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FEBRUARY 2, 2012, 6:00 AM

Why Go to College at All?
By HOLLY EPSTEIN OJALVO

Is college worth it? High school seniors anxiously awaiting admissions decisions might find that question bizarre, but recently some strenuous arguments have been leveled against the value of a college degree.

For more insight into those arguments, we turned to Dale J. Stephens, 20, the founder of UnCollege, which urges students to “hack their education” by finding their own pathways to success. Mr. Stephens, 20, is a Thiel fellow who spent his middle and high school years “unschooling,” and then left college after a brief time there. Mr. Stephens envisions “a world where people make their own decisions,” where college is not a foregone conclusion and young people forge their own paths to fulfillment. We asked Mr. Stephens for his responses to the five main arguments most often given for going to college. Here’s what he had to say.

Reason 1: Learning in a rigorous, supported educational environment “If you want to learn, college is the last place you should go,” Mr. Stephens said. “A lot of learning isn’t happening on college campuses.”

That may sound surprising, given that college is virtually defined as an institution devoted to nourishing learning and intellectualism.
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