“You wasted $150,000 on an education for $1.50 in late fees at the public library?”
In Dale J. Stephens’ book Hacking your Education, he makes a case for an alternative post-high school route. The book is his love letter to other free thinking people who have ever questioned their college education. It begins with a disclaimer: This is not a book about dropping out but rather about becoming empowered to make your own decisions. For a college dropout who bucked educational convention, he sure did his homework.
Stephens, a 20 year old wunderkind, has taken the time to productively analyze the quandaries frustrated college students have, but are too lazy to take to task.
The author has taken the principles of the unschooling movement, a philosophy started in the 1970s that encourages learning through real life experiences, and ushered them into the Internet and social media age. He has oodles of thorough advice on how to connect with like minded individuals in an attempt to foster your passions. Stephens accurately points out the loads of free, open to the public presentations on a wide variety of topics at university campuses everywhere. “Hacking Your Education” is all about identifying resources and sapping them dry.
The reasons we go to college are narrowed down to three: social experience, job readiness, and learning for learnings sake. You can get hopped up and make some mistakes whether you’re in college or not, and the public library has thousands of free books if learning is your bag. The point is, according to Stephens, you, and you alone, must decide for yourself why you are in college.
The statistics involved might make you feel like you just ate the mystery meat at the cafeteria. The average student loan debt of a post-grad is $27,000 (mom, dad…help?). Perhaps even more stomach churning is the fact that 44.4% of college grads under 25 are unemployed or working jobs that don’t require their degree. The next time you see a custodian mopping the halls of your school, picture Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, as a study by the Chronicle of Education found there are 5700 janitors with PhDs. Stephens tells us we’re burning about $250 per hour long class. Think about that the next time you’re snoozing through English 101.
The impressive thing about Hacking Your Education is the lessons therein don’t solely apply to scholarly pursuits, but self-improvement as a whole. The author is not a radical, he simply encourages the reader to take due diligence before making the biggest decision of your life. Ask yourself why you’re going to school. Don’t go just to go, you could get caught in the cycle of mediocrity and boredom.
While I easily identify with the struggle and commend the sharp analyzation, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a disclaimer of my own. Stephens paints a nice picture for the uncollege movement and makes a case for a life-experience based education. But has he led a charmed intellectual life? Born with a rare entrepreneurial gene, Stephens claims you don’t have to be a genius to succeed in the uncollege path.
Easy for him to say, he’s a genius.
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