Bill Gates says a college education is plunging in value and that true "self-motivated" learners are flocking to the web, instead.  (Source: YouTube)
Famous college dropout predicts that college degrees will become less and less useful

Bill Gates founded Microsoft, the world's largest software company, back in 1975 after dropping out of Harvard University.  Gates was critical in propelling his company to its incredibly dominant position in the operating systems industry and to its expansion into other market niches as well.  While semi-retired, Gates remains active at Microsoft and involved a vast variety of charitable efforts.  These days he's even helping to design a nuclear reactor.

For all his success, apparently he's still not a fan of college, though.  Despite receiving an honorary degree from Harvard in 2007, Gates' closing speech [video] at the Techonomy 2010 conference delivered criticism of colleges today.

Gates calls college education "increasingly hard to get" and says that "place-based" traditional college studies will be "five times less important than it is today."

He argues, "The self-motivated learner will be on the web.  And there will be far less place-based [college] things...College -- except for the parties -- needs to be less place based."

Gates said he doesn't predict such broad changes in K-12 education.  He did however single out immersive charter school programs like the Knowledge Is Power Program as best practice examples of how to get kids to learn optimally.  He remarks, "If you want to take intercity fifth grade kids and get them to think 'Hey learning is fun...I do that with other kids.' you need to have at least 80 percent of their waking hours devoted to your thing or otherwise you lose -- and these charter schools do that.

While his vision of the internet replacing a college education seems radical given today's professional atmosphere -- and even Microsoft's own hiring policy -- seems unlikely to come in the near future, it doesn't seem impossible that it could come at some point.  Thus Gates' words may yet prove prophetic -- another bold prediction from a man often ahead of his time.

Then again, Gates did predict the incredibly successful iPad would flop.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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