LJWorld.com weblogs Heard on the Hill

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.


Lawrence Morgan 5 years, 4 months ago

The fact is that KU does not now offer the kind of education people need. The chancellor has completely ignored on-line classes, reducing costs so that student loans aren't so big, and complete changes in curriculum. As I have said before, she should be replaced with a person who can look towards the future, not the past.

There are so many things that need changing at KU, but current administrators can't seem to take a clue as to what the future brings. Many of them should also be replaced with people who can handle the different needs which the future - which is RIGHT NOW, not twenty years from now - will bring.. This includes teaching classes for people of all ages, and a completely different model of what future education will be like, especially incorporating people of all ages who have gone back to school later in life.

It also involves people of all races and generations, which KU is very much behind on, as well.

The current administrators and the chancellor, and some of the regents, NEED to be be replaced now!

Shardwurm 5 years, 4 months ago

I like how we pay full tuition for instructors who don't even have a Bachelor's Degree yet. Did you know that was happening at 'Harvard on the Kaw'?

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 4 months ago

You will notice that many of the people mentioned in the article are in the computer or internet industry. As the world of technology changes so rapidly, companies have found that it is much better to hire someone without a degree and a little experience rather than a college grad in computer science or some related field. The college classes just don't keep up with the new technology every few months as much as on the job training and short-term courses. This does not hold true with many other fields. Would you really want a teacher in a school who had little knowledge of child psychology or successful teaching methods? For education, the degree programs are preparing future educators for what the next likely education fad will be. I was a student in the KU School of Ed for a little while. You don't hear them preaching "teach to the test!" The degree provides the necessary training in education and working with children as well as subject area knowledge. Another case would be architecture. You don't just stick them in front of a computer an expect them to learn autocad on the spot. They start with the basics of geometry, physics, and math, and learn about how certain designs work to make structures. They sketch and build models before learning how to use the software that can often be learned after being hired.

KiferGhost 5 years, 4 months ago

Why did we turn our universities into trade schools to begin with? Business, engineering, teacher colleges use to operate separately to prepare students for their fields and now we watered down our university to pandering to people who could care less about LA&S and just going through the motions to get their ticket to the big times. The alumni are more concerned about the sports program then they are about education.

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