New York Times spotlights KU dropout in story about career-minded students ditching college

Greetings, Jayhawks. After a health-related delay, we’ve now got the wheels on the ol’ Heard on the Hill blog machine spinning, ready to offer some distraction during this last week of classes before finals.

First up: A New York Times “trend” story this past weekend focused on young folks who’ve decided they can have a successful career without a college degree, often inspired by such famous college-dropout success examples as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. And the face the Times put on the story was that of Benjamin Goering, who the story says dropped out of Kansas University in spring 2010 as a sophomore and headed to San Francisco.

He was frustrated with his college experience, the story says, and now he believes he’s learning plenty at a software outfit called Lifefyre, where he landed a job alongside a number of other college dropouts.

The article cites a number of people who say the traditional idea that college is essential for career success is no longer true, including a co-founder of PayPal who offers $100,000 fellowships for young people to eschew college to try something else.

A couple of thoughts:

• It would be interesting to see an actual quantitative, scientific study of how well people without college degrees are able to do today compared with the past. The evidence cited in this story seems limited to the theoretical or a few famous anecdotes (Gates, Jobs, etc.).

• Whatever the actual evidence, leaders at KU and elsewhere will certainly need to think hard about whether and how to counter this perception.