Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

Don't believe these people. A university education (especially in CS) will introduce you to A LOT of people and opportunities in your field, will expand your technical horizon, and will force you to learn things you wouldn't have otherwise learnt on your own. In my opinion, all the anti-university hate is from people who are too lazy to make the most of their university education on their own and expect their money and degree to magically earn them money after graduation. School will open doors for you, it's up to you to pick which one to walk through.

Personally, I went to a top-10, big-10 school. If you wanted to go into research, you had that opportunity. If you wanted a silicon valley internship, you had that opportunity, if you wanted a startup position, you had that opportunity. The money is optional, if you can stick to federal grants/loans, you can consolidate them all into a single payment, and when you get your job out of college, start paying it off, as far as I can tell, it's the private, non fed loans that should be avoided like the plague.

I loved my school, I loved my college life, I loved my friends, and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.




I keep hearing this, but I see no reason to justify paying exorbitant amounts of money for it. Why couldn't you get the same opportunities just by living on/near a university campus and actively meeting people? Universities are not matchmaking services; if they were, they wouldn't hire professors, just staff TAs to teach undergraduate classes from material composed by corporate research labs (where all the actual Ph.Ds would work).


College students meet each other in ways that exclude non-students. For example, a significant portion of the top EECS undergraduates at Michigan spend a good amount of their social lives with a particular honor society. This society is, of course, entirely closed to non-students. Another group that doesn't leave campus all that much? Graduate students.

You can't just waltz into University buildings and be all "sup dawg???". People are at least pretending to do work, you won't be able to access the network, you won't have common classes to complain about together, etc. etc. We're somewhat suspicious of non-students, too.


> People are at least pretending to do work, you won't be able to access the network, you won't have common classes to complain about together, etc. etc. We're somewhat suspicious of non-students, too.

Those are social-status problems [and thus, I could answer snarkily, amenable to social engineering.]

A University is a clique of people who pay a lot of money to attend a University. If the only technical advantage everyone gets from paying the money is access to the lectures, and in the long run the lectures aren't what matter, then why is anyone paying the money?

"University", in that sense, seems to be a Prisoner's Dilemma set up by lecturers to rob students. No one individual can stop paying, because it excludes them, even though the group as a whole would be better off if they all just rented a few apartment buildings together instead of paying massive amounts of tuition.


It may not be just the lectures that matter, but I definitely learned a lot and developed technical maturity as a result of my courses. Could I have learned them on my own if I had known exactly what to study? Maybe. Were there bad courses along with good ones? Yes. Are there bad students that still get degrees? Yep. Was it worthless? Absolutely not.

Example experience that could not have been had outside college, by definition: after taking the introductory computer science with perhaps more enthusiasm than was wise in my first semester, I TAed the course for my remaining 5 semesters. Obviously, my experience was not typical. On the other hand, if your experience is typical, then you certainly need to learn from courses rather than trying to do it all through self-study.


"after taking the introductory computer science with perhaps more enthusiasm than was wise in my first semester"

That'll teach you ^_^.

MIT's new core courses are so teaching intensive the department is enlisting undergraduates to help and I think it's generally been possible for a few undergraduates to get some formal teaching experience of that sort.

I've always done some teaching informally and found the experience to be extremely valuable, it teaches you all sorts of things including a much better understanding of the subject itself.


Or instead of independently reinventing the wheel while living in communal apartments we could just choose to learn from people smarter than us who have already invented the wheel. I'd rather spend an hour of my time learning reductions from a really smart person than four hours independently stumbling through the problem. Indeed, the more complex the problems get, the less likely it is that the problems are even solvable independently. Seems like you are trivializing the process of learning. The time savings I get alone from having access to professors is worth the cost of tuition. Not to mention the research opportunities.


I do agree with you; I was just taking the idea that "the value of attending university is in the connections you make" as assumed by the root of this thread, since I inevitably see that comment be used as a summary of these discussions. That idea implies that, if you don't care for the connections, self-teaching or learning in industry is somehow "good enough." And that thought implies that you could get the same connections, and therefore the same value, by just shacking everyone who would be attending the university together and letting them simmer in their own intellect.

While it's probably true in the marginal case—the 10x increase in tuition to go to an Ivy League school certainly doesn't cause a 10x increase in education, but it may well cause a 10x increase in connectivity—it's false in the general case. To simplify that: some university is good, but more university is not necessarily better. And you could probably get all the learning you wanted from just having your "apartment building" hire lecturers, and establish a good working relationship with professional research institutions (supposing most of the Ph.Ds, displaced, would end up working at Bell-Labs-like places.)


When you're in a good class with other smart people, you get to see their brains in action. You end up talking about interesting things with the classmates you like, and who like you. This is the foundation of a genuine intellectual network. It is difficult to obtain this seed network in any other way, except perhaps by email in a hopping open source project, or by getting into an interesting clique like Y Combinator.


True—I think I just have a problem with the fact that the University is the one in control of it. If, instead, the social network was the core organization and free to join, and the students rented out/purchased the buildings and equipment, and hired the lecturers and administrative staff, I can imagine it costing a might bit less and having a much tighter feedback loop in instructor, student, and course quality. (Plus, matchmaking would be made an explicit goal, rather than assumed.)


"True I think I just have a problem with the fact that the University is the one in control of it. If, instead, the social network was the core organization and free to join, and the students rented out/purchased the buildings and equipment, and hired the lecturers and administrative staff, I can imagine it costing a might bit less and having a much tighter feedback loop in instructor, student, and course quality. (Plus, matchmaking would be made an explicit goal, rather than assumed.)"

Students generally don't have any money. Even if those same students put all the money into your new group idea, there would need to be some form of central administration that manages all of the hiring, courses, etc. Also, it's not really free to join if the students need to rent the buildings, equipment, and lecturers (and wouldn't be fair to the ones that pay if it was).


1. Student loans and such—all the machinery students today use to get their tuitions—would still exist; they'd just be given directly to the student. 2. It would be a workers' cooperative, with the labor being learning. 3. Joining and participating would be different steps. The network would be free to join, but each class would still cost money, raised and pooled to create the class (in the fashion of groupon.com)


"1. Student loans and such all the machinery students today use to get their tuitions would still exist; they'd just be given directly to the student. 2. It would be a workers' cooperative, with the labor being learning. 3. Joining and participating would be different steps. The network would be free to join, but each class would still cost money, raised and pooled to create the class (in the fashion of groupon.com)"

As a student, I would still need to pay for infrastructure, a professor, and any other costs associated with the class. In addition to this, most students have no idea what they want when they start college. They need to be guided. Unless there is some sort of central authority creating all of the classes, I think it just wouldn't be practical.

If you joined for free, what would be the purpose unless you were going to actually get an education/pay for class?


> If you joined for free, what would be the purpose unless you were going to actually get an education/pay for class?

For the connections. That was my original point.

> most students have no idea what they want when they start college

They should speak to a guidance counsellor, then. No one invests in a business not "knowing what they want"; why should investing in an education be any different?


"For the connections. That was my original point."

Is it really that difficult to find these connections on your own? sites like meetup.com have local groups where you can just go and meet up with other like-minded people. In some groups (especially college towns), many are students. I have gone to many different groups and made lots of connections in my area. I graduated and got my bachelor's degree in '06, but there are many people I meet that have not. Most of the time, the subject doesn't even come up.

"They should speak to a guidance counsellor, then. No one invests in a business not "knowing what they want"; why should investing in an education be any different?"

I really don't see how this is any different than a university. You would still need some sort of central authority that you would be giving all of your money to (and they would be managing classes and everything else).


They still function as a better matchmaking service than what you'd accomplish by pretending to be a student, I bet. Unless you were really good at pretending to be a student.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: