Yes, College is Worth It*

*Some conditions may apply, but on balance it’s true, and those who tell you otherwise are mostly assholes

Tim Wise


I know this isn’t going to be popular with some.

But having searched every square inch of my house while failing to locate even a half-fuck I might willingly relinquish, I’ll proceed.

From Silicon Valley tech gurus to life coach grifters who think everything they say is TED Talk gold, the edgy thing to tell young people is that college is a waste of time.

“Just learn to code!” some shout, as if these words were a modern “Abracadabra” that would open the doors to all good things.

“Just figure out your side hustles!” insist others, confident that success is just a gimmick (or three) away.

Ignore these people.

Treat them no differently than the idiots pushing Ivermectin and inhaled peroxide as cures for COVID.

Their bullshit might not be as deadly, but it’s just as wrong.

Although many wish to bypass college because they prefer to pursue a skilled trade — which is great and every bit as necessary in any society — for people inclined to consider it, higher education is still worth it.

American culture makes us think education is a waste, but America, as usual, has it wrong

In a culture teeming with vapid reality stars and “influencers” who have become famous despite lacking discernible skills, wisdom, or much education (in most cases), I suppose it’s easy to think one doesn’t need such things.

Surely there’s a Bravo, HGTV, or TLC show in your future, right?

Maybe Real Housewives of Carbondale, or Jupiter, Florida?

I mean, those Hillbilly Hand Fishing guys had a show. Honey Boo-Boo has had a couple of them. Others get famous for ghost hunting.

So, the thinking goes, what’s your excuse?

It’s easy to fall into this trap.

True enough, most famous people and a large percentage of the super-rich either didn’t go to college or went but didn’t finish.



Tim Wise

Anti-racism educator and author of 9 books, including White Like Me and, most recently, Dispatches from the Race War (City Lights, December 2020)