 2013 19:40 posted by Riley C.

      How can you say that too many kids go to college? College can only better your life through education, social interactions, and life lessons. College might not be for everyone but if they don't realize college isn't for them, how are they going to know what is for them. College will guide you in the right direction by introducing you to diversity and to new ideas that might spark interests. College gives kids who are lost an extra couple years to really figure it out and by also pursuing new knowledge and friends. College will never be something we have too much of, we can only get better through education. I believe the biggest benefit of college is not only the education you receive but the life lessons, responsibility, and social skills we learn through school. I understand you can learn those skills in the real world through jobs, but college gives you the chance to learn these skills without the punishment of losing your job or ruining a business when a mistake is made. Not all kids will be ready for the real world by the time their 18. Some people don't even know what they want to do at the age of 40. College is a great place to really figure out who we are and what we want to do. I also understand that most people don't want to go into debt, but it's 100% worth it. Why stumble through life working at a job you hate when you have the chance to take a few years to either pursue your dream or find your passion. We can’t be so worried about money, just find what sparks your interests and run with it. Don't worry about the financial aspects of schooling and the money you'll make in the future. You'll continue to chase after more and more money tell you realize you have been working hard your whole life to be unhappy. Money can buy what you want but it won’t buy the little things in life that make it worth living.

    • Comment Link ngall Tuesday, 10 December 2013 18:33 posted by ngall

      Peter Thiel, I don’t believe cost is something that should completely stop you from getting an education. There are resources out there that can help; you just have to search for them. I am an inducted member in the National Society of Leadership and Success program. They have over $100,000 in scholarships and awards available to their members. The society also helps you to get a job by sending a personalized letter of recommendation to employers. If you don’t have a degree, getting a high-paying job takes a long time and you have to start at the bottom and stick with it. Even then there is only so high you can go without education. An education could fast track you right to the top. Also by going to school you get the opportunity to have more knowledge. By having more knowledge it gives you a better understanding of life and more experience to see what you can do. You face challenges and you learn how to work with them. Now days school does cost a lot, but we shouldn't let that discourage us from living our dream. In the future I hope more people will go to college and get all the education they can get.

    • Comment Link Reeroo22 Monday, 09 December 2013 15:36 posted by Reeroo22

      I strongly disagree that not enough kids go to college, but in the state in which the college system is in now, needs to change. The American dream is for everyone to be created equal, and being equal, means education for everyone.

      Henry Bienen makes a wonderful statement “There’s a clear wage premium to education. There’s also a social premium to society, not just individual. Society benefits through greater productivity, lower crime, better health, better citizenship from more educated people.”

      Educated and knowledgeable people make society better in general. However, I feel that K-12 should better prepare people to build goals and strive for achievement towards whatever it is that fulfills them the most. By educating children to better themselves and achieve self fulfillment, maybe in the future we will have a brilliant mind fix the broken education system.

    • Comment Link allier51 Monday, 09 December 2013 15:33 posted by allier51

      Everyone Should Go to College
      In a 40-year work life, a college graduate earns nearly $650,000 more than the average high school graduate (“Is College Worth it”). The college experience is a necessary step in growing up and learning about oneself. College is the place for young adults to find themselves as individuals while earning a degree, which also increases their chances of success during adulthood. A college degree puts an individual firmly ahead of the competition when applying for career positions. Achieving a college degree demonstrates the graduate’s commitment, intelligence, and the ability to work hard. College is a key step in growing up—allowing students to explore and strive to discover their purpose in the world and to attain an education that will facilitate financial stability and career growth and security.

    • Comment Link Les Monday, 09 December 2013 12:28 posted by Les

      Ever since the evolution of the internet everyone has the ability to access information. You can attend online college courses and even get a degree. There is plenty of information about everything you could ever want to know about. Albert Einstein didn't even know his own phone number. When asked why? He said, " Somebody has already written it in a book, I can look it up." That is simply what the internet is a "BOOK." Henry Ford said, "The best employee is a lazy employee." In todays society the verbiage is "Work smart not hard." These individuals have found a way to be more efficient.
      The internet has also become a way for people to become entrepreneurs. Almost every person has the ability to sell items privately or commercially. Craiglist and Ebay are probably the best known E-Commerce web sites. There is no college experience involved in this process. As technology advances so does the intelligence of the consumer. A psychological study was done and the average IQ among American citizens has increased. This however does not mean we are getting smarter it just means we are getting better at taking tests.
      I don't know how to speak in Latin or write in Latin dialect. However I did find this on the web. Ne Carborundum. It probably won't make you any smarter to know this, but it does pique the interest. Because this site has a blog, doesn't it now become a social network? It allows for social interaction with out the physical presents of a person. This would be where Skype comes into play along with pictachat and instagram.
      College does however allow the person to person interaction. It also allows you direct contact with the instructor for a clear understanding. Websters definition of teaching is: to impart knowledge of a skill or trade by given instruction. Anyone can be a teacher. I would prefer that it was from someone who has mastered the knowledge that it being given.

    • Comment Link Guilliano Thursday, 19 September 2013 11:28 posted by Guilliano

      I really did enjoy the debate, However, I would have to agree that kids are spending too much time in accomplishing their degree. I am quite sure that most of these degrees can get done faster and cheaper. If we continue to have inflation on tuition, someone of those high tech degree holder will figure out that alot of kids will never be able to get into the doors of college.
      If i remember well that the government was encouraging colleges to train people for the jobs that are ready to get done today.

      All in all, do we really need that much money and 4 year for the bach.

    • Comment Link RH Saturday, 06 July 2013 02:12 posted by RH

      This comment is for Mr. Wadhwa. I went to a 2-year community college and then to a 4-year state college for my last two years ( having kids, that last two years took four). I have an accounting degree which has served me reasonably well in my career. However, I have no idea what you are talking about when you refer to the relationships you build in college and how they help you through your whole life.

      I tend to be a people person (for a techie analyst type) and got to know a lot of people I went to school with. However, those relationships ended when we graduated (especially since no one lived there, and pretty much only met in one class and never saw each other again). I have family members who went to schools where they got involved in fraternities/sororities and they do have important benefits throughout their lives and maybe that is what you are referring to partially.

      I think what you are saying is only true for students who live at their college, or go to small colleges. I don't think you understand what it is like in a giant college where no one lives.

    • Comment Link steve Tuesday, 02 July 2013 18:25 posted by steve

      college can be disastrous for people attending art school, or getting a psychology or sociology degree. the latter is useful for nothing more than gaining ammunition for arguments with your parents regarding their "ignorance" of world matters.

    • Comment Link Tina Monday, 22 April 2013 06:27 posted by Tina

      This is especially important because so many people are
      forced to work several jobs in this economy, just to make ends meet.
      The basic accounting equation, in a way, "hides" capital, revenues, expenses and drawing in one basic accounting
      element, the owner's equity. The discovery of prehistoric caves in Czechoslovakia (1937) and in some parts of Africa produced evidences of how cavemen devised their own system of recording economic transactions.

    • Comment Link Jordan Goforth Saturday, 13 April 2013 14:13 posted by Jordan Goforth

      I agree that too many people are going to college. But, the reason why I say that is because too many of the people who do attend are either not prepared or capable of the level of work which is, or ought to be expected, or are doing it for the wrong reasons, i.e., not to learn, but to party or in the hopes of getting rich. We would be better served by focusing more on k-12 education and vocational training options. The pursuit of knowledge and a love of learning is virtuous and benefits the individual and society, but that attitude is developed at a much younger age than 18, and to think that, in general, people will suddenly "become interested" in learning because they enrolled in a college is a mistake. By age 18 it is usually too late. K-12 is when people need to develop a love of learning.

    • Comment Link William John McCloskey Friday, 14 December 2012 19:37 posted by William John McCloskey

      Why would anyone in their right mind put themselves in debt to sit through muck, which does not have one damn thing to do with what you do for a living?

      I generally use an accelerated marketing program, administered by Holy Family College in Philadelphia. It should be streamlined to English 101, English 102 and basic math (without Algebra , trig and geometry since the student wants to learn marketing and not to build bridges). Replace all of the other muck with a 6-week course dealing in mortgages, commercial & residential properties, profit & loss statements and personal financial statements. Then teach a 6-week course about taxes (federal, state, local, capital gains, dividends, AMT, corporate etc). Then teach a 6-week course about business law and state and local regulations. Then teach a 6-week course about marketing.

      All courses should be administered by businesses and not third party colleges. Additionally, the students should be actual employees and get paid for this schooling, which should only require about 24 weeks. A certificate of completion could be given, which could be honored by any business in all 50 states.

      This would get hundreds of thousands of young men into the workforce before the age of 21.

      "Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, authors of "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses" (2011), report on their analysis of more than 2,300 undergraduates at 24 institutions. Forty-five percent of these students demonstrated no significant improvement in a range of skills -- including critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing -- during their first two years of college."

      "More than one-third of currently working college graduates are in jobs that do not require a degree, such as flight attendants, taxi drivers and salesmen. Was college attendance a wise use of these students' time and the resources of their parents and taxpayers?"

    • Comment Link Rose Sunday, 18 November 2012 21:14 posted by Rose

      I strongly agree with the resolution. I am a chartered accountant with a master's degree. I know that in the last 10 years the CPA exam within many (if not all) states has been "dummied down" mainly becuase the students found it too difficult. Universities as well as certifying institutions also require members and membership dues. Just like universities are measured on retention and graduation, certification memberships are measured on the number of those who pass the certification and become lifelong members.
      P.S. I am also an accounting professor (since 1985) and I've seen the stats go from 1 or 2 out of a class of 30+ who were not prepared to be in the class to 30+ not being prepared. I teach 3rd and 4th year students. I receive student comments such as: the text is too difficult to read, the problems are too complex, case studies are not real life. With a 4 year accounting degree students now can become an A/R clerk; this position used to be held by high school graduates. I also agree high school graduates would not be able to sit and perform a job for 8 hours a day. I feel sorry for the few who have great potential and where the classroom discussion is more remedial than inspiring. I have since become a mentor to graduates who need assistance transitioning to work.
      PPS. one of my sons is a university graduate (professional engineer) and the other did not attend college or university. Both have found jobs and careers they are happy and reasonably successful in.

    • Comment Link Shamaica Tarpley Thursday, 04 October 2012 20:36 posted by Shamaica Tarpley

      When watching the debate I strongly disagreed with those that felt that college isn’t necessary. Although college is expensive, this is just one negative to many positives of college. College students upon graduation many times are exposed to many opportunities and many times are guaranteed jobs. Also, a college graduate have higher chance of making more money while getting to meet new people. I feel that college is something that everyone should try to experience and that it is a great investment in one’s future.

    • Comment Link Mahwesh Wednesday, 29 August 2012 07:17 posted by Mahwesh

      Education is not knowledge. As Einstein put it
      "Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school." - Albert Einstein

      I completely agree. And I completely disagree with the "against" team specifically for 1 reason they imply that they would educate everybody and that everyone would be forced to make intelligent work/ things. Going to college does not teach you how to do your taxes, it does not teach you how to manage your credit cards, handle your finances, how to handle debt, how to find the right life partner, or friends. Infact most college students go to colleges for the wrong reasons (like where their friends are going). They start out in programs that think will make them more money and then realize that they are not good at it or go in programs that they aspire to and then realize there is no money in the field. I hardly think that is a $150,000 life lesson!! And yet when they start work that is if they find work in the field they desire they still end up paying accountants, APR Interests and bankrupcy lawyers that srew their life not just financially but emotionally. It all spirals down to
      "Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the life-long attempt to acquire it." - Albert Einstein

      And todays students are far from the
      Pursuit of Knowledge which = Curiosity = Exploration = Happines.
      Wheras, Formal Education = Complacency = Scrambled = Miserably Defeated.

      The only way to understand the above is to know what you value. If you value Happiness as Success the above makes sense. If you value money and stature to define Success you will disagree. Now lets face it If we have all engineers and architects but no farmers we'll have amazing machines and beautiful buildings but no food to eat! And that's what we are deliberately coaching just because we admire the outcome of some professions does not mean that's what a child must persue. If the child works as a garbage man and discovers how we can put to rest the issue of mass dumping into refueling it as energy I say such a child can put to shame a degree holder anytime. He will specialize in what interests him and he will know what the challenges are from the very bottom to the top. And that's the problem kids freshly out of college have little idea of what the REAL problems are at the bottom where the action lies that defines the business. They just wanna do their JOB and not understand the challenges at the field level. Because of that corporations endup with patching up their problems which not only costs them but also the ultimate consumer which inflates prices, which inflates the value of money which eventually benifits consumerism out of frustration and so the cycle continues of grinding the "Well Educated" in America!

    • Comment Link Douglas Saturday, 14 July 2012 13:27 posted by Douglas

      Good points all around but I still fill that there are still to many kids that go to college for the wrong reason.

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