June 12, 2019

Food for Thought

This new soft serve store in Chinatown has high-school aged Asian girls working behind the counter and they had this tip jar that said, “College is Expensive Plz Help! :(“ I told them that it’s effective. I couldn’t resist.

The tuition for the top private university in Japan is roughly $12,000 a year. The average for top universities in the US is $54,000. That is more than 4 times the former. It’s a big mystery why American universities have to charge so much more. I quickly Googled how they spend their money and came across some articles but nobody seems to have a clear answer. Some say it’s ballooning of administrative staff while others say it’s construction.

In Japan, it’s common to major in a subject that has nothing to do with your future career because the employers have a long-term view of their new hires; they don’t expect you to be immediately useful. The irony of American colleges is that, because the tuitions are so high, the students have no choice but to study subjects that can immediately generate money after graduation so that they can pay off their student loans. That is, they are studying something they would rather not study just so that they can pay for learning something they don’t want to study.

This is why many entrepreneurs like Peter Thiel are encouraging kids to skip college. If the point of going to college is to earn a lot of money, it’s true, there is no need to go to college. If you are self-motivated, you can learn anything these days on your own. Many lectures of top professors are available for free online. You don’t need college degrees to start your own business, and there is no such thing as job security these days anyway.

But I feel that kids should go to college, not to study money-making skills, but to study what they are passionate about, without worrying about whether it would lead to money or not. They will have to worry about earning money for the rest of their lives; at least while in college, they should be free of that concern, and learn what life has to offer besides money. After all, if they cannot figure out why they want to live, what’s the point of figuring out how to live?