May 21, 2011— -- It's commencement season and this year's crop of new college graduates are left to face the sobering reality of a poor job market, lower salaries and an average debt of $24,000.
In a culture that has historically placed a premium on a college education, many are left to question whether getting a degree is really worth the cost.
James Altucher, an Ivy League graduate who went on to a successful career in finance, is a vocal opponent of college.
"I think it's largely a scam," he said. "There's this myth that if you don't go to college you're not going to get a job, and it's not true."
Jobs aside, a four-year degree comes with plenty of debt -- and salaries aren't matching up. The average salary for recent graduates in 2009 and 2010 was $27,000, down 10 percent from the previous year.
Salaries may be falling, but the cost of getting a degree is rising. In fact, it's outpacing inflation and healthcare. The average cost of a four-year degree is $140,000 -- and climbing.
That's debt Altucher says he doesn't want his daughters saddled with in their adult lives
In fact, he feels so strongly about the college "myth" that he said he won't pay for his children to go to college, and he is discouraging them from attending.
"When they hit 18, they'll have to pick an alternative," he said of his daughters. "No college."
Altucher is not alone. Peter Thiel, the founder of Pay Pal, is willing to put his money where his mouth is.
Thiel is the sponsor of an anti-scholarship. This week Thiel will award 20 recipients $100,000 each to start a business, but the money comes with a caveat -- they must forgo college.