Tuesday, April 5, 2011

America's Most Overrated Product: Higher Education. (A talk at Santa Clara University)

I just gave a talk at Santa Clara University that I believe makes the most compelling case I've yet made for why higher education is, indeed, America's most overrated product.

If that's insufficient to motivate you to watch or listen to it, many attendees told me that in addition to being compelling, it was entertaining, and passion-filled.

Here's the video of it: http://ammsweb.scu.edu/webcasts/126/20110401-173001-Room126/index.htm#. Note: it starts at 1:08:03. It runs about an hour, not counting the Q&A.

The audio of the presentation is also accessible from that webpage but the starting place of the presentation is hard to find for reasons not worth explaining, so I recommend you listen to or download the audio from here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3881916/Marty%20Nemko%204.1.2011.MP3


Anonymous said...

I find it strange you keep having these discussions at Colleges. Especially one as overpriced as Santa Clara University. Seems ironic...

Marty Nemko said...

I consider colleges the perfect place to give such talks. I try to give the students information that would better enable them to decide whether to continue, and if so, how to make the most of the institution. The faculty and adminstrators in attendance, I hope, are shamed into providing at least a bit more value to their students.

ST said...

I listened to the MP3. It took me a while to figure out what "Einstein Down" meant, especially when you raised your voice when you said it (at first, I thought it was some sort of inside meaning to your audience about maybe intelligence "from Einstein down", or something). But, I quickly remembered your dog is named Einstein, and he was obviously there (was he jumping on students? Or you?).

Just a technical thing, the microphones you've used in the two talks I've listened to are very good, but they also pick up the inevitable "cougher" or two sitting in the front row. Goes to show that college students get run down and catch colds a lot, or maybe it's just the fact that you get 50 people in a room and there's going to be a cougher or two (and the probability of two of them having the same birthday is 97%).

Anyhow, good talk. Even an hour and a half and not enough time to get through everything.

I liked the (older? student?) woman at the end. She seemed very intelligent and had some good thoughts. Most college students seem to just sit there and not say much. I don't know if it's a societal thing, because sometimes I see it in business meetings, too. People seem apathetic, bored, hung over? Not that I'm a crowd spokesman, I tend to listen a lot, too, but it seems on a potentially controversial subject, more people would ask questions, challenge it, etc. Were there any professors there?

That's the first time I heard you speak of your "Un-MBA", although, I know you've used the same concepts in other posts. I'll comment on that in that post I saw you made.

Another thing, are you getting any resistance to giving these talks at colleges? Or is it free speech in action?

Marty Nemko said...


They had pizzas on the back table and Einstein was having a hard time resisting!

Yeah, I was dismayed at the lack of intelligence and assertiveness among both the Berkeley and Santa Clara audiences.

Re resistance from universities, there was little reason to reveal their censoring ways. It was merely one presentation to a relatively small audience. It, like so many one-shot talks will quickly be lost in the black hole of lectures past. The censorship is evident in that no college's school of education, to my knowledge, has ever hired even one professor who believes higher education is America's most overrated product--which it is. If I tried to land such a professorship, I'd be met with deafening silence.

Anonymous said...

I've listened to you lots, and have never heard you say much about whether you feel your own higher education was worth it to you, and if it was, how that jibes with your current position.

Anonymous said...

I've listened to you lots, and have never heard you say much about whether you feel your own higher education was worth it to you, and if it was, how that jibes with your current position.

Marty Nemko said...

I have on more than one occasion renounced my PhD. It was a terrible use of my time-even though UC Berkeley paid ME to get my Ph.D. I am unsure whether I would have gone for a B.A., but certainly not my doctorate. So much of it was arcane and utterly useless.

Jeffrie said...

You link to this interesting article on Twitter. What do you think of this idea, which is linked in the article, of giving 20 talented kids $100K to start a company instead of going to college?

It's not a bad idea to me. I've been thinking for a while that since the colleges & universities are catering more & more to the lowest common denominator, maybe it's some of the smart kids who shouldn't go to college.

Marty Nemko said...

Yes, I read it and tweeted it. It's a great idea for the right kid.


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