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.
I hope I am not boring my readers with all of my posts about the college bubble and the meaninglessness of the current American college degree. From The Case Against the College Degree:
College degrees are poor proof of learning, and perhaps a barrier to it
Students want jobs and respect. Degrees bring both. Employers, meanwhile, want smart, capable workers. A degree is a decent enough proxy for intelligence, but we want it to be more than that. We want degrees to mean that students have learned the foundations of human knowledge literature, chemistry, physics, composition, metaphysics, psychology, economics and so on. If we didn t, we d replace degrees with inexpensive vocational exams.
Charles Murray, a fellow at American Enterprise Institute, calls for just that in a recent book, Real Education. He argues that too many kids who lack the ability to complete a liberal arts education are being pushed into four-year liberal arts schools, because there s a steep societal penalty for not getting a degree. Schools, in turn, have made their degree programs easier. Murray provides a sample of courses that students used to fulfill core degree requirements at major universities in 2004, including History of Comic Book Art (Indiana University), History and Philosophy of Dress (Texas Tech University) and Campus Culture and Drinking (Duke). He documents not only falling standards but rampant grade inflation.
Read the whole thing. He has an interesting suggestion too, but colleges won't go for it. For their own survival, they are committed to their marketing of their expensive credential, whether it means anything or not. In my experience over recent years, it means little-to-nothing.
You used to know what assumptions you could make about somebody with a BA. Not any more. Now, they don't even need to know basic calculus. That's crazy.
It's pretty darn difficult to get an engineering degree, and a post-graduation engineering job, at anything other than a four-year degree program (or it's functional equivalent). It's the required breadth, and the workload, that winnows out everyone but the determined with good work habits.
First there's two years of broad studies of basically everything, that qualify you for nothing. Then two years of intense focus on the major: mechanical, electrical, chemical, etc. Not until then will employers even think of you as an entry-level engineer.
The breadth is necessary, because over the course of a 50-year career, what you finish as is nothing like what you started. The other reason is that engineers colonize the unknown spaces: you never know what information and knowledge is important, because no one has done it yet. So you have to have lots of patterns and experience to extrapolate from. That's why the philosophy, Literature, Western Civilization, and Writing/English courses are every bit as important as Dynamics, Strength of Materials, and Advanced Engineering Mathematics.
We have Liberal Arts departments to help educate the Engineers, Scientists, Doctors, Lawyers, and MBAs that drive our civilization. And to provide the education that all of our citizens need to fully participate in our Republic.
I don't think college graduates have needed to know basic calculus for at least two generations now. If my mother had had to study basic calculus, I doubt she would have gotten her degree, and that was 60 years ago.
I've said for a long time, being good at school only means you are good at taking tests. This doesn't mean you will be or won't be good at other things, but unless you are in some type of program that actually teaches a specific job skill the only way to find out what you can do is to get out in the work force. After that it is partly luck, as in getting in a field that utilizes your personal skills, and largely effort that determine whether or not you succeed. I have a bachelor's degree and had a B average but if I hadn't worked my tail off for the first 25 years I wouldn't have anthing close to the net worth I have today.
Not in professional college courses. You will do well in tests if you have studied the material and worked out the posed problems. Passing tests requires grit, good (learned) study habits, and practice. No one has an innate talent for passing tests of material that can only be learned by first reading, and its application to problem solving for both retention and understanding.
People who don't do well on tests are people who don't study, or haven't learned the successful study habits appropriate for their courses. So they go into the exam room frightened, suffer a brain freeze, and come out demoralized.
I see I didn't quite address your point, instead went tangential. I agree that doing well on tests is not a sufficient indicator of success in life. You can do well on all the math and science classes, and be unable to communicate well and/or get along with people: which will constrain the direction and scope of your future successes.
Likewise, your real talents may be in working with and perhaps leading others, and sometimes in some places prior technical knowledge is not a necessary foundation of success.
But a technically grounded individual, who has learned how to learn and apply that learning, can go anywhere and do anything.
I see nothing wrong with a lot of college education, there is good stuff there to be embraced...To me the problem is more the kids start it off without much direction. I think every HS grad should do a year of service first, either military or peace corps/americacorps or whatever. Give them a sense of who they are, what they need to know. Then off to college with more demands and more sense of what they need to get out of it for the price they are paying.
Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.
In truth, all an undergraduate education can teach you is how much you don't know. It can provide you with some skills and the ability to overcome your inhibitions in advancing your education throughout your life. The university is, or was, just a focused respite from the burdens of daily life to wonder about the mind with those on similar journeys. It's been a while since I've been on campus, how many have places for self-important debate in excess of places for mindless distraction?