College: Part 4

A new and interesting phenomenon is occurring: It seems the internet has freed people to discuss what really matters in education.

One of the current hot-topics is “What is the value of a college education/diploma?” If you are in college, considering college, or a parent considering college for your student(s), I encourage you to weigh in on this discussion. I would like to hear your opinions and ideas.

Everything about education, especially college, is being scrutinized. I am glad this is happening. It’s about time! For generations Americans have been unwilling to question many issues about education which they should have been discussing.

What are people saying? Some are hard-core believers in college for all who are able to attend (and can borrow the money).  Others are questioning the cost of a college education against the lifetime value that education provides. Many are asking if college professors are teaching anything of value at all. And still others are beginning to wonder if junior colleges might be providing better instruction (albeit with lesser status) and at much less cost.

I read lots of educational blogs and tweets (including from national educators and the U.S. Department of Education). The combined noise sounds like an orchestra whose instruments are playing different symphonies.

Many who write about college give the impression that colleges are quickly losing their cultural luster.

Here is an example from one of America’s most popular bloggers: actor, comedian, and writer, Matt Walsh. I am including only a sample from his very long blog on college. I will include a link to the entire piece if you are interested in reading it all.

“If you’re not familiar with it, a college degree is a thing that we tell our kids to buy with money they don’t have, in hopes that it will help them make money they might earn, which will give them the ability to pay back the money they spent in order to make the money they’re paying it back with.

“Can anyone seriously argue that spending 48 months on a college campus better prepares you for a retail environment than spending 7 years in a retail environment?

“…if we look at the great leaders of human history (something you can do even without a college degree, thanks to inventions such as Google and libraries) can you build a convincing case that leadership qualities are more often learned in academic buildings than developed out in the wilderness of the real world?

“Is a college degree actually a necessary ingredient for success in the vast majority of professions? No, no, no, no, and definitely not.

“I have…a friend [who]… graduated from a good university and now has a high paying job (that he hates, by the way) where he sits at a desk and enters numbers into a computer. He could not have gotten this job without his educational credentials, but he will be the first to tell you that his degree is in no way, shape, or form actually necessary to perform his daily duties. All he really needs are fingers and a high tolerance for mundane tasks. The college degree is irrelevant. Or should be.

“Sure, there are some fields — astrophysicist, surgeon, engineer, Pope, etc. — that must undoubtedly necessitate further education, but these are in the minority. In the predominance of cases, the best man for the job is the man who can do the job, and the best way to know if a man can do the job is by seeing if he’s ever done the job, or some kind of job in any way similar to it.

“Outside of a few specific professions, your ability to succeed in the vast majority of occupational fields should not depend on your liberal arts degree. Should not. But it does, because that’s how it is. Why is it this way? Because. Just because.

“Education, in the end, should be pursued for its own sake. We learn because we want to know, and knowledge is beautiful even if it isn’t ‘used.’ Now more than ever, a person can learn anything and acquire any knowledge without spending a dime or sitting for one minute in a college classroom. This is the miraculous reality of modern times. The potential for a person to educate him or herself is limitless — but we think knowledge must be strictly confined behind the walls of an official institution or it doesn’t count.

“Please understand this: college will not become cheaper, employers will not stop erecting irrelevant barriers to entry, schools will not stop pushing kids in one direction regardless of their unique skills and abilities, and nothing else will get better with any of this until we stop participating in the charade.

“We are truly a society of impotent and hopeless sheep if we continue to bankrupt ourselves and our children on a massively overpriced college education just because “it’s what people do.” It’s only what people do because people do it. Stop doing it.

“College is not necessary for most of us. I think it’s time we stop pretending otherwise”

Go here to read the full blog post, It’s Time to Boycott College.

So, there is one point of view. Agree? Disagree? Think Walsh has missed a really important point or points? Share your opinion, below…

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