It appears the value of education is in the eye of the beholder. Aristotle thought education was about learning to think. He said: “It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Nelson Mandela, who helped lead South Africa out of apartheid said: “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” Benjamin Franklin wrote: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” On the other hand, Abe Lincoln was self-educated and Mark Twain belittled school boards.
The cost and value of higher education have become issues for debate in recent years. During the 2013-14 school year, the average cost of tuition for a typical 3-year course at a UK university was £25,062 plus room and board, books, equipment and travel and excluding grants or discounts that may be applied. That’s a hefty chunk of change even without adding the interest owed on student loans and it has left some parents and students wondering whether it was money well spent.
James Altucher, a venture capitalist, Cornell graduate, and father of two young children, wrote an article questioning the value of college. He suggested young people choose not to attend college and instead start businesses, travel the world, and create art, among other things. He has since become one of the leaders of the ‘anti-college’ crusade, said New York Magazine. When asked about his stance on higher education, he told the publication he was trying to reduce demand for college so costs would go down.
Skipping college may not be the best idea. As it turns out, more than 98 percent of the world’s millionaires went to college, according to a 2013 study from Spear’s magazine and WealthInsight, a consultancy group. Just over one percent took a pass on higher education or dropped out before graduating. The dozen colleges and universities with the most millionaire alumni are:
- University of California
- University of Oxford
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- New YorkUniversity
- University of Cambridge
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Michigan
Millionaires who participated in the survey typically studied engineering, business, economics, and law, although many did not pursue careers in their fields of study. According to a Spear’s editor: “Entrepreneurs who ultimately end up being the wealthiest in the world are innovators, and the top subjects are those which encourage new and smart thinking, whether technical or financial.”