Top 10 College Articles from 2011

2011 was a big year for articles that intelligently criticized the college-for-all idea; below you’ll find the top 10 must-reads and a little blurb about each. But first, ZTC news!

I’m offering a new “ZTC Camp” program for young adults ages 16-21! It has a different name (“The Asheville Intensive”) but the purpose and activities are highly similar to 2011’s ZTC Camp. Check out The Asheville Intensive over at Unschool Adventures.

November and December didn’t see any new ZTC blog posts because I was busy with two high-energy projects. First was the Unschool Adventures Writing Retreat, a program that brought together 19 teenage unschoolers from across the USA & Canada for a month of intensive, self-paced writing. The group produced an excellent Tumblr blog documenting day-to-day life at the retreat, and I wrote about my experience leading the program.

The other project I’ve been focusing heavily on is the ZTC book manuscript, currently undergoing peer review.

Finally, on the ZTC website we have some new features: a red flag icon for students who are currently seeking MAGE assistance (browse the student directory to see), and photos now included in both the student & MAGE directories.

And now, without further ado…

The Top 10 Must-Read College Articles from 2011

(All articles were previously listed on, the ZTC news page, or our Facebook page.)

 10. Money Lessons for Every High School Graduate

More like: life lessons for every 17-year-old. Zac Bissonnette, the author of Debt-Free U, makes five excellent points: Debt is slavery, College debt takes its toll, Rich friends may be broke, Materialism is misery, and TV makes you feel poor.

 9. Eight Alternatives to College

James Altucher weaves endless wisdom against college orthodoxy. Here he lays out a few concrete suggestions for what to do instead of college, including Start a Business, Travel the World, Create Art, Make People Laugh, Write a Book, Work in a Charity, Master a Game, and Master a Sport.

8. We’re in a Bubble and It’s Not the Internet. It’s Higher Education.

As the founder of the Thiel Fellowship that offers teenagers $100,000 to “stop out of college” and start a business instead, Peter Thiel puts his money where his mouth is.

7. Buying an Education or Buying a Brand?

Seth Godin asks simple questions with razor-sharp insight: “Does a $40,000 a year education that comes with an elite degree deliver ten times the education of a cheaper but no less rigorous self-generated approach assembled from less famous institutions and free or inexpensive resources?

 6. The Dwindling Power of a College Degree

A strong analysis from an economic and historical perspective. “A bachelor’s degree on its own no longer conveys intelligence and capability. To get a good job, you have to have some special skill — charm, by the way, counts — that employers value. But there’s also a pretty good chance that by some point in the next few years, your boss will find that some new technology or some worker overseas can replace you.

5. How Blogging for HuffPost is Like College

Katherine von Jan explains how—college or not—success is all about self-directed learning.

4. Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here?

A long article that’s worth your time. “Education is about finding out what form of work for you is close to being play—work you do so easily that it restores you as you go.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi couldn’t have put it better himself.

3. Will Dropouts Save America?

Michael Ellsberg, author of The Education of Millionaires, argues: “It’s time that we as a nation accepted a basic — and seldom-mentioned — fact. You don’t need a degree (and certainly not an M.B.A.) to start a business and create jobs, nor is it even that helpful, compared with cheaper, faster alternatives.

2. College Has Been Oversold

Why do we subsidize liberal arts degrees equally as much as science, technology, engineering, and math? An economist’s perspective.

1. Lessons From Famous College Dropouts

Squeaking in on December 31st, here’s the last must-read college article of 2011: A great list of accomplished people without college degrees.

Top photo: Flickr / Earlham College



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