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For Most People, College Is a Waste of Time

Original post made by joan, Professorville, on Aug 13, 2008


College is a four-year artificial way to keep people out of the work force.
For most, it doesn't teach them anything, unless they are studying engineering or some of the biological sciences.
Poll after poll shows that college students are ignorant and dumber than ever--yes, even at the over-rated Harvard and Yale.
And the four years in a scenic setting don't make 'em any smarter. On the contrary, it's usually the other way around.
Todays WSJ Web Link

"Here's the reality: Everyone in every occupation starts as an apprentice.
Those who are good enough become journeymen. The best become master craftsmen.
This is as true of business executives and history professors as of chefs and welders.
Getting rid of the BA and replacing it with evidence of competence -- treating post-secondary education as apprenticeships for everyone -- is one way to help us to recognize that common bond."

Comments (46)

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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2008 at 4:46 pm

I don't agree that a university education is a complete waste of time. Many find the experience very rewarding. There is a lot to be said for a university education if one is truly motivated to learn and excel.

What a university education has come to represent is a key to certain rights of passage. What's beginning to happen is that employers (and students) are sensing that the "key" doesn't open as many doors as it used to.

That said, a lot can be done to improve pre-university education, and university education, in ways that hook both up more reliably to the real world.

With the exception of professional schooling - e.g. physicians, engineers, scientists, etc., a university education is hardly an absolute necessity for competence in work, but try convincing HR departments and employers of that. The latter were bred in a system that is guaranteed to keep people "busy" and "socialized" for the better part of two decades.

Our current system is currently undergoing slow evolutionary change at a pace that exceeds the glacial change of the last several decades.

Education and skill-gathering is becoming more and more democratized, as employers slowly wake up to the fact that a college degree doesn't really guarantee anything, in an age where competition worldwide has increased by an order of magnitude, and the need for truly competent employees that are loyal and able to deal with extreme ambiguity is great.


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Posted by Grandma
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2008 at 4:47 pm

How will all the Colleges in America survive without Parents paying them tuition, board and lodging for four years!!!!

Also, try and get a good paying job without a 4 year college degree, it's pretty hard unless Dad give you one.


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Posted by Garbage In, Gospel Out
a resident of University South
on Aug 13, 2008 at 4:50 pm

"Poll after poll shows that college students are ignorant and dumber than ever"

College students. Uh-huh. A slick little sleight of speech there. Nice try, but it didn't work. A trick I learned to watch for, in college.

Now what about college grads? The products, the outcomes, you know? Not just yourself, the aggregate.

BTW, your little assertion quoted above does not appear in the article you cited. Did you bother to read it? Can you?


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Posted by joan
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 13, 2008 at 5:02 pm



Garbage-

If you read my post you would see that the first section is my opinion, the part after the link is in quotes from todays WSJ.

Literate people understand that this is correct way to distinguish between opinion and reference.


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Posted by Garbage In, Gospel Out
a resident of University South
on Aug 13, 2008 at 5:50 pm

As I pointed out, I saw through your subterfuge immediately. Again, nice try.


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Posted by Aaron
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 13, 2008 at 6:12 pm

joan,

Good article. It is a good refutation of 'outcomes-based' education. The outcomes, going forward, do not look good for those students/parents who bought into that paradigm.

Asian students, along with a few dedicated non-Asian students will rule the education/economic future in this country. They will have earned it.

A few trust fund babies will be proud about blowing glass at art studios, and the rest will be asking, "Would you like fries with your burger, sir?". Regular kids need a chance to prove themselves, if they are dedicated to study. Murray gets this point.

This article by Murray offers a way out. He won't succeed anytime soon, but he has provided the model, and I commend him for trying.


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Posted by Mama
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2008 at 6:25 pm

There are many smart blue-collar workers and many dumb white-collar workers. Having a four-year degree should not be a declaration of intelligence for promotion. These majors are a waste of time: marketing, business, foreign language, history, philosophy, english, psychology. Anyone can get one of these degrees and they don't teach on-the-job training. Why do people get them? They can't get promoted unless they have that BS or BA.

It would be nice for kids to be able to have more fun in high school rather than getting burnt out on studying with not enough time for socializing and developing their personalities. That's how it used to be.


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Posted by Consider The Source
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2008 at 6:46 pm

Let's see, a piece written by a guy from the American Enterprise Institute (read: "leading business-first" think tank) appearing in the WSJ that advocates we should train all our kids like plumbers and skip teaching them to think for themselves or see that there's more to life than just being a plumber - why is that not surprising.

What's next - a piece supporting a "modern/humane" form of slavery?


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Posted by Aaron
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 13, 2008 at 7:10 pm

Consider,

I don't post on this forum very often, although I do pick my spots. However, I must say that I have never, ever, seen a such a limp-wristed post, as you just put up.

I could not, possibly, make a better argument about liberal 'outcomes-based' education. You get the gold ring.

Thank you.


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Posted by sue
a resident of Ohlone School
on Aug 13, 2008 at 7:25 pm

what is this class based abuse of plumbers.
That is outrageous, next time your infectious sewage backs up call a Stanford liberal arts graduate and see what results you get.

I can not believe the arrogance of that post, what do others think?


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Posted by Peter
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2008 at 9:11 pm

Sue, I think you're a troll, or a know-nothing. Or both.


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Posted by MP
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 13, 2008 at 10:59 pm

Being trained so as to certify in something does not promise excellence in the field.

E.g., in the case of a legal education, only the lower-tier schools teach students to "pass the bar," whereas the better schools teach the skills to become a great lawyer.

Seems like both professional certification and the more qualitative fundamentals of a truly great education (e.g., languages, great literature, broad understanding of the world) are imperative to the superior training of a professional.


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Posted by know a few things
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 13, 2008 at 11:52 pm

"E.g., in the case of a legal education, only the lower-tier schools teach students to "pass the bar," whereas the better schools teach the skills to become a great lawyer"

You can't be serious. Nothing could be further from the truth. Paralegals, yes, paralegals know more about legal procedure than top 20 law school grads. I've been there.

This doesn't mean that a college education doesn't deliver value.


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Posted by sue
a resident of Ohlone School
on Aug 14, 2008 at 6:12 am



I like this quote from the WSJ article regarding Equal educational opportunity.

"Under a certification system, four years is not required, residence is not required, expensive tuitions are not required, and a degree is not required.

Equal educational opportunity means, among other things, creating a society in which it's what you know that makes the difference. Substituting certifications for degrees would be a big step in that direction.

The incentives are right.
Certification tests would provide all employers with valuable, trustworthy information about job applicants.
They would benefit young people who cannot or do not want to attend a traditional four-year college.
They would be welcomed by the growing post-secondary online educational industry, which cannot offer the halo effect of a BA from a traditional college, but can realistically promise their students good training for a certification test -- as good as they are likely to get at a traditional college, for a lot less money and in a lot less time.

Certification tests would disadvantage just one set of people: Students who have gotten into well-known traditional schools, but who are coasting through their years in college and would score poorly on a certification test.
Disadvantaging them is an outcome devoutly to be wished."


Those people on this post who look down their noses at plumbers and tradespeople are hilarious " Disadvantaging them is an outcome devoutly to be wished" and it is about time their arrogance was demolished.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 14, 2008 at 7:55 am

What I fail to see in the comments on this thread is much discussion about the role that an education plays in life, as opposed to work.

Most of the arguments around how a college education directly leads to a meaningful employment outcome have been around a very long time, and I detect little new insight being expressed into that point of view. Sure, there are a few areas of concentration that lead to specific work after college, and many which do not.

I am sending my children for college for one reason and one reason alone--I want to make sure they are as fully prepared as possible to be adults who are successful as they choose to define success and that they are able both to contribute to and to enjoy the many aspects of life that they will encounter.

They may ply a trade of sorts their entire lifetimes, or more likely they will find themselves doing different things at different stages of life. Whatever their mother and I have been able to do while they were under our care, the social, educational, emotional and other different experiences that they have during those four years are critical to their developing a deeper understanding of themselves, other people and the society in which they will play a part.

A job is part of that, but it goes way further than that in a thriving community.

And if this sounds to "soft" or "feel good" for some people, fine. I think there likely is a philosophical chasm around the role of education and transitioning from adolescence to early adulthood that find me on one side and some on the other.


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Posted by joan
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 14, 2008 at 9:03 am



What many students get, and what parents unwittingly pay for is ideological indoctrination.

Typical is the program at the University of Delaware.

The ideological force-feeding of undergraduate students that characterized the University of Delaware's residential life program had numerous components: radical environmentalism, an attempt to stigmatize traditional moral sentiments, foregrounding questions of sexual orientation, efforts to promote deep distrust of American society, promotion of identity politics, and an aggressive focus on racial grievance.

At other colleges and universities, this combination of themes is widespread, but organized in a variety of ways.
Residence halls aren't the only venue.

Many campuses have a contingent of administrators whose job seems to be to turn late adolescent social anxieties into radical alienation from American society.Web Link

Program materials for this ideological reeducation at UD included race/gender/class/sexual orientation "trainer" Shakti Butler's definition of a racist as "all white people living in the United States" and her edict that "people of color cannot be racists."

An intrusive rating instrument, "Discovery Wheel," was used to prompt students to admit to their putative racism, and they were instructed that the U.S. is as "an oppressive society" whose "structures of oppression" it is their "duty" to eliminate.

"The treatment" was also mandatory and punitive. Students were required to attend training sessions, group floor meetings, and one-on-one meetings with their Resident Advisers (RAs), who, having been coached in interrogating vulnerable freshmen, plied them with invasive questions.

Thereafter students were rated on a scale of "best" to "worst," according to how they complied with the prescribed campus orthodoxy. For example, students were grilled about when they first discovered their sexual identity.

One resistant student who replied, "That is none of your damn business," was written up as having one of the "worst one-on-one" sessions, and identified by name and room number.

Parents should know what they are paying for in education so that they can make intelligent decisions for their childrens well being.

In fact, this anti-Western Civilization ideological indoctrination is typically promoted without the parents knowledge of consent.


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Posted by peter s
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2008 at 9:45 am



This brand-new school year brings brand-new opportunities for academics to talk like this:

"Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity," says Harvard instructor Noel Ignatiev. "Whiteness is a form of racial oppression…My concern is doing away with whiteness."

Ignatiev happens to be white.

91 percent of campuses restrict student speech. Brown University banned words that cause "feelings of impotence, anger, or disenfranchisement." West Virginia University instructed students that "instead of referring to…'girlfriend' or 'boyfriend,'" they should "use positive generic terms such as 'lover' or 'partner.'" One can get into trouble without saying a word. The University of Connecticut prohibited "inappropriately directed laughter."

An incisive comment from an Indian student trying to get a decent education in the US

"I've been learning in geography class that gender is socially constructed," says Tennessee's Sukhmani Singh Khalsa.
Adds Oliver Wolf of Bates College:
"I really don't know why issues such as global warming, globalization, and militarism are brought up in a class on German literature."


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Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2008 at 10:00 am

The academic content of the craft apprenticeship is more rigorous than most liberal arts courses. You cannot BS your way around a leaking pipe joint or a dead short circuit, or wing it on an athletic scholarship.
Joan and Sue, a rose to each of you.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 14, 2008 at 10:03 am

Aw, joan, be honest now. You're only complaining about the alleged content of the "indoctrination" you've imagined. But suppose they made students reverently salute every portrait of George Bush and kiss Dick Cheney's ring. Wouldn't you then be much happier about this supposed "indoctrination"?


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Posted by Samuel
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 14, 2008 at 10:19 am

Paul

>>But suppose they made students reverently salute every portrait of George Bush and kiss Dick Cheney's ring.<<

Please provide references and evidence that such practices exist.

Of course students should respect the office holders of President and VP of the USA as well as the flag and our troops.

The office holders, in turn, should treat the office with respect also and not behave like Clinton with Monica in the Oval Office.

BTW Reagan always wore a suit and tie in the Oval Office out for respect for the institution of government.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2008 at 1:55 pm

A good liberal-arts education doesn't train you for a specific trade, but it should teach you how to think so that most jobs can be easily learned.

Much of the work I do now didn't exist when I went to college. The jobs our kids will do do not yet exist. Any education that teaches mental flexibility and how to learn is valuable in ways that aren't directly apparent to the literal-minded.

Colleges weren't intended as trade schools--this is a common misunderstanding of their deeper purpose. History, for example, isn't a waste because if you understand history you are a wiser citizen and more capable of voting wisely. There should be more to our lives than being worker bees and more to our educations than how we're going to be useful cogs in the corporate wheel.

As for plumbers, carpenters and such--my very bright grandfather was a plumber. He also took college courses later on because he was interested in a lot more than plumbing. I also know a Berkeley grad who's now a successful carpenter/general contractor.

Both of them enjoyed being exposed to college-level ideas.


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Posted by Parent without handles
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2008 at 2:09 pm

College level education in itself may be a waste for many people, but the other way of looking at this is that high school education does not prepare anyone for any type of employment other than flipping burgers. Even trades need to have further training before a high school graduate is employable. Back in the days when being able to type at 60 wpm could get a good hs grad a reasonable office job, it was possible to get a good career started with very little else. Nowadays that is not the case. High schoolers know very little that would give them even an entry level office job.

At least with a degree, a prospective employer knows that a college grad has studied something that is career potential even if it is only English or history and of course a degree in something like business studies should be a great start. However, many employers are looking for more than just a BA degree as that is now the equivalent of what many high school graduates in other countries are getting when it comes down to practicalities. For this reason, many college graduates are going to need further education as a BA isn't going to be enough.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 14, 2008 at 2:23 pm

Would you like those practices,Samuel? Then just establish Samuel College and make 'em happen. If you wouldn't like them, then what's your point?

Meantime, a word of advice: Stay away from college as a student. They flunk disjointed writing like yours.


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Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2008 at 2:29 pm

What was Eric Hoffer's alma mater? I don't challenge the value of a liberal education, I just suspect one is not readily available at the average university today. T


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Posted by Charles
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 14, 2008 at 2:30 pm

"History, for example, isn't a waste because if you understand history you are a wiser citizen and more capable of voting wisely"

OhlonePar,

When I went to college, the history department was almost fully leftwing. They were in sync with the concept that socialism would be the future. They made every excuse possible for the Soviet Union. They even put on a play ridiculing the charges against Alger Hiss.

Please explain to me why or how I learned to "vote wisely", based on the nonsense that I was exposed to.

My daughter actually earned a CPA out of college. She had to know her stuff. Most college graduates are just confused adolescents. Most history departments just confuse them more.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 14, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Paul "They may ply a trade of sorts their entire lifetimes, or more likely they will find themselves doing different things at different stages of life. Whatever their mother and I have been able to do while they were under our care, the social, educational, emotional and other different experiences that they have during those four years are critical to their developing a deeper understanding of themselves, other people and the society in which they will play a part."

OP "Colleges weren't intended as trade schools--this is a common misunderstanding of their deeper purpose. History, for example, isn't a waste because if you understand history you are a wiser citizen and more capable of voting wisely. There should be more to our lives than being worker bees and more to our educations than how we're going to be useful cogs in the corporate wheel."

What about the great intellects that didn't have a college education? e.g. Ben Franklin, and many, many others.

What I see above is a dearth of understanding of the "classical education" biases that were used to structure K-12 and university curriculums, and the corrosive nature of those biases, and how those biases have led millions to unwittingly make claims for interminable study towards becoming a "whole person".

We're so embedded in our current educational structures (products of them, really) that it's almost impossible to stand outside of those structures and critique them.

To make my point, someone who had attended university might debate me on this point by saying "if i hadn't gone to college I wouldn't have learned how to debate or support a position in a way that changes minds", and so on. How does one get the typical college-educated person to accept a radical critique of education? It's almost impossible.

Education has ALWAYS been about status, from the very beginning, from the times of the great schools of pre- and post-Socratic philosophy. There is status in knowledge; and _very_ occasionally one becomes wise from knowledge, but only _very_ occasionally.

In my travels and life I have encountered virtual illiterates who could put to shame most of the educated people I know.

Education in our culture is about opportunity and status. We're better off admitting that.
We're also better off admitting that the value of university education is slowly beginning to diminish, especially for those that don't make it into the higher rung of university settings.

What you get from Harvard, or Stanford, or Brown is not so much a better education, but a better address book. Let's be honest about that.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 14, 2008 at 5:07 pm

Unfortunately, merely not going to college does not make one a Ben Franklin or an Eric Hofer.

Einstein, however, did go to college, as did Feynman. But merely going to college will not make one an Einstein or a Feynman either. Geniuses tend to go where mortals cannot go and to make their own rules as they go.

The fact is the great universities attract the great minds, both students and faculty. The benefit of attending them (snob factor aside) is to be exposed to high-grade intellect and high-octane ideas. Not everyone gains, recall that George W Bush went to Yale. But the dullard legacies do produce needed income.


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Posted by joan
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 14, 2008 at 5:58 pm



With the 24/7 global IT we have available today the 4 yrs liberal arts degree is a dinosaur.

The tenured faculty have sinecures, with no accountability and no motivation to adapt.

The students parents are exploited.

Enough is enough


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Posted by MP
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 14, 2008 at 7:44 pm

"What I see above is a dearth of understanding of the "classical education" biases that were used to structure K-12 and university curriculums, and the corrosive nature of those biases, and how those biases have led millions to unwittingly make claims for interminable study towards becoming a "whole person"."

Can you elaborate? Isn't a more liberal/contemporary approach to education (i.e., one that doesn't emphasize the superiority of the Western canon and classical curricula) also a so-called bias?

"We're so embedded in our current educational structures (products of them, really) that it's almost impossible to stand outside of those structures and critique them."

Can't that be said about any structure--political, social, etc. (And what about the notion that the very idea of critique, or this style of debate, is a product of our "current educational structures"?)

It seems that, in most cases, a good liberal arts education encourages one to question these very structures from the outside (to the extent that it's possible), and to be aware of one's limited perspective and experience in the context of knowledge.

"How does one get the typical college-educated person to accept a radical critique of education? It's almost impossible."

Not impossible, it seems, for educated people who were exposed to these ideas--or encouraged to be open to these sorts of ideas--during their education. I've encountered this sort of openness to questioning systems within which we operate in spades among small liberal arts college graduates.

Would like to know what others here think on this point.










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Posted by I'llBe
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Aug 14, 2008 at 8:59 pm

First thing Mike's said that's made sense to me.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 15, 2008 at 1:12 am

"Isn't a more liberal/contemporary approach to education (i.e., one that doesn't emphasize the superiority of the Western canon and classical curricula) also a so-called bias?"

We can parse this to a fare-thee-well if you like. It's not what an education "is"; it's how it's "used". I'm modifying some of Wittgenstein's phraseology here, to make the general point that one can learn to think, be taught to think, without having to attend a university.

And what has a university education come to signify, anyway? Answer: a variable (depending on the university of choice) pathway to material opportunity. That's how it's "used". One doesn't need the Academy to produce this result. the current university modality of learning is no more than an ingrained habit, fed by overeager institutions who themselves evolve out of the university environment and feed on it.

A university education has become a sine qua non for "success" in the "real world". It hasn't always been that way. It doesn't have to be that way. the Liberal Arts are vitally important, but we don't need universities to teach them.

"Can't that be said about any structure--political, social, etc. (And what about the notion that the very idea of critique, or this style of debate, is a product of our "current educational structures"?)"

You want a critique? How about a critique that seriously poses the end of the academy as we know it, or argues to entirely obliterate it? It won't happen, because the university-generated "critique" feeds on itself, and co-opts every argument for its demise. It's a monster that's out of control, and gets far more attention (and money) than it deserves.

Why should _anyone_ become "educated" at the cost of large post-graduate debt? It's absurd. Knowledge is out of the bag; and one can find wisdom almost anywhere, if one's not to lazy to ferret it out. The problem is that most people have been spoon fed "knowledge". Too many of us have become terminal drones.

The days of the academy are numbered; I'll let cultural and technological evolution take care of the dinosaur know as the "Academy"; that emperor has no clothes.

One doesn't need a formal education, costing 100's of thousands of dollars, to learn the basics of formal debate. We've let "higher education" dumb down human potential. It's our fault.

The civilized world has been trailing along in the time-worn groove of depending on post-secondary educational institutions to inform and educate young adults. It's become too slow, too expensive, non-functional - and for the majority of attendees, dysfunctional and disappointing in terms of results.

Please understand that I'm absolutely convinced that the "great ideas" (from East, West, and beyond) are all necessary to help someone become whole, but the Academy is far from the best place to make that happen. The problem is that the world of commerce has made it easy for the Academy to continue. How else to select out the most "dependable" smart people? It's perfect. Of course, the loss is the majority of attendees get little more than a degree, and a 6 month window to prove themselves after they're out (after all, they have a debt to pay). Then they're on their own, as they would have been without the degree.

Like the song says: "When will they ever learn?"



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Posted by Samuel
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 15, 2008 at 7:07 am



Steve Jobs

Larry Ellison

Bill Gates

Etc, Etc

Did not waste their time on 4 years of liberal arts college.

The world has changed, most liberal arts tenured faculty are stuck in the 60s counter cultural quagmire, fortunately they will be gone soon.

It is time for a change, parents are the customers as they pay for this fraud, we need to make our voices heard and end the tyranny of the weak over the strong.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 15, 2008 at 10:15 am

"most liberal arts tenured faculty are stuck in the 60s counter cultural quagmire, "

Flat out wrong. This is a statement made by someone who has obviously failed to learn about the logical fallacy of overgeneralization - either in school, or out.


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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 15, 2008 at 10:23 am

College should be a time for personal and intellectual growth - an opportunity to explore topics of interest and meet people from varied backgrounds. Aside for the degree - college years are important personally.

Unfortunately, our current "College Prep" focus in high school does not allow students to explore options at that time of their lives. Art, music, journalism, etc. are sacrificed for math and science - most of which the majority of students will not use. How many of us use calculus on a daily basis (vs budgeting money, investing for the future), how many of us write a persuasive email/letter vs analyzing depressing literature, how many people need to the the periodic table? Not that we shouldn't open the worlds of science and math to our students, but I think we have made high school into a place of drudgery, monotony and memorization of facts easily discovered on the internet instead of a place to learn.


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Posted by joan
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 15, 2008 at 10:41 am

quote"College should be a time for personal and intellectual growth - an opportunity to explore topics of interest and meet people from varied backgrounds. Aside for the degree - college years are important personally." end quote


If parents are foolish enough to spend $200,000 dollars for a social experience of continuous sex and beer at a liberal arts college then they deserve what they get and their children will be less competition for mine, a good outcome from my point of view.

I teach my children about compound interest, I am glad that other parents handicap their children by exposing them to " constructivism"
and decadent French "intellectuals".

Their kids can ponder those deep thoughts while they are flipping burgers and deconstructing the meaning of the phrase " would you like French fries with that?"


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Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 15, 2008 at 11:27 am

The sorry state of higher education owes much to the draft. When a flunk could send a guy to Nam, they stopped flunking.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 15, 2008 at 2:29 pm

"I teach my children about compound interest, I am glad that other parents handicap their children by exposing them to " constructivism""

This is throwing the baby out with the bath water. Compound interest? And what are they going to put in the bank if they don't have the skills to get a decent job.

This thread is all over the place, with those who are mostly against the Academy showing a strong anti-intellectual bent. How very AMERICAN! get over it. Derrida is good. So is Mike, the Plumber. Ferdinand de Saussere? there's a lot to learn from the man.

Get over yourself.

The point is that the Academy is overrated as an end-and-be-all for general, social, or career development. It's not an evil institution.

We've gotten into a rut, and need new educational options. We also need more educational options that fit into the pace of modern life, and that don't put people into debt for decades.

Last, we need a reality check on the value of the Top 20. They're about the advantage of social connection, period. btw, that's not a little thing, not in a culture that is ruled by position and wealth. However, when I hear someone crowing about how their kid is at Harvard or Stanford, and how academically special that is, it illustrates their subtle ignorance, of a certain kind.


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Posted by dave
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 15, 2008 at 7:30 pm

Thank you Walter for reminding me of Eric Hoffer. I've unearthed three of his four books (can't find The Ordeal of Change) and will reread them.

What is interesting about him is his voracious appetite for reading. The references in The True Believer alone are mind boggling. As Hoffer proved you don't need to have formal schooling to learn, but you must read widely to understand the world and its peoples.

We should understand how our founding fathers came to structure the United States. They read the social philosophers of their time such as Hume, Locke, etc. Knowing this background gives one an appreciation of why we have grown as we have.

However, while we got rid a royal class and the Divine Right of Kings. we seem to have created another royalty entitled because of the schools they've attended. Many of the graduates have shown that they didn't learn integrity and good moral character. I refer of course to Enron and similar instances. Let's hope they are in the minority.

And Paul Losch has again written thoughtful comments.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 16, 2008 at 12:59 am

The proof is in the pudding.

Web Link


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 16, 2008 at 1:11 am

Charles,

I had a faculty advisor who was a neocon and a historian. I learned a great deal by arguing with him. I've got to say the sheer whininess by right wingers about left-wingers in academia doesn't impress me. You don't have to agree with someone to learn from them. One of the huge weaknesses in conservative thought is the fear of understanding an opposing viewpoint.

Joan, are you still kvetching about Derrida?

And compound interest aint' that hard a concept. There's plenty of time to learn about structuralism and compound interest.

As for Bill Gates and his degree--there's a pretty well-known rumour that he was kicked out of Harvard for cheating. He certainly had most of his degree at the time he left.


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Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 16, 2008 at 5:09 am

When Kay Boyle bragged that she downgraded any students who did not participate in the protests; when she taught her journalism students that it was not enough to report, sometimes the reporter needed to pick up a brick and toss it himself; and NOT ONE ACADEMIC OR JOURNALIST RAISED AN OBJECTION the slide began. The tacit or active opposition to conservative campus speakers is so well documented that to call it whininess to object is an indictment of the education of the asserter.


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Posted by Joan
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 16, 2008 at 10:18 am



Re Derrida

His work has been regarded by other Analytic philosophers, such as John Searle and W. V. Quine, as pseudo philosophy or sophistry.
"
..anyone who reads deconstructive texts with an open mind is likely to be struck by the same phenomena that initially surprised me: the low level of philosophical argumentation, the deliberate obscurantism of the prose, the wildly exaggerated claims, and the constant striving to give the appearance of profundity by making claims that seem paradoxical, but under analysis often turn out to be silly or trivial."

"He writes so obscurely you can't tell what he's saying, that's the obscurantism part, and then when you criticize him, he can always say, "You didn't understand me; you're an idiot." That's the terrorism part."

"Derrida's writing attempts to undermine the ethical and intellectual norms vital to the academy, if not Western civilization itself. Derrida is accused of creating a blend of extreme skepticism and solipsism that effectively denies the possibility of knowledge and meaning."

Fortunately Derrida is now worm food,

The Economist put a final nail in his coffin
"Amid charges that Mr Derrida's work was absurd, vapid and pernicious, the degree was awarded in the end, by 336 votes to 204. …"Web Link



Stick to compound interest


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 16, 2008 at 12:01 pm

"His work has been regarded by other Analytic philosophers, such as John Searle and W. V. Quine, as pseudo philosophy or sophistry."

That's funny, as if Quine and Searle ever had/ha the last word on anything. Derrida isn't my cup of tea, but I'd love you to show what vespecial access to the 'truth' Searle and Quine have, or any one of their analytical peers.

Searle, Quine, and Derrida were all very different in their approach to the academic exercise called Philosophy, but not one of them can make _absolute_ claims regarding the other.

On a side note, the enterprise of Philosophy - once it entered the mass education machine - lost its original impetus. That's been quite clear for some time.

Why we don't compel the early Western and Eastern classics in HIGH SCHOOL, is beyond me. Instead, we have the Searle's, Quine's, and Derrida's of the world cashing in on ignorance, with Derrida the clear winner in terms of fame.

The very nature of Quine's and Searle's analytic respective enterprises keep them from understanding outsiders. Same thing with Derrida.

Also, academic philosophy is a part of pop culture in France. You have to take that into consideration.

Again, what's lost in joan's statement is any sense of proportion relative to the worth of all knowledge, and the wonder that results from the friction of different kinds of knowledge. One doesn't need a college degree, or the university experience to understand this - one only needs exposure, and intellectual nurturing - something that we've mostly eliminated from our educational systems.

Now, it's all about "competency", status, and "getting a job".


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Posted by paul
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 16, 2008 at 4:56 pm


Apart from trust fund "free spirits'" for everyone else it has always been about--Now, it's all about "competency", status, and "getting a job"---


and keeping a job and progressing.

Derrida and his type despise Western Civilization, they should be moved to North Korea and out of our children education.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 16, 2008 at 5:43 pm

"Derrida and his type despise Western Civilization"

Preposterous.

Looks like someone needs to read up on a few things. Even though there's a lot of good reason to question the current direction, and overall results, of the academy, some of the people questioning that large cultural institution in this thread are pretty ignorant. They diminish their arguments with nonsense.


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Posted by peter s
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 16, 2008 at 9:37 pm

mike

stick to your glass blowing, there is a pony in their somewhere don't you wish?

My kids will have a financial fortress because of compound interest, they can deal with the fact that money is what it is, love cannot buy you money. Despite what the dopers say.


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