Seth Godin on Higher Education

Seth shares a few of this thoughts on higher education , this time focusing on undergraduate programs:

There’s no question that a Harvard degree helps (or is even required) in a few fields. There’s also no doubt that spending four years at Yale is a mind-changing experience. The question isn’t, “are they wonderful?" The question is, “Is it worth it?"

It’s almost as if every single high school student and her parents insisted on having a $200,000 stereo because it was better than the $1,000 stereo. Sure, it might be a bit better, but is it better enough?

For most people, the answer is a resounding no. Not only is college expensive, the opportunity costs of college programs are massive. You can accomplish a lot in four years.

My advice for those preparing for undergraduate programs is:

  • Focus on getting into a good but inexpensive school in a broad high-value field (business, hard science, math, or engineering).
  • Get as many scholarships as you can to defray costs.
  • Work a part-time job to pay for living expenses instead of taking out loans.
  • Participate in co-op and paid internship programs that have a record of hiring participants full-time after graduation.
  • Graduate as quickly as possible.

Outside of the people you meet, the primary value of college is the credential, so the best strategy is to optimize on cost and speed. After you graduate, focus your time and energy on doing real work and invest in increasing your knowledge and skills in areas you find interesting.

Real-world results will always trump college activities when it comes to getting a job or starting your own business.

Published: November 1, 2007 Last updated: November 1, 2007

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