Skip to comments.The Value of a College Education (What is the point if you do nothing with it?)
Posted on 09/08/2012 10:52:10 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
My two older brothers are polar opposites. One is a fiscal conservative with a large house and property; the other squats in our deceased mom's co-op to save on rent. One is a salaried IT executive; the other is a paralegal. One is action-oriented; the other is philosophical and passive -- he prefers to hide from creditors, in fact, and refuses to work overtime to make additional cash.
One is college-educated; one is not. Can you guess which is which?
What is the point of having advanced education if you do nothing with it?
More than twenty million students will be returning to school this fall, presumably so they can start their adult lives with a solid foundation. According to the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center, a majority of these students have chosen to enroll in public schools instead of private. In fact, more and more have chosen public over private each year since 2005. The trend also points to additional enrollment in two-year programs, which makes sense, considering how expensive the four-year endeavor has become.
However, do a simple job search, and in all areas of the country a bachelor's degree is required no matter how menial the job, how low-paying the office position, and how unlikely one is to climb the corporate ladder. I'm always hesitant to apply, even if I could be the perfect match. After all, how do I get past the e-mail filters when I do not possess a degree? Should I mention my high IQ? That I made it into the Jeopardy! contestant pool on my second attempt? How about that I'm a Top 10 Bookworm Player, which makes a cool calling card, being among the nation's best in a sea of thousands of players who compete for petty cash?
(Excerpt) Read more at americanthinker.com ...
Parent should keep their eyes on what their kids are signingup for in college.
If the courses they take do not lead to jobs, what good are those courses?
That book learnin’ is mysterious and scary stuff, huh?
AT some point over the last 40 years, the conception of a college or university education has been muddied. A good education is a valuable thing in and of itself.
If you receive a good liberal arts education, you are better able to understand things in general. You should have “learned how to learn”.
A large part of the underlying problem today is that most programs are not truly a classical liberal arts education.
I could come up with contrary anecdotes, of the Liberal Arts grad from Thomas Aquinas College who went directly into the University of Chicago Math Grad program despite TAC’s lack of higher math in the curriculum compared to larger and more technically oriented colleges. This fellow, John, went on to work at an investment firm and did quite well. The education also made him a better Catholic, husband and father, and therefore a better man. The same would be true if he had gone into the oil fields afterwards. The woman who receives a proper higher education can use her knowledge and formation to be a better wife and mother, even if she never works outside the home.
My own degree is in political science and economics, with some graduate work in law and theology. I nonetheless make my living in IT. I do not regret most of the higher education I received.
There was nothing wrong with Brooke Shields attending Princeton and Jody Foster Yale if those were actually good programs, even though they certainly needed a degree from a prestigious University to earn a living.
Now, is the time and expense worth it for everybody? Of course not.
Some are actually such self-developers that a stack of books, an Internet connection and some smart friends can substitute very well. The great G.K. Chesterton only went to a little art school, but he writes rings around most of his more educated contemporaries, and was selected by Encyclopaedia Brittanica to write theentry for Charles Dickens, without ever having taken a college level course in English literature.
A greater number either lack the ability, character traits, or secondary school preparation to make college a suitable use of time and money. These people could either attend a targeted school (Vo-Ag-Tech), apprentice somewhere, take a position not requiring “higher” education. Women have the additional option to marry and maintain home and family.
The other side of the problem is the quality of the education being offered. In fact, most schools have both good and bad instructors. Most schools have a truly horrific campus and dorm atmosphere (Wolfe’s “I Am Charlotte Simmons” is a super-concentrated, but only lightly exagerrated telling of how bad hat can be.) A good and mature student will make the most of the good, and minimize the damage of the bad. The other problem is the expense, which has to be considered whether the education would make you a better man or not. Every person, usually working with his parents, has to come to a prudent decision that makes sure that he uses his time and money wisely, and for some, that would mean college. The exact effect on carrer choice would not be the only or main consideration in many of these cases.
If one is looking for a job then a degree might be useful. If one is looking to start a business and earn real money in the real world it is probably a hindrance and the time it takes to get one better invested in starting a business and learning by doing.
Also ask - how many guidance counselors advising kids are discounting their lifetime earning potential by the number of years they spend working below their educational level (or living in mom’s basement, not working at all)? And on the other end of the spectrum, showing them the likelihood they will be working til age 70 without the kind of retirement benefits their parents have?
Mike Rowe - the “Dirty Jobs” guy - has really become an advocate for the return to trade and vocational education in addition to college for those that is the right path for. Check out his website - starting with this post:
If you are going for a degree in Psychology, where all you need is to be warm to the touch, you are borrowing yourself into a bottomless hole, as well as getting absolutely zip for your money. The up side is that Republicans will laugh at you...
Time was that a high school diploma was thought to outfit a young man or woman for a prosperous, productive life. You did not go to college to acquire job skills or credentials; that was what trade schools or vocational classes in high school were meant to do.
No, you went to college to learn how to think, to write, to do research, to read the Greats, to pursue the life of the mind. Only a few relatively select intellects went to college and grad school, and that time was not intended to be four years of drinking and fornicating, though of course some used it that way. Those years were meant to furnish the student with the wisdom and beauty of Western Civilization, and equip him or her to impart that knowledge to future generations. It was a way of carrying on our culture.
We made a mistake in treating college/university as a very expensive trade school. In so doing, we have damaged and nearly broken the link from past to present to future in our civilization.
The overwhelming expense of a post-secondary education and the intractable debt this generation has accumulated may have changed that, however. I see more and more bright people going to good local community colleges to get job credentials or to learn what the high schools should have taught them. This movement may lead in time to a severe pruning of our nation’s colleges and universities.
I went to university and grad school, and finished without debt (but that was many years ago). The experience was well worth it for me. Wish I’d gotten my doctorate. But this path is not for everybody.
“Parent should keep their eyes on what their kids are signingup for in college. If the courses they take do not lead to jobs, what good are those courses?”
Agree. Parents, generally, are afraid to use the leverage they still have with their now-adult aged children. The MOMENT junior asks you for a dime to help them in college (or co-sign for a loan, which is suicide, by the way), YOU get to set the terms, all of them - with the alternative being that junior finances his own ‘journey into enlightenment’.
If junior doesn’t like terms and conditions...then junior can save up his money flipping burgers (while living on his own and paying his bills).
It is more than reasonable for anyone giving money (or lending money) to DEMAND accountability. If the kid will not comply, then cut him loose, since he thinks you’re a jerk for asking anyway.
You make a number of good points on a topic of interest to me. There are many examples that would indicate that “college as preparation for work” is a pretty inefficient approach. Not only due to competition from drinking and fornicating ;-) - but just based on the fact that so many graduates end up working in fields other than those they majored in. In essence, we are following the classical liberal arts tradition that you describe well, but are somehow expecting a tradesman to emerge rather than a scholar. It might make sense to return college education to what it was, and supplement it with vocational-oriented degree and non-degree educational options that would be more centered around local community colleges, work-study-apprenticeship type programs, and “distance learning” i.e. online courses for those who wish to pursue advanced study while employed (something that will likely happen several times throughout the graduates working life). I suggest this as a more balanced approach, not to besmirch the role of the traditional university education for those who pursue primarily academic, teaching, or research - or as preparation for professional graduate education.
I just see the need for post-secondary education to undergo a major evolution, from something you do for 4-5 years after high school that prepares you for a “job for life” to a lifetime of education, starting with a vocational-trade education for many, and continuing as they by necessity “re-invent themselves” through their careers.
It won’t matter what you study if obama is in charge. The decimation of the middle class is spreading.
You can be highly technical and wave goodbye as all those jobs go to foreign workers. I think its a huge myth that America has a shortage of highly skilled workers.
I agree. At one time I thought about going back to school for I.T. training, then started to notice how most I.T. jobs were being filled by imported workers on contract from India. I thought again and am atleast glad I didn’t waste my time doing that.
The medieval guild system was in many ways, what the unions should be: master craftsmen imparting their wisdom, techniques, knowledge and skills upon apprentices. Some people critique them as having been a "monopoly" on skilled labor, and yet, they in fact, helped give rise to free markets.
I went into the IT field years back after seeing jobs and opportunities dry up in television production land.
Most of what I used to do with bays of expensive analog and digital videotape machines, edit controllers, and the necessary support equipment is done with with a suitable PC or Mac in one box or laptop.
Don't you suspect, as I do, that Venturer is among the multitudes on FR that believes that college is job training, and nothing more?
As far as I can see, college has become a 4-year baby-sitting service because most 18-year olds today are not yet adult enough to trust with a set of keys. The few that are seem to be in the military.
You may know about this than I do, but as an avid listener of AM talk radio, I’ve noticed certain radio stations in my area seem to run on “autopilot”. There are almost no local personalities that seem to be manning the place at least over the microphone. They are all nationally syndicated shows with pre-recorded advertisements. Very few staff, I presume other than someone to make sure the shows keep rolling with as few technical glitches as possible.
There’s a lot of learning going on in them thar colleges. Women’s studies aka T&A 101. :P
As you say, a liberal arts education was originally intended to make a man (no women at the time) a better man. With exceptions those who attended were from wealthy families, usually the aristocracy, and their income, and for that matter status, for life was assured.
University was intended to pass along the answers (to the extent we’ve found them) to the great question Socrates asked so long ago, “What is the good?”
Well, those who were trained in this tradition committed treason against it, starting in the 19th century and peaking in the late 60s. It’s the “treason of the clerks,” the betrayal of those we trust to lead us to what is good and true, and they’ve rebelled against the notion that the good and true exists or can exist. In fact, you can make a case that their true ideal is to be “anti-good,” as their highest accolade is that a work of art is “transgressive,” which just means it makes normal people, who still want to believe in the god, uncomfortable.
Now there was a tremendous amount of moral and character capital in our society, but it’s being depleted and not replaced.
Just about all the problems in our society spring from this treason.
Jerry Pournelle addressed it very well in an essay from some decades ago.
Pournelle will be hard to replace. I worry every time he pauses posting for a few days.
He left at least one book series dangling, and I guess it will never be finished now.