We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
A theme that recurs throughout the book is that most of X’s students aren’t in college by choice. They aren’t in his class because they want to learn about literature or even because they realize that they are weak in reading and writing. Instead, they’re in college because they have to get the credential!
Drawing an analogy to the housing bubble (as we at the Pope Center have on several occasions), Professor X writes, “In much the same way the country spent the first decade of the 2000s redefining what it meant to be a homeowner (to disastrous effect), so too have we reclassified which jobs require a college degree of some sort. Industry, including the civil service, wants its workers to be as credentialed as possible.” Therefore we find college degree “requirements” for jobs like managing a video store.
One result is that poor kids (and sometimes middle-aged adults) who want to escape from the drudgery of their current jobs and have a chance at even such mundane work as managing a video store have to get college degrees. Their coursework will enhance their ability to do that job scarcely one smidgen, but it’s the credential that matters. They have to spend or borrow money to take X’s evening course (and many others) just to get out of the “no college” trap.
But Barrister, for years we've been luring kids for whom advanced educational skills are inappropriate into the 'halls of ivy.' They stumble through four years of baccalaureate struggles toward a degree and when they get one, they expect to gain the instant respect, approbation and awards that they were promised. Instead, many of them are ill-equipped and basically uninterested in using their scholastic skills to earn a living. And they feel cheated, because the academic world promised them easy access to highly paid jobs. And there just aren't any. They have failed to learn that any job, any job, is going to require some drudgery, some painful decisions, some disappointments whether you've got that nice diploma or not.
When everyone has a college degree, then a college degree means virtually zilch.
I'm hearing a lot of discussions among my social circle on this topic and many are realizing that getting some basic life and social skills with a technical/trade focus leading potentially to owning their own trade/services business is the way to go...plumbing, electrical, A/C, mechanical, etc. However, the default and safe position is still going to college even if they don't know why.
If I were able to have a do-over, I'd have been well served to spend some time out of High School in the military. I was smart enough for college, but did not have the required discipline and was/is always happier outside and action oriented.
The default and safe position used to be to go to college when I went, but no longer. It is so expensive that some people who get "worthwhile" degrees spend many, many years paying back the loans. If you get a "General Studies" degree now like a friend of mine got in the late 70's, you spend the rest of your life paying off that loan. If you get a "Women's Studies" degree, you deserve what you get!
phil g ... Maggiesfarmers and their devoted readers have been having this discussion off and on for some time. I tend to go with those commenters who say that much of what one learns when working toward a baccalaureate degree is inapplicable to the practicalities of life, unless one is an engineer or a specialist in one of the so-called hard sciences. Liberal arts degrees are pretty much not too useful in the daily scrum of earning a living, unless you use them as my husband and I did, as training for writing words for money. Then they're useful. But if I had to do it again, I would make sure I had a better grounding in economics and world history than I did. Elizabethan literature and poetry is all very well, but knowing who is doing what to whom, and why, in this modern world is pretty important for survival.
By the way, mudbug, in my opinion Women's Studies and Gender Studies are pretty much what we used to call, back before the Fall of Rome, 'pipe courses.' They are usually taught by some feminist crusader or other with an agenda, and all you have to do is listen carefully to the instructor's list of grievances and prejudices, parrot them back to her on exams and 'presto' a nice passing grade.
Have you ever asked yourself why there are no Men's Studies courses? If I were twenty years younger, I'd offer to teach such a course, so that modern young people could get a real picture of how splendid the male animal can actually be.
As usual, I agree with you Marianne. Courses of "study" like "Women's Studies", "Black Studies", and their ilk are just places for people to either get angry or to justify their anger and server no definable social purpose. Those who spend tens of thousands of dollars to get a diploma in that sort of nonsense go broke paying back their student loans, get no sympathy from me.
It amazes me that colleges still have those courses since it drives up the cost of tuition... Oh, I forgot. Tuition is either deferred or subsidized!
I almost feel like I need to have a college degree in order to comment on this thread. And I don't. Although I did go to Eastern Montana college's liberry once. But after I used the bathroom, I didn't see the need to be there anymore.
Leef's essay captures the problem. The only way out of the hole for poor or even middle-class kids is to acquire something that is often useless and always expensive (to someone). Yet without it, they are even more screwed.
It is an unstable situation. The ground is already changing in some ways, as young people find less-expensive ways of getting the credential. Others use military training as their proxy for emplyment virtues, and as the services become more technical, this does have value.
Yet the BA still reigns, however it is undermined and totters. But I have to think when a better proxy shows up, the fall will be swift.
Assistant VIllage Idiot