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Think Harvard was hard to get into from China? Try McDonalds U

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Americans continue to spend oodles and oodles of money to send their children to get undergraduate degrees.  The NYT reported that college seniors had an average of $24k of debt when they graduated.

We’re not the only ones.  According to Bloomberg, getting into a McDonald’s run training program has a lower acceptance rate than high school seniors applying to Harvard:

“I’m thrilled and proud to attend Hamburger University,” said Zhou, who in 2007 started as a management trainee in the central Chinese city of Changsha, a job for which she and seven others were among 1,000 applicants. That’s a selection rate of less than 1 percent, lower than Harvard University’s record low acceptance rate last year of about 7 percent, according to the school’s official newspaper.

All this — in spite of recent evidence confirming the obvious  in Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (Amazon affiliate link) that (surprise!), college students, well, just don’t learn that much

…for nearly half of undergraduates, the freshman and sophomore years result in absolutely no significant gains in skills like critical thinking, writing, and complex reasoning. (Vanity Fair)

Challenging ‘College for Everyone’

Well, Chinese aspiration may account for the competitiveness in college admissions there.  Plus, working for an renown US firm like McDonalds has its perks.  But are we nuts?

Growing voices are challenging the standard of universal college education and it’s > $100,000 price tag.  For one thing, the investment in human capital just doesn’t seem to pay a large enough return.  If you just took the same money and parked it in a savings account, over a lifetime, you’d end up doing better than the $800k a college grad could expect to out-earn his boorish counterpart.

Plus, according to the National Inflation Association, tuition costs have been raised over 29% the last four years (though actual tuition paid seems to be decreasing) — it’s getting even harder to make the numbers work.

Education may be the single best investment a society can make – but maybe we’re just going about it all wrong.  The European system is different — only top students continue on to university while others get more training in the trades.  With the Internet and the ability to start a business on a shoestring, maybe we’re going about it all wrong?

Education is a real good, just not institutional education.  That’s what I tell my kids.  Last night, my 13 yr old son took an old woofer of mine and wired it so he could directly play his iPod from the woofer.  How? He looked on YouTube, spliced, and tried it on his own.  With the vast amount of education material online, a motivated student could do a lot on their own.

Of course, many children (ugh, mine included) lack initiative to tackle learning on their own.  But college doesn’t instill this anymore, anyway.

So, count me in the don’t-need-to-go-to-college-anymore.  You may not be hired by a bulge bracket I-Banking firm.  But hey, there’s more respectable other ways to make a living.

Resources

New Study Confirms the Obvious: First Two Years of College Spent Sleeping and Partying (Vanity Fair)

Getting into Harvard Easier than McDonald’s University in China (Bloomberg)

Don’t Send Your Kids to College (Altucher at Huff Post)

Is College Tuition Too Low (Economix/NYT)

Why Avoiding the Traditional Path of University Education will Help, Yes HELP, Your Children Survive the Next Five Years (Zero Hedge)

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