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What students know that experts don't: School is all about signaling, not skill-building
NY Times ^ | February 11, 2018 | Bryan Caplan

Posted on 02/13/2018 5:50:03 AM PST by C19fan

Parents, teachers, politicians and researchers tirelessly warn today's youths about the unforgiving job market that awaits them. If they want to succeed in tomorrow's economy, they can't just coast through school. They have to soak up precious knowledge like a sponge. But even as adulthood approaches, students rarely heed this advice. Most treat high school and college like a game, not an opportunity to build lifelong skills.

Is it possible that students are on to something? There is a massive gap between school and work, between learning and earning. While the labor market rewards good grades and fancy degrees, most of the subjects schools require simply aren't relevant on the job. Literacy and numeracy are vital, but few of us use history, poetry, higher mathematics or foreign languages after graduation. The main reason firms reward education is because it certifies (or "signals") brains, work ethic and conformity.

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


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: college
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One learns the same stuff at any competent school. Getting that Ivy League degree is just a signal of passing the admission process filter.
1 posted on 02/13/2018 5:50:03 AM PST by C19fan
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The whole fetish of employers requiring college degrees for jobs that do not require them was started because employers using IQ tests were banned due to claims about discrimination.


2 posted on 02/13/2018 5:52:07 AM PST by C19fan
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To: C19fan

After seeing our government’s lack of performance, one could deduce that an Ivy League diploma should cost only half what is being charged.


3 posted on 02/13/2018 5:56:14 AM PST by txrefugee
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To: C19fan

Getting an Ivy League education is a totsl waste of money. It is simply paying out the ass to have your child join the ranks of Ivy League educated idiots and elitist snobs.


4 posted on 02/13/2018 5:59:23 AM PST by GOPe Means Bend Over Spell Run (GO GALT - Support Trump)
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To: C19fan
I've been involved in the interviewing and selection process at my current job for over a decade. Honestly, the name of the school doesn't mean very much if anything. I'm sure that would horrify the people running the big schools that command the crazy-high tuitions paid today.

I'm in a very technical field. Candidates from some no-where college get just as much consideration as those from a "big name" school. Usually the school only merits a passing comment between myself and the other reviewers - as in "oh, UCLA, I used to have a ..." or "never heard of that place, I googled it to make sure it was real, did you know it is in ..."

What we care about is how well a candidate does in the interview. If they can demonstrate a basic level of knowledge, show a grasp of concepts that are important to us, and demonstrate a personality that will fit in on the team - that's what matters. We've hired people from no-name colleges that have excelled. We've interviewed and rejected people from big-name schools that couldn't demonstrate even passing familiarity with the fundamentals. Often making us wonder - just how did you graduate?

5 posted on 02/13/2018 6:02:23 AM PST by ThunderSleeps (Doing my part to help make America great again!)
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To: GOPe Means Bend Over Spell Run

Getting an Ivy League education is a totsl waste of money. It is simply paying out the ass to have your child join the ranks of Ivy League educated idiots and elitist snobs.


Really? Out of all the high price schools I would venture to say the ivy’s are the only ones worth the money. Take Boston, BU, Northeastern and Boston College all cost as much as Harvard. None of those schools can guarantee the success of a Harvard degree. Not even close. Nothing against those schools, they just don’t open doors like the ivy league but they cost the same.


6 posted on 02/13/2018 6:05:33 AM PST by outpostinmass2
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To: outpostinmass2

You just made a very nice argument for the value of networking. But your argument says nothing about educational quality. The Ivy’s are a laughing stock everywhere else in the country in that regard. They are coasting on a reputation that hasn’t been true for decades.


7 posted on 02/13/2018 6:10:11 AM PST by DesertRhino (Dog is man's best friend, and moslems hate dogs. Add that up. ....)
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To: ThunderSleeps

I have been explaining this to my kids for a few years now. In many fields, employers don’t care where you graduated from, they just want to know how much you know and what you can do for them. Accumulating job skills is what it’s all about. As an engineer, I think I was asked one time, for my first job, what school I went to. After that, the transcript was never mentioned. We shoved all the papers aside and discussed what I knew, what pertinent experience I had had and how well I could fit the job description. I always asked plenty of my own questions because I like to interview a prospective employer before I decide to sell them my time. Both parties must be satisfied that it will be a fit before entering into an agreement.

I tell my kids to ignore a huge percentage of what guidance counselors are telling them. They are driving them toward those big name colleges which are crazy competitive without necessarily providing any better education. In fact, my experience has been the opposite. I tried both UT and UT San Antonio and found the more humble UTSA to be far better at teaching.


8 posted on 02/13/2018 6:36:07 AM PST by mom of young patriots
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To: DesertRhino

The Ivy’s have always coasted on reputation. Full disclosure my older brother graduated from Harvard on a full scholarship, so I have a little inside information. Like it or not an ivy degree is a ticket punch to a prosperous future. You can literately coast through four years of college and multiple firms will be lining up to offer you six figures. Work hard and put in the effort and no grad school will turn you down. Laugh all you want but the graduates are having the last laugh. I will say this though, it does seem that Harvard has gone full affirmative action in the last few years, to the point that working class ethnics like by brother are entirely extinct on Harvard Yard. Now all you have are entitled prep. school students or entitled politically correct minorities. No one in the crowd working hard and pushing up the grade curve. So maybe you’ll get your wish. A failed ivy league graduate is entirely to blame on the person, for the school gave them all the world.


9 posted on 02/13/2018 6:38:47 AM PST by outpostinmass2
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To: C19fan

“...most of the subjects schools require simply aren’t relevant on the job. Literacy and numeracy are vital, but few of us use history, poetry, higher mathematics or foreign languages after graduation.”

A good education isn’t just about being able to work. To be a good citizen, a person must know history. Poetry and other literary analyses are good for dissecting propaganda, higher mathematics teach logic and persistence, the sciences not only show how things work, but also how things fit together, and foreign languages introduce the idea of different peoples’ cultures and thought patterns as well as being handy on occasion.

These things are just as important as knowing first aid (when was the last time you put a tourniquet on someone or gave CPR?), how to swim, how to change a tire, how to cook and sew, and how to use tools and weapons.

The problem I see with education now is the emphasis on a “world view” of psychology, sociology and progressivism, what ever that means, and a de-emphasis on acquiring facts and skills, which are easily taken up by children.


10 posted on 02/13/2018 6:42:36 AM PST by VanShuyten ("...that all the donkeys were dead. I know nothing as to the fate of the less valuable animals.")
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To: DesertRhino; outpostinmass2

I went to a “near Ivy” - Georgetown University in DC. I also took summer courses at Rutgers (the state university in NJ, where I was from, which was NOT a competitive university back then) to get rid of some of the basic course requirements at GU, so that I could fit the courses that I really wanted to take into my schedule (there was no AP then, else I’d have knocked off a half dozen or more classes that way). I can tell you that back then there was little or no difference in the quality of education, or the difficulty of the tests, or the rigor of the grading.

I have found, through extensive discussions with friends and family over the ensuing years, that this condition STILL exists. So the question arises: why wouldn’t one take the core requirements at a local community college, or at least a cheaper state university, and then transfer into a name university (maybe even an Ivy) starting in your Junior year? The difference in education would be about nil, your diploma would be from the name university, and you (and/or your parents) would have likely saved several tens of thousands of dollars.

Networking is very important, that’s for sure. But there is also something to be said for networking in your immediate area if you plan to stay in the vicinity, rather than going to a prestigious school and starting essentially from scratch 500 or 1,000 or 3,000 miles from home and all of the contacts that you and your family have made over the course of decades.


11 posted on 02/13/2018 6:44:13 AM PST by Ancesthntr ("The right to buy weapons is the right to be free." A. E. van Vogt)
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To: Ancesthntr

My post only applies to the ivy’s. No other school will give you the contacts and network that they provide. I don’t know anyone who transferred to Harvard. In fact flunking out of Harvard is nearly impossible so I don’t think any seats even open up. It seems quaint now but when my brother went to Harvard it was only 8 stops away on the subway. My mother thought it was ridiculous that they made him live on campus.


12 posted on 02/13/2018 6:50:52 AM PST by outpostinmass2
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To: C19fan

Students in high school are not their to soak up “precious knowledge” they are there to learn self-discipline and how to learn. Then the can proceed to get an education when they enter a college, university learn a skill. Then they could get a job or adopt a profession.

However, that was back in the olden days when schools actually educated students. Now they are just preparatory institutions for nasty radicals and nascent Democrat and hardcore socialist voters. Now they are ready to take up the dole and beg for free stuff from their parents basements, while playing computer games and chatting on social media. Working is old school


13 posted on 02/13/2018 6:56:29 AM PST by PIF (They came for me and mine ... now it is your turn ...)
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To: VanShuyten; C19fan

I remember what my geometry teacher said in high school when I TOLD him that I was never going to use of care if an sine= opposite/hypotenuse or if I knew that the tangent = opposite/ adjacent angles etc...

He and I had also argued about iambic pentameter and the rules of a haiku.

He was an old West Point graduate and career artillery officer that was also our English teacher. He was literally a warrior poet.

He allowed me to say my piece and then said, “Son, I know that. We’re not teaching what to think but HOW to think. Being able to construct a proof, know structure and prose are the building blocks for being able to THINK and reason like an educated man...... Now sit down, finish your work and shut up.”

I loved him.


14 posted on 02/13/2018 7:35:03 AM PST by Dick Vomer (2 Timothy 4:7 deo duce ferro comitante)
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To: Dick Vomer

sorry for the bad grammar in my previous post... autocorrect is killing me.


15 posted on 02/13/2018 7:37:13 AM PST by Dick Vomer (2 Timothy 4:7 deo duce ferro comitante)
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To: C19fan

I hope they still teach signaling in driver’s ed. It helps other motorists to know your intentions.


16 posted on 02/13/2018 7:38:18 AM PST by Lisbon1940 (No full-term Governors (at the time of election!)
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To: outpostinmass2

They Ivy’s aren’t about the education they are about the connections you make while you’re there.

I’ve interviewed hundreds of new grads for new hires. The Ivy’s (1) are arrogant, non-Ivy big name schools (2) are a split between (a) I’m owed and have no idea of the real word or (b) solid investigative minds, and the smaller schools (3) are willing to bust their ass for an opportunity.

I hire from 2b and 3 and often have to defend my actions. Luckily I see very few of the Ivy’s or the 2bs because either my position is below them or geographically their connections don’t reach out to flyover country that much. The 2a’s always screw up their interviews putting on an air of superiority and failing to show up shaved/well dressed assuming they’ll get the job.

I’d put a degree from the 3s up against the others any day for actual hand’s on work and knowledge. The only thing they miss out on is the research side which is not what a business is typically hiring them for...we need execution. The rare exception where true development comes in they also have a much better ability to think outside the box to complement the already onboard senior engineers.


17 posted on 02/13/2018 7:59:53 AM PST by reed13k
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To: C19fan

The truth is that most of us learned very little that proved useful in HS and nothing useful the first 2 years of college (for STEM students) and nothing at all useful throughout college, including grad school, for social studies degrees. I have 2 engineering degrees and never used anything I learned in college, even in the last 2 undergrad years. I got useful information in grad school.

I go back to Fr. Guido Sarducci and the 10 minute university - in 10 minutes he would teach you everything the average college grad remembers 10 years after graduation.

Today’s kids know it’s all a game. You want to do well enough on the ACT/SAT to get into college and get some financial aide. You can do well on the ACT or SAT by reading quickly and comprehending what you read and with basic math skills (including the ability to guesstimate). Having some basic algebra, trig and geometry skills helps, but many of us get that in middle school, not HS.


18 posted on 02/13/2018 7:19:40 PM PST by Some Fat Guy in L.A. (Still bitterly clinging to rational thought despite it's unfashionability)
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To: Dick Vomer

Great story.


19 posted on 02/13/2018 7:29:14 PM PST by thecodont
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To: outpostinmass2

An Ivy league education is no better than anywhere else. You simply perpetuating the lie. Parents are just paying out the ass so the elitist, leftist snobs that already graduated from there will give your child a job over more qualified candidates. I would never hire and an Ivy League graduate as the leftist elitist snobs think their entitled to it over every other qualified candidate and for more pay!


20 posted on 02/14/2018 8:06:26 AM PST by GOPe Means Bend Over Spell Run (GO GALT - Support Trump)
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