School was largely an unpleasant experience for me.
I didn't really like about 85% of my professors. And for 5 months each semester, I had to go "learn" in windowless lecture halls, taught by academics -- many of whom used outdated, standard slides that they borrowed from another university.
But at a top 25 university, they were at least good teachers right?
In many cases in life, the more money you pay, the higher quality product you get. This stays pretty true when it comes to computers, TVs, and sushi.
Not in this case.
When you're buying a degree/education/whatever you want to call it, you're not buying "quality of teaching". You're simply buying the sum package of:
- Professor salaries
- Administration salaries
- Sports coach salaries
- Sports team equipment
- Technology and equipment
- Diversity officer salaries
- Gym memberships
- Marketing budget
- Student affairs (concerts, festivals, etc.)
And so on.
Your money could be going in any number of places -- and it's usually not in a higher-quality education. But colleges aren't competing on "quality of education". They're competing on quality of lifestyle.
For that reason, a more effective use of a college's money is buying marketing that can persuade untested 18-year-olds and their disillusioned parents into thinking that their education is of higher quality.
In the same way that THE BEST gym workout won't do you much good if you don't stick with it for more than a month -- a degree program at a top 25 school will not skyrocket your smartness if college is your only source of education.
The best workout routine is the one that you stick with. It's the one you make a habit out of. In a similar way:
Education is about making learning an enjoyable life-long habit.
You can't do that in traditional schooling when the learning process is designed to be chunked in periods and cycles. What does that teach about learning?
That it sucks and that it's something to take a break from.
There are ways for you to achieve higher levels of education; keep reading books and engaging with the world. You don't have to pay a large chunk of change to be smart about a certain subject. The only way to have a low-quality education is to do nothing.
There is no such thing as a high-quality education -- people who believe so are the ones who think learning has an end.