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Vocation or Exploration? Pondering the Purpose of College
New York Times ^ | 5/4/2012 | Alina Tugend

Posted on 05/07/2012 6:55:36 AM PDT by Black_Shark

OUR oldest son is finishing up his junior year in high school, and we’re already overwhelmed by what I’ve been calling the college challenge — trying to figure out what college he can get into and what we can afford.

But there’s also a bigger debate raging that hovers over all our concerns. What exactly is a university education for?

Is it, narrowly, to ensure a good job after graduation? That’s how Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, views it. He has made waves by wanting to shift state financing of public colleges to majors that have the best job prospects. Hello science, technology, engineering and math; goodbye psychology and anthropology.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Education
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 05/07/2012 6:55:39 AM PDT by Black_Shark
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To: Black_Shark

The purpose of college?

My word! Color me cynical.

The purpose for the parents is too often Narcissistic self-congratulation.

The purpose for the college is money.

The purpose for the current giverment is control and propaganda.

The purpose for the banks is taxpayer-backed loans.

The purpose for the youths, if any of the current crop are even capable of giving it rational thought, is rarely about knowledge, wisdom, strength and clarity of mental abilities, moral or intellectual maturity. Totally unprepared to think, in general, and immature in the extreme along every front, they are largely incapable of knowing who they are, what they might want that is of true and lasting value, and how to discipline themselves to achieve it.


2 posted on 05/07/2012 7:16:32 AM PDT by dagogo redux (A whiff of primitive spirits in the air, harbingers of an impending descent into the feral.)
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To: Black_Shark

Some people’s pursuit of happiness involves learning, studying and experiencing things and being among people with similar interests—if they can afford this on their own dime or with the support of willing family members, why on Earth shouldn’t they have it? It’s not just PC fluff to say a college education is much, much more than a beeline toward a career—arguably, if that’s all you’re looking for, you might be better off SKIPPING college.


3 posted on 05/07/2012 7:18:17 AM PDT by Méabh
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To: Black_Shark

A practical skill is worth much more today than a college degree. Find a technical school that teaches electronics, welding, computer technology, etc. Let him choose the skill according to his interests. Back him financially until he learns the skill. Then he can earn his own way through college. He will not have a mountain of debt when he gets his degree.

Also, if he decides later to join the military, a certificate from a technical school and an actual work record will give him a definite advantage in job choice, promotions, etc.


4 posted on 05/07/2012 7:19:28 AM PDT by abclily
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To: Black_Shark

This has been a big debate in our household. I have a graduating high school senior.

My husband and I are engineers, and we were hoping he would want to go into engineering. He wants nothing to do with engineering. He’s good at math, but not interested in science.

He wants to go into economics and get a minor in statistics and maybe a minor in accounting.

I think that is good enough for him to get a job after college.

The other interesting things has been figuring out where he’s going to college. We live in California, and he got into multiple UC’s, but after visiting them this year he did not want to go. It looks like we’ll be paying out of state tuition and sending him to my college, Texas A&M.


5 posted on 05/07/2012 7:19:49 AM PDT by luckystarmom
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To: Black_Shark
Major ho, ho, ho.

“The university should be a place for reflection for the young to explore areas of the human experience, to be fully aware of history and the arts,” Professor Delbanco said. “We don’t want to have a population that has technical competence but is not able to think critically about the issues that face us as a society.”

The university used to be a place for men (women didn't go) to learn about the true and the good.

The universities have spent 50 years denying the true and the good exist, and not they are upset because students see college solely as a meal ticket.

Why should students spent years of their lives and incur tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt to learn about something their instructors deny even exists?

6 posted on 05/07/2012 7:20:23 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Sherman Logan

Not = now.

Perils of spellcheck. Sorry.


7 posted on 05/07/2012 7:22:12 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: luckystarmom

8 posted on 05/07/2012 7:22:37 AM PDT by ctdonath2 ($1 meals: http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com/)
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To: luckystarmom

Why not move to Texas and get a job - any job - and, then, after the residency period runs, avoid out-of-state tuition? A & M is a very good choice. Accounting and statistics would be good in the job market. More than a handful of econ courses would be a complete waste.

BTW, petroleum engineers are in VERY high demand. The overall economy is going to tank. Engineers will swim; econ majors will mostly sink.


9 posted on 05/07/2012 7:27:56 AM PDT by achilles2000 ("I'll agree to save the whales as long as we can deport the liberals")
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To: ctdonath2

One of my favorite comics!


10 posted on 05/07/2012 7:31:05 AM PDT by DarkSavant
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To: luckystarmom

Interesting. I had a similar dilemma as your son in that I love math but am uninterested in science.

I am graduating with a B.S. in Economics this Saturday from a major math/engineering school. Here’s my experience: The B.A. is complete crap and a waste of time as it has no math in it. The B.S. is essentially applied mathematics as he will take calculus based macroeconomics/microeconomics, at least 1 year of econometrics, diff eq, 1.5 years of calculus, linear algebra, statistics, etc.

It essentially has the same level of mathematics as required by our College of Engineering. However, it does teach you how to think critically through the formulation of mathematical models, diagnostics, etc.

In regards to the Job Search, it’s rough. I am interviewing for multiple Analyst jobs that are forecasting/econometric based jobs. If he decides to go this route, tell him that he not only needs to learn how to apply the models but also HOW THEY WORK. He needs to understand the theoretical underpinnings for the models or he won’t get past the front door in interviews.

If your son wants to continue on this path, he better really love math or he will burn out in 1-2 years because the first 2 years you are on the engineering track with economics courses instead of physics/chemistry. Same math and stats.

Let me know if you would like anymore info.


11 posted on 05/07/2012 7:35:04 AM PDT by Black_Shark
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To: ctdonath2

Haha, that’s hilarious!

I do know that my old engineering roommates from Freshman year loved to make things that went BOOM! We lived on the 9th floor of our dormitory and we had a trash chute that went to the bottom floor...

Needless to say, police were called multiple times and we even had a toilet blow up thanks to someone who placed an explosive device in it. Who knew mechanical engineers loved to blow crap up?


12 posted on 05/07/2012 7:41:49 AM PDT by Black_Shark
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To: Black_Shark

What’s college for? Depends on the college. What’s education, or more accurately, schooling, for? That’s the important question.

Schooling should help prepare one for life. But this in turn begs the question, What is life for?

The answer is, to know, love and serve God in this life, and to be happy with Him in the next. True education must serve this end.

The means to achieving this end can be very broad, depending upon a child’s gifts. Religion must always be central, whether formally or informally.

The ability to make a living is a legitimate consideration, but should be balanced against whatever calling or gifts the child has.

Serious consideration should be given to the moral atmosphere that the student will exist in, keeping the student’s ultimate end in mind.

I attended a secular engineering college. A positive aspect of an engineering education is that the truth cannot be wished away. Engineering encourages orderly thinking.

Unfortunately, engineering ignores philosophy, so I graduated ignorant of fundamental principles of reason, such as Aristotelean logic and metaphysics.

Objectively, these branches of knowledge are more important that the natural sciences, since the natural sciences assume these principles.

OTOH, it is difficult to find good teaching in these areas, and one can learn logic and metaphysics outside of formal schooling.


13 posted on 05/07/2012 7:42:36 AM PDT by St_Thomas_Aquinas (Viva Christo Rey!)
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To: achilles2000

I would argue with you in that the B.A. econ majors will sink but us B.S. - Economics with strong backgrounds in calculus, diff eq, statistics, mathematical macro/micro will be in strong demand thanks to the field of Data Analysis.

The difference between a B.S. in Econ and a B.S. in engineering is the science that we learn. At my college, we have the same math requirements that engineers have we just take mathematical econ vs. physics/chemistry.


14 posted on 05/07/2012 7:45:25 AM PDT by Black_Shark
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To: St_Thomas_Aquinas

Formal Logic/metaphysics *shudder*

you’re bringing back nightmares.....


15 posted on 05/07/2012 7:46:27 AM PDT by Black_Shark
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To: Black_Shark

These few web pages provide a great synopsis of basic Aristotelean principles in a fairly painless way....

http://www.aquinasonline.com/

Combine this with Peter Kreeft’s “Socratic Logic,” and you can go a very long way. It’s worth more than most college degrees in their entirety.


16 posted on 05/07/2012 7:54:59 AM PDT by St_Thomas_Aquinas (Viva Christo Rey!)
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To: Black_Shark

Both of my daughters went straight from high school to college and neither really knew what they wanted to study. As a result they majored in social life and left school after about 2 years.

My oldest, however, went back when she had matured mentally, 28 yo. She is now a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree. I’m hoping my other daughter will follow her example.

My advice to kids fresh out of high school. Get a job first or join the service. When you are 25 or 26 and a grown up in maturity, then go to college. You really need to lose the social life years before you spend a lot of money going to college for real.


17 posted on 05/07/2012 8:04:41 AM PDT by BuffaloJack (End Obama's War On Freedom.)
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To: Black_Shark

The original purpose of a university education was to graduate a well-read individual capable of critical thought, innovation, and synthesis of need and capacity. Today, however, students are taught just the opposite: there is only one valid way to think and believe and all else is bourgeois stasis.

In light of that, it ill behooves the inquisitive student to attend a PC university. Far better to get a technical degree in something useful, then devote one’s life to reading, studying, and taking whatever university courses interest you, taking pains to point out the hypocrisiy of professors who stifle free discussion under the rubric of “tolerance” and “diversity”.

Colleges have worked very hard over the last decades at making themselves irrelevant.


18 posted on 05/07/2012 8:05:02 AM PDT by IronJack (=)
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To: achilles2000

We’ve thought a lot about moving, but my husband has recently diagnosed with cancer (hopefully cancer free since surgery) and my 15 year old twin daughters have medical issues. One of them has a brain injury and the other has recently been diagnosed with a movement disorder like Parkinson’s called dystonia.

I can’t handle moving at this time.

My son is going to try to establish residency.

I wish I could convince him to go into petroleum engineering. My dad was and one of my brothers is in the oil & gas industry.


19 posted on 05/07/2012 8:06:01 AM PDT by luckystarmom
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To: achilles2000

We’ve thought a lot about moving, but my husband has recently diagnosed with cancer (hopefully cancer free since surgery) and my 15 year old twin daughters have medical issues. One of them has a brain injury and the other has recently been diagnosed with a movement disorder like Parkinson’s called dystonia.

I can’t handle moving at this time.

My son is going to try to establish residency.

I wish I could convince him to go into petroleum engineering. My dad was and one of my brothers is in the oil & gas industry.


20 posted on 05/07/2012 8:06:22 AM PDT by luckystarmom
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To: Black_Shark

"There's a time and a place for everything and it's called 'college'."

21 posted on 05/07/2012 8:06:35 AM PDT by dfwgator (Don't wake up in a roadside ditch. Get rid of Romney.)
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To: BuffaloJack

I had a somewhat similar experience except that instead of dropping out of college after 2 years, I had to claw myself out of the GPA hole I had dug for myself. After 2 years of essentially straight A’s, I’m graduating with honors.

The first 2 years of college were fun but I was very immature and only cared about 2 things: 1) Women, 2) Parties.

Talk about coming back to bite me in the butt.


22 posted on 05/07/2012 8:07:40 AM PDT by Black_Shark
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To: Black_Shark

He is definitely going with a BS. He likes A&M because the econ program is strong on math.

He loves the math but is not into science.

He says that econ is a practical application of math.

He wants to eventually get a masters.


23 posted on 05/07/2012 8:08:44 AM PDT by luckystarmom
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To: luckystarmom

“He says that econ is a practical application of math.”

That’s modern econ in a nutshell. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I’m modeling human behavior using math. For some darn reason, humans don’t act the way my model says they should! I must be missing some magic explanatory variable...

;)


24 posted on 05/07/2012 8:12:33 AM PDT by Black_Shark
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To: BuffaloJack

My son has been thinking about taking a gap year and starting college next year instead of this year.

I have mixed opinions on this.

On the one hand, it will give him time to grow up. He’ll also be able to stay home with us for another year.

On the other hand, it’s been a really difficult year for him, and I think starting fresh in college out of California will be good for him. He is so tired of crazy liberal Californians.


25 posted on 05/07/2012 8:14:14 AM PDT by luckystarmom
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To: luckystarmom

Around here, the purpose of college is to sell maroon and gold football jerseys with number 22 on them for $75.


26 posted on 05/07/2012 8:46:15 AM PDT by massgopguy (I owe everything to George Bailey)
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To: Black_Shark
A wise man told me that a college degree won't keep you from getting screwed but at least you'll know why. Sooner or later in corporate America lack of a degree will keep you from moving up and you'll wind up working for someone who doesn't know as much about the job as you do, assuming you learned the job from the bottom up. I went to college straight from high school and couldn't really relate to anything in the real world. I started at the bottom and worked my way up in an experience heavy industry, picking up a masters along the way. Now I don't work as hard but get paid a lot more. The question is what do you want to do the rest of your life, because changing careers can be very costly. Who knows at 18? “I'm 18 and I don't know what I want” Alice Cooper. Has you son worked any during summers? What are his interests? What's the rush going to college? Gotta keep up with the Jones or is this about a long term decision that might take a while to explore. Good Luck to your son, and remember it's his decision.
27 posted on 05/07/2012 8:58:53 AM PDT by dblshot (Insanity: electing the same people over and over and expecting different results.)
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To: St_Thomas_Aquinas

“What is life for? The answer is, to know, love and serve God in this life”

But how is this to be accomplished?

By following His commandments, the first of which is: “Be fruitful and multiply...”

Which brings us back to the question of what’s college for.


28 posted on 05/07/2012 9:14:02 AM PDT by ngat
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To: ngat

-—Which brings us back to the question of what’s college for.——

Yup. And binge drinking.


29 posted on 05/07/2012 9:44:51 AM PDT by St_Thomas_Aquinas (Viva Christo Rey!)
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To: luckystarmom

Why doesn’t he want to go to one of the UCs that admitted him?

They’re tough to get into, and he’s over that hurdle. Every single one of them — not just Berkeley — offers a first-class education for not a lot of money, compared to private colleges like USC.

He can start at one campus; if he doesn’t like it after a year, it’s relatively easy to transfer to another, if he keeps his grades up.


30 posted on 05/07/2012 11:24:55 AM PDT by Blue Ink
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To: Black_Shark

Notice that I said “mostly”, and I’ll stand by it. “Forecasting” and much of what “economists” currently claim to do will be in low demand when the economy implodes.


31 posted on 05/07/2012 11:41:55 AM PDT by achilles2000 ("I'll agree to save the whales as long as we can deport the liberals")
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To: Blue Ink

When he visited the UC campuses they were having protests and selling condoms and had hipsters, hippies, and other types of kids. The housing is also very, very expensive.

At A&M, it was calm and peaceful and the kids were just in T-shirts and shorts. He also liked that there were lots of Ron Paul signs and no Obama signs around campus. The off-campus housing in College Station is absolutely wonderful. Lots of college friendly apartments with pools, work-out rooms, recreation rooms that are cheap compared to California.

He’s tired of being in California. He wants a break.


32 posted on 05/07/2012 1:43:00 PM PDT by luckystarmom
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To: Black_Shark
Surprised no one's linked this yet:

Source @ http://xkcd.com/1052/ Every Major's Terrible!
33 posted on 05/07/2012 3:27:20 PM PDT by jaydee770
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To: abclily

A practical skill is worth much more today than a college degree. Find a technical school that teaches electronics, welding, computer technology, etc. Let him choose the skill according to his interests. Back him financially until he learns the skill. Then he can earn his own way through college. He will not have a mountain of debt when he gets his degree.

Also, if he decides later to join the military, a certificate from a technical school and an actual work record will give him a definite advantage in job choice, promotions, etc.
*****************************
Exactly! My gr-son graduated last year from HS. HE chose to attend a technical school and get his certs in welding, instead of attending college, where he had some invites because of great computer graphics work for several years in HS. ....He loves the welding courses and is acing them. He’ll have a marketable trade skill when he finishes and can take certain college courses later if he wants.


34 posted on 05/07/2012 4:53:23 PM PDT by octex
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