“Never Follow Your Dreams”: Mark Cuban Answers Your Questions

There’s lots of Mark Cuban wisdom in this Freakonomics Q&A. Two examples:

Q. The annual increase in the cost of college tuition seems to be much greater than inflation every year. Even during the recent financial crisis, tuitions were generally going up across the board! Seems like this is a problem waiting to happen. Do you think that we’re going to get a point soon where it won’t be a good investment to go to a private university unless you know that you’re going into a lucrative field (finance, computer science, medicine, economics)? Asked another way: my friend is going to a $40k/year private university to study finance. Is this likely to be a bad investment? –Stocker

A. We are already there. The return on education investment at a school is becoming less about the quality of education and more about the quality of networking available from that university’s alumni base.

If it were up to me, I would look very closely at limiting the size and total amount of student loans that can be federally guaranteed to $5k per year in 2012 dollars. If we limit the amount of money available in loans to students, we would create several improvements in this country:

  1. Universities would become more efficient. They would have to separate education from all the other things that universities pride themselves on.
  2. We would improve the economy and help protect the future of our kids. I think most people who look at these things fail to realize that graduating from college no longer means the entry of a “mature consumer” into the market who will rent an apartment, buy a car, buy clothes for work, etc. Instead, we get indentured servants whose only goal is to try to figure out how to not spend money so they can pay back their student loans!


Q. It seems that there is a mismatch between the skills that employers are looking for today and the skills that are being developed by college and high school graduates in the U.S. This seems like a huge problem to me. Do you see this mismatch yourself? What should (or could) be done about this? -Mickey

A. You will see new types of “trade schools” pop up to meet this demand. Six-, eight-, ten-week courses that are taught not by traditional schools, but by the new generation of trade schools that focus on programming skills, welding skills, whatever skills employers are looking for. But rather than these being accredited by educational institutions, they will be branded with the names of well-known individuals and brands.

So you could see the “Mark Cuban School of Programming” or “The Mark Cuban School of Selling.” They will be designed to give you the specific skills employers are asking for in the shortest period possible.

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