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Saturday, March 28th, 2015


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College catches unfriendly fire

Questions about how worthwhile is college are gaining momentum.Attacks on the heart of critical culture are reaching a crescendo.

New York Magazine reports two college-educated venture capitalists are loudly deriding whether a college degree and its associated expenses is worth it. And they are finding a growing movement that claims exactly the same.

Academic centers, long considered the center for sharp analysis and review, cost too much money and are daunting for young professionals, according to James Altucher of New York and Peter Thiel of California. In addition to expenses skyrocketing out of control, the return is too questionable and the quality of the education is suspect.

In short, the entire process is a scheme to squeeze money out of students, they contend. And those at the top are perfectly cognizant of this injustice, according to the critics.

“The cost of college in the past 30 years has gone up tenfold,” Altucher said. “Health care has only gone up sixfold, and inflation has only gone up threefold. Not only is it a scam, but the college presidents know it. That’s why they keep raising tuition.”

In March, The Atlantic printed an essay that stated college is perilously oversold and demanding large amounts of money from often immature students is unjust.

Written by “Professor X”, the essay titled “In the Basement of the Ivory Tower” actually was written by an anonymous professor of English at two Northeast U.S. colleges that are on scenic parcels of land.

“Beneath the surface of this serene and scholarly mise-en-scène roil waters of frustration and bad feeling, for these colleges teem with students who are in over their heads,” the essay states.

The writer states a tipping point, or “the bursting of our collective bubble,” typically arrives within weeks of when the semester begins, when students write and professor grades.

“Despite my enthusiasm, despite their thoughtful nods of agreement and what I have interpreted as moments of clarity, it turns out that in many cases it has all come to naught,” the essay states. “Remarkably few of my students can do well in these classes. Students routinely fail; some fail multiple times, and some will never pass, because they cannot write a coherent sentence.”

Thiel, the cofounder of PayPal in 1998, views higher education and its hyperinflated costs, debt-funded investments and true believers bent on faith of sheepskin degrees as a bubble that is preparing to burst.

“College debt means getting stuck on a particular career track for the next twenty years,” Thiel said.

He has kicked off the Thiel Fellowship, which also is known as 20 Under 20. The philanthropic initiative will grant 20 students who are no older than 19-years-of-age $100,000 apiece. It will grant them guidance and direction from some of the brightest, most accomplished entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley.

Winners of the Thiel Fellowship, who must agree to stay out of college for two years, will be announced this month.

Critics of the anti-college crusaders include Slate columnist Jacob Weisberg, who termed the Thiel Fellowship “nasty.” Further, the development of participants’ intellect will not advance properly, the columnist contends.

Altucher has been the target of large amounts of hatemail, which primarily is based on his anti-college efforts. That includes appearances on various media outlets and blog postings. The gist of some criticism includes the allegation that he, who holds a computer science degree from Cornell and completed two years of graduate studies at Carnegie Mellon, is a hypocrite.

Yet he is unrelenting in his mission as he compares college to home ownership, even noting the similarities as the government encourages both.

“So we got more and more loans that were considered subprime, and look what that did,” he said. “The idea, the religion of home ownership for all, turned into a national nightmare, a national apocalypse instead of a religion. The same thing’s going to happen here.”

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