College Foundry
State of Union in Higher Education

Everyone goes to college now. What makes you different?

College is this rushed thing we all do. It used to be a marker for success and stood for a real competitive advantage throughout the country. But what is it now? An overpriced commodity. Don’t get it wrong, college is still valuable. But don’t fall for the trap that $200,000 dollars is a justifiable price for an undergraduate degree when you don’t know how to use the product you’re buying. College is a business now. It’s up to you to make sure you use it for education.

An “anytime algorithm” is a computer science term for an algorithm that can provide a valid solution even if it’s interrupted while running. The more time the algorithm has to run itself, the better the results it retrieves for you. As we all know, when you are not given enough time and information to make a proper decision, you will not come up with the best outcome. This is what every family faces in the college market today. We have normalized the fact that 17 year olds are forced into making a massive decision worth over $100,000 that they do not financially comprehend yet. Families are risking their retirement to “make sure their child gets the best education possible,” but at what cost?

In the past, this would not have been a problem because summer jobs and a little extra hustle could get you out of your student debt problems. You had flexibility to screw up. Nowadays? Colleges have subtly jacked up their prices while nobody looked. It’s nearly $80,000 per year for the top institutions in the country. Lenders are handing out money to nearly anyone without checking the risk level of their degree and, more importantly, whether or not they can pay back a dime of the money within the next 10 years. Worst of all, they don’t even assess whether you can graduate on time. The problem has gotten so bad that our economy is corroding away at its core because of student loan debt. Our next recession is inevitable, as we near a 40% default rate [on college debt]. Sounds familiar, right?

This is a repeat of the 2008 housing bubble. It took $900 billion to resolve the housing crisis. Student loan debt sits at $1.56 trillion in this exact moment, and is rising nearly $3,000 per second. Student loan debt raises over 4x per minute compared to the earnings of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, and richest man in the world. We cannot sit here and pretend like everything is alright, waiting for the tipping point to arrive. We need to reassess the value system under which we make our higher education choices. We have to forget this outdated standard of “college is the key to success” and recognize that we are buying a tool/product that we have to figure out for ourselves - not an insurance service that will guarantee us a bright future or career. These are unprecedented times where independent thinking and exploration of the real world will yield the best future for you. Let’s not let this opportunity go to waste.

If you are reading this, know that you are in a historic moment. What you choose to do next will be the difference between being ahead of the curve or being on the other side, saying to yourself “I wish I had known better.”
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