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Don’t Go Back to School

A Handbook for Learning Anything

By Kio Stark
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Don’t Go Back to School by Kio Stark

Don’t Go Back to School shows how not having a degree doesn’t doom you to an unsuccessful life. In fact, quite the contrary: chalked full of real-life examples, this book presents a strong case for independent learning as well as principles you can immediately enact to make independent learning a part of your life.

Key idea 1 of 9

The value of college education is contestable.

Many people today have shelled out a lot of money and racked up mountains of debt in order to get a college education, hoping that a job opportunity down the line will help them recoup all of the money they’ve invested. However, many never find such an opportunity.

College degrees are losing their value, and it’s not always true that people with a degree will have higher lifetime earnings. While college degrees have proven their value since World War II, the trend has shifted.

When the GI Bill was passed shortly after World War II, war veterans returning home had an opportunity to start a new life by having their college tuition paid for by the government. Consequently, the percentage of US citizens with college degrees spiked hugely.  

Meanwhile, a college degree became prerequisite for an increasing number of jobs, such as journalism or public relations.

In addition, more women began receiving a college education to secure better jobs. Already at a disadvantage in the employment market, women in the US were able to forge new job opportunities by demonstrating aptitude with a degree.

During that time, college degrees guaranteed higher lifetime earnings due to moderate loan debt, easy employability and an annual increase in the value of a college degree. But those times are over.

Getting a degree is no longer a safe path. As more people with similar credentials flood the job market and the cost of education rises, higher competition and generally low wages mean that repaying college debt isn’t easy.

What’s more, degrees aren’t the only kind of credential and are even becoming less necessary, while other credentials, such as portfolios and recommendations, are becoming increasingly important.

Work portfolios, for example, are as good at convincing prospective employers to hire you as is any degree. More and more often, jobs are found through network connections and within communities. Just knowing who’s hiring can help you land a job as much as a degree can.

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