A College Degree Is Not An Education

From the media known as The Daily Mail, published in the UK comes this article.
‘Please validate my use of time’: Frustrated college graduate tries to sell her college diploma on eBay for $50,000 – after failing to find a job after four years
Stephanie Ritter is selling her Florida State University Bachelor’s degree on eBay for a Buy It Now price of $50,000 – or the next best offer
The 26-year-old explains that the pricey degree and four years spent studying haven’t helped her get a job
In addition to offering the actual piece of paper, Stephanie will give the buyer a tour of campus and access to her memories on Facebook
The California resident hopes to repay the $40,000 she owes in loans

Stephanie majored in theatre and graduated from the public school in 2011 with honors – but now, unable to find work in her field, she has a job as an assistant.
‘I thought this piece of paper has so much worth to so many people, but for a theatre major, it couldn’t mean less,’ she told BuzzFeed. ‘I’m doing the exact same things and probably getting paid the exact same amount as people that dropped out halfway through freshman year, except I’m still $40,000 in debt and they’re, well, not.’

This is not merely a question of supply and demand but one of extreme ignorance. No piece of paper is a job guarantee, it never was. sure, if she had taken a degree in electrical engineering she might have been hired quickly, depending on her major emphasis. but a degree in theater arts, well, depending on whether she was expecting a position as actress or director or something that requires a token of talent, a piece of paper is not the same thing. It will not confer talent on an individual where there is little to none within. Now had she taken up accounting as her major she might well have landed a job in the entertainment industry as accounting calls for such a degree. Well, who’s to blame for this pretty pass?

 

Oxford summed up the English education experience.  One went to Oxford to occupy time and mature as an adult.  The top scholars went on to teaching and research positions.  That middle group of the sons of English gentry went on to pulpits or into government and hence to political positions.  Training in the classic or Greek, Latin, and maybe a few other languages, the old philosophy, literature, and arts, were deemed sufficient to in calculate a gentleman with the proper sense of learning and customs needed for government office.  Indeed, practical education was a complete waste of time.  The other purpose of an Oxford was to provide the young gentleman with the proper network of the right people to know.  Cambridge broke with this traditions and became more oriented towards the practical side of education teaching such non gentlemanly subjects as engineering, math, chemistry, and the like.  Hence, fewer Cambridge graduates  made it to White Hall or the Foreign Office.  On the continent the universities had already been changing there educational modes prior to Cambridge.  True, the French have set great store by the Sorbonne and France’s “West Point” for the political and military appointments, but by an large those universities were far quicker to take up the reform of education from a babysitting for the gentry’s sons to real institutions of learning.  Of course the standards for matriculation were higher, no average learner need apply unless daddy has money or political influence, that plague common to all institutions dependent on the public largess.

 

During this time craft workers and business workers entered into either apprenticeships or sought out business colleges.  In Europe a college is no where near the equal of a university.  In some localities a college may be little more than a high school.  Elsewhere it may be a business school where bookkeeping rather than accounting is taught.  The old Heald Business College is an example.  Its coursework was not recognized as the equivalent of University courses.  We call that accreditation, where a group of examiners determine the academic worth of a school or its course work.  The old trade schools taught its students how to run machinery or become proficient in welding and other such industrial arts.  The crafts such as carpenters, masons, and iron workers had apprenticeships.  Generally the junior and senior high schools sorted out the students into their place in life.  At the top was the college prep level where those students who were judged, based on their elementary school work, most likely to succeed in any higher academic setting.  Many parents became quite upset if their child was not placed in this group for it meant that the income possibilities and the social possibilities would be limited.  For those with average academic ability their place was the business level where students were taught bookkeeping, typing, filing, business writing, and other commercial courses that would ready the graduate for for immediate employment in the business community.  At the bottom was the industrial arts group.  The guys would take various wood, metal, and other shop courses.  The English and math courses were simplified for these students so that they could be taught practical applications.  The girls learned sewing, home making, and other skills needed to run a home upon marriage.

 

The change in academic proficiency changes in 1969 with the student riots on the university campuses.  I’m not talking about the anti war riots or the race riots.  I am talking about the stupidity riots.  Students were striking for a change to the coursework.  So many social science, liberal arts students, and the like went on strike because they did not want to have to take science and mathematics classes.  They said such courses were not relevant to the pursuit of their goals of being an English teacher or studying sociology or art history.  the protest even drifted down to the high school level is some communities.  Now if one wanted to be a teacher on had a choice.  You could go to the university and take the education classes necessary for your teaching degree.  But if your scholarship and GPA in high school, along with the SAT score precluded acceptance to a university or state college or private college, then you went to a state teachers college.  I remember that a fair number of jocks went to Chaney State Teachers College outside of Philadelphia to get that teaching degree or one in physical therapy.  There are no state teachers colleges and haven’t been since 1975.  Their accreditation were upgraded so that they could issue degrees on par with the colleges and universities.

 

In the meantime, attending college became all the rage in education.  Our local school boards were measured by how many students went on to attend college or university.  But colleges and universities also got bitten by the new bug.  More students meant more required resources.  But what if these new students didn’t have the necessary academic skills necessary to compete with those who did?  Ah, community or junior colleges were the key.  These became two year diploma mills offering all manner of associate of arts or science degrees.  Actually far more associate of arts degrees were by far the easier to obtain.  Grade inflation made sure that their graduates could attend the four year institutions.  High schools did their part by dumbing down their teaching requirements.  But the four year institutions were complaining that those two year graduates were still unprepared.  At every level one started to see far more remedial courses.  The two year institutions started providing more remedial classes since our public schools had dropped their standards.  Students were taking upwards of four year to finish a two year degree.  But this was lucrative to the community colleges since they often received increased public funding.  And it also created new jobs for administrators to help the new students to ease on into the routine of taking less that a full load each semester.  The four year institutions were quick on the uptake and now one could breeze leisurely through a four year degree in six or seven years.  And how to pay for it all.  Student loans that were one obtained through banks now were offered through funding agencies to anyone who asked.  Tuition kept increasing year by year.  Back in 1970 I could take five three unit courses at San Jose State College for the ungodly sum of two hundred dollars a semester.  The text books often cost less than five dollars a piece.

 

No longer was on encouraged to go to college to obtain an education, one was encouraged to obtain a degree, any degree.  High schools never seem to have heard about supply and demand.  I remember laughing when I found out that I could go the the University of Miami and obtain a four year degree in basket weaving.  This game has been going on for quite some time and it is getting worse.  Perhaps the most telling of this educational inflation is that more graduates seldom use much of what they have learned in these institutions.  You see, a degree has become so easy to obtain that it is not longer used as the deciding discriminator for hiring.  It is a discriminator only for the process of job application rejection.  You don’t have a degree?  Your application gets tossed.  We now have a glut of graduates with worthless degrees.  the degrees are largely useless because so many people have them.  The degree that once was seen as a short cut to a good job is now no longer a short cut for culling applicants.  The worst part of these degrees is that the graduates know so little or art, philosophy, politics, or much of anything else.  the only side of the house that has retained its standards has been that of science.  The science departments did not give in to the grade inflation or the demand to make their courses easier.  You can’t bull shit your way through mathematics and physics.  The ultimate irony is that so many scientist can converse on all many of social sciences, humanities, and the arts but yet those who are the the leaders in social sciences, humanities, and the arts can’t talk about science intelligently at all.  Think upon that for a few minutes.

 

 

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