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.
College is not a guarantee of success. College is no longer, in the past 20 years, a path to a guaranteed good job. And we must remember, the Industrial Revolution came out of the workshops of Britain, not the universities.
In a letter, now before me, of recent date, Col. Ingersoll, with characteristic force, says:
"I agree perfectly that the hand and head must work together. Nothing excites my pity more than a man who has given fifteen or twenty years of his life to study—who is the graduate of a University and yet knows nothing of importance--knows nothing that he can sell—knows nothing by which he can make a living. His poor head is stuffed with worthless knowledge—with declensions and conjugations—in other words he has spent his whole life learning the names of cards and has not the slightest idea of a game."
—The Co-education of Mind and Hand, Charles H. Ham, 1890
The idea is, of course, that men are successful because they have gone to college. No idea was ever more absurd. No man is successful because he has managed to pass a certain number of courses and has received a sheepskin which tells the world in Latin, that neither the world nor the graduate can read, that he has successfully completed the work required. If the man is successful, it is because he has the qualities for success in him; the college "education" has merely, speaking in terms' of horticulture, forced those qualities and given him certain intellectual tools with which to work—tools which he could have got without going to college, but not nearly so quickly. So far as anything practical is concerned, a college is simply an intellectual hothouse. For four years the mind of the undergraduate is put "under glass," and a very warm and constant sunshine is poured down upon it. The result is, of course, that his mind blooms earlier than it would in the much cooler intellectual atmosphere of the business world.
A man learns more about business in the first six months after his graduation than he does in his whole four years of college. But—and here is the "practical" result of his college work—he learns far more in those six months than if he had not gone to college. He has been trained to learn, and that, to all intents and purposes, is all the training he has received. To say that he has been trained to think is to say essentially that he has been trained to learn, but remember that it is impossible to teach a man to think. The power to think must be inherently his. All that the teacher can do is help him learn to order his thoughts—such as they are.
Percy Marks was cast out of Brown for his best seller, 'The Plastic Age', which could be characterized as the 'Animal House' of the 1920s
The (Brown) Jug banquet was one of the last times Percy Marks appeared on campus. His book The Plastic Age became a publishing sensation. It described campus life at Sanford, a thinly disguised combination of Dartmouth and Brown, rampant with drinking, swearing and sex. Young women attending Sanford dances, he wrote, checked their corsets in the cloak room.
The Plastic Age was the second best-selling book of 1924 and was made into a film starring Clara Bow. It also drew harsh criticism; the Watch and Ward Society even banned The Plastic Age in Boston.
Brown dismissed Percy Marks that year, presumably because he offended its stern Baptist president.
The credential is still valued as a minimum requirement for many jobs that have no relation to any branch of college study. Much of this is simply holdover effect, but the fact that employers cannot give IQ tests allows them to use college entrance - particularly if they are savvy about the average SATs of schools - as proxies is also sometimes used. Also, the fact that you have showed up and passed some courses is testament to some minimum standard of work.
The trouble is, as all here have guessed, that both are less and less true about colleges, slowly but steadily over the decades. We could each design a better method for discerning those things, but many of the possibilities are illegal. Also, HR departments are often staffed by people who falsely believe that their degree is a valuable item that they earned at high price, and thus perpetuate this nonsense.
It was not ever thus. The quotes JK Brown offers say more about the competition and resentment of various classes and endeavors than about ability. I have known college graduates as useless as these suggest. I have also known men of business who were complete asses, but lucked into an industry in a prospering location and were simply carried along by the rising tide.
Assistant Village Idiot