'Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.' -Chuang-Tzu

The Truth About College

by Ethan Glover, Thu, Feb 12, 2015 - (Edited) Sun, Oct 23, 2016

This summer I'll be looking for a job in New Hampshire so I can drop out of college. I only have a year left, but I have yet to get anything valuable out of attending. My knowledge and skills are beyond what I need to get started in the industry I want to get started in. To be frank, I'm wasting time in school.

A (sort of) review of the movie "Big Hero 6" can illustrate my issues with universities. It's a movie that happens to lie to children about the value of college. It lies about the kind of people that attend and especially about the value of the professors who teach.

Although Fred isn't a student in the movie, he is the representation of 95% of all college students.

The idea that college students are working on world changing products is ridiculous. Labs aren't full of things like zero resistance bicycles and nurse robots. They're full of old, used, donated, half-broken, and obsolete equipment.

If you want to work on this kind of project in a university, you're going to have to be well beyond in-class studies. Your knowledge will have to expand far beyond what anyone will ever teach you in a public classroom.

To get in on such projects, you have to be self-taught. No one is going to help you to get to that level.

Professors do not act this way either. In three years, I've only had one teacher that bothers to put in the work to create his own homework and lectures. He's the only one that doesn't put me to sleep and he's capable of making complex subjects easy. (The definition of teaching.)

For everyone else, I see nothing but laziness. My current Linear Algebra professor passes out three worksheets per day. These worksheets are the kind of fill in the blank things you might be familiar with from middle school. Where you just go through the book and copy down the keywords that fit into the sentences.

The only purpose for these things is to keep the class busy. There are no lectures to speak of. You show up, fill in a worksheet, and take the test. This is something anyone could do themselves from home by purchasing a textbook. Or better yet, logging in to Khan Academy.

My professor for Android Programming and Operating Systems has a habit of putting tutorials from websites on the projector. One of his favorites for Android is Vogella. Our current "homework assignment" is to work through this tutorial. Anyone who would pay $900 for this class is an idiot.

When there are no online tutorials available, this "teacher" likes to download PowerPoints from the internet. When he gives a coding assignment in C that utilizes UNIX system calls, the class has to teach themselves (and each other) the code.

In the movie Big Hero 6, the professor tells the main character "Hero," that his program isn't easy. He was implying that it would be challenging but Hero would learn a lot.

College isn't always easy, but it's not because of the difficulty of the material, or how much you need to learn. The difficulty comes in when you have to waste your day in lecture only to have to go home and teach yourself the subject matter.

Or, it can be hard to keep up with many (useless) subjects at once that have nothing to do with your career goals.

There is no challenge, only lazy teachers that expect students to know the material because of some irrelevant PowerPoints they read from. They collect a paycheck, paid for in large part by tax dollars, for no work at all.

Unnecessary Costs

To further inflate the value of universities, to get accepted into school, Hero has to impress the faculty at a robotics competition. I believe the idea is that he's aiming for a scholarship.

In reality, schools accept scholarships almost at random. I don't know about you, but in High School, they "taught" me to go to the spammy FastWeb and fill out as many scholarship applications as possible.

Doing so, by the way, will fill your inbox with advertisements from every business that might target college students imaginable.

If you write a lot on each application, I guarantee you'll get enough to pay for at least a year or two of tuition. The quality and content of your writing doesn't matter at all. Most of the time, your GPA, experience, and credentials don't matter one bit.

From there, all you have to do is use the forms on FAFSA and the government will pay for the rest.

Scholarships, for the most part, come from universities themselves. All students use them and federal, and state grants to pay for the cost of tuition. These things are stolen directly from the taxpayers.

The whole process only helps to increase the cost of college and inflate the egos of professors who think they're doing something good.

Even after they steal all this money from other people for their useless "education," most students still have to take a loan to get by. If they want to pay for expensive university housing and food plans, a minimum wage job on campus (or off) could never pay for it all.

Welcome to supply and demand where stolen tax dollars make up most of the "demand."

Back to the Movie

Here's the truth. A single individuals school projects do not build the kinds of technological inventions seen in this movie. Large teams with years of experience create them over time. Experience that has turned their college degrees into useless conversation starters hung on the wall. (That's if they ever got one.)

I'm not saying I'm trying to invent something that would change the world by leaving college. Rather, I'm only trying to illustrate how overestimated the value of college is. That value is decreasing as employers realize that self-taught individuals do better work than those with degrees do.

I only want to work in an industry that I love and "do my part." I'm tired of wasting my time in college courses that have nothing to do with my goals. And in courses taught by lazy professors who have never learned how to teach.