But the thing is, he was basically arguing that a lot of people who graduate from college don't learn the things he thinks they should be learning. He is deploring the use of college as a vocational school. So he and the hypothetical anti-college writer might have a meeting of the minds on some issues.
oh yup. yup. i agree with him wholeheartedly. i dont blame the students. there is more money and scholarships for the sciences. my gripe is a pediatrician or teacher or anyone involved with children dont have to take any ECE classes unless their degree is in that.
Is that a problem with college, or a problem with this economy? The unemployment rate is 8.7%. To me, seeing college graduates working nights at Wal-mart proves that people in the US work hard to make ends meet, not that college is a waste of time.
i am a little lost here. by waste of time do you mean you at least gain personal growth or some sort of growth which might not necessarily mean a job. that you gain some knowledge?
the author also brings this up when he talks about the rise in people going to college.
i agree with his take on specialisation which i see all around me. with community colleges now giving high schoolers first priority with class registration i see a larger number of just graduated or last year in high school kids. and a huge number of them really dont care about the subjects being taught - IF they have already decided on a major. they are closed off to any other possibility.
i recall my english class. i loved the teacher and the essays she chose. i learnt soooooo much. for instance i was familiar with illiteracy in 3rd world countries where because of the sheer numbers an illiterate person is not so isolated. but here. they face sooo much isolation. or dumpster diving. perhaps a couple of the students found something interesting. but the others just didnt care. they wanted to just write and be done with it.
only a few of the students were interested in social issues.
which makes me wonder. should everyone go to college at 18? perhaps they might be open to 'growing in learning' after they've got the youth out of their system. makes me wonder should even school begin at 5 or should we wait till 7 or even 8.
there is something really wrong here. about life in general. i cant exactly put my finger on it. i call it the living dead. most of the people are not really living. they are surviving. not saying all. but the majority. they are not leading lives that are inspiring or 'happy' (for lack of a better word).
in the ancient world university was meant to help you find what you are meant to do in the world. kinda like discover yourself and then go do what makes you 'happy'. not tell you what to do but help you discover.
Even from the point of view of professional development, it's worthwhile to attend college, even if you can't get a job in your field immediately after you graduate. I don't foresee a massive reversal of the current trend to pay people according to how much education they have. I think some people are able to find ways to get professional credentials without doing a bachelor's degree or attending college, but college is a socially accepted career path.
Of course, there are other, less tangible reasons to go to college, like a respect for education or a desire to learn for its own sake, an opportunity to be exposed to new ideas and cultures.
The first universities were medieval, originally attached to urban cathedrals. In the ancient world, there were precursors to universities that we now usually call academies. I don't think either ancient academies or medieval universities were meant to help students discover themselves, except perhaps through the monastic life that often accompanied the life of scholarship in medieval and some ancient societies. The purpose of academies and universities was learning. I'm not sure why we have to defend that as a purpose for contemporary colleges and universities.
Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 2-3-2003.
I hope to read this thread when I get a chance, but I just wanted to share this first.
I went to college and got my bachelor's degree because my parents had set aside the money for this, and, after trying full time work for a bit, I decided exploring ideas would be a heck of a lot more fun than heading straight into responsible adulthood. Yet I knew, all along, that my real plan was to get married and stay home with my kids, not to have a career.
I got a degree in social work. After college, I worked for one and a half years in a halfway house with Cuban refugees coming out of jail. Then I decided that I didn't like the person I was turning into...so I went and got a job as a teacher in a day care center. I worked in the child care field until about a month after I married at age thirty-five. I got pregnant right away and I did end up being a full time stay-at-home mom for ten years.
Then it became clear that I was going to need to start bringing in an income. Through a single homeschooling friend, I learned about a real work-from-home job giving telephone English lessons to people in Europe and Asia. I applied and got the job. I started a little over a year ago, when my younger dd had just turned five and my older dd was about to turn ten.
At that time, dh's and my plan was for me to work part time to supplement his full time income, but this past February he had his second TIA, and, when he tried to go back to work shortly after his return from the hospital, he got a severe headache. He and I talked it over and agreed that it would be best for him to quit. I expanded my availabilities and am now giving around 35 hours of lessons a week, and it pays well enough that it adds up to more than I would likely earn at a full time "regular" job.
This job does not require an ESL degree or any kind of teaching degree -- but it does require some sort of bachelor's degree. So I'm so glad I took that four-year-break between childhood and adulthood all those years ago. I want to do everything I can to help my daughters do this, too, if they want to.
I never became a social worker, but my social work degree has nevertheless opened a door for me and broadened my options.
Because like the author said the purpose should be 'learning' and its all becoming vocational - even liberal arts too.
vocational not because its something you want to do - but a way of earning money - like the race in nursing majors.
i hope when and if my dd goes to college i hope she goes for the 'learning' and discovering aspect of it and out of that will come her professional training that she feels called for, not for a reason to make money. if she is not sure what she wants to do, i hope college (whenever that happens) gives her the choices and she makes the choice of what she wants to go into.
so in a sense medieval universities were places of learning - yup they were, but i feel todays is not about learning, but more about training. i think that's my biggest pet peeve about university. many are not choosing a degree because of the love of learning but because it will bring them better jobs. of course many because they feel they have no other options. and if they get the right profs and are inspired they stick on. or else they drop out.
We also have to address the original question in the OP, which was about whether to encourage her bright high schooler to pursue a degree in music. What if she couldn't get a job as a musician, would the college tuition be wasted?
I think there are both professional reasons and personal reasons why it's worthwhile for people to go to college and study. I think it still has validity as a professional path and that it has further use as a means to learning, so why not? I agree with you, meemee, that the current climate discourages serious learning. I like Mammal Mama's example, above, of how a degree in social work enabled her to get jobs in related fields, both before and after she chose to stay at home raising children.
I do regret pursuing a PhD, often, but I can't imagine who I would be now if I hadn't gone to college.
Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 2-3-2003.
You could easily turn that around and say that those saying it's worth it are justifying the years they spent in school and the cost of paying for it. After all, you wouldn't want to think you wasted all that cash and time right?
Snotty attitudes can go both ways.
here is the part (though i think the thread has gone far beyond the original question) that stops me from directly answering that question.
there is something about tenacity. i really feel if you strongly believe in something and hold on it with a pitbull bite you can never fail. you become your own 'salesman' living and breathing what you want to do and jumping at chances to make it happen. who knows?!!! am i right? or will life experience prove me wrong.
all that i know is that's what keeps me going as i struggle to get into a Ph D program myself as i start over academically all over again.
not having walked that path i dont feel qualified to give advice on that subject - coz in my own life i've been called an idiot by almost all family members and some friends. irresponsible.
will my ph d be worth it? in my heart i know it will - but only time will tell.
In my opinion? No. But then... my son is studying Music Composition. He may never make a lot of money, but he will bring something positive to this world.
I've not read through all the replies since its late and I think I can finally lay down with my cranky lil one. But I wanted to say that I have a high school friend who is a very talented violinist. She went to college and majored in music. She does not teach but has worked for several years with a cruise company in a string ensemble. She absolutely loves her job and it definately pays more than minimum wage. There is also the possibility of working as a composer or with a professional orchestra. There are many opportunities available in the music industry that does not include teaching. Also, if she enters the field, she'll probably be exposed to other various avenues to persue as a career in music. Or she could end up like my DH-still in love with music but realizing that its a passion that doesn't translate into a career. Most college students change their major a myriad of times! I hope that wasn't redundant at all!!
Now that I've had a bit more time to read a good part of this thread, I want to add that I agree with meemee and the others who say, in one way or another, that there is tremendous value in the learning that can take place in college, irregardless of whether the degree itself is economically beneficial.
Personally, I feel that my college education, especially the courses I took in sociology and anthropology, planted seeds in me that made me more willing to consider raising my children differently from how my relatives and friends had raised, or were raising, theirs. Many of these seeds took years to bear fruit (but I didn't become a mom until many years after college), because I was not ready in my early twenties to risk getting on what I saw, then, as a slippery slope to destruction by genuinely considering the possibility that all life evolved from a common ancestor, or that people in non-Christian cultures might have some insights into spirituality that my own culture was lacking.
The college atmosphere, both in class and outside class in gatherings around tables or chats on benches, introduced me to the wonderful concept of being able to disagree respectfully. It seems that so many people in the world I grew up in see debate as "argumentative" and contentious, especially for women -- but college gave me a glimpse of a world where you could express your own opinion and still be kind to others. Not that everyone in college followed the rules of kindness, but enough did that it gave me a sort of blueprint for how I could be a caring person and also be opinionated.
My main concern with regard to economics is that I really want my girls to be free to pursue their passions whether or not they are lucrative, and it seems to me that the weight of student loans can be rather constricting these days. I wish I could say, like my parents did, that the money to cover a four year degree and dormitory costs is just sitting there for them to avail themselves of anytime they are ready, but I just have a feeling it's not going to be all sitting there in one lump sum seven years from now when my oldest dd is eighteen. Maybe I'll be able to do like one of my friends did; she and her husband made monthly payments on their daughter's student loan for the four (or five?) years that she attended, and had it all paid off for her by the time she graduated.
Maybe that's why my destiny ended up being to have two girls five years apart instead of having about four children very close in age as I had originally wanted!
So, in a nutshell, I would not try to deter one of my children from following her passion just because I didn't see it as lucrative -- but I would encourage her to look into ways of furthering her education that would not lock her into a heavy debt-load.
in my circumstances my undergrad degree was worthless - in my humble opinion. i HAD to do it because my parents insisted i do so. i was a closed mind in college out of protest. i did the bare minimum and so was trained but did not 'learn'.
the jobs i got with my degree were dissatisfying low paying jobs. the high paying job that i got was the one that didnt need me to have the degree. and it was a job i loved. apparently work ethic and manangement skills was valued over an education (however i will say i started at the bottom and rose up really quick). i could have gone and applied with my degree to higher paying job but i discovered higher paying jobs demanded way more out of you than i was willing to give. nor did i want to become a cog in teh wheel that a state job would bring me.
so yes while my BA opened up doors for me - they were not the kind of doors i wanted to walk through. i discovered having a car was more important than a degree to get the kind of non profit jobs i was interested in.
today when i am back in school i am a completely different person. its because i want to work in a particular area and thus realised i have to go back and get my ph d to do the things i want to. that doesnt mean i will grab the chance to do just any work my higher degree will open up for me. i still refuse to walk through those doors.
i am not making a general statement here. i am talking more about myself and my own philosophy. here i hated management with a venegance all these years (the politics) and now i realise how much i love it and thus am good at it because people are my thing. therefore i have become involved in a research program without even entering a graduate program and presently negotiating a contractor contract as they cant hire me as i am not in their program.
ooooooooh FINALLY i realise what i am trying to get at. duh. its taken me this long to be enlightened.
my big eureka moment for now is that what makes a HUGE difference is personal philosophy. its huge. humongous. are you one who can work any job or are you one who can work only a certain kind of job.
i have a friend who pursued the learning of his choice and chose a soul sucking job - hated it everyday except when he had to go do field study. he stayed because his focus was not his job, but the life style the paycheck gave him. he was the any kind of job person.
however that's not how i view work. i could never live his life. i would die. work is my life and play. if work is out of whack my whole life is out of whack.
in fact i chased a paycheck just to be with dd. and it had a huge detrimental affect on my whole life and life as a mother. the soul sucking took me to the deepest level of depression that i have ever been in, where even being a mother couldnt pull me out. i had to quit and be poor but happy in life. and while i went without things the experiences were amazing.
so a college education is GREAT for people who can do any job and so they go for the money rather than what the job entails.
but for people like me where the kind of job matters a great deal a college degree does not make a difference unless it is required in your field. it still isnt. however i want to be in the same line of work but at a different level which i can only achieve with a higher education and therefore i am happy to be back. that means this time around i am not being trained but am 'learning'. at every moment of the way.
A very interesting discussion. I have a B.S. in General Studies, my husband does not. It was his union job as a transit operator (and the benefits that went with it) that made it possible for me to stay home with our two boys until they were 9 and 12. Then I went to work for the school system so I could have the same hours and days that they did. College helped me indirectly. When No Child Left Behind was passed...and I won't go into my soapbox on that travesty)...I had the degree so could work in Title 1 schools as an Instructional Asst. My co-workers without degrees were scrambling to study for an assessment test that fulfilled the requirement. I was relieved to not have that stressor; I am incapable of math past about the 5th grade level and they were all sweating over algebra problems. As the years went by, I got into Vocational/Transition services. At this point I am finally earning close to what my husband did before he retired four years ago. I have learned strictly on the job; the college degree has done nothing except give me the status of having one. I am all for union trade jobs if a person can't/doesn't want to go the college route. They pay well, and the benefits are unmatched. My sons, now 21 and 24, both have degrees; in math/economics and chemistry respectively. They have opted for the professional track, which is fine as long as you don't get a Humanities degree as I did. Their debt loads are huge, but they knew that going in. I agree with everyone here who has said it is really a matter of personal choice.
can we blame our students for choosing 'vocational' subjects over learning.
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