Friday, June 18, 2010

Teach your children well

Something folks may not know about me: I never graduated from dear ol' R.U.

My time on the banks of the old Raritan, my boys, was fraught with self-caused misery, only some of it academic.  Sure, good times too.  Found Christ at college, so net-plus, and made a number of life-long friends whom I see or speak with regularly.  (One of them I share a blog with.)  But still... it took me ten years after I'd finally bottomed out to finally finish paying the student loans.

Now, had I managed a degree, that would have been a quicker process: but still, that's TEN years for paying off a relatively-small debt burden from a university that charges less to in-state residents such as myself.  (Remember, I didn't finish - I didn't have four or five full years of tuition and costs to pay off.)

Now imagine going to an Ivy League school for four years, with loans covering much of it.  Yowch.

I've long thought that if you didn't need college for what you wanted to do (or were likely to find yourself doing) then it was probably a lot of hassle for little gain.  My brother, for example, never went to college and he out-earns me as a mechanic.  (And is this sort of thing typical for the HVAC industry, Spider?)

Part of me also suspects that four years of higher education for certain jobs is probably overkill, and you could do them with two or three years of specialized training - with the benefit of starting a career earlier, with less debt, and wasting less of your precious time fiddling about with topics of no interest.  Rutgers, like many colleges and universities, requires its students to satisfy a long list of conditions before conferring a degree.

I'm not saying that schools should just start tossing sheepskin into the air like confetti.  But if I wanted to go to school to be a scientist, why do I need a major AND a minor (or two majors, if I perferred)?  Why do I also need two humanities courses, two social sciences, a non-Western, etc etc - by rule?  Instead of letting me focus on the twelve or fifteen courses that will outfit me for my chosen career, and then a smattering of what actually interests me, I wind up spending a lot of money and at least a full year on courses of no value to me, either economically or academically.  It's not like it would be difficult to include a course in the major that covers important non-technical matters.  But all the rest strikes me as the college doing what should properly be done in high school - giving me a basic well-rounded education and general skills useful to anyone.

It's not like you can't go to college parties without taking classes. (I know a lot of students who managed that quite well.) You can make friends and socialize anywhere. You can find Christ in the unlikeliest places. So if you don't want to be there and don't need it, why do it? Why do so many jobs require full-on Bachelor's degrees (and sometimes, Masters is preferred) when the actual job will use nearly none of what you learn getting the degree?

1 comment:

pwlsax said...

The reason so much work requires a baccalaureate ought to be easy to figure out: Having to work like hell to fulfill pointless requirements is excellent training for the modern workforce.

In olden times, such compulsory bullpucky was referred to as Building Character.