Debating the value of a college education

There's a debate over higher education and rising cost: More people seem to be saying it's too expensive and that many institutions are increasingly out of touch.

Sam Tarantino, who dropped out of college and started his own company, Grooveshark, and New York Times economics reporter Catherine Rampell stopped by "The Early Show" Wednesday to talk about the issue.

"You're saying college isn't worth it. Drop out and you can be successful like me," "The Early Show's" Erica Hill remarked.

"I'm not advocate for dropping out," Tarantino said. "Dropping out is the risky path and the entrepreneurial path. A lot people aren't necessarily as risk tolerant as me."

"Let's clarify. There's been a couple of high profile people recently that said, 'Listen, this may be the right course.' You're saying it's not necessarily the right course for everyone, but it was for you," "The Early Show's Jeff Glor" said.

"Yeah. I mean, at the time we were kind of head-first into the construction of the company and at that point it was more apparent to me that the focus on the people's money I had raised and I couldn't let that go. So for me it made sense. But I think the real issue here is a miscalibration between what schools are actually teaching and what is required by what, at least tech companies are hiring. And the only perspective I have is high-tech industries," Tarantino explained.

"You are looking at high tech. You weren't getting what you needed. When it comes to college in general, though, is there enough specific education to help people go out there and get a job, particularly as you look at the unemployment rate notably for people just coming out of college," Hill asked.

"Yeah, but if you look at the unemployment rate for college graduates versus people whose highest degree is a high school diploma, it's still much, much lower. The unemployment rate for college graduates is a little over 4%. It's over twice that for people who only have a high school diploma. So even though the economy is lousy and everybody is feeling like they don't have as many opportunities as they would like, people who have that higher educational attainment are better off. It's not true everyone will get a guaranteed job. I would say Sam is probably the exception rather than the rule. But, for the most part, having that item on your resume and going through that process does protect people," Rampell said.

"By the way, the unemployment rate for those who don't each have a high school diploma is around 15%, even higher than that," Glor pointed out. "Catherine, you have a blog on the Times website a few months now. You also talk about some of the degrees [that] are the most beneficial, the ones you're most likely to -- not surprisingly, some of the more specific degrees. Engineering. "

"It's a lot more technical -- stem, science technology, math...health. Those types of more scientific, quantitative, technical degrees are likely to land people more jobs," Rampell said.

"When you are looking at potential employees, how important is the studies that they have done, whether in some sort of vocational program or even a more directed course in higher education?" Hill asked Tarantino

"See, for us, the actual piece of paper, the degree to us sort of means nothing because at the end of the day, you can always teach skills and we have a whole 'Grooveshark University' initiative we built to actually train people on the relevant skills that are necessary within what we need. So one of the things that we see here is there's a lack of, in general, again, and I can only speak for high tech, is there a lack there is a lack of what is being taught. In the Florida world, there is a lack of relevant skills... things that are actually used in Silicon Valley, and now in the Silicon Alley up here (New York City), that are just not being taught. So for us, the degree is less important because you can teach skills. You can't teach traits and traits that we look for, that we hire to are motivation, people that are willing to learn, people that are willing to better themselves and that is an area that I think people get too caught up in, at least in my generation, they get too caught up in the piece of paper and that is not what people are looking for," he explained.

"I think a lot of employers use the piece of paper as a signal," Rampell said. "An unmotivated person is unlikely to have dropped out of high school or dropped out of college, right?"

"There is a certain sort of standard now that's been set by if you go to college, yes, of course, this is sort of separating you from everybody else. Remember, a lot of colleges are really, are mostly about partying and in a general sense. Now, again, it's sort of generalizes because there's a lot of schools...there are a lot of people not in college to learn relevant skill sets. It's sort of a four-year break that is funded by your parents," Tarantino said."

"I wouldn't blame that entirely on the schools, though. I think the students can figure out 'How is my time well spent to invest for my career,'" Rampell said.

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