4.0 K-State student drops out, says college is a scam

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Billy Willson, freshman in architectural engineering, announced Saturday on Facebook that he was dropping out after one semester at Kansas State, calling it a scam. (Photo courtesy of Billy Willson)

A 4.0 grade point average was not enough to keep Billy Willson, freshman in architectural engineering, at Kansas State.

On Dec. 17, the first Saturday after finals week, Willson posted on Facebook that he had dropped out of college after finishing his first semester at K-State with a 4.0 GPA.

“It’s one of the best choices I’ve ever made,” Willson wrote in his post. “Not because I am adverse to learning, but actually the exact opposite.”

Willson said in an email interview he has always had big goals to become an entrepreneur, and after college he planned on working for an engineering firm before starting his own.

He said there was no exact moment where he realized college was no longer for him.

“It was more of a choice I increasingly considered over the last three months,” Willson said. “It probably first began when I started questioning how old I would be when my engineering firm would actually become profitable. I estimated I would be at least 35 before then. That was one of the large factors in my decision, the amount of time it would take me to achieve my goals.”

“Many things happened at the same time that affected my decision, one of the other huge ones was finding videos on YouTube that literally teach you step by step to build an online business with little money,” Willson continued. “If there was any platform that swayed my decision, it was definitely YouTube. To see so many entrepreneurs with dreams like my own, achieve them at ages of 20, 22, 24 was really inspiring for me. Many of them also had extremely valid points of reasons not to go to college as well, especially if you want to become an entrepreneur.”

The number one reason he decided to drop out, however, was because Willson said he was learning much more outside of school than he was in the classroom.

“I honestly have learned more in the past six months on my own than I have my entire school career,” Willson said. “That may seem like an exaggeration, but it truly is not. I’ve been able to learn an immense amount through entrepreneurial videos, podcasts, meeting entrepreneurs, reading, and especially through actively creating my own business. By far the best way I’ve learned is actively creating my business.”

Willson’s business is RaveWave, which specializes in accessories and clothing related to electronic dance music, raves, festivals and concerts.

Willson said time is his most valuable asset and is the only thing we have a limited amount of. Because of this, he said his biggest regret was the time he spent in class and on homework, as he can never get that time back.

Is college a scam?

Willson continued to write in his post that college students are being scammed and not learning about what will actually benefit them after earning a college degree.

Colleges are REQUIRING people to spend money taking general education courses to learn about the quadratic formula (and other shit they will never use) when they could be giving classes on MARRIAGE and HOW TO DO YOUR TAXES,” Willson wrote.

In an email interview, Willson said he was not aware that K-State offers classes such as family life and marriage. Despite that, Willson said he feels the K-State 8 general education plan needs to be removed.

“If you want general education courses still, then those marriage and tax courses would fit very nicely in their places as new required courses that will be much more beneficial for students,” Willson said. “To have students learning more history after 12 years of history in primary and secondary education makes absolutely no sense to me. And having students being forced to pay for a class like college algebra when they are in a major which will never use high-level math, is a complete waste of their money and time in my opinion.”

As of 1 p.m. today, Willson’s post had received over 14,000 likes, 7,000 shares and 4,000 comments from people both in agreement and disagreement.

I purposely made the post controversial because I knew it would help it spread so much farther,” Willson said. “I honestly would have liked to make it more professional, but unfortunately professional criticism doesn’t spread as well. My goal with getting it to go viral is to reach out to those students who feel like they don’t have a choice, and to encourage those in similar situations as me to reach their goals and feel comforted in the fact they have someone to relate to.”

In a clarification tweet on Twitter at 10:35 p.m. on Dec. 18, Willson wrote to make it clear that he does not have anything against K-State specifically, but the college system as a whole.

“There certainly are exception situations where college can be an amazing opportunity for a person, but I so feel this is overrated for a majority,” Willson wrote in the tweet. “I apologize for the vulgarity of my post, but I knew I couldn’t spread my message as strong without it. In the end, I just want each of you to follow your dreams and do whatever is best for YOU.”

The other side

An “audible eye roll” was the initial reaction of Sam Edwards, senior in mass communications, when he first saw screenshots of Willson’s post on Twitter and that led Edwards to write his own post in response to Willson.

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Sam Edwards, senior in mass communications, and other fans react to a play during the K-State against Texas Tech football game in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Oct. 8, 2016. (Anna Spexarth | The Collegian)
“One thing I take seriously are the lyrics of the alma mater, ‘a spot I love full well,”’ Edwards said. “K-State has really given me the opportunity to grow and find myself and give me a safe space to do so. So my initial reaction of seeing him flipping off Higinbotham Gate, which is one of my favorite landmarks on campus, was just kind of a disappointment.”

As a mass communications student, Edwards said he values the First Amendment right Willson is allowed to use, but that it was done out of disrespect and in an unprofessional matter that could have been avoided.

“He has every right to say what he wants to say and every right to do what he wants to do, but it’s just kind of a shame he had to do so in such a big way,” Edwards said. “He clearly does not have the same passions and respect for K-State that a lot of people do and that’s totally his right, but for someone who walks through the gates, it’s just really disappointing. Love your First Amendment right. It’s your right to do so. Burn all the flags, flip off all the buildings, but think before you post.”

It is not just a love of the limestone buildings and purple pride that make Edwards proud to be earning a degree from K-State, but what his degree will stand for when he walks across the commencement stage.

“My degree to me means I will have spent four years honing my passions,” Edwards said. “It means I’ve worked hard and grown as a person. Through my degree, I’ve learned that helping people is ultimately what will make me go to bed happy at night. Through my degree, I’ve learned attention to detail means the world. And through my degree, I also learned that no matter what you can make a positive outcome out of a bad situation.”

“So my degree means a lot,” Edwards continued. “It just means I put in the time, I put in the effort, and at the end of the day I learned a lot more than what any of my classes originally set out to teach me.”

Finding value in every class

In response to what Willson said in his original post, Edwards said he has seen merit out of every class he has taken, and for that reason, college is not a scam.

“I refuse to believe classes are pointless,” Edwards said. “There’s such a wide variety of classes you can take. So if you don’t want to take psychology, don’t. There are so many classes that fill each requirement. Even I took Kansas geography and now I know where small towns are in Kansas and that there is life outside of eastern Kansas. I can talk all about limestone, I licked a rock in one of my classes. So I’m not going to discredit any of the classes I took and say it won’t ever be useful in the future. I think that is such a narrow-minded view and pessimistic.”

Even licking a rock, Edwards said in his Facebook post, has merit.

“I licked a freaking rock,” Edwards wrote. “Licked it. Full tongue on sediment action. You know why I don’t think it’s useless? Because the real world is full of unpredictables. I might have a client someday who is in the oil business. You know what I would be thankful for? THAT FREAKING CLASS THAT I HAD TO LICK A FREAKING ROCK IN.”

In Edward’s Facebook post, he continued to respond to the lack of knowledge Willson said he received in areas such as marriage or taxes.

“You know what classes I took,” Edwards wrote. “CLASSES ABOUT FREAKING MARRIAGE (Heyyyy Kelly Welch [assistant professor in family studies and human services], how you doing?) You know what other classes I took? Golf, Wine Tasting, like 7.5 American Ethnic Studies classes … Maybe someday I will have a rough patch in my marriage, who know who I will think of? DR. WELCH TELLING ME HOTEL SEX IS THE BEST KIND OF SEX.”

“Maybe someday I will be asked to go golfing at some really pompous golf club,” Edwards continued. “AND YOU KNOW WHO IS GONNA BE IN SOME REALLY CUTE K-STATE PURPLE GOLF PANTS, USING THE RIGHT CLUB, AND BEING ABLE TO IDENTIFY THAT I AM CURRENTLY DRINKING A DRY WHITE WITH HINTS OF BAKED APPLE AND CHERRY? ME.”

Edwards said it may have been petty for him to make such a post, but he will do what it takes to defend a well-rounded college education.

Edwards’ post had received over 700 likes, 200 shares and 50 comments as of 1 p.m. today.

“I’m petty,” Edwards said. “I’m one petty kid. But I was just really frustrated to be honest. I’m a very protective person to the things I’m loyal to and I was just peeved. I think the reason why I wanted to post it besides to just be petty and sarcastic was to show people there is another side to the story and there are a lot of K-State students that probably felt a bit attacked if they are anything like me.”

While Edwards was unsure of the response his post would get, he said he hoped it would show prospective college students that there is another side to Willson’s story and there are students who do love their college education.

“I understand college isn’t for everyone, but if you do find a way to get there, make the most of it,” Edwards said. “I think (Willson has) a very fiscal way to look at the world. College, you can grow a lot or not grow at all; it’s the bed you make. It’s all up to you. I chose to make the most out of my four years and grow and push myself out of my comfort zone and really grow as a person and help the community around me grow as well.”

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Kaitlyn Alanis
Hi, I'm Kaitlyn Alanis, former news editor for the Collegian and a May 2017 graduate in agricultural communications and journalism. I have never tried a hamburger and I hate the taste of coffee, but I love writing stories and sharing what I learn with our readers. By writing for the Collegian, I can now not only sing along when the K-State Band plays "The Band is Hot," but I also know that most agriculture students did not grow up on a farm, how to use an AED to save someone's life and why there is a bust of MLK Jr. outside of Ahearn Field House. Thanks for reading!
  • Boris Dedoff Cresta

    The best place to learn on your own is precisely a college environment.

    • CombatMissionary

      Having a college degree, I can say with confidence that most of college IS completely worthless.

      • Jim Ashcraft

        If you truly believe that, then you have no idea what you went to college for.

  • Liquor

    Business? You’re a tshirt vendor.

    • Eduardo Alvarez

      So is Daymond John 😉

    • CombatMissionary

      So is The Gap. How much money are they making? If it’s legal and ethical, and you’re getting paid to do it, it’s respectable work.

    • disqus654e9725qwe

      I’ll add:
      College? It’s K State. Zuck and Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard (after four years at elite boarding schools). Billy boy has accomplished nothing except getting into a state school that accepts everyone with a pulse and doing well in easy freshman courses.

  • I’ve been searching and have yet to find a youtube architecture engineering business.

    • CombatMissionary

      That’s not the important question. The question is, why waste a decade and a half of your life and the cost of A HOUSE to pursue someone else’s definition of success when you can join the military, go to trade school, get an online certification, etc., and have a career with little to no debt to begin with? Who’s richer? The plumber who is earning $70k and has no debt five years into his career, or the doctor who earns $110k but has $300k in student loans and is ten years older than the plumber?

      ROI is the question here. Outside of STEM degrees, universities have pathetically low ROI when compared to programming boot camps, the military, and trades.

      • No argument with the college costs argument.

        But this kid was in a STEM program. One that has a very lucrative career for its graduates. I know a few KSU architecture engineering guys. Smart smart fellas living very comfortably.

        • CombatMissionary

          Yup. STEM is where it’s at, but I’m looking at a career change in the next few years, though, and I found Professor Messer online, and found that with self-study and passing certifications that cost less than $2k, I can now get a $60k-100k job doing computer forensics and network security. While someday I may go for a Bachelor’s in IT or Data Science, it certainly won’t be today. Programs like this are making it darn hard to financially justify a four-year degree. Colleges better get ready to compete with free education. The ONLY justification for a university education these days is for a highly specialized STEM degree.

          The worst is that, according to the research I’ve done, by the time you get a computer science degree, programmers are four years behind the industry. Why do college when you can go to a programming boot camp, learn a current skill over the course of a couple of months, and be ready to make $60k right now? The college bubble is popping.

      • BigWin

        You are asking the wrong questions. Is the plumber happy? Is the doctor happy?

        College costs are certainly out of control. Why not join the military and have Uncle Sam pay for your STEM degree? 8^o Experience + Debt-free degree = Winning (in my subjective opinion for myself)

        • James Stevens

          Is the corporate drone happy? I’m seeing a lot of 40-50 somethings ditching office life to go do something with their hands.

          • Satoshi

            Maybe. If they are not, they should do something else. Just because you don’t like an office job doesn’t make office jobs bad. Not everyone is like you (thank God)

    • Zavier

      Perhaps you should try searching for some reading comprehension videos. He’s not going into engineering nor did he ever claim you could learn engineering from YouTube.

  • Billy – This is something they won’t teach you in college but should be obvious advice.

    QUIT CALLING YOURSELF BILLY. Nobody respects a child’s name. Change it to William or Bill or Will.

    I used the ALL CAPS to keep in the spirit of this article.

    • Damn. Just noticed your last name is Willson. WILLY WILLSON IT IS.

      • jayhawk88

        HE’S A VERY UNDERRATED CENTER FIELDER, HISTORICALLY!

  • Reggie Roby

    Billy-

    I understand your disappointment in KSU not having Elizabeth Holmes 110 for you, but keep searching the curriculum. You can at least survey Pewdiepie 110 before dropping out when you realize that he canceled Pewdiepie 210 as a prank.

  • Rich Whyrick

    Clearly he could have chosen a much less inflammatory way to express his feelings (and yes, I know it was his hope to create controversy). Regardless of whether leaving college was the right thing to do, this picture will follow him around for the rest of his career, and flipping the bird at such an iconic landmark with that stupid, smug look on his face could very well overshadow all he hopes to accomplish. Not the brightest move for someone with such big dreams. But, like so many young people he seems to already have all the answers, so we’ll see where he ends up.

    • CombatMissionary

      He owns his own business, so it’s doubtful he’s going to have any real problems because of it. And even if he goes out of business, he could be making $100k in a couple of years if he takes online courses in computer programming, and most potential employers would probably laugh at the photo if they even look beyond the questions, “Can you code? Can you show up on time and be productive?” Much of college IS a scam.

  • TheFuture

    It would be awesome if the Collegian followed up with this guy in 5 years. I’m not suggesting he will succeed or fail; either way it would be interesting. Success and failure are subjective. Will he regret his decision in 5 years? Will he have achieved his personal goals for 5 years out?

  • Reality

    First of all, thanks for continuing to destroy the millennial reputation with your entitled, everything-should-be-easy, get-me-rich-fast mentality. How can you possibly think that you are going to be able to live off selling t-shirts? Reality check. Also, how are you going to be able to sell T-shirts when you’re site isn’t working? Man, that’s a lesson you could have learned in one of your computing classes. Or perhaps that your publicity and marketing efforts are useless when the day you have the most buzz your site isn’t working. This could be learned over at the J school, which I will say, I am a Mass Comm grad. Also I’m successful. Also, I’ve worked harder than most my age. Also, I own a home and a car and am debt free. My parents saved their whole lives so I could go to college and not have to worry about loans after I graduate. Also, I’m under 30. Also, I GRADUATED college with a 4.0. Also, I had three unpaid internships. I barely made enough to pay the bills when I started out. #StartedFromTheBottom or whatever it is you kids say.

    Second of all, if you are going to quit school with your 4.0 (oooooh wow, a 4.0 after ONE semester – what a joke), because you have to “wait until you’re 35 to own your own engineering company”, you have some seriously delusional thoughts of reality (again). My dad is a K-state engineer grad who finally has become part owner of his firm after twenty years at his company (not to mention he has held several other engineering jobs at various companies for the other 10 years he has been out of school). I am genuinely scared for you when the real world slaps you on the face with a strong backhand. I’m also embarrassed for your parents who obviously have not taught you how to work for anything in your entire life or you are blatantly trying to “rebel” from their traditional mindset.

    Third, you have completely just destroyed your reputation. When you fall hard and fast with this little business of yours, you are going to need a real, big kid job and guess what? Something called Google exists and even my grandma can dig up dirt on you (flipping off a well respected university who has a very well-connected alumni group). This is not only showing how lazy you are, but how disrespectful you are to those who do work for a college degree. You know how many underprivileged kids would kill to have the opportunity you have?

    The only positive thing I can say positive is that you have guts.

    I may be harsh, but the real world is harsher. You’ll learn this lesson the hard way.

    • Alex White

      “My parents saved their whole lives so I could go to college and not have to worry about loans after I graduate.”

      Your point of view became redundant after having it handed to you, you have no idea where he is coming from. Congratulations on being successful though, if only everyone had parents like yours to prop you up with a headstart.

  • Mitzi Geer Cardona

    You get so much more from a college education than “Just a degree”, and without one, you can barely get a job anymore.

    if you want a career, you’ll need a formal education. Even entrepreneurs use CPAs, lawyers, engineers, doctors, etc.

    You don’t have to go to a four year college to earn a degree or certificate. Higher learning can come from trade schools, 2 year community college programs, internships, etc.

    Having a degree proves that you can set a goal, and commit to finishing it.

    You make valuable career and personal connections while pursuing your degree.

    Degrees are very expensive, but when you factor in lifetime earnings, you’ll see that they pay for themselves over time.

    Degree plans are developed so that you learn about more than just your chosen field. From age 5 until you graduate (from whatever program you chose) your course work is built to make you a well rounded individual. Believe me, no matter how talented you are in science or math, it won’t matter if you can’t write a formal paper, make a public presentation, manage people of different personalities, or speak to an educated person on their level (like in a job interview). Anyone that tells you that they don’t use algebra everyday is lying. It is an integral part of everyday living that they are too near sighted to notice. I started out in Microbiology. I got a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy, and a Master in Healthcare Administration. I utilize what I learned in English, History, Public Speaking, Psychology, Finance, and other classes every day.

    Finally, not to be prejudice against young adults, because I know a lot of very intelligent ones, but I’d be very careful basing my life decisions on the advice of a 19 or 20 year old. I mean how does someone who has spent a total of 13.5 years in school and 6 months in the world (not counting Birth-5) give you accurate advice about getting “real world experience” outside of school?

  • MichiganAndy

    You know what is a scam? Getting a free ride to college on scholarships and grants that could have gone to someone who understands that well rounded knowledge serves society far more than someone focused only one what benefits them in the short term. Willy is a small thinker as demonstrated on his notion universities should offer classes on marriage, taxes, over fundamental math. That is some messed up and immature thinking. So for Willy to not be a scammer himself, he should pay back the benefactors who awarded him the scholarship money he just threw down the drain.

    • Poppy

      The funny thing is, K-State DOES offer classes on marriage and taxes. They’re well taught by some great professors and are actually really interesting. Plus they count as electives, so no money wasted.

  • Kstate-Dad

    A Dad perspective here:

    I am willing to spend the same amount of $$ to send my son to k-state, as I spent on my house. The house that I designed myself (thanks k-state drafting classes) and also built myself. (thanks in part to the additional education I got from my K-state Engineer Dad…)

    Yes, 3000sq.ft on 5 acres has a similar cost to a degree these days, and I still think it’s worth it.

    There is a concept in sports of “playing to where the ball is going to be.” You can prepare and position yourself with a college degree for success so that you are in the right place at the right time with the right skills, OR you can chase around after the ball, and never quite get there.

    College is about opportunity and preparation. K-state offers it, but this kid doesn’t realize you have to step up and take it and make it your own. My son sees the parking lots that were overfull at the beginning of semeseter, now with space available. Those empty spaces represent kids just like this…

  • Class of 1975

    Less than 60% of college graduates find a job in their field of study! To the journalism students, I say, “Good luck with that.” I personally know many journalism grads who start out at $20k–how do you repay student loans with that income?
    Also, student loans are no longer dischargeable in bankruptcy thanks to the law signed by Bill Clinton. They will haunt you all your life and deduct payments from your social security benefits in old age!
    I have a degree from KState, and I have had success through decades of hard work. If I had it to do over, I would forget college and go to a trade school for something practical. Like the F*** College guy I would have a business of my own in a few short years, instead of a possibly useless degree and a huge student loan debt to go with it.
    There are many of you in school right now with older siblings who followed the path you are on. Do you know any of them living with your parents in their basement, working at a job that does not require a degree, trying to repay all those student loans? Honestly, did their degree pay off?
    A degree works for some, in some fields. But forget those degrees with “studies” in the name. Those make decent wall paper for an outhouse. Likewise, sociology or psychology degrees. You will need a masters degree in psychology to land a $30k a year job. And a social worker does not make much, either–but you are still expected to repay all those loans. Even teachers do much better than that, for they can work summer jobs to augment what many decry as substandard pay.
    The student loan program has caused the cost of tuition to rise much faster than the rate of inflation. Cost is going up and value is going down. A lower ROI (return on investment) every year.
    Your mileage can and will vary.

    • Poppy

      My brother earned a bachelor’s in psychology and went on to pursue a master’s in school psychology. Extra investment, sure, but he’s going to be making good money in his position.

      It’s not so much the degree anymore as it is what you do with it. You can’t just sit in class, graduate, and hope for a job at the end. You have to put some effort in. Network. Get a job or an internship. Take advantage of career services and all else that K-State has to offer as part of your tuition.

      Honestly, the best part of my K-State experience wasn’t really the degree…it was my student job that gave me extensive experience/contacts, the mentor I obtained through their mentorship program, as well as the help I obtained through counseling services that FINALLY allowed me to treat my anxiety/depression. I’m much, much better off today than I was a year ago.

      I didn’t love the high tuition but I do NOT regret attending K-State.

  • Rob Ramcharan

    Don’t you need a degree in architecture to get a license as an architect in Kansas? If so, the joke may be on him.

  • Daniel Thompson

    If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, don’t go to college. All the greats are dropouts, and self-taught. There are no billionaire college professors teaching business classes.

    If you are going to be an engineer, or a doctor, or a nurse, etc., you need the degree. But ALWAYS read (and watch youtube) outside the curriculum. There is a lot of outstanding information on the web these days, and colleges need to compete. They are pandering to the lowest common denominator, and rolling over for Marxists who politicize and distort every subject. They want bums in seats, and dollars rolling in, and will preferentially hire less qualified students and instructors for the sake of a divisive, anti-American, Marxist “diversity” fixation that has recently let the mask slip on it’s genocidal anti-white agenda.* University boards and administrators will stop this, or we – Americans who value freedom, free markets and hiring/admission on the basis of merit rather than race – will stop it FOR them.

    *According to the UN definition, attempting to make a specific racial group of people a minority is a form of genocide. I would add that it is an obvious precursor to the form of genocide we are historically most familiar with.

  • Christopher Mooney

    People should only go to University to experience life, and to broaden your mind. It’s very important for that.

    But no, it’s very unlikely the classes you go to, and the degree you obtain will help you in the workplace unless you’re studying something very specilised (ie. medicine or engineering)

  • Christopher Mooney

    As someone with 15 years working in publishing, and a degree, I’d like to chip in. I read about this subject online.

    Make no mistake, your degree with give you a huge advantage in the work place – but it’s not for the reasons you think.

    College graduates tend to have much superior levels of self confidence, and critical thinking skills than none graduates. They are much more willing to question decisions, suggest their own ideas, and generally engage in decision making.

    None graduates do get these skills as well, but it often takes them years to gain this level of confidence, and these specific skills. Which puts them behind graduates on their career path.

    So, forget what subject you are studying – Billy is essentially correct in saying that it probably won’t help you in your job – but also remember that the real reason colleges exist is to give young people 3 year crash courses in critical thinking, personal development, and personal self confidence.

    So that when you start a job after graduation, you will be several years ahead of your none-graduate colleagues and rivals in these key (and I mean, they’re critical) corporate skills.

    Billy fails to see the bigger picture, I’m afraid. And he will have to spend the next decade of his life competing against graduates who have much superior personal development and confidence than he does.

  • Christopher Mooney

    Ironically, if Billy had stuck to his studies, he would have probably developed the social skills to realize why colleges actually exist.

    Not to teach people about ancient history, or English literature, but to open minds, and to develop minds.

    Yes, being able to quote Pride and Prejudice won’t technically help you in the corporate world – but the critical thinking skills, organizational skills, and study habits you developed from reading it, sure will

  • Robert Horwath

    If his actions become a movement, and more students drop out, then degree inflation will become less an issue and help those of us who have degrees! Go Wilson!

  • Lymon Lemon

    It’s interesting looking at most of the comments and oppositions here. Everyone has been programmed all their life to think they “need” college when in fact, this young man is very correct. It is a scam, a system designed for failure and a closed thought process (indoctrination) but yet capitalizing on the loanee in who fact are being sent into a jobless world in which once they find a so called job, will take half their lifetime to earn back that debt before coming out ahead in life. By that time they will have had life pass them by, where the majority will be miserable and will be too complacent to be disruptive. You see people, college is in fact a scam. 20 years ago, I dropped out of my first year and never looked back, and have never regretted my decision, ever. I’m moving forward at every opportunity in my business and making great respectable connections and opportunities along the way. I’m thinking outside the box, not stuck in the box. Those who oppose that college is a scam are those who have been taken advantage of by the system, have a degree that they’ve been in debt with for the majority of their life and let their pride of keeping an open mind, get in the way.