Reading James Altucher's "I Was Blind But Now I See", he made a controversial point: don't send kids into college. Before you throw stuffs, his point is sophisticated. You would think you could refute him by saying "What about profession such as lawyer and doctor?" But then Altucher counters that to be a professional, you just need to read the right book and ask the right question to the right people. It is difficult to refute : say if you want to learn programming, taking a university course and getting credits don't really help that much. Working on an open source project or an internship does. On speech recognition, classes may be useful but at the end of the day, reading papers, or generally talking with experts in the field is the real help.
So what is the meaning of University then? Though I have many friends who have graduate degrees and I have a master myself, I do appreciate Altucher's point. Because what he said highlight some of my doubt about the college education system. e.g. Is a person really smarter after 5 years of college education? Do they learn better? Does it worth the $50000 debt? When I look at many of my friends, for most of the time, the answer is no. The truth is for many who want to learn, they will seek out college education after they have some experience. They actively seek for knowledge they lack of. On the other hand, when I look at many of my PhD friends, they either have no motivation to learn nor their duty gives them no time to learn. It is a pity.
I believe learning is a life-long issue and it should be independent to any institutions.