May 04, 2009

The Great Debate: Is College the Right Path to Succeed?

In my family, college wasn't so much an option, but an expectation. That was no surprise, given my dad had an M.D. and my mother got her doctorate in educational technology, alongside more than a decade's teaching experience at primary and secondary levels. In fact, my own decision, thus far, to not attend graduate school or get an MBA has been a greater source of internal debate. So when I saw at the end of last week that Daniel Brusilovsky, a 16-year-old friend of mine who operates the Teens In Tech service, which I advise for, was thinking of not going to college altogether, I considered him out of his mind.

Of course, mine was not the only opinion. With the very public examples of tech leaders such as Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and others who have not completed their degrees, it can be tempting for an aggressive entrepreneur to point their way for leadership. And yes, some college courses, like high school, seem to have almost no value for whatever you may eventually choose as your career. I personally know I derived as much benefit from working at the college newspaper as I believe I ever did from my college courses at UC Berkeley. But if I had tried to jump straight from high school to Silicon Valley, I would have been dead on arrival.

Rob Diana touched on some of these points this morning in his article on the reputation economy, but even if you're not a huge fan of FriendFeed, you should see the debate that has been raging the last few days, embedded here. Enjoy, and participate here or there. Up to you.