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For Most People, College Is a Waste of Time
Wall Street Journal ^ | 13 August 2008 | charles Murray

Posted on 08/13/2008 6:42:34 AM PDT by shrinkermd

Imagine that America had no system of post-secondary education, and you were a member of a task force assigned to create one from scratch. One of your colleagues submits this proposal:

First, we will set up a single goal to represent educational success, which will take four years to achieve no matter what is being taught. We will attach an economic reward to it that seldom has anything to do with what has been learned. We will urge large numbers of people who do not possess adequate ability to try to achieve the goal, wait until they have spent a lot of time and money, and then deny it to them. We will stigmatize everyone who doesn't meet the goal. We will call the goal a "BA."

You would conclude that your colleague was cruel, not to say insane. But that's the system we have in place.

Finding a better way should be easy. The BA acquired its current inflated status by accident. Advanced skills for people with brains really did get more valuable over the course of the 20th century, but the acquisition of those skills got conflated with the existing system of colleges, which had evolved the BA for completely different purposes.

Outside a handful of majors -- engineering and some of the sciences -- a bachelor's degree tells an employer nothing except that the applicant has a certain amount of intellectual ability and perseverance. Even a degree in a vocational major like business administration can mean anything from a solid base of knowledge to four years of barely remembered gut courses

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: academia; charlesmurray; college; education; highereducation; worthwhile
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"...The merits of a CPA-like certification exam apply to any college major for which the BA is now used as a job qualification. To name just some of them: criminal justice, social work, public administration and the many separate majors under the headings of business, computer science and education. Such majors accounted for almost two-thirds of the bachelor's degrees conferred in 2005. For that matter, certification tests can be used for purely academic disciplines. Why not present graduate schools with certifications in microbiology or economics -- and who cares if the applicants passed the exam after studying in the local public library?

Mr. Murray is the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. This essay is adapted from his forthcoming book, "Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality" (Crown Forum). He was the co-author of the Bell Curve


1 posted on 08/13/2008 6:44:01 AM PDT by shrinkermd
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To: shrinkermd

College is for drinking, partying and football...........And sleeping thru classes..........


2 posted on 08/13/2008 6:46:43 AM PDT by Red Badger (All that carbon in all that oil and coal was once in the atmosphere. We're just putting it back.....)
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To: Red Badger

Getting fing Laid!


3 posted on 08/13/2008 6:48:03 AM PDT by SShultz460 (If peace is the answer; it must be a stupid question.)
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To: shrinkermd

Especially as degreed tech industry jobs are offshored to India and the software product is smuggled tax free into the country via computer networks.


4 posted on 08/13/2008 6:50:06 AM PDT by weegee (Hi there.)
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To: Red Badger

"Seven years of college down the drain!! Might as well join the f***ing Peace Corps!!"

5 posted on 08/13/2008 6:50:10 AM PDT by Cincinatus (Omnia relinquit servare Rempublicam)
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To: shrinkermd

College serves one very useful purpose.

It teaches kids who have grown beyond the socialist public schools system (where there are no repercussions for anything except political incorrectness), the habits which they will need to hold and keep jobs.

Waking up each morning ready to go, whether you feel like it or not - because of the wild fraternity/sorority bash the night before. Passing tests. Paying attention. Doing stuff you don’t really want to.

Those skills are pretty darn important in the real world.

College profs, are training for a boss.

You like some. You don’t like some. But you have to deal with that.

College classes are like work duties.

You like some. You don’t like some.

You deal with that too.


6 posted on 08/13/2008 6:54:41 AM PDT by Cringing Negativism Network (CHEVY VOLT COUNTDOWN: V minus 100 Weeks. Waiting...)
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To: shrinkermd

a bachelor’s degree tells an employer nothing except that the applicant has a certain amount of intellectual ability and perseverance.

That covers it pretty well. The BA keeps me sitting in an office drawing a fair salary and beats the heck out of blue collar. Never have done anything even remotely related with my PolySci.


7 posted on 08/13/2008 6:55:05 AM PDT by zek157
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To: shrinkermd

“...and who cares if the applicants passed the exam after studying in the local public library?”

Dead ass, abysmally non-productive college professors living on the taxpayer nickel for one.


8 posted on 08/13/2008 6:56:06 AM PDT by EyeGuy
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To: shrinkermd
"He was the co-author of the Bell Curve"

Well ! We all know that curve thingy is sheer fiction!

Ol'Slick knew/spoke the truth--- Everyone that wants it should get a college education..../sarc

9 posted on 08/13/2008 6:56:08 AM PDT by litehaus (A memory tooooo long)
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To: Red Badger

College MANDATED classes not related to your major or useful are stupid. College should be 2 years long...not 4. It’s all about money.


10 posted on 08/13/2008 6:57:23 AM PDT by Sacajaweau (I'm planting corn...Have to feed my car...)
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To: Cringing Negativism Network
It teaches kids who have grown beyond the socialist public schools system (where there are no repercussions for anything except political incorrectness), the habits which they will need to hold and keep jobs.

They should join the military instead and learn to love their country.

11 posted on 08/13/2008 6:58:15 AM PDT by Doohickey (Wingnut: A small, dense object that spins easily (See: Obama, Barack))
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To: zek157
perseverance

Mediocraty's way to success.....Who said dat? Ambrose Bierce? Mark Twain?

12 posted on 08/13/2008 6:58:19 AM PDT by litehaus (A memory tooooo long)
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To: Cincinatus

Fat, Dumb and Stupid is no way to go through life.


13 posted on 08/13/2008 6:58:40 AM PDT by Always Right (Obama: more arrogant than Bill Clinton, more naive than Jimmy Carter, and more liberal than LBJ.)
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To: shrinkermd

This is a tough one to respond to in a paragraph or so. Where we lived, the college had to admit any resident which applied for admission. The responded to the problems which this requirement (which allowed functionally illiterate persons to be admitted) by adding prerequisite requirements for classes. After all, how can one do algebra if one can’t read the problem? So the college, after a while, became the place where the defects of the county school system were remedied. But the unintended consequence was that the lever of intelligence of the average student nosedived. So after a while the standards for the college classes were effectively lowered. And so it goes. However, now anyone that wants to go to college can (and remain there for as long as they want).


14 posted on 08/13/2008 6:59:01 AM PDT by Citizen Tom Paine (Swift as the wind; Calmly majestic as a forest; Steady as the mountains.)
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To: shrinkermd

I think College has a purpose. The educational value is somewhat moot as my BBA taught me zilch about my current job but what is important is that you can muster the finances and the tenacity to actually get through it. If you can’t pass those rather low levels of achievement, unless you’re purely manual labor, you’re probably not a going to be a good employee.

As for physical trades like machinists, carpenters, plumbers, welders etc...you can learn more on the job in a few months than you’ll ever learn at a school. Again though, you have to have some ability and tenacity to not get booted.


15 posted on 08/13/2008 7:01:40 AM PDT by Malsua
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To: Sacajaweau

It’s all about money.............and always has been. The required classes are there for the money collected from the students so the college can pay the salaries of the tenured profs and high paid admin staff............


16 posted on 08/13/2008 7:01:52 AM PDT by Red Badger (All that carbon in all that oil and coal was once in the atmosphere. We're just putting it back.....)
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To: Doohickey

“They should join the military instead and learn to love their country.”

I know lots of non-vets who love the U.S. I’m one.


17 posted on 08/13/2008 7:03:05 AM PDT by gracesdad
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To: Doohickey

:)

Or that.

(somewhat embarrassed to admit being a civilian)


18 posted on 08/13/2008 7:03:22 AM PDT by Cringing Negativism Network (CHEVY VOLT COUNTDOWN: V minus 100 Weeks. Waiting...)
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To: Always Right
Fat, DumbDrunk and Stupid is no way to go through life son.

I think that's the actual quote :).

19 posted on 08/13/2008 7:03:37 AM PDT by Malsua
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To: shrinkermd
a bachelor's degree tells an employer nothing except that the applicant has a certain amount of intellectual ability and perseverance.

It also indicates that the applicant can read and write, which a high school diploma no longer does. If the employer wants someone who can think and write well--that's another story.

20 posted on 08/13/2008 7:03:50 AM PDT by DeFault User
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To: shrinkermd

A good first step towards solving the problem would be a federal law that:

1) Makes colleges ineligible for any direct or through-student federal financial aid, if they require “progress towards a degree” for access to and/or registration priority for courses. As it stands now, at most schools it’s virtually impossible to get into serious physical science or engineering courses, and many math courses, as an unmatriculated student, or as a matriculated student who hasn’t completed the decreed number of distribution requirements in other areas (including crap like “social justice” and “peace studies” and “gender studies” requirements).

2) Makes it illegal to require a degree for any type federal employment. Specific professional certifications, specific coursework, specific subject-area exams, fine. But not degrees.

And of course, states would do well to pass similar laws.

The requirements for degrees are determined by political, not academic, processes. And many of the requirements exist solely to appease noisy protest groups, and to create jobs for “underrepresented” minorities and women, who would not qualify for jobs teaching serious subjects. The scheme is to both appease political pressure groups and comply with EEOC mandates by creating worthless course requirements, forcing students to pay for them by denying degrees and serious course registration to those who don’t take the worthless courses, and using the money students (often using taxpayer money) were forced to pay in tuition to pay the salaries of the professors teaching the worthless courses. These courses and professors then form the foundation of the well-documented sharp leftward tilt in academia, that is way out of synch with the larger society that is being forced to pay for it all.


21 posted on 08/13/2008 7:04:52 AM PDT by GovernmentShrinker
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To: Malsua
I think that's the actual quote :).

You are correct. Mine would have been redundant.

22 posted on 08/13/2008 7:05:41 AM PDT by Always Right (Obama: more arrogant than Bill Clinton, more naive than Jimmy Carter, and more liberal than LBJ.)
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To: shrinkermd

Learning how to tap a keg, open a bottle without an opener (and hitting a target with the cap). Useless? Au contraire!


23 posted on 08/13/2008 7:05:51 AM PDT by P.O.E. (Thank God for every morning.)
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To: Cringing Negativism Network
Haha, maybe in the tech fields (and even then, I'm starting to question that)...and I'm saying that as a recent graduate!
24 posted on 08/13/2008 7:06:21 AM PDT by Andonius_99 (There are two sides to every issue. One is right, the other is wrong; but the middle is always evil.)
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To: shrinkermd

Most people who go to college will tell you that they go because they want to be a ___________.

Except for medicine, college has nothing to do with learning a skill. You attend college to get an EDUCATION. You are exposed to history, ideas, spin , brainwashing, indoctrination and propaganda.
If you want JOB TRAINING, you need to get a job. YOU - the guy who only has a HS diploma - will then end up TRAINING the new guy. The one who just graduated from college. The one who will be your boss and is already getting paid more than you.
Don’t get me started...


25 posted on 08/13/2008 7:06:36 AM PDT by Paisan
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To: Doohickey

“They should join the military instead and learn to love their country.”

Amen to that.

I am just shy of my BA in Business. I worked on it intermittently during my Army years. Some of it was paid for by you nice Taxpayers; some of it I paid for myself.

Long story short...when I retired from the Army, I was only 37; employers were knockin’ down my door to hire me, even without finishing my degree.

Since then, I’ve handled the accounts for two, two million-dollar plus businesses, and have run my own side-businesses for nearly a decade now. My husband is also self-employed. We raised three kids.

We’ve never missed a meal or a house payment, so I guess I really learned all I needed to know in the Army, LOL!


26 posted on 08/13/2008 7:06:45 AM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: Always Right

I resent that remark. I didn’t finish college, but have raised my children, and helped start a company that was sold to a larger corporation, and kept the books of the family business. I am now retired, but might just start something new if I want. All without a college degree. I just think the dumb lazy people are the ones who go to college.


27 posted on 08/13/2008 7:08:28 AM PDT by KYGrandma (The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home)
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To: Citizen Tom Paine

College is as good a way as any to mire young people in major debt so they eventually have to get jobs and be good employees in order to pay off their student loans. Otherwise they would be laying around the parks scaring the squirrels and aggravating the gang members.


28 posted on 08/13/2008 7:09:46 AM PDT by mathurine
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To: shrinkermd

29 posted on 08/13/2008 7:09:56 AM PDT by AxelPaulsenJr (Republicans and Conservatives staying home will give us President Hussein Obama.)
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To: KYGrandma
I just think the dumb lazy people are the ones who go to college.

Dumb, lazy people are the ones that, without thinking, make comments like yours.

30 posted on 08/13/2008 7:11:24 AM PDT by ColdWater
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To: shrinkermd

I can’t think of a single job/career that can’t be mastered with some ‘study at home’ and a spell as an intern.


31 posted on 08/13/2008 7:12:16 AM PDT by moehoward
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To: shrinkermd; newgeezer

College serves Corporate America as a very important tool for measuring a person. If a person is willing to throw away 50-75 thousand dollars and 4 years of their life to get a degree that person will be willing to do almost anything to keep a “professional” position within a company. This means that Corporate America knows that said people will work tons of OT and will salute and Amen any new initiative the company dreams up. Like...diversity...or Lean electronics. Said person can often be counted on to put their career above their personal life.


32 posted on 08/13/2008 7:12:27 AM PDT by DungeonMaster (My son just joined the Navy!!!!!!!!!)
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To: shrinkermd
Ping for later.
33 posted on 08/13/2008 7:12:57 AM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: shrinkermd
Certification tests will not get rid of the problems associated with differences in intellectual ability: People with high intellectual ability will still have an edge.

Well, it is going to be that way in the Workplace and Business, anyway, so people are just going to have to deal with it sooner or later.

Sorry, but everyone is not "The Same".

Cash flows from the stupid to the less stupid. Period.

PROOFS: Global WarmingClimate Change.

Hope and Change.

Many Hi-Tech IPO's

Etc.

34 posted on 08/13/2008 7:14:27 AM PDT by Gorzaloon
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To: Cringing Negativism Network
College serves one very useful purpose

Well said. Your points are the exact ones I have taught my children.

Its not about the education. It is about the perseverance.

35 posted on 08/13/2008 7:14:40 AM PDT by laotzu
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To: Cincinatus

Good one. From the movie “PCU” ...”my third sophomore year.”


36 posted on 08/13/2008 7:14:40 AM PDT by xc1427 (It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees...Midnight Oil (Power and the Passion))
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To: Cringing Negativism Network
It teaches kids . . . the habits which they will need to hold and keep jobs. Waking up each morning ready to go, whether you feel like it or not . . . Passing tests. Paying attention. Doing stuff you don’t really want to.

This may the case at some colleges, but not most. At the college I graduated from -- ranked in US News' top 15 national liberal arts colleges -- class attendance is completely optional, and many students attend less than half the class sessions of any given course. One friend of mine actually managed to pass a course she needed to graduate without attending a single class or turning in a single assignment -- just took and barely passed the final exam.

I swear I am not making this up: She left a few notes in the professor's mailbox throughout the semester, apologizing for not attending, citing illness, family problems, yadda yadda, and never heard from the professor in response. A week before the final, she discovered she'd been leaving notes for the wrong professor, tracked down the right one, made up some more excuses, and was allowed to take the final. She later got an MBA from what at the time a was decidedly third rate business school, but which has since improved significantly (way beyond her capacity to get in, much less get through), but the BA from a highly ranked undergraduate institution and MBA from a now respected B-school sit on her resume, making her eligible for jobs she certainly shouldn't be eligible for.

37 posted on 08/13/2008 7:14:43 AM PDT by GovernmentShrinker
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To: Cringing Negativism Network
College serves one very useful purpose. It teaches kids who have grown beyond the socialist public schools system (where there are no repercussions for anything except political incorrectness), the habits which they will need to hold and keep jobs.

OK, but does it have to take four years and cost $125,000? I can't believe that the particular set of job skills you cite couldn't be imparted more quickly and cheaply, and with less political indoctrination.

Now, if people actually want to go and get a true education--to read the classics, to understand art, science, literature, a foreign culture, and history, to write and think--that does take time and is worth quite a lot of money. But not many college kids are actually getting much of an education these days.

Speaking here as the mother of a young woman who is trying to get an education.

38 posted on 08/13/2008 7:14:51 AM PDT by ottbmare
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To: KYGrandma
I resent that remark.

It was a line from Animal House (although slightly misquoted). It was not meant to offend anyone.

39 posted on 08/13/2008 7:14:59 AM PDT by Always Right (Obama: more arrogant than Bill Clinton, more naive than Jimmy Carter, and more liberal than LBJ.)
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To: KYGrandma

>>Fat, Dumb and Stupid is no way to go through life.<<

It’s a quote from a movie called “Animal House” where the students, stayed in College for years and years, partying and making problems. It’s not a slur against those who did not attend.

My hubby did one semester, dropped out and joined the Marines where he taught young recruits about computers. College is overrated. I spent my 20,000 to get a degree and got no where. Took a medical assisting course when I was downsized from my company and got the best job of my life!


40 posted on 08/13/2008 7:15:08 AM PDT by netmilsmom (The Party of Darkness prefers to have the lights out. - Go Fierce 50!!!)
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To: Paisan

I agree with you 100 percent. Some where along the way, a college education got confused with vocational training. Now, a bachelor’s degree is largely worthless and a master’s is a baseline requirement for advancement. Soon, the Ph.D. will be standard issue for employment in most white collar fields.


41 posted on 08/13/2008 7:16:19 AM PDT by Oratam
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To: Citizen Tom Paine
This is a tough one to respond to in a paragraph or so.

Oh, it's not so difficult.

Dumbing down.

See?

42 posted on 08/13/2008 7:17:15 AM PDT by GOP_Proud
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To: shrinkermd
"- a bachelor's degree tells an employer nothing except that the applicant has a certain amount of intellectual ability and perseverance."

If a bachelor degree tells an employer nothing then it would not tell them that they have "a certain amount of intellectual ability and perseverance." Perhaps a better sentence would be: "...a bachelor's degree tells an employer ONLY that the applicant has a certain amount of intellectual ability and perseverance."

College degrees increase the number of doors of opportunity that you can knock on. But you must take responsibility for knocking on those extra doors of opportunity.

43 posted on 08/13/2008 7:20:46 AM PDT by avacado
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

I’ve never been to college. That’s not something I’m necessarily proud of, but neither am I ashamed. My lack of sheepskin does disqualify me from any decent government job, and that’s not a bad thing. But, I can say that I’ve never been turned down for a job and I’ve never been unemployed.


44 posted on 08/13/2008 7:21:25 AM PDT by Doohickey (Wingnut: A small, dense object that spins easily (See: Obama, Barack))
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To: SShultz460; Red Badger

Now your talking! (It also includes basketball games, go KU!)


45 posted on 08/13/2008 7:23:22 AM PDT by KC_Conspirator
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To: shrinkermd
In the mid 60’s,high school grads had three choices. One, they could go to college. Two, they could go into the service. Or three, they could get a job in the unskilled labor market. All three served the same purpose, to take the child and teach them how to communicate with adults. College imparted little knowledge, but if the student was adept, they would learn where and how to find answerers to questions. Hense the rise of the myth that a college degree was the ticket to wealth. Sadly todays’ colleges and universities serve only for academics to perpetuate their own species.
46 posted on 08/13/2008 7:23:47 AM PDT by Big Mack (I didn't claw my way to the top of the food chain TO EAT VEGETABLES!)
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To: laotzu

“Its not about the education. It is about the perseverance.”

One might select a college and cirriculum where it’s about the education AND the perseverance.

Anyway, college is not trade school. I never thought it was. I think there is value in general education.


47 posted on 08/13/2008 7:23:54 AM PDT by swain_forkbeard (Rationality may not be sufficient, but it is necessary.)
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To: Cringing Negativism Network
Why not just take an hourly job and learn all the things you think are great while getting paid minimum wage instead of paying 10 to 30 thousand dollars a year to learn the same skills. The only thing they would miss that is included in your description of college benefits is how to get drunk and do drugs.

You make a great argument for closing down colleges and the Mexican border and having young people take the jobs illegal immigrants are now doing.

The only really important people to encourage are those that create the new technologies that change our lives. People like Thomas Edison who did the light bulb, phonograph, movie projector and lots of other stuff. People like Henry Ford who developed the assembly line. How about Orvile and Wilber Wright who did the airplane or Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates who did the PC computer and PC software.

What do these people who really changed our world and created huge industries have in common? None of them have anything other than honorary college degrees. Colleges don't teach courses in how to do what has never been done. And that is the one group of peope we need. People who can figure out how to do what has never been done.

That takes rebels who reject the college plan to produce well rounded students taught to do things the professors way.

The USA has no trouble producing rebels. It is nations like China and India that have trouble producing rebels.

Making Windows VISTA much worse than Windows XP is something those programmers from India do very well.

Bill Gates could not get hired at Microsoft.. he does not have a degree. And those that could create a fantastic new version of Windows can't get hired by Microsoft either.

48 posted on 08/13/2008 7:24:58 AM PDT by Common Tator
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To: Sacajaweau
College MANDATED classes not related to your major or useful are stupid.

I really disagree. When I was an econ major, I couldn't understand why I had to take four semesters of English courses, which included everything from composition to literature. The same was true for a course called "The Arts" (a study of art, architecture, sculpture, etc. from Roman times to the present) and "World Civilization". Now, I have an appreciation for things I never dreamed would matter 40 years ago. Several trips to Europe were significantly enhanced because of "The Arts", although I didn't appreciate it one bit while going through it. I've written a number of textbooks; a task made significantly easier because of those stupid English courses.

Certification is fine from the employer's point of view in terms of assessing technical competency. However, technical schools catch on quickly and "teach the exam" far too often. The result is a narrowly-defined education that often makes it difficult for them to think "outside the box". Which is better for an employer: someone who knows programming techniques independent of the language, or one who scores well on a programming language test? It depends. If you want that programmer on staff in the long run, they need to be able to adapt to changes in technology ( e.g., languages, op systems, etc.) If you are only hiring for the short run (e.g., a one year contract), the certification route might be best.

This author's one-size-fits-all for certification is too simple to meet the goals of all employers.

49 posted on 08/13/2008 7:25:54 AM PDT by econjack (Some people are as dumb as soup.)
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To: ottbmare; Cringing Negativism Network
"OK, but does it have to take four years and cost $125,000? I can't believe that the particular set of job skills you cite couldn't be imparted more quickly and cheaply, and with less political indoctrination."

$125,000? Yipes!

I graduated with a BSc Computer Science in the late 1990s. It cost me $1500-$2000 per semester including books. Total cost for 4 years about $12,000-$16,000 dollars. I went to UofH main campus in Houston, TX.

50 posted on 08/13/2008 7:27:47 AM PDT by avacado
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