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.
That's a question I have discussed often here, along with the history of higher ed. Yes, we all understand that college has become a job credential, a social credential, and a professional prerequisite. Why that is has never been clear.
The common assumption among policymakers is that, in order to maintain its higher living standards against emerging markets competition, the United States must invest more in higher education. To achieve this, the government has instituted a massive student loan guarantee program, with over $1 trillion outstanding and an average of $25,000 in debt for every graduating student with debt. Yet millions of students continue to graduate with degrees that have no obvious real-world benefits. There’s a disconnect here, and it is beginning to appear that the current U.S. obsession with higher education is misguided.
The traditional idea of higher education was to train the literate for the Church, whether Catholic, Episcopalian or other Protestant. However a hundred years ago, for the elite on both sides of the Atlantic, a very different approach had been devised. This was best illustrated in Evelyn Waugh’s immortal “Brideshead Revisited” in which the protagonist Lord Sebastian Flyte wanders round Oxford with a teddy bear, drinking champagne, eating quail’s eggs and occasionally throwing up onto other students’ carpets. Americans will scoff at this depiction, but really the Harvard of Theodore Roosevelt was not very different, except in that it involved the occasional life-threatening game of football.
Flyte’s Oxford was not intended to train him for real life, it was intended as a highly enjoyable 3- or 4- year holiday before real life intruded. For the middle classes whose fathers were not Marquesses – a majority at Oxford even in Flyte’s time; there are only 34 Marquesses – the system applied a gloss of social polish and connections that was useful in later life, but did not impart more than a modicum of knowledge. Certainly the education provided was not expected to involve a huge amount of work, or to be useful in a subsequent career.
The true university of these days is a collection of books.
The entire educational system beyond 3rd grade is pretty much designed to create university professors. If you aren't going to be a university professor, you have to pick the right moment to get off the road.
Society punishes you if get off before finishing high school because there is not much you can do other than waste time till you are 18 anyway.
in any case, you have to pick your moment to get off the education treadmill and do something useful others will give you money to do. Although, having the credential and sometimes, the "right" credential can aid you in fitting in with the culture which is more important than what you know, apparently.
Wealthiest grandfather = 8th grade education, went into sales
Wealthiest parent/in-law = college education (engineering), went into sales in field learned during summer jobs
Wealthiest child/in-law = college education, but built a career in the trade skills learned while paying for college
Lesson to be learned = get some great skills with summer jobs, never hurts and builds skill sets not available at university
We were taught that owning a home was essentially a risk-less investment; houses always increased in value. Wrong. But by believing and making the investments, we made for a self-fulfilling prophecy. And besides, not signing on to the American dream meant that, perhaps, you were just a bit anti-American, and no one wanted to be that.
We have been taught that higher education is required, both for a well-functioning democracy - the informed voter - and to get and keep a good job, to become a professional, to have a life-long career doing . . . something. Wrong again.
Vast sums have been borrowed, the money going not to the borrower but now from the government to institutions of higher education - that's using the word "higher" a bit loosely - leaving the student, poorer if wiser (and more likely not even that), no more educated but with value-less credentials by which employers are unlikely to be much impressed.
In both instances, those who believed have ended up owing their souls to the company store(s) chosen to be beneficiaries by government, which gets its "vig" along the way - interest, taxes - in the process.
Believe it or not, a high school diploma once was an assurance of employability.
I expect that, within a decade or so, virtual reality on the Web will become the educational venue of choice.
Hard to meet a mate, though.