Have We Reached Peak College?

It's a time when too many are pushed into college without good reasoning, has peak college been reached?

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Matt Anderson's Take
Back when I was in high school, the teachers had one track minds on the subject of college. Apparently, their job as high school teachers was simply to prepare us for college. It was simple. Go to college, work at a fast food restaurant, or land in jail. That's more or less how they explained our life options.


In theory, and with the help of guidance counselors who didn't at all guide, it was their job to also help us figure out "what we wanted to be when we grew up". I never really got any direction on how I was supposed to decide. But that didn't matter as long as I graduated.

So, I did go to a college. One that was highly rated in the field of Electrical Engineering, or EE as it was called. Why EE? Don't know, I liked to tinker with electronics and thus they all assumed it's what I would want to do for 47+ more years.

Sound familiar to you at all? Maybe this is what your kids are experience right now or will soon!

On day one I knew college wasn't for me. I was an EE major who wouldn't see an EE related class for at least a year. Just classed like English, History, and Psychology because I had to fill a schedule. I dropped out within a few weeks for good and was relieved.


This was over two decades ago and yet the high school philosophy of teaching kids that they need college is pushed even harder now. Worse, it's pushed at an elementary school level now too!


We're all told we need to go to college to get a better paying job. These days, better paying often just means longer hours, more stress, and less family time. So we now live in a world where more people go to college than ever before and should have tons of smart, wealthy people now, right? Hardly. Look at the world we live in which is filled with more debt than ever before. Apparently, the idea of budgeting and personal finances was not only yanked from high schools but never added into colleges. If I'm wrong, we never would have bought houses we couldn't afford a decade ago and never would have had that housing bubble.


On top of that, the typical college graduate comes away with debt that will last them for many years to come. Because the market is flooded with graduates there are fewer jobs around that require a college graduate. So we're left with workers who can't find a job in their field.


So there is my concept of peak college and I think we've reached it. We've all heard of the term peak oil, right? It's the point when global oil production reaches its maximum rate. After that point, it's all downhill and oil becomes really expensive to get and thus not worth the high costs.


We're almost there with peak oil, but I believe we are there peak college. I believe that we've pulled so many "college educated" people out of the system and don't have the "higher level" jobs to put them in anymore. Roll up to a Starbucks and ask how many employees there are college graduates and watch how many arms go up to see what I mean! There's nothing wrong with working at a Starbucks, but they didn't need a college degree for that.

At the same time, whatever happened to just starting low and working your way up through a company? This used to be how it was done decades ago, but now even the lowest level jobs often require a college degree. For what? College isn't teaching you anything that on the job training can't solve. On top of that, the Internet can teach me just about anything I'll ever need to know for most jobs out there!

I know, certain jobs maybe require some college education but the vast majority do not. On top of that, college isn't for most people. And better still, college isn't a measure of success.


Many college graduates go on to fail, become homeless, or otherwise, don't succeed in the way they thought. On the flip, many people who dropped out of high school or never graduated college do amazing things. Some examples you say? Sure, how about Michael Dell (Dell Computers), Larry Ellison (Oracle founder, worth billions, owns most of Lanai Island in Hawaii), Dave Thomas (founder of Wendy's), Richard Branson (Virgin, etc), and Steve Jobs (Apple).


Dropping out doesn't mean you'll succeed or fail, nor does graduating. I'm all for getting a high school diploma but not for being forced into higher education. Going to college used to be the exception, not the norm. We used to be a nation (a world even) of inventors, makers, and entrepreneurs. Why isn't that stuff taught in high school?


Why on earth would we want to teach kids to get a degree and go work for somebody else? Working for the man used to be for safety and stability as jobs would offer long-term benefits and pensions. Those days are gone and everyone is replaceable.


It's clear that peak college is real and it's here. So maybe it's time to look for alternatives to college. Some quick examples include starting your own business, trade schools, or just getting an entry level job and learning as you go while also working your way up. Experience learned on the job is often more valuable than what a fresh college graduate can offer and that can help as you move up or transfer to different companies.
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