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Is Education Changed Forever?

A few years ago, reports of a Silicone Valley venture capital fund encouraging young people to forego college to pursue a technology venture, were called “appalling” by Slate.comA Forbes article called it, just plain ‘wrong.’

The famous pitch to 24 teens and twenty year-olds, by VC Peter Thiel in 2010 foreshadowed a changing view, by some, on the value of a traditional education.

Much has been said about the 10,000 hour rule and the success of the likes of college dropouts Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

It leads me to wonder whether it is the knowledge that comes from education that is of value, or the experience itself.  About half of Wharton’s MBA is now available online free of charge.  Coursera.org is a website that offers free (or close to free) access to almost 500 university courses, across languages and disciplines.

So the information is out there, and readily accessible.

Studies do show that there are no shortcuts to entrepreneurial success.  Both a study from Babson College’s School of Entrepreneurship and anecdotal evidence, three years later, on the Thiel experiment, seem to prove that.

While the method of delivery of education is changing, dropping out and starting a highly successful startup, seems about as likely as suiting up for a professional sports team.

I’ve always believed that education allows you to ask the right questions and not necessarily have the answers to them, but the ability to process information to form your own conclusion.  One also cannot discount the intangible learning that is done while at university.  The college experience, the interactions with peers, is as important on the path to adulthood as the learning from textbooks

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