Why You Should Quit College

Ben Shapiro is a Senior Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. He is the author of the new book "The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against the Obama Administration" (Threshold Editions).


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Young people spend their time in college getting high, getting drunk, and getting off.  So why shouldn’t they major in it?  This seems to be the philosophy of Yale University, where a doctoral candidate is leading a course titled “Dance Music and Nightlife Culture in New York City.”  The class includes DJ speakers, trips to chic clubs Le Bain and the Boom Boom Room, and a seminar on “Looks, Doors and Guest Lists: Getting Past the Velvet Rope.”  The teacher, Madison Moore, says he’s worried “about whether people will think this is serious.  But it’s not just about getting drunk. It’s about the history of it, the Harlem cabarets, understanding race, gender, sex, Prohibition and the law.”  For just the bargain basement price of $53,070per annum, you can attend Yale and partake in such glorious and insightful learning.

With a $200,000+ degree in Clubbing, no wonder so many college students are joining Occupy Wall Street, where they are calling for jobs commensurate with their educational achievements.  The problem is this: they already have jobs commensurate with their educational achievements.  They are sitting in a park doing nothing for no pay.  Sounds fair when all you know how to do is bat your eyelashes at bouncers.

It used to be that attending college was for those who wanted white collar jobs, who wanted higher training in English, math, or science.  It was for people who wanted to be professors and engineers, lawyers and doctors.  And there was no stigma attached to not going to college – there was nothing wrong with being a plumber or a hairdresser or a welder.  In fact, often you could make better money doing those things than being a desk jockey or a paper-pusher.

Many of our best presidents didn’t go to college.  Many of those who did went to Podunk colleges and got degrees in non-prestigious areas of learning.  Today, anyone who doesn’t attend college is seen as a redneck or an idiot.

The greatest facilitator of the “everyone to college” mindset was the worst president of the twentieth century, Lyndon Baines Johnson (yes, he was worse than Jimmy Carter).  Johnson signed into law the Higher Education Act of 1965, which was designed to build tons of new colleges and get more and more Americans into college.  Why?  Well, said Johnson, “It clearly signals this Nation’s determination to give all of our youth the education they deserve, and as long as we have a government, that government is going to take its stand to battle the ancient enemies of mankind, illiteracy and poverty and disease, and in that battle each of you are soldiers who wear the badge of honor.”

It’s now 46 years later, and we’re no closer to defeating illiteracy, poverty, or disease.  As it turns out, most people are literate long before they get to higher education – according to UNESCO, over 95% of adults were already literate in the US by 1940.  Average life expectancy in 1965 was just over 70; today, it’s about 78.  In the 45 years between 1920 and 1965, the life expectancy jumped from 54 to 70, or about twice as much.  So we haven’t quite defeated that disease thing.  As for poverty?  Today, more Americans are dependent on government than ever before in our history.  Millions are on food stamps.  In 1965, the poverty rate was 17%; today, it’s almost 15%.  So much for education as cure-all.

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  • Amused

    Yea , even better , lets shut the colleges down ! We dont need engineers , scientists , mathemeticians , physicists …we can outsource those to China and India ….and Big Buisiness can save lots of money paying professional janitors pay .
    And look at the Great American Medical System , we pay the most for treatment of all countries in the world , while ranking # 1 in cancer and hear treatment , we rank # 61 in every other aspect ..
    …and imagine those kids !!! Partying in college ! Let's keep'em stupid , this way we can sell'em the know nothing science rejecting , to hell wit the rest of the world Conservative agenda ….and psuedo-journalist like you Ben , can be the demi=gods

    • DuncanIdaho

      You have inadvertently hit on the solution. We need to limit universities to math, science and engineering for bachelors. This will at the same time increase American competitiveness, cut waste and reduce Marxist indoctrination.

      • Mohammed al-Tebow

        Steve Jobs had a liberal arts education (sans the degree).

        • ++–

          Jobs was a college drop-out. Continuing to attend class here and there, learning from Wozniak, and working for Atari is hardly a traditional degree.

        • guest

          he was also born to unmarried teens who gave him up for adoption rather than murder him through abortion

      • Steve

        The soft classes such as history and english should be online only….Check out MIT's online classes, all free to anyone with a computer: just find a way to test the student's level of mastery of the material….In the meantime shutdown the law schools…a vast waste of taxpayer money.

    • aboveit

      Wow! Thanks for proving one of the writers points. In your cloud of anger have YOU done anything to improve these things you see so wrong in a constructive manner. Maybe provide access to better meds, educate yourself to treat hearing problems? Maybe create a business ala Jobs so that you directly impact the economy and the lives of others? No, ?? Then may I suggest a nice Gouda to go with your mindless wine!

    • Don Kosky

      Amused, I think 1/3 people in the European Union will get cancer but its 1/4 in the U.S. Both bad for sure but I think politics gets in the way when it comes to cancer therapy, not science. Remember you can’t patent natural cures like apricot seeds because there is no money in it. But the natural cure therapies have to fight the FDA and aggresive pro pharmaceutical industries and the whole cancer industry which is deceiving us. Remember, since more people are making a living off the cancer industry than there are people dying from cancer then you know you have a real problem.

    • Steve

      online for 99% of the classes.

    • aspacia

      Ben is hardly fake anything. You are one angry individual who will probably go postal one day; this makes you a threat to rational, cool headed citizens.

      Why not move to Israel? You seem to value her more than my land.

  • GKC

    Let's see, take an an article to its illogical conclusion(s), and then lambast the writer using loaded and/or derogatory words such as" Big Buisiness"(sp?), "Conservative agenda," "psuedo-journalist (sp?)," demi=gods" (hey, the key you wanted that single finger to tap is one to the left). You should've occupied grammar class. Ben is smart and you are jealous. Here's sending a single finger right back to you. I hope Supreme Galooty weighs in on this one….

    • Mohammed al-Tebow

      Stern (elsewhere): "To begin with, save your ad hominen insults. If anything, they demonstrate your own immaturity."

      By that measure, Ben Shapiro has demonstrated his own immaturity.

  • theleastthreat

    They should also minor in opening a can of tuna so they don't starve after they shut down the KFC.

  • Steve Chavez

    PEACE STUDIES? Poetry? Woman Studies? Art? Philosophy? And then this on top of getting a dose of Marxist indoctrination from spoiled tenured professors that control all levels of the university. Even janitors are hired due to their political affiliation. If only cockroaches could talk they'd surely be Obama supporters.

    Here at the University of New Mexico. DAVID HILLIARD, a FORMER BLACK PANTHER, was hired to teach two classes at $35,000, with ten students max in both, ON HIP-HOP in society! REALLY! He taught for two years and in that one summer, he took a group to the Zapatista zones in Chiapas. HIP-HOPPING WITH SUB-COMMANTANTE MARCOS? He also had panel discussions with MARK RUDD OF THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND and Albuquerque resident and recently retired from a local Community/Communist College full of Leftists due to its President! He is now getting $5000 from UNM, as listed in the Faculty Salary Handbook which is public knowledge, for something that I can't find.

    There are also so many Leftists that are put on FAST TRACK FOR TENURE bypassing many others with more qualifications.

    • Mohammed al-Tebow

      Jay-Z is reportedly worth $450 mill. Who says hip-hop doesn't pay?

      • Questions

        A year ago, Forbes magazine did a feature involving Jay-Z and Warren Buffett in lengthy conversation. Far from being incompatible, the two were a match made in heaven. Expect Jay to make the billionaires' club in the next few years, especially given that his wife, Beyonce, is hardly a poverty case. With Mr. Buffett as an informal adviser, he can't miss.

    • Mohammed al-Tebow

      My neighbor is a commercially successful artist. And that education harmed him exactly how?

      • Steve Chavez

        And I'm sure they support the 99% Occupiers so I suggest they both give 99% of their wealth to prove their sincerity!

        My niece went to Pre-Med at Tulane and dropped out within a month. Then she was undecided for two years then went into Art and she never took art in H.S.. Then she took a class from a "Marxist," is her quote, and soon she minored in Latin American Studies and didn't even know how to speak Spanish. Then her final Art project was an old ribbon typewriter with metal rabbit ears welded onto it. TOTAL WASTE THAT MY SISTER IS STILL PAYING FOR TEN YEARS LATER!

      • Advocatus

        I presume Jay-Z made his millions by doing hip-hop and being heavily involved in the business side of things. (Incidentally, his wealth makes him part of that loathed "1 percent" so why should a self-avowed progressive college student wish to emulate him?) Now would you care to explain how learning spurious "politically correct" theories under the aegis of "cultural studies" will help one become a successful artist and hip-hop entrepreneur?

  • samantha

    And here I was feeling a little low, because my kids haven't gone the college route! They have great jobs, 4 out of 5 have no debt, they have extra $ for trips, they are actively involved in community work, they continue to "learn". Most of all, they are content. Never again, will I allow "Where did/do they go to school?" to affect me. An article like this jut reaffirms my mind.

    • Mohammed al-Tebow

      What do they do? Prostitution pays extremely well, especially on the high end — ask Ashley Dupre — and you don't need a degree.

      "There is no hope for the satisfied man." — Frederick Bonfils

      • nightspore

        One thing about you leftwing trolls – you always try to have the last word no matter how inane that word is. And you keep on going and going and going …

      • GKC

        "There is no satisfaction for the hopeless." –GKC

      • aspacia

        Mad Mo's claws are out. What a cheap shot every for a flea bitten dog like you.

    • aspacia

      There is a great deal of indoctrination in schools, albeit the unemployment rate is only 4% for those with degrees. I do not know about others, but I make much more with my degree, and my son make $85,000 with his MBA from Darden.

  • Mohammed al-Tebow

    By all means, they shouldn't follow the educational path of David Horowitz…..

    Shapiro, how about getting an honest job?

    • Steve

      David and Ben…thanks so much for the service you are providing in fighting to keep our liberty, in spite of being outgunned both by $$$ and manpower by the radical left.

    • BIG IRISH

      what do you do Mo?…sit around reading your ker-an and plotting how to destroy?…loooooooooser.

  • Lady_dr

    Some of these people cannot get a job in their field because it is too narrowly defined (like puppetry), or there are more people with the same degree than jobs – this is a problem at all degree levels. As a Ph.D. who cannot get a job in my field I totally agree with you. And why can't I get a job? Some of my competitors are good, but there are a lot of bad ones including one who FLUNKED out of a doctoral program and was re-admitted, another who bribbed, I mean donated $10,000 to her alma mater (guess where she is teaching now?), and one whose speciality is so remote from the rest of the university department she's in that they don't realize her research is a joke and she is full of sh*t. . There is also someone who is just lying, first about "working on her dissertation" when she was hired and she now is the CEO – but the board was too lazy to investigate charges that she is lying.

    Why does this happen? Laziness, style over substance, and the sheer inability of most people to use common sense.

    • Mohammed al-Tebow

      Too many Harvard lawyers….

  • Lady_dr

    Great article!

    Here is some down to earth advice to anyone in, or contemplating college:

    -Determine if you even need the degree to get what you want career wise – it just doesn't make a lot of sense for many people
    -Go to in-state schools (cheaper)
    -Live at home
    -Do a two year degree instead, or first, if at all possible
    -If you are really good and need a four year degree you can easily move from the local 2 year college to the 4 year college and save yourself a lot of money
    -Look into colleges where you can work your way through school – I know there are about a dozen, but there may be more

    REALLY, REALLY ASK AROUD – I use to teach in a 4 year college in a 4 year program, then I moved and taught in a 2 year program in a 4 year college. The students were winning lots of awards, and getting the same jobs as those from the 4 year graduates and they didn't have to waste a year or more on totally unnecessary courses in other departments (which is standard in my field in the 4 year programs). I'd say anyone who did a 4 year program when a 2 year program was sufficent is wasting their time and money.

  • J. Swarthowe III

    I am sick of blaming society (us) for every problem in the world today…it's not the big businesses, it's not Wall Street, it's not jobs being outsourced, it's not kids being bullied in school, etc, etc. The problem is the Gov't is run by inept buffons who have no business being there in the first place. Every last one of them is a disgrace to the founding documents of our once great country. Another problem is tolerance for the sake of Political correctness! This alone causes the framework of our country to errode/disintegrate. Also, by forcing mentally unstable people to "BLEND IN" to our society is a burden on us all. Think about it….how many mental institutions were there 50 or 100 years ago? Now, all the mentals are out there with us, and in politics.

    Saw a bumper Sticker last week:

    Stop complaining and start a revolution…

  • Mohammed al-Tebow

    It is Wall Street, and the Fed. $26 trillion of our money, handed out to cronies at 0.001% interest.

    • Chris Nichols

      Yeah, and you are still going to vote for the party that continues to hand out money to Wall Street, and to shady, rent seeking businesses that don't produce anything that people want,(Solyndra, Light Squared). That party by the way, is the Democrat party, the party that also receives the most in contributions from Wall Street, and labor unions, which is basically laundered tax payer money. STFU, moron.

    • aspacia

      Why are they protesting the recipients and not the perpetrators who gave businesses the money?

  • Mac Big

    I understand the point here folks, but – think about this. You can have the degree in your back pocket and NEVER EVER use one thing that you learned in college, for the rest of your working career.

    However, take on a job without a college degree and you will earn less money! And, over the course of your working career, say 30-40 years, a college grad will earn more than enough to cover college expenses, becasue they are earning above and beyond what a non-degreed employee earns.

    For example. A co-worker, with no degree, with 38 years on the job announced to me "Hey, I just earned my one-millionth dollar working here!" I thought, "Good for you, I earned that amount in 11 years,"

    Do you see the point?

    • ++!!

      Really? That's funny, my father worked at a well known engine company and was seeing college educated people coming in for less than what he started.

      • John J. James

        OK – DON’T U THINK THAT IS THE EXCEPTION!!!!! Huh?

        Good God help us man.

      • aspacia

        What company? Also, the lousy economy has a great deal to do with this. My father had a manual labor job during the Depression, and the guy working with him had a Ph.d. This does happen during bad times.

    • aspacia

      Yes, Mac, tend to agree with you, however, many do have worthless degrees. Every university graduate I know makes a minimum of 32,000 starting pay, with benefits. Few nongraduates I know make this amount after many years of working in the same company.

      • MIke

        I'm 40 years old, have no degree and have not started a job for less than 40k in 15 years. I currently make 175k, and have absolutely NO formal education besides my miltary school (USMC radar technican)…but I am good at what I do, made a lifetime habit of educating myself on PRACTICAL subjects, and, most importantly, I can speak for longer than 10 seconds without resorting to "un, umm, you know, etc…unlike MANY "educated" peers. College is NOT the only way to make money. Working hard and being resourceful is.

        • aspacia

          What is your current job. Regardless, yours is the exception, and I am happy for you:-) However, many entertainers, and I include professional athletes in this category, never graduated from high school or college, along with Jobs and Gates.

          This has been stated, and I maintain that yours is the aberration, not the norm. Refute my claim with valid facts if you can, and I will stand corrected.

  • John Campbell

    Arts professor / feminist Camille Paglia – no conservative – put if well: “Liberal arts education [in general] has become a soggy boondoggle, obscenely expensive and diluted by propaganda and groupthink.”

  • sod

    When we believe there's no right or wrong, everyone has freedom of speech as long as it agrees with ours, money is everything, it's ok to sell your body and drugs because they make you lots of money and when we become Christianphobia, we are doomed.

  • RationalConservative

    Maybe Ben Shapiro should quit giving terrible advice instead of saying quit college. The facts, as opposed to his nonsense, are against his arguments. In base figures as of 2008 a Bachelor degree holder could expect to make 15-20 K more than the and 25 more a high school grad and the trend over years is widening not narrowing (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0883617.html). Playing the odds we should encourage folks to stay in college. Yes there are exceptions: homeless doctorates, millionaire dropouts, and every school offering absurd electives. But obviously these are outliers not the common experience. Education will always be hugely individual, you get out what you put in. Sounds like Mr. Shapiro should have put a little more in but was too lazy. The fact is: odds are for a better future for most college graduates and against most dropping out.

    • Mac Big

      With all the goings on in our country, Mr. Shapiro must be at the bottom of the barrel and / or at the end of his career to pull out this topic for FPM. It is the most inane thing I have ever heard.

      Part 2 for Mr. Shapiro (the encore) will certainly be "WHY KIDS SHOULD NOT ATTEND GRADES K-12.

      What a blithering idiot.

    • Questions

      Given that Shapiro has a law degree from Harvard, "dropping out" wasn't part of his own education strategy. Apparently, only "hippies" should avoid college.

  • BLJ

    This article is spot on. There are way too many educated derelicts running around looking for something for nothing. The costs of getting a degree have far exceeded the rate of inflation.

    LBJ's Great Society created a dependent class and an entitlement mentality that has grown progressively worse over the years. This idea that everyone should go to college is absurd.

    I was and still am the only person in my family to get a college degree. It has helped me to a good life, but my parents and siblings have all been successful as well. Maybe it is because we were raised with a work ethic (I put myself through school) and honor.

    I am afraid that the American public has been brainwashed into this idea that going to college is the only way to get ahead. It is for some, but not for all. I think this is the message the author is trying to convey.

    • Jim_C

      Your family's experience is somewhat like mine, a generation removed, but the world has changed immensely since my grandparents' day. Being an entrepreneur in those days could still be a matter of verve and elbow grease, and in most cases it was. That was the path to owning your own shop. Now, you nearly always need to have some formal educational component just to navigate your field, due to technological advances, legal considerations, etc. It CAN be done, but from the perspective of, say, a possible employer or bank lender, it's a bigger hurdle. So it's not "brainwashing"–its where we are at this point in history.

  • EvilEmperorZurg

    College these days IS becoming the only way to get ahead, in part because HR departments attach an unnecessary amount of importance to having a college degree as an indicator of someone's ability to perform tasks. These days, a college grad with mediocre communication skills and no experience is more likely to be hired over a someone who didn't go to college (or didn't graduate), surpasses them in both areas and could perform the task better. This is unfair, and I'm saying this as a college grad with a good job. A job should go to the applicant who can perform the job in the most efficient manner, not the one who aced a course on identifying lesbian imagery in Moby-Dick.

  • Amused

    Oh cut the B.S. you schmucks , it's all just a strawman to knock OWS . Shapiro you're nothing more than a shill , for the true jerks of this country ….the Conservatives .It wont be long before more Republicans start jumping the ship of fools .Shapiro's argument is so dumbfoundingly ignorant , it hardly warrants a rebuttal . No doubt lip service for Horowitz's now "new world view ", Shapiro utters the epoitomy of STUPID …..quit college .!
    Brilliant Ben , just brilliant !

    • KarshiKhanabad

      Whoa! A little anger management there, ol' Not Amused!

      Wanna tell us about your distinguished war record just to shut up your critics?

      ;^)

  • ARay

    Is a college degree earned on the same curriculum today as it was 10 years ago? 20? 30? Has that curriculum load increased or decreased in that time period? My understanding is that many college professors observe that incoming students can't write a paper or comprehend the reading material much less actually read all the material in the time allotted. As for mathematics and the sciences many colleges have to offer remedial courses for freshman that years ago high school underclassmen would have already mastered. If that is the case, then a highly diluted degree today is indeed a waste of time and money. In reality it is fraudulent to confer a degree on a student who has paid more in tuition and has been taught less in the given time for completing their studies. Sad and tragic misuse of higher education.

    • Jim_C

      Short answer: it really hasn't changed much in 50 years. There were lousy, barely able to squeak through students even then. Curriculum hasn't fundamentally changed.

      On the other hand, the world has changed immensely in the last 50 years.

  • Amused

    There has always been remedial classes for incoming freshman as far back as I can remember .H.S. provided academic , general and commercial based diplomas . Some high schools were specifially set up for college preparation , as they were called prep schools , also automotive , avaiation and vocational high schools . college courses have expanded in the liberal arts , but in order to get an engineering degree , nothing has changed , nor has anything changed in the sciences . It's the students choice . School IS and ALWAYS has been …what you make it . Many f todays great film makers , began their process in liberal arts , never bothered with Math or the Sciences , so too artists , dancers , playrights , book authors , designers. Students may pay more in some places , even disproportionately in others , but to get a degree ,you must pass the test . No doubt there is fraud , but that also has not changed. A new Chevy used to cost about $2700 in the early 60's , what does it cost today?

    • DuncanIdaho

      Amused, good points but a technical person would point out the acceleration (increased rate) of both the cost and the nonsense in the liberal arts curriculum.

  • mrbean

    In pursuing an education, first preapare yourself, choose a field of study as a speciality, that also gives you a broad background, select the best university in that field you can afford, and be aware that it is your responsibility to acquire knowledge and separate the bull from the good stuff. Being Bluto at college and a member of delta delta delta is not cool and won't make it. China is turning out Engineers and Scientists at a rate of 300 to 1 compared to us. We already have a glut of lawyers whose only skills are to litigate, bloviate, obviscate, mastecate, urinate, and defecate.

  • Jim_C

    Ben Shapiro has yet to write a column that isn't airheaded and fluffy, and full of misused information (see Radical Conservative's post, above). But at bottom, he has a point. The point is not that people shouldn't study, say, theater (if you love theater and show a talent for it, why not)? The point Ben (maybe) seems to try to be making is what do we expect from the college experience? What did we, historically expect vs. what we now expect? How does it translate into citizenship? What is the cost/benefit?

    The majority of us still don't attend college, and those of us who did earn significantly more and have more choices in life. As an employer, looking at a stack of resumes, it's handy to recognize that making it through four years of higher ed represents SOME sort of achievement, as opposed to the person who did not. But maybe we're put off by the fact that college has been reduced to a sort of sifter/strainer of human resources rather than guarantor of merit. But then, even in the old days when only privileged people went to college, it was just that–a stamp you put on your CV. Even back then, not everyone who made it through college was a scholar.

  • RckmSckmRbts

    Ben Shapiro is one of the most crazed hypocrites on the Internet, and that's saying a lot. He's urging people to quit college when the first thing his bio boasts on his own website is his academic credentials: "Benjamin Shapiro was born in 1984. He entered UCLA at the age of 16 and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in June 2004 with a BA in Political Science. He graduated Harvard Law School cum laude in June 2007."