College is a waste of time (OT)

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Mtnmun

Trad climber
Top of the Mountain Mun
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 3, 2011 - 01:35pm PT
http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/06/03/stephens.college/index.html?iref=NS1

Stephens makes some valid points:

Editor's note: Dale J. Stephens is a 19-year-old entrepreneur leading UnCollege, a social movement supporting self-directed higher education and building RadMatter, a platform to demonstrate talent. He is among the first recipients of the Thiel Fellowship, an initiative by venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel that gives 20 entrepreneurs under 20 years old $100,000 to fund their projects.

(CNN) -- I have been awarded a golden ticket to the heart of Silicon Valley: the Thiel Fellowship. The catch? For two years, I cannot be enrolled as a full-time student at an academic institution. For me, that's not an issue; I believe higher education is broken.

I left college two months ago because it rewards conformity rather than independence, competition rather than collaboration, regurgitation rather than learning and theory rather than application. Our creativity, innovation and curiosity are schooled out of us.

Failure is punished instead of seen as a learning opportunity. We think of college as a stepping-stone to success rather than a means to gain knowledge. College fails to empower us with the skills necessary to become productive members of today's global entrepreneurial economy.

College is expensive. The College Board Policy Center found that the cost of public university tuition is about 3.6 times higher today than it was 30 years ago, adjusted for inflation. In the book "Academically Adrift," sociology professors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa say that 36% of college graduates showed no improvement in critical thinking, complex reasoning or writing after four years of college. Student loan debt in the United States, unforgivable in the case of bankruptcy, outpaced credit card debt in 2010 and will top $1 trillion in 2011.

Fortunately there are productive alternatives to college. Becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg or mastering the phrase "Would you like fries with that?" are not the only options.

The success of people who never completed or attended college makes us question whether what we need to learn is taught in school. Learning by doing -- in life, not classrooms -- is the best way to turn constant iteration into true innovation. We can be productive members of society without submitting to academic or corporate institutions. We are the disruptive generation creating the "free agent economy" built by entrepreneurs, creatives, consultants and small businesses envisioned by Daniel Pink in his book, "A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future."

Opinion: Why liberal arts matter

We must encourage young people to consider paths outside college. That's why I'm leading UnCollege: a social movement empowering individuals to take their education beyond the classroom. Imagine if millions of my peers copying their professors' words verbatim started problem-solving in the real world. Imagine if we started our own companies, our own projects and our own organizations. Imagine if we went back to learning as practiced in French salons, gathering to discuss, challenge and support each other in improving the human condition.

A major function of college is to signal to potential employers that one is qualified to work. The Internet is replacing this signaling function. Employers are recruiting on LinkedIn, Facebook, StackOverflow and Behance. People are hiring on Twitter, selling their skills on Google, and creating personal portfolios to showcase their talent. Because we can document our accomplishments, and have them socially validated with tools such as LinkedIn Recommendations, we can turn experiences into opportunity. As more and more people graduate from college, employers are unable to discriminate among job seekers based on a college degree and can instead hire employees based on their talents.

Of course, some people want a formal education. I do not think everyone should leave college, but I challenge my peers to consider the opportunity cost of going to class. If you want to be a doctor, going to medical school is a wise choice. I do not recommend keeping cadavers in your garage. On the other hand, what else could you do during your next 50-minute class? How many e-mails could you answer? How many lines of code could you write?

Some might argue that college dropouts will sit in their parents' basements playing Halo 2, doing Jell-O shots and smoking pot. These are valid but irrelevant concerns, for the people who indulge in drugs and alcohol do so before, during and after college. It's not a question of authorities; it's a question of priorities. We who take our education outside and beyond the classroom understand how actions build a better world. We will change the world regardless of the letters after our names.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dale Stephens.

klk

Trad climber
cali
Jun 3, 2011 - 01:42pm PT
Yeah, conformity. It just sucks that we expect our students all to learn the exact, same goddmamn friggin periodic table. I mean the exact same frickin one that they learn in China. Outrageous that we are inflicting that sort of trauma on bright, talented, teenagers who left to their own devices would follow their libidinal bliss into the 22nd century.

He's completely ignorant of what actually happens in a decent college education, and I don't mean the University of Phoenix.


The whole point of a research university is to get trained in research skills and to acquire a disciplined, rigorous ability to then re-educate oneself as the fields change. That doesn't happen in big classrooms, memorizing random bits of data and then taking multiple-choice exam, of course.

But then, any decent research university that can still afford to do proper teaching is investing heavily in lab work or the equivalent for the field. The problem is, that sort of training is really labor-intensive and capital intensive.

There are all sorts of folks who would be better off not going through even that sort of training, of course. Especially folks unwilling or unable to discipline themselves the way that a "discipline" requires. A lot of folks think we should really expand voc-tech training, and I think that's a wonderful idea. But it's also insanely expensive, because it tends to require more, rather than less, lab or field work.

ron gomez

Trad climber
fallbrook,ca
Jun 3, 2011 - 01:45pm PT
Education, as waste of time???? THEY need an education. Wonder what the stats are of those that are educated vs uneducated and the lifestyles they live. A GUD education is NEVER a waste of time....period!
Peace
apogee

climber
Jun 3, 2011 - 01:52pm PT
This stuff has been in the media lately, and if you can get past the oversimplified headlines that usually accompany it (i.e. the name of this thread), and listen to his rationale, (esp. Peter Thiel- Thiel Fellowship) it has some validity.

Traditional education paths are not a waste of time- the point is that there are other reasonable alternatives with equal or better potential. Add to this the fact that higher education continues to move further and further beyond the financial grasp of the middle class, and combine with that the reality that even when a higher degree is achieved, the cost associated with it is difficult or impossible to recoup.

Statistically, those with higher educations/degrees will probably always out-earn those without, but in today's changing working world, there are more 'outside the box' opportunities than ever.

Edit:
Thiel Fellowship:
http://thielfoundation.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5&Itemid=10
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Run like the wind.
Jun 3, 2011 - 02:24pm PT
College is a waste of time!

Battle cry of the Drop Out. What... does he think he INVENTED THAT SH#T?

DMT
jfailing

Trad climber
Lone Pine
Jun 3, 2011 - 02:28pm PT
He's right and he's wrong. Any sort of science-based subject that you learn at a college/university requires that higher education. Physics, chemistry, biology, geology - they require an education to be hired on as a professional.

Perhaps what he means is that you don't necessarily need a college education to be an entrepreneur? That's what I got out of it.

His point does say something though. I'm directly using the degree I paid a lot of money for. I would say over 2/3 of my peers at school aren't using their degrees at all - if thats the case, why go to college?
locker

Social climber
CO
Jun 3, 2011 - 02:43pm PT

" A GUD education is NEVER a waste of time....period!"...

BINGO!!!...


Anastasia

climber
hanging from an ice pick and missing my mama.
Jun 3, 2011 - 02:50pm PT
History Majors can be...

Teachers
Information Managers
archivist
Journalism
Litigation Support
Libraries
writers
Medical Records Manager

etc.


It's really up to the individual person to figure it out. In my graduation class, 1/3 went on to become lawyers so... That should say something in itself.

Nohea

Trad climber
Sunny Aiea,Hi
Jun 3, 2011 - 02:54pm PT
a state teacher I know said " the government f*#ks everything up so we should turn education over to private enterprise"

Many with no vision and a state induced dependence upon such will ridicule the thought but nevertheless it IS entirely possible.

Off to Maui, have a great weekend all!

Will


Edit: The change from with to will by my phones auto check is knott too difficult to figure out. SO I would repeat in other words.... the party members house is burning...get out!!!
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Run like the wind.
Jun 3, 2011 - 02:56pm PT
There are one or two private colleges in the U.S. last time I checked.

DMT
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 3, 2011 - 02:56pm PT
This point of view would work just fine for an idiot savant of course, just so long as you keep him or her in that tiny little segment where they actually can function.

And for sure, ignore the humanities, history, language, the arts, etc.

But I will totally agree that higher education is in a crisis not just for its funding and that of its students but much more significantly in regard to continuing inroads made by those factions in our cultures (worldwide) that are trying to attenuate its importance, viz. promote ignorance. And I just see this Dale Stephens guy as being an unwitting tool for such ignorance, just thinly veiled, and of course juvenile and singing his youthful paean.

For sure, always go beyond the box, stem to the hold invisible behind you, reach around the arete to find the hidden but suspected hold, burrow deep in that offwidth to find a secret finger crack, try to decode a complex face----always, and leave your teachers behind of course as is meant to be---supercede them. But certainly do not decry the very institutions that would be the last to fail you when all else grows dark.....
Randisi

Boulder climber
Soon to be in China
Jun 3, 2011 - 03:01pm PT
Many with no vision and a state induced dependence upon such with ridicule the thought but nevertheless it IS entirely possible.

Can someone translate this from Word Salad into English, please?
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Run like the wind.
Jun 3, 2011 - 03:08pm PT
^^^

Lol.

DMT
Mtnmun

Trad climber
Top of the Mountain Mun
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 3, 2011 - 03:10pm PT
Our creativity, innovation and curiosity are schooled out of us.


This is happening to a large level in the the grade school/high school level. The all children left behind act leaves students void of creativity in lieu of memorizing test answers.

College put the challenge and innovation back into my life and it was a very rewarding and exciting time. This wealth of information is still alive for me today.
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Jun 3, 2011 - 03:14pm PT
Colleges are changing slower than they should to keep up with the modern world. There will always be tension between teaching a broad general base, vs. teaching an almost vocation (i.e. physics degree vs. computer science), and it feels to me that most colleges are further behind the curve on educating enough folks to have the right skills the world needs now than they used to be.

I found my 6 years of college to be worth every penny, and worth the time invested. Short of starting your own business, it is very hard to earn 6 figures without going to college. The few geniuses out there can indeed educate themselves and start their own businesses without a degree, but they are rare, and basing a society on the Bill Gates model is not viable. At the same time I see too many dolts ending up being hired purely because they have a Master's instead of just a Bachelors like other better talented folks have thanks to the business world putting excess faith in a piece of paper.

Sadly state and federal funding has not kept up with attendance at colleges, among other factors, leading to soaring tuition and soaring student loan debt. Little is done to educate students on their likely incomes from each major, or to share with them what the likely resulting jobs are like. As a result we have too many Art majors, not enough Engineers, and too many college grads unemployed due to lousy skillset matching (and too many H1B visa folks bunging up our engineering houses with broken english to fill the void).
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 3, 2011 - 03:19pm PT
Well.... I have always particularly loved this bumper sticker:

IF YOU THINK EDUCATION IS EXPENSIVE, TRY IGNORANCE
happiegrrrl

Trad climber
www.climbaddictdesigns.com
Jun 3, 2011 - 03:24pm PT
Entrepreneurs DON'T need no stinkin' college. But not everyone is an entrepreneur. Plenty of people who have been incredibly successful in their careers would flail like sport climbers on a Jtree 5.8 if they suddenly found themselves in the position of being required to entrprenue(I know, that's not a word. I made it up; when you don't go to college, you feel completely okay in doing that sort of thing....hahahah).
Anastasia

climber
hanging from an ice pick and missing my mama.
Jun 3, 2011 - 03:25pm PT
College was a fantastic experience for me... I found it both challenging and awarding. Plus, it helped me grow up. Yeah, I still needed a few more nails placed in order to become an adult but heck... College did give me the main frame of what I am today.

Would I be better off without college? Heck no. Yet, I do agree that it's not for everyone. It just helps open up opportunities... You still need to do the walking...

There are some people who can have all the opportunities in the world and they will still not be able to make it and... People like my father that don't need an open door, he goes through walls because he really is that capable.

Tami

Social climber
Canada
Jun 3, 2011 - 03:28pm PT
The morons who carry on thinking all they need to know they learned in Kindergarten fail to remember what teat they are lucky enough to latch onto and who they suckle from as a result. It's about connections and if yer lucky to have family connections into some fabulous enterprise then aren't you a lucky little entitled prince/ss.

But for the rest of us schmucks, we will need to continue chasing school in order to hopefully find some connection to a job that won't drive us crazy or expose us to toxic waste.

Dolomite

climber
Anchorage
Jun 3, 2011 - 03:30pm PT
If you think Stephens has a point, try someone with a working, well-informed mind, Louis Menand, in the New Yorker:

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2011/06/06/110606crat_atlarge_menand
Frogjamm

Trad climber
San Francisco
Jun 3, 2011 - 03:33pm PT
This has indeed been a hot meme in the news lately. I think it has become fashionable to denounce college, and while dropping out may be the path for certain bright, entrepreneurial types (ever notice that these articles are always written by people who work in very narrow fields of internet technology) I think that a fantastic, reasonably affordable education is available for those who want it.


I dropped out of college ten years ago, and after a decade of exploring job prospects for someone with out a degree, I recently returned to finish a bachelors in biology. I go to a completely undistinguished state school, and even at such a lowly institution I have to say that I am very pleased by the opportunities that are available to me. I have constant access to a group of experts who are generally more than happy to take the time to answer my questions, and I am able to participate in interesting research in order to better understand not only the topics involved, but how good experiments are designed, carried out, and analyzed.

Of course I'm expected to memorize and regurgitate, but I don't think it is unreasonable to expect people to learn facts about their field of study. Holding such concepts in contempt strikes me as an extremist take on new age educational views that there should be no right and wrong - perhaps just different "ways of knowing". Even while learning facts I am perfectly free to examine why they may be true or under what conditions they might not be.

What I see in my classes are a lot of people who are not ready to or are not interested in receiving a quality education. It is easy enough to scrape by without putting in much thought and so that is what people do. It's certainly what I did the first time around. I don't think the system is failing these people. If anything it might be the other way around.

As for rising costs, that certainly is an issue, and while my school is 3 times as expensive as it was 10 years ago, I think it is still reasonably affordable through a combination of working, loans, and financial aid. The important question is what you are going to get out of the degree. If it is a sharper mind and a better job, then it is well worth the cost. If you're going to float through without learning anything, then it will be a hell of a lot of wasted dough.

I think one problem is that a lot more people are going to college and maybe some of those people would do better elsewhere. But as long as we are destroying collective bargaining, packing off manufacturing jobs overseas, and refusing to pay living wages to workers, then all the people who might have been working decent paying labor jobs a couple generations ago are going to be heading to college instead. A lot of these people probably have no interest in whatever they are studying and consequently don't do very well. They then appear in stats that say that college students aren't learning, and we all assume that the system is failing them.
Branscomb

Trad climber
Lander, WY
Jun 3, 2011 - 03:48pm PT
There's a good article in The Critics section of the current New Yorker on why we have college, titled 'Live and Learn'.

Look in www.newyorker.com, the current issue.

Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Jun 3, 2011 - 03:49pm PT
Yeah, following advice about reforming education system from a 19 yr. old. Sounds like a great plan.
Anastasia

climber
hanging from an ice pick and missing my mama.
Jun 3, 2011 - 03:52pm PT
I asked my father about this and... It's been an interesting conversation.


My Dad left school in fifth grade because of war, poverty, etc. He speaks three languages.. Greek, Arabic and English, had his own construction company, and taught me my Algebra and a little Physics.

To sum it up, he is a very smart guy.

His answer is that college means a whole lot. You might be smart, but nothing says it more than having a diploma. Never underestimate the value of a diploma signed by the governor, certified by the government, etc. You can tell people how great you are, even throw in a few flash cards/portfolio but heck... It can't compare to having you government certify that you are qualified, extremely smart, etc.

Plus in order for you to get it, you need to learn how to work with others, figure out what other's want and perform to other standards than you own, etc. It's not just learning the information... It's about learning how to work in the system. We are not mom and pop stores. Most of us must work within large corporation, systems, a large matrix of boundaries.

He also mention that nothing is more valuable than common sense but... That is something no one can teach you. You either choose to work on the practical, beyond the ego or... You like most who are too lazy to assess their environments and use reason.


P.S. I also love how people without an education are the first to claim it is not necessary and... I've never heard someone say they shouldn't have gotten a diploma. I also know a person who lies about his education regularly for status reasons which I find very offensive... I don't think any of this would be an issue if it wasn't valuable.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Jun 3, 2011 - 04:09pm PT
Independent of the added earning potential it will likely impart over your lifetime, diplomas do mean something. Steven Spielberg and Shaq went back and got theirs after having gobs of money just for that reason.

Also, the education many receive in grades K-12 can be startingly poor. My wife, a former college instructor, and my brother-in-law, an officer in the Marine Corp., have both marveled at the inability of LOTS of people to construct a simple sentence, write a decent letter, etc. Many colleges nowadays have had to shift their focus to teaching rememdial tasks that just aren't being learned in grade school.
kev

climber
A pile of dirt.
Jun 3, 2011 - 04:16pm PT
Yeah understanding how do basic arithmetic (since somehow kids show up at college with out that knowledge), speak, read, and write are so overrated.

Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Run like the wind.
Jun 3, 2011 - 04:16pm PT
Think of it this way -

The entrepreneurial spirit and drive is available to anyone, any time, any where. Some places and times are obviously better than others, but even in a war zone entrepreneurs find a way to survive and thrive.

Access to your own entrepreneurial spirit is 24/7, provided you have one.

And of course there are entrepreneurs and then there are entrepreneurs.

The college drop out who penned the article may be one of those, and this is my perspective from having been a run-of-the-mill entrepreneur myself and then having worked with one of THOSE entrepreneurs for a decade, he may be one of the people who has the intrinsic spark to bootstrap himself to I dunno, found the next Google or Facebook or something. Good for him.

The odds are stacked against him, however. 1 in a friggin 100,000,000 in my experience. True 'go-it-your-own-way' entrepreneurs are not average people. Now there are more modest entrepreneurs and I mean none of you any disrespect - bakery, contractor, investment manager, retailer, etc... all of these are viable businesses to those who don't like reporting to their superiors. But I don't think that kid is talking about dropping out of college to start a pot store or sell stocks or real estate or something...

Its shown over and over again, the college diploma has tangible results in terms of lifetime earnings and elevated lifestyle and the successful realization of these potential benefits are available to a much wider spectrum of people, imo.

So I say to the would-be google-starters out there - why not get the degree and then do your entrepreneurial thing? You can make lots of connections with people that later in life may be of considerable use to you in your march to rule the world. Or maybe when you realize you're not made of the right stuff you can go to work for The Man and still make a decent living that won't leave you crippled by age 55.

DMT
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Jun 3, 2011 - 04:23pm PT
Yeah, following advice about reforming education system from a 19 yr. old. Sounds like a great plan.

Pretty hilarious, Fat Dad :-) I agree completely.

I know someone who recently hired a 26 year old "entrepreneur", who'd never gone to college. The guy came across as a technical wizard and claimed he "grew up programming", etc. Turned out the guy couldn't even spell (without someone to edit his resume), let alone think critically, or write something others could understand. His tech skills were all "drag and drop", too. He didn't last long.

I went back to school in my 30's and value the the entire process immensely - learning to research and present what I'd learned. Hard to know what one doesn't know, until you've gone through this. I completely loved my entire time in school and was super motivated. I was there completely by choice, very different than when I dropped out of 1st year university after graduating from high school.
habitat

climber
grass pass
Jun 3, 2011 - 04:23pm PT
Oh I loved university! It changed every aspect of my life. My world went from this big to THIS BIG...it's not just about the degree and the money, status or prestige that may come with it. It's about being a citizen of THE world vs. your world.
BrianH

Trad climber
santa fe
Jun 3, 2011 - 04:28pm PT
How does anyone actually use a social sciences or history degree for a career, other than in academia?

I'm a government lawyer and I think about the things I learned for my political science degree a lot. I'm sometimes very surprised about how little people know about theories of government and their history.



One of the things I love most about college was the serendipity and being exposed to stuff I might not have otherwise sought out. The extra curricular activities also were just as, if not more, educational then my formal classes. I don't agree that college is a waste of time, at least it wasn't for me. Since I went to a state school in the early 80s I incurred very little debt and it has been worth every penny.

To the extent that colleges (or the "university model") is failing, I think a large part has to do with the primary and secondary schools. Recent education "reforms" seem more designed to remove the ability of teachers to teach critical thinking skills and to turn kids into automata. Of all our major institutions, a class room is about the only one where a teacher of 100 years ago would feel pretty much in place today.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Run like the wind.
Jun 3, 2011 - 04:30pm PT
Would any of you advise your child to avoid college, assuming she has the brain power to get in and pass? Would you tell her to become a seamstress or house maid instead?

Well, would you???

DMT
BrianH

Trad climber
santa fe
Jun 3, 2011 - 04:33pm PT
I could see encouraging a "gap year" or two. It works to great effect in England. I imposed one on myself halfway through, and when I returned, I got a lot more out the last two years.

I guess it depends on the kid and what plans they had to improve themselves and continue growing. But I think it would be rare.
FinnMaCoul

Trad climber
Green Mountains, Vermont
Jun 3, 2011 - 04:47pm PT
What a well reasoned bunch of responses for an ST thread.

I'm one of the guys that is NOT working in a field related to my degree. However, a degree was a pre-requisite of the job.

For me, a liberal arts major, it was all about learning critical thinking. Even at a mid-level state university I had access to a fantastic bunch of professors who challenged those who rose to a challenge.

I agree with Tami and Anastasia. For most of us out there, born without the silver spoon, it helps to open doors. And if, like it sounds many posters here did, you actually take advantage of those opportunities presented, it can be a powerful experience.

I'm not an entrepreneurial type guy. At least not yet. And, true, I'm not raking in six figures. I'm doing work that I enjoy, however, and I've parlayed my jobs into a pretty comfortable deal.

There is no doubt that one could do as well or better as a carpenter or an electrician or a mechanic, or whatever. But I've never been very skilled at those things either.

College got me where I'm at, no doubt about it. It ain't glorious, but it's mine.
Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Jun 3, 2011 - 04:49pm PT
yesterday's wisdoms have expired.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Run like the wind.
Jun 3, 2011 - 05:09pm PT
^^^ Do you want your children to go to college?

DMT
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Jun 3, 2011 - 05:17pm PT
Climbing is a waste of time goto college.
rectorsquid

climber
Lake Tahoe
Jun 3, 2011 - 05:18pm PT
I have been extremely successful being a software engineer for the past 20+ years without every having gotten a degree. What college I had was at a community college studying advertising art for a year.

I would still encourage my kid and anyone else who can do it to go to college.

For people who are not good in the school environment or have circumstances that make college unappealing, Work hard and hope for a little luck to get past the people who are degree bigots.

Dave
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jun 3, 2011 - 05:23pm PT
Yous guys talk like you've never hired a plumber. Or was it so traumatic
you've purged your billfold's memory bank?
altelis

Mountain climber
DC
Jun 3, 2011 - 05:34pm PT
I know someone who recently hired a 26 year old "entrepreneur", who'd never gone to college. The guy came across as a technical wizard and claimed he "grew up programming", etc. Turned out the guy couldn't even spell (without someone to edit his resume), let alone think critically, or write something others could understand. His tech skills were all "drag and drop", too. He didn't last long.

This reminded me of a conversation I had recently with a cardiothoracic surgeon. We were discussing the training practice in medicine, specifically CT surgery, and as I was there for advice he was giving it out. This particular surgeon went through West Point and spent his fair share of time in the desert working in mobile hospitals doing more surgery less connected to his field than he could imagine...

Anyways, his biggest piece of parting wisdom was based on what he saw in the new fellows the last few years. He said surgical residents know more and more about the patterns of medicine but its come at the expense of the facts. They know a lot and are bright, way brighter than in is day (so says he...), and a lot of medicine is pattern recognition, and they this big time. But he says, if you don't know the FACTS the patterns aren't useful. And apparently (from his point of view) the balance in medical education swung a little too far in the latest attempt to revamp the learning process.

What's the point? Entrepreneurs may have all the bright ideas, drive and determination without going to college. But there are some things, some important basic facts, that a college education gives that are necessary for doing really well. For doing REALLY REALLY well, well, those people have it already- THOSE are the Gates' and Zuckerberg's. But most need that fund of knowledge, and learn how to use it in a logical and cohesive manner.

Beyond that, being an entrepreneur is only a very limited way of being successful, and very few actually have what it takes, even to be a modestly successful one. All those other fields typically require some sort of specialized knowledge- anything from a mechanic to a surgeon. Pure drive and no education won't get you far in either of those fields.
Silver

Big Wall climber
Nor Nev
Jun 3, 2011 - 05:40pm PT
I went to Harvard on the Hill also know as the University of Nevada.

Up unitl the mid 60's they had every graduate sign the Book of Oath. It is a book that graduates signed that basically stated you attended this institute to learn and gain knowledge.

That ended and ever since its been about getting a job.

So while in school I went to get educated not get a job. In my first semester of my junior year the dean calls me into the office. I know not who "Dean' is but I go. She tells me I need to declare a major. Well I spend all my time in the Geography dept and I study mostly science and math and history so where does that get me? Apparently a BS in Geography.

She I quote asks me " Why are you even here" I then quote the Book of Oath and remind her that she has lost the vision of this institute and that it is not about getting a job its about getting an education.

I was then dismissed. This country has been dumbing itself down for a long time and now we see the fruits of our labor.

Go to college if you can. You see things, do things and learn things you just don't get in every day life. No judgement here if you don't it's not everyones cup o tea but I would not trade the experience for the world.
Silver

Big Wall climber
Nor Nev
Jun 3, 2011 - 06:03pm PT
Lolli I agree with you as well thats why I took 5 years and went climbing then went back to school.

I remember looking at these 18 year old kids and thinking did you really just ask the professor if you're really are going to have to read all 9 of those books.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Jun 3, 2011 - 06:03pm PT
i was doing something entrepreneurial.

then i got caught and sent to jail.

college looked a lot better after that
Silver

Big Wall climber
Nor Nev
Jun 3, 2011 - 06:04pm PT
KLK They would have taught you to be a better entrepreneur in school.
Chris2

Trad climber
Jun 3, 2011 - 06:26pm PT
Part of the capitalist system:

College = Loans = Need to Pay Off Loans = Will take any job available, even if your schooling taught you nothing about it, to pay off said loans.
Mtnmun

Trad climber
Top of the Mountain Mun
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 3, 2011 - 09:52pm PT
This is brilliant marketing. He is promoting a web site where people can post a resume regardless of education. "College is a waste of time" is the hook. Obviously his $100,000 grant is an endorsement of his business idea. This is a million plus dollar idea.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 3, 2011 - 09:54pm PT
someone up thread wrote:
Our creativity, innovation and curiosity are schooled out of us.

I don't believe that this is true. It presumes that you have all those things as part of the inventory of your childhood, sort of having been "filled up" at birth. But we don't all have the same "amounts" of these attributes.

To a large extent, developing creativity, innovation and curiosity all have to do with what sort of feedback you get when you display these attributes. How did your parents respond to your curiosity? Were you curious? did your really want to know the answers to your questions? did you figure out how to get those questions answered?

Innovation and creativity requires a bit of willingness to undertake risks, usually intellectual... the price of failure is often social ridicule, not all of us want to be subject to that sort of thing, but the nature of both of those attributes is that they explore ground that is not commonly known, and often there are other "tried and true" approaches to accomplish the same end, putting yourself "out there" takes a certain moxy that not all of us have.

School was an incredible experience for me. It gave me an opportunity to work with a host of people, to learn with them, work with them and start to understand those things I wanted to understand. I lived away from home for the first time, and learned many life lessons, and got an education which was essential for what I wanted to do.

It's not for everyone. College is not an institution to certify a workforce's capabilities. In my way of thinking, it is a place to learn how to be intellectual, how to frame a question, to mull over some particular point, to think critically. If that's not what you want to do in life college may not be a place for you, but most careers benefit from the disciplines you learn at such a college regardless of what you end up doing.

There are other ways of doing this sort of thing, and it also takes work to make sure that you don't waste you time, which is so easy to do, but not just at college. What ever you choose to do, do it with some intention... the outcome is always better.




Mtnmun

Trad climber
Top of the Mountain Mun
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 3, 2011 - 09:57pm PT
Well said Ed. Your insight always inspires me.

As I quoted the author, my point was that all this testing takes the creative process out of our schools. Cutting Art, Music, Theatre, etc leaves a cultural void and stuns creativity.

Memorizing test answers as a means of measuring achievement leaves the individuals strengths lumped into a standard that leaves a void. It does not take into account that personal relationship between teacher and student.







Randisi

Boulder climber
Soon to be in China
Jun 3, 2011 - 10:02pm PT
i was doing something entrepreneurial.

then i got caught and sent to jail.

college looked a lot better after that

KLK They would have taught you to be a better entrepreneur in school.

Actually, I think klk would have gotten a better education in his chosen profession at the time in jail, had he so desired.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 3, 2011 - 10:03pm PT
. . . theory rather than application. Our creativity, innovation and curiosity are schooled out of us . . .

Funny. I found that creativity, innovation and curiosity was essential to make progress in theory.
reddirt

climber
PNW
Jun 3, 2011 - 10:05pm PT
I saw this little blurb on facebook re: an NPR piece that kinda eases the burden of many people's perspective/circumstances, incl mine.

blurb: "Katelyn Bonar has two undergraduate degrees, in biology and psychology. She's also halfway through medical school. And she's well on her way to racking up $300,000 in student loans. Last year, she took time off from medical school and looked for work. Given her credentials, she expected to qualify for a professional job."

NPR excerpt: "Bonar applied to about 20 entry-level hospital jobs. Neither Bonar's schooling nor her medical certifications helped."

http://www.npr.org/2011/06/03/136830744/dear-job-market-thanks-for-a-lousy-grad-gift

Anastasia

climber
hanging from an ice pick and missing my mama.
Jun 3, 2011 - 11:12pm PT
The market sucks right now... You can be an illiterate idiot or have a doctorate degree, it doesn't matter... You still won't find much work. Yet when the jobs do open up, guess who gets the higher pay, the better position? Yeah, I'm glad for my diploma because right now is not going to be everyday.

tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Jun 3, 2011 - 11:33pm PT
These anti college folks are confusing two issues.

The value of an education vs. the fact that college is often a prerequisite, but not a requirement for a job.

There are a ton of jobs out there where you need to have a degree to get in the door, but you don't actually use the knowledge.

I think that is a major issue. As there are more college graduates out there than ever, and less blue collar jobs. College degree are required, when they didn't used to be.

When you are hiring, why take the high school grad when you can get a person with a degree?

It says more about our economy than it does the value of education.
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Jun 3, 2011 - 11:47pm PT
I work for a university.

I didn't go to college.

Maybe some day.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Jun 4, 2011 - 01:22am PT
Katelyn Bonar has two undergraduate degrees, in biology and psychology. She's also halfway through medical school. And she's well on her way to racking up $300,000 in student loans. Last year, she took time off from medical school and looked for work.
Query how that would look to an employer. Someone smart but without a clear vision of what they're looking for, fiscally sloppy (i.e., borrowing to pursue a second undergrad degree) and who's putting med school on hold (and may never finish) rather than pushing through, and who will likely drop the job you hire her for at her whim. No wonder no one wants to hire her. College is great; being a professional student is not.
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
SoCal
Jun 4, 2011 - 01:46am PT
"To get a good job, get a good education." Is a marketing slogan.

The truth is: To get a good job, you have to know what you are doing.

You may or may not get that at a college.

The education system in this country is totally busted. I figured that out in high school, dropped out and built my own education. I've always done very well.

Here is another pipe dream: "Get a good job."

Real men make their own jobs.

For the vast majority, college is a waste of time. Just go start entry level in the field of your choice and work for free for two years. It costs way less and you'll get knowledge you can use to make a living.

Also, read. Read a lot.
Matt Thomsen

Big Wall climber
Places
Jun 4, 2011 - 06:11am PT
this is what I got from this... That, 64% of college graduates showed improvement in critical thinking, complex reasoning or writing after four years of college.
perswig

climber
Jun 4, 2011 - 07:47am PT
Eight years of college here.
Went to two land grant universities, was seldom disappointed in the quality of subject and instruction (some of that is retrospective, of course), could clearly see the reasoning behind the educational path I was on.

Couple of things helped.
I was extremely fortunate that a poorly-researched career choice at 18 turned out to be a near-perfect fit for my temperament and skill set.
And I took some time off in the middle there to hump a rifle and mortar around.

BrianH and a few others have touched on the fact that maybe the maturity, self-awareness, or preparation of the average incoming undergrad isn't what it should be to reap all the bennies of higher ed. Whether that's a function of socioeconomic issues, K-12 ed gaps, lead paint ingestion, whippet use, whatever, maybe a few years doing something between high school and college might fine-tune direction, expectations. But that something should be worthwhile in and of itself, not eating Doritos and playing Halo in your mother's basement for 18 months 'preparing' for college.

Dale

Rock!...oopsie.

Trad climber
the pitch above you
Jun 4, 2011 - 08:45am PT
I think I saw this movie - it's called "Accepted" and has the dude that looks like Keanau Reeves but isn't Keanau Reeves in it.

In all seriousness, yeah a few brilliant folks make it and contribute fantastically to society without college... but most often the folks that think they are gonna be that guy end up pumping gas and flipping burgers.

Wait! I just figured out a better movie analogy, this is really the middle class white version of "Hoop Dreams", but instead of basketball, they all think they're gonna have a silicon valley start-up.
Tami

Social climber
Canada
Jun 4, 2011 - 10:41am PT
I don't get these parents who didn't bother saving.

Not everyone sports an income that anything can be saved from... jes'sayin'.
Maysho

climber
Soda Springs, CA
Jun 4, 2011 - 11:09am PT
I haven't gone to college... yet! Running Gateway Mountain Center, my third business, I am often in a position of mentoring high school age students who are struggling in different ways. I never speak of my experience as some sort of example of a path to follow, except the aspect that passion and hard work are the key to success.

I was a very successful teen-ager, I went to a top prep-high school, after a rich grammer school time in Waldorf and then a very far-out gifted program in science and art. While in high school I was a Sierra Club outing leader, teaching rock climbing and being the leader for weekend outings in Yosemite, before I could even drive there.

I planned to go to college, I had the test scores and transcript to go somewhere very cool, but I was also climbing really hard at a time when not that many were, so I figured I would go to Yosemite for a year or two, then go to school. During a long cold winter in Camp 4, I started dating a waitress with an 18 month old, 9 months later we bought a house in El Portal, and soon we were expecting a baby. That spring I was made Chief Guide of YMS, because I was articulate and ambitious, and no one else wanted to do it!

I have never had the experience of looking for a job. I follow my interests passionately, see something that needs to be done, and work really hard toward that goal.

So when I have a student who questions whether they should go to school, I say if you love to read books all the time - if you are a life-long learner, if you are a good writer, and you find a passion and work hard to achieve excellence in that endeavor, you can probably do anything you want; otherwise you better go to school!

I still think about it a lot, I would love to do a graduate program, and every now and then I slightly regret that I didn't get that bachelors way back when. Once I talked to my son about this and he said "what four years of your past would you trade back in?"

Peter
Mtnmun

Trad climber
Top of the Mountain Mun
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 4, 2011 - 11:34am PT
I put myself through college and that in itself had many life long teachings on how to make things happen and working through the bureaucracy. My girls are doing the same thing. They are very proud of their accomplishments.

I have talked with parents who have paid for their childs college and they wish they had done it the other way. The kids rely on their parents for everything and are unappreciative.

That said, I wish I could help out my girls more than I do.

drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Jun 4, 2011 - 11:35am PT
Finn from VT
"College got me where I'm at"

Just a peave of mine, sorry.


krahmes

Social climber
Stumptown
Jun 4, 2011 - 12:07pm PT
photo not found
Missing photo ID#204961
These Latinos have found out a college degree is good for hanging out in a Barcelona square and living with your parents.
drunkenmaster

Social climber
santa rosa
Jun 4, 2011 - 12:13pm PT
College is for retarded rich kids - I am damn proud to have graduated from the school of rock!
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Jun 4, 2011 - 12:31pm PT
How you contribute to society is all that matters.
college is just a bunch a paper work!

the factory i worked at years ago hired some college kid to do a part of the admin.

for an entire week he showed up 20min late!

he was let go for not showing on time!

i figured he was looking for the tardy slip! :(

i'm a Geo major working as a tech!

collage is fun and is no waste.


Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jun 4, 2011 - 12:36pm PT
Fakt: Out of 4 nieces and nephews recently graduated two have decent jobs.
Of course, they were the ones who actually pursued majors that you couldn't
have achieved the same amount of knowledge in by reading at home.
Anastasia

climber
hanging from an ice pick and missing my mama.
Jun 4, 2011 - 12:39pm PT
Well that goes to show you don't realize what you have because you think it will always be here. Our country has been so rich that even the poor and under educated have been better off than most in other countries. Well, in the coming years let's see how much of this will hold true.

I really love smart people without degrees... I can pay them less. They are easier for companies to exploit for their advantages. People without degrees have to prove to me their value so I get them working twice as hard for their pay... Gosh, nothing gets better than this!!!

AFS
Wade Icey

Trad climber
www.alohashirtrescue.com
Jun 4, 2011 - 01:00pm PT
I'm a college teacher and for 80 percent of my students College is a waste of time. Theirs and mine.

I've learned to direct my efforts to the two out ten whom are at least making an effort to pretend to be engaged. And those two are solid enough that they are just there for the Degree. They usually have jobs before they graduate.

The eight out of ten are fresh out of high school, bankrupting their parents or their future selves and livin' by the motto 'C's get Degrees.'

C's get jobs too...Starbucks, McD's, Target. Nothing wrong with working at any of these places...but why pay thirty grand for the privilege?

I love teaching, but I'm developing an interest in Plumbing.


IMO the bedrock issue too many f*#king people, period.
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Jun 4, 2011 - 02:17pm PT
13th grade as I like to call it.
NigelSSI

Trad climber
B.C.
Jun 4, 2011 - 02:53pm PT

I fully appreciate College/Uni sciences, medicine, math, etc.

Why exactly our society considers those educated, and intelligent people more important than those producing food however, I will never understand. Not much point in going to the doctor without enough food to live. If greed is the motivation for a college education, that speaks volumes about how f*#ked up we all are.

Remember that lovely Douglas Adams bit about sending all the useless people away on a colony ship? The "A" ship carried the great leaders, scientists, and thinkers. The "C" ship carried the workers, those who actually made things. Theirs, the "B" ship, consisted of middle managers, hairdressers, telephone sanitizers, and the like. It eventually becomes clear that their planet was not in fact doomed, and that they were the victims of a ploy to rid their world of a useless third of the population.
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Jun 4, 2011 - 03:12pm PT
Interesting comment, Wade Icey.

"too many people"


Yes, and maybe that is the ultimate fate of capitalism also.
There are only so many jobs in a society. Capitalism never promised full employment.
It's just another human experiment, just as slavery and socialism were.

Maybe higher education is the same. We educate millions for jobs that do not exist.
And the private for maximum profit colleges are the real winners.
Their majority shareholders are personally incredibly enriched by all the student loan money.

Lots and lots of master degreed people mixing lattes at Starbucks.
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Jun 4, 2011 - 03:15pm PT
High school is a waste of time more than college, in my opinion. I dropped out after the 9th grade because it was such an awful waste of time. College was much better at actually teaching me to do stuff, and in my line of work (RF/Microwave Engineering) you pretty much can't get your foot in the door without a degree, and heck you can barely start to understand the job WITH years of math and engineering classes.

That said, the majority of even engineering majors whose resumes I've waded through simply wasted their lives and their parents hard earned savings going through the motion not having a clue about the field they were headed towards.
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Jun 4, 2011 - 03:17pm PT
Moof, did you have to get, present a GED to get into college later?
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 4, 2011 - 04:38pm PT
Americans are so big on math and science as if we want college to be a trade school. Take a lit., art hist. or philos. class and THINK

Unbelievable. Down the tubes, America . . .
Anastasia

climber
hanging from an ice pick and missing my mama.
Jun 4, 2011 - 04:48pm PT
Laughing... Math and science is critical thinking involving the use of logic. I majored in History but it was the math and science classes that I had as part of my pre-requirements that regularly blew my mind. It taught me how to break down problems and work them in sections for an overall solution. It's fantastic if you can make the leap from what's on paper to your actual daily life.

In fact I might go back to try my hand on that route. Might even buzz up some new pathways in my mind that will help me out in life.

AFS

Plus I also took a brain twister of a class called Logic offered by the philosophy department. It was great for making you aware of all that you don't know... I think out of the two hundred students, maybe five of us fully understood it. (Me, myself and I only had my fingers on it, not a full grip.) Only fifty percent of the class passed since the professor wasn't the forgiving type. I remember really loving my math class in comparison.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 4, 2011 - 06:32pm PT
From Academically Adrift: In 1961 students spent about 25 hours a week studying. Now, it's 12 to 13 hours. In a U. of California (that beacon of intellectual achievement) survey, students spent 13 hours a week on schoolwork, and 43 hours in entertainment and socializing.

At Georgia Tech in the early/mid 1950s, (Randolph Scott was there a few years ahead of me), taking 21 hours, I spent at least 18 hours a week on the books, and, more importantly, thought about the material we were studying at various times out of class, scribbling on napkins as I ate, etc., so I suppose that would substantially increase the time spent "studying." These days students twitter and Facebook and text.

In the student poll cited in Academically Adrift approximately one third reported studying less than five hours per week.

As a graduate student and then professor some time later, I witnessed the deleterious effects of the Vietnam War and the culture it spawned on education, and observed unhappily the increasing lack of preparedness and problem-solving skills of incoming students, as greater numbers of high school graduates were encouraged to attend college.

Toward the end of my career, I volunteered to teach lower-level classes rather than deal with the declining performances of juniors, seniors, and graduate students in my subject area. I became disheartened when I had for example a class of 12 in advanced calculus (a senior-level course required for the math major) who were all C level (at best) students. Most were math majors in our teaching option, which is a sad commentary on secondary education. If I had been a better teacher I would have perceived that as a worthy challenge, but, frankly, it simply took the wind out of my sails. I was happy to retire.
happiegrrrl

Trad climber
www.climbaddictdesigns.com
Jun 4, 2011 - 07:51pm PT
I have a friend who graduated recently. She and here boyfriend both have ginormous school loan debt, as do most of their recent college attending friends. Amounts which will take her into her 30;s to pay off, if all goes okay.

She is an art teacher, and I cannot believe that I was actually instrumental in her getting her first teaching job(me, who never went to college, happened to have the network connection). I do trail work with a guy who taught art, and asked if she might talk to him for advise on getting work. He said "I doubt I can help her, but sure - have her call. He gave her some tips, but mostly it reiterated what she already new. Then the miracle happened - The next week at trailwork he said "Have her call me NOW; a job just opened up in our school."

Wow!

Anyway, that job got her in the door, but she was not asked to return the next year(not unusual, from what I understand). Lucky for HER she was able to find another job locally, and in her field. It happened because someone went on maternity leave, and at the last minute. She was *this* close to accepting an offer teaching at a Catholic School where it would be a requirement she lead the class in a prayer to start out the day. This was an extremely discomforting idea for her, but - the debt pay-off time bomb was ticking away. She would have - would have HAD to have - accepted that job.


She told me last year that the school district had an opening for a kindergarten teacher. They got five THOUSAND applications.....




I've heard over and over from people that there are just SO many apps for every decent job that our land of abundance seems to teach us is our right, if we follow the rules.... I'm told that without the degree, the app wouldn't be considered. There's something wrong - if you ask me - when having simply paid the fee(or put it on credit) is a requirement to be considered worthy of being considered.

I do wish I had gone to college, mainly for the expansive world view I would HOPE it would have provided me. But I see some real duffus' types walking down the streets of this college town. Some of these people are not *thinkers* by a long stretch. They're simply toeing the line. I don't see how this is helpful to this country's development in the long run.
RatDick

Trad climber
Grand Junction, CO
Jun 4, 2011 - 09:50pm PT
Have lurked for some years but feel this subject is worth putting in my two cents.

The slow dismantling of public education in this country is one of the worst things I have seen the professional politicos do in my half century. Historians in the future will speak poorly of it IMO.

An ignorant society will however be easier to control.

And yes there are way too many humans but finding volunteers to leave is difficult.

For those who post the trip reports thanks.
Steve
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 5, 2011 - 03:53pm PT
From Louis Menand's article in The New Yorker:

"Professor X thinks that most of the students he teaches are not qualified to attend college. He also thinks that, as far as writing and literature are concerned, they are unteachable. But the system keeps pushing them through the human capital processor. They attend either because the degree is a job requirement or because they have been seduced by the siren song "college for everyone." [Professor] X considers the situation analolgous to the real-estate bubble; Americans are being urged to invest in something they can't afford and don't need. Why should you pass a college-level literature class if you want to be a state trooper? To show you can tough it out with Henry James? . . ."

Professor X is the author of "In the Basement of the Ivory Tower."
Mimi

climber
Jun 5, 2011 - 04:08pm PT
Very interesting, John.

Wasn't going to join this fray...I initially thought this idea was assinine because I support the importance of a college degree for employment purposes unless you are skilled enough in a trade to adequately support yourself.

I know the education system is being damaged by politics but I still place the burden on parents. Parents have stopped being responsible and we have a tendency to blame the schools.

Also, college isn't for everyone. If a kid isn't qualified or isn't interested at the time to go to college, make it possible for them to acquire skills in a trade. We certainly need skilled tradespersons. Out of highschool, go to work and learn a trade. Then, you'll have a better, more mature outlook on life and can make a better decision about attending college or not.
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Jun 5, 2011 - 04:48pm PT
College is a waste of time?


Unemployment rate amoung college graduates ages 19-34: 5.5%

Unemployment rate among non college graduates ages 19=34: 18%

Yep, just a waste of time.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Jun 5, 2011 - 05:12pm PT
John, the two works you cite, Academically Adrift and In the Basement of the Ivory tower, are actually at odds with one another.

Honestly, I can't take Basement seriously. It is written under a pseudonym about what are purported to be "real" places but with fictional names. There is no way to verify that any of it is actually even true. The conceit of the book is that the author is a failed novelist who is now a failed academic only because his day job as a civil service employee won't cover the cost of the house he and his wife wish to purchase. That's not a promising start, even if I were to believe it. Moreover, his point is that the sort of thing he is teaching-- basic college composition courses --are wasted on his working-class students because their prose is bad, they don't think deep literary thoughts, and some of them want to be cops. The secondary point, that students ought to have achieved better literacy in high school, is unremarkable, but the ways in which we could improve reading and writing in k-12 students are massively expensive, since those skills require intensive, small-group training of the sort that costs a lot of labor and that doesn't measure well on the standardized tests that are now the new gods of the 21st century.


Academically Adrift, on the other hand, uses exactly those sorts of tests (and marginal ones at that) to "measure" improvements among college students in a variety of generic areas unrelated to actual disciplinary skills. As you know, I am immensely skeptical of that sort of thing for k-12, and I'm even more skeptical of it at the college level. Nonetheless, what the authors believe they have found is what most of us in real disciplines would've predicted: That the greatest improvements occur in disciplined, small class settings involving hands-on student work of the sort you do in labs or writing classes. In other words, the most effective classes are precisely the ones run by folks like "Professor X." Since the instrument the authors use for their measurements, the CLA is (to put it mildly) depressingly blunt, their positive findings are likely dramatically under estimated.

So one of the ironies is that in fact small seminars in which folks have to sit and read (and write about) Henry James or Sylvia Plath or whatever, are among the most effective, along with the seminars/labs in other disciplines. Of course, most of the media reporting and even many of the reviews in the weeklies and newspapers have lumped these books into a generic "college sucks" storyline.
paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
Jun 5, 2011 - 06:03pm PT
What do we as Americans desire for our society?

If what we want is a thriving economic engine shouldn't we follow the libertarian, utilitarian calculus that worships efficiency for the sake of return?

Shouldn't we end all education except that which leads to higher income in an evermore practical social structure emphasizing technological and scientific advancement purely as tools for the development of productivity and wealth?

What strikes me is that most civilizations are admired not for their productive economic systems, not for the efficiency of their schools, but for their most impractical commodities: the art, literature and philosophy, even theology they produce.

When I think of ancient Greece or Renaissance Italy or 19th century France, I think of absolutely impractical gifts that resonate even today as civilizing forces.

Can art and literature be taught? Maybe not so much taught as introduced, nobody can be taught to be a great writer or painter, but insights into writing and painting that enable an enhanced experience of those disciplines can certainly be taught. And that teaching often mediates the harshness of our lives and opens up or gives understanding to those elements that are worth dying for and more importantly are worth living for in a society.

The arts are useless but more necessary than you might imagine.

To imagine an education as simply a path to economic success is to not understand what an education is.
Mimi

climber
Jun 5, 2011 - 06:07pm PT
About says it all, Paul.
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Jun 5, 2011 - 07:29pm PT
"Moof, did you have to get, present a GED to get into college later? "

Yep. I took two college classes over the summer in an attempt to lop a year off high school, and found it to be so much better for me that my parents helped me drop out even earlier and enroll for the Fall semester. I got in on a semester by semester basis till I had the GED in hand (had to take it 1 section at a time thanks to class schedules mostly overlapping the GED schedule). Found the GED to be pretty straight forward, and had no real trouble passing it with just a 9th grade education.
Mimi

climber
Jun 5, 2011 - 07:31pm PT
Good for you, Moof. I always said if my kids wanted to skip HS, they could take the GED and move on to whatever else.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Jun 5, 2011 - 07:45pm PT
^^^^moof, i did something similar.

dropped out of high school and did other things for a few years.

took the ged so i could get into jc.



rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jun 5, 2011 - 09:39pm PT
I left college two months ago because it rewards conformity rather than independence, competition rather than collaboration, regurgitation rather than learning...

This comes without a single example that one could confirm or disconfirm.

Unfortunately, the author did not stay in school long enough to learn anything about argumentation.

...and theory rather than application.

As if application is something independent from theory.

Our creativity, innovation and curiosity are schooled out of us.

Considering, for example, the astronomical number of patents granted to people with schooling, this claim is going to be tough to defend.

But if this sentence is true then it would already be too late for the author.

Failure is punished instead of seen as a learning opportunity.

Meaning that failure is labeled as failure?

We think of college as a stepping-stone to success rather than a means to gain knowledge.

Whose fault is that?

College fails to empower us with the skills necessary to become productive members of today's global entrepreneurial economy.

We're going to need a list of those skills and, for each one, an explanation of how college fails to empower.

Meanwhile, returning to college might help to drain bloated pontifications such as "fails to empower us with the skills necessary..." from the author's writing.

College is expensive.

The first undeniable point made.

In the book "Academically Adrift," sociology professors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa say that 36% of college graduates showed no improvement in critical thinking, complex reasoning or writing after four years of college.

The trick, then, is to be part of the other 64%. Apparently the opportunity is there.

The success of people who never completed or attended college makes us question whether what we need to learn is taught in school.

Exactly which "successes" are exemplars here, and is there a corresponding count of "failures" for those not in school?

Learning by doing -- in life, not classrooms -- is the best way to turn constant iteration into true innovation.

Why exactly is the alchemy involved in turning "constant iteration" (whatever that means) into "true innovation" the standard by which one measures education?

Can someone with little or no research skills and little knowledge of a field actually distinguish between "true innovation" and, say, bursting through doors already open?

If you want, say, to build the next generation supercomputer, should you skip school and learn by doing?

We can be productive members of society without submitting to academic or corporate institutions.

True enough.

We are the disruptive generation creating the "free agent economy" built by entrepreneurs, creatives, consultants and small businesses envisioned by Daniel Pink in his book, "A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future."

Maybe. Then again, maybe not. Here's a notion from the recently abandoned college experience: best to read more than one book.

We must encourage young people to consider paths outside college. That's why I'm leading UnCollege: a social movement empowering individuals to take their education beyond the classroom. Imagine if millions of my peers copying their professors' words verbatim started problem-solving in the real world.

With a skill-set that would have been weak 300 years ago?

Imagine if we started our own companies, our own projects and our own organizations.

Imagining is easy.

Imagine if we went back to learning as practiced in French salons, gathering to discuss, challenge and support each other in improving the human condition.

Oh great---let's return education to a tiny elite.

A major function of college is to signal to potential employers that one is qualified to work.

Get ready: here comes an argument based on a debatable premise.

...the argument...

Of course, some people want a formal education. I do not think everyone should leave college, but I challenge my peers to consider the opportunity cost of going to class. If you want to be a doctor, going to medical school is a wise choice. I do not recommend keeping cadavers in your garage.

And why not, given the transcendent value of learning by doing?


On the other hand, what else could you do during your next 50-minute class? How many e-mails could you answer?

A critical developmental activity for the advancement of true innovation.

How many lines of code could you write?

Especially, how many lines of code could you write if that next 50-minute class you are skipping is your computer science class? And will you write several hundred lines of code for a job that can be done with ten lines? And will you document all those lines of code in a way that will make them maintainable, or will you just produce a convoluted buggy nightmare that has to be completely redone by someone with a college education?

Some might argue that college dropouts will sit in their parents' basements playing Halo 2, doing Jell-O shots and smoking pot.

Uh-oh, straw man argument coming...

...straw man argument...

It's not a question of authorities; it's a question of priorities.

Catchy. Does it mean anything?

We who take our education outside and beyond the classroom understand how actions build a better world. We will change the world regardless of the letters after our names.

I guess we'll see. There's a nasty strain of e. coli. in Europe awaiting your efforts.

Mimi

climber
Jun 5, 2011 - 09:46pm PT
I was going to write that. Wow.
WBraun

climber
Jun 5, 2011 - 09:46pm PT
I went to college.

It wasn't a waste of time.

I took all the classes I needed, electronics and manufacturing technology.

Good stuff.

I should have took typing and more English.

I can't type worth sh'it and my English is all cuss words ......



klk

Trad climber
cali
Jun 5, 2011 - 09:50pm PT
Heh.

Im sure richard could have developed the reading and writing skills to do that even better, had he not wasted his time going to class in college.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jun 5, 2011 - 10:51pm PT
Kerwin, I owe everything I've accomplished (which isn't a whole lot) to my high school, college, and grad school teachers.

And although I'm fond of proclaiming that I'm a self-taught climber, there too, critical interventions by those with more skill and more wisdom have determined both my progress and my longevity.

The fact that Stephens is passionate but unsophisticated doesn't mean that he is entirely wrong either. Education is a large, messy, inefficient, imperfect enterprise. It is never going to work for everyone, and it cannot be expected to be uniformly successful for those it does work for. It isn't a product you purchase. It is an opportunity you pay for dearly, and it may or may not work for any one individual. In some ways it is a huge gamble.

We are now in the grips of national trends to turn it into a consumer product---a combination liposuction and breast implantation comes to mind. Having distorted it beyond recognition, we then impose on it grotesquely oversimplified evaluations whose net effect, it seems to me, will be to further drain content from the experience. We may yet end up with the picture Stephens paints.

In the face of these changes, many educators have, I think, lost faith both in the value of their own knowledge and in their student's abilities to master that knowledge. I was expected to know considerably more in high school than most of my students now know, at least partially because my teachers were absolutely certain we ought to know these things and their conviction convinced us.

Education has become more and more the private passion of its practitioners, who, as always, love what they do but, battered by the incessant din of the false prophets of utility and the skewed perspectives of the corporate environment, have increasingly abandoned any claims of personal or societal value and have undermined their own credibility by making up strictly utilitarian justifications for the pursuit of knowledge, the development of an ethical character, the appreciation of culture, and the participation in the civic life of the state.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 6, 2011 - 12:45am PT
Honestly, I can't take Basement seriously.

Yeah, Professor X is a hoot! Thought that quote would wake up a few folks.

the CLA is (to put it mildly) depressingly blunt, their positive findings are likely dramatically under estimated.

Actually, I thought the concept quite interesting, as well as revealing. Might be entertaining to examine it in greater detail. To those who haven't read the article, it involves requiring a student research information and data relating to an aircraft, one of which has recently crashed, and write an argument for his company purchasing (or, perhaps, not purchasing) such a plane. I haven't read the book, so I'm sure there is a lot more to it I'm not aware of, but it does seem to require critical thought. True, more in-depth knowledge relating to the situation - various engineering disciplines, physics, etc. - would make it a more substantial exercise.

Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Jun 6, 2011 - 09:44am PT
i recently got together with ken m, who posts on here, for a public colloquium at ucla. ken is a medical school professor, and he brought a colleague, another doctor, whom he had talked into attending the colloquium on u.s. foreign policy. each of us, now approaching retirement, admitted he'd love to go back to school and study an entirely different field--for ken, political science, for his friend, music, and for myself, with an education in various "humanities", hard science.

there's nothing wrong with college except for the control-freak attitude inherited from europe, where you get pegged pretty early in life as to your opportunities. my experience is that the job market undergoes a sea change about every 10 years. whatever you've gotten into, whatever you've studied for, it'll become obsolete in that time and you'd better have the personal resources, whether from your education or not, to change horses in midstream. not so much the case for doctors, but it's remarkable how those with a specialized education can get so interested in other things later in life.

education must become more liberalized. the pressure to specialize is insane. and unlike mr. dicey, i think people are a lot smarter than they're given credit for. but school should be there for those interested in the education. the babysitting function needs to be separated from it after kindergarten.
tomtom

Social climber
Seattle, Wa
Jun 7, 2011 - 07:44pm PT
Supertopo is a waste of time.
Malemute

Ice climber
the ghost
Jun 7, 2011 - 07:57pm PT
Not a complete waste of time, but there IS a lot of chaff before you find any kernels.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 1, 2013 - 01:32pm PT
I was trying to find a thread to post this article from the NYTimes yesterday

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/31/education/as-interest-fades-in-the-humanities-colleges-worry.html

...
Meanwhile, since the recession — probably because of the recession — there has been a profound shift toward viewing college education as a vocational training ground.

“College is increasingly being defined narrowly as job preparation, not as something designed to educate the whole person,” said Pauline Yu, president of the American Council of Learned Societies.
...

Some professors flinch when they hear colleagues talking about the need to prepare students for jobs.

“I think that’s conceding too quickly,” said Mark Edmundson, an English professor at the University of Virginia. “We’re not a feeder for law school; our job is to help students learn to question.”
...

“Students who are anxious about finishing their degree, and avoiding debt, sometimes see the breadth requirements as getting in their way,” said Nicholas Dirks, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.

Many do not understand that the study of humanities offers skills that will help them sort out values, conflicting issues and fundamental philosophical questions, said Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College.

“We have failed to make the case that those skills are as essential to engineers and scientists and businessmen as to philosophy professors,” he said.



Interestingly, Botstein is onto something, "those skills are as essential to engineers and scientists and businessmen"

This past summer, participating in a summer school associated with the NSSC (http://nssc.berkeley.edu/); there was an evening "event" where the speaker discussed ethics. Apparently teaching ethics to engineering students has become quite a focus in academe, at least at UCB.

After reading the NYTimes article yesterday, I had a thought about how I learned ethics, not from an defuse socialization process, but formally. I didn't take a course in the Physics Department titled "Ethics for Physicists" but rather through reading literature and learning history. From fictional literature the exploration of the "human condition" through plausible stories gets you thinking about situations you might encounter. History teaches us about the consequences of choices, many of them dealing with ethical conundrum.

While teaching an ethics course in the Engineering department might be "efficient" it is hard to understand how such a course could address situations beyond the "case studies" presented... I can't imagine ethics being reduced down to a logic flow chart to be applied when needed (not that these classes do that).

I can't imagine it because of my exposure to "the humanities" where these questions are pondered, discussed endlessly, and an answer never offered... or at least not a hard-and-fast answer. The thinking through of the question is what is important, and a familiarity with that question, and the considerations, the best outcome, at least best when one is eventually confronted with a the real thing in life.

Why this isn't now apparent I don't know... perhaps it is the same reason that Physics Departments (at least when I was teaching in one) taught 19th century mathematics to its majors rather than having the Mathematics Department do it...

pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Nov 1, 2013 - 02:01pm PT
People should get a credit for learning stuff from youtube.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 1, 2013 - 02:06pm PT
Werd has it the dudes that built the Great Pyramid didn't go to colledge.
Norwegian

Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
Nov 1, 2013 - 02:09pm PT
i would definitely conclude
that the experience and fruit of
college has increased my
quality of life.
okie

Trad climber
Nov 1, 2013 - 02:12pm PT
Bokonon says: " if you think ignorance is expensive, try education."
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 1, 2013 - 02:19pm PT
But Weege, you got an education. I've a couple of nieces who wasted a whole lot of time and their Dad's money and don't even have husbands to show for it. I won't go into the minimum wage jobs they have.
Floyd Hayes

Trad climber
Hidden Valley Lake, CA
Nov 1, 2013 - 02:42pm PT
I wouldn't have become a college professor had I never gone to college.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Nov 1, 2013 - 02:59pm PT
College won't make an idiot smart nor employable at any cost.
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Peavine Basecamp
Nov 1, 2013 - 03:14pm PT
College beats the alternatives. You are almost too stupid to breathe at that age, might as well pretend to read a book while you stare at ass all day.
Sketch

Trad climber
Langley, VA
Nov 1, 2013 - 03:19pm PT
College, like youth, is wasted on the young.
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Peavine Basecamp
Nov 1, 2013 - 03:21pm PT
I'd say the median age of college "youth" is rising. But maybe that's just at the reprogramming facilities I've attended lately.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Nov 1, 2013 - 03:24pm PT
There are a bunch of ignorant, hungry sheep down in the Valley of Germanium and Silicon too. Middle class stupidity and conformity permeates the whole culture top to bottom. A nasty little junior achiever with his hard work, individual initiative, free will talk sounds so stupid when he collides with big money it makes you want to laugh (or cry). They can all go home and sacrifice puppies to an Ayn Rand stone idol. Long live the Dragon Lady and the University of Chicago School of Economics.
Rong Glanderson

Social climber
Merndherse, Kneevadder
Nov 1, 2013 - 03:38pm PT
College is for eggheads,,,and scientism mambo jimbo!

Go out yung man and get some EXPERIENCE under yer breeches,,,then talk to me about yer educkashun!
Rudder

Trad climber
Costa Mesa, CA
Nov 1, 2013 - 03:46pm PT
For those who don't believe in a college degree... watch 28 Up. :)
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Nov 1, 2013 - 03:48pm PT
Diplomas by themselves will not make anyone smart, or employed. Lack of education leaves a lot of doors closed, though.

Median annual earnings of full-time, full-year wage and salary workers ages 25-34, by educational attainment: 2011

http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=77
sullly

Trad climber
Nov 1, 2013 - 03:50pm PT
Yay humanities! My prof was talking about this article last night just before we lunged into an Edward Albee play. I live for the humanities. So did my parents. The pendulum will swing back.




Rong Glanderson

Social climber
Merndherse, Kneevadder
Nov 1, 2013 - 03:50pm PT
According to yer graff I haven't gradieeated HS,,,but that is total BS! Ceetifercate is just as GOOD,,,ya egghead!
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Nov 1, 2013 - 04:19pm PT
^^^^^ Totally got me for a minute! Hahahaha!
Chugach

Trad climber
Vermont
Nov 1, 2013 - 04:33pm PT


What can one do with a business degree that they can't do by simply immersing themselves in the business world? Serious question, I don't know... I find "business" incredibly boring.


You're half right, I've got an Economics degree and an MBA and that accounts for maybe 2% of my entire business knowledge. Biggest problem with the skipping college plan is you start at the lowest rung of the ladder and it's tough to "immerse yourself in the business world" from the bottom rung. I spent my 20's feeding a climbing addiction but now that I spend time with some hyper-achieving youngsters I'm amazed how much they know by 30 and it's all because they got fast-track opportunities coming out of college.

Three Best parts of college for me were;
1. Escape from my shitty redneck hometown in Louisiana.
2. Met my future wife and have been madly in love for 24 years now.
3. Got to play college ball which was just a ton of fun.

Yes, REILLY; "Werd has it the dudes that built the Great Pyramid didn't go to colledge".
They were slaves.



Tom Turrentine

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Nov 1, 2013 - 05:07pm PT
College ruined my climbing career..and ruined my machining career I began at 15 and ruined my carpentry career I began at 20 and ruined my religion as well. I flunked out of first year of college, then went back and forth between climbing, carpentry, foreign travel and college. First thought I wanted to be a missionary, then a medical doctor, then a furniture maker, then a development economist, finally settled on anthropology, finished at 40 and now I work all the time with engineers at a University on low carbon pathways for vehicles.

The best thing about college was that it kept me looking at the big picture, gave me tools to think about complex problems. The one thing I curse about college is that it has just about pinned me to this chair, typing on this computer.


NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Nov 1, 2013 - 05:24pm PT
College, and education in general, is a tool. A tool is still a tool whether it is in the hands of an idiot, someone too lazy to make use of it, or in the hands of someone who knows how to make something beautiful and useful with it.

The point here should be to take personal responsibility for what you want to be, and decide for yourself whether or not going to college is a useful tool for you.

Choosing not to have the degree is taking on a lot of personal responsibility for success, when you don't have as much control over those factors as you might like to think. If you want to be an entrepreneur or free-lance contractor forever, that's fine (until you get burned out or have other life ambitions and responsibilities and want a 9 to 5 in a big company). But you can't fall back as easily to the standard channels of getting a job without the college degree. This is because HR departments are staffed with people who can't tell the difference between who's good or who's not. But they can throw away all resumes that don't have a B.S. or M.S. or Ph.D in the education section.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 1, 2013 - 06:42pm PT
Chugach, actually it is now widely believed that most were knott slaves.

It doesn't mean they didn't make mistakes though... (you can skip the ad)
Malemute

Ice climber
the ghost
Nov 1, 2013 - 06:47pm PT
If you think college is a waste of time, then please stay away!!
Go learn a trade, you'll be happier.

No way do I want idiots next to me in the chemistry lab, engineers are bad enough.
CrackAddict

Trad climber
Canoga Park, CA
Nov 1, 2013 - 06:55pm PT
Education is not necessarily a waste of time, but people need to start thinking much more pragmatically about it and less idealistically. If you are going to borrow $60,000 a year to study Sociology at Harvard, you have to understand that you are entering a life of indentured servitude as you will never be likely to pay off your debt. If you are working your way through Cal State to be an engineer, you will likely do fine.

There should also be more trade oriented education (manufacturing, construction, plumbing, etc.), especially at the junior colleges. Not everyone needs to have a 4 year degree.
CrackAddict

Trad climber
Canoga Park, CA
Nov 1, 2013 - 06:57pm PT
People should get a credit for learning stuff from youtube.

This is probably the future of education, most likely. People will learn from free or inexpensive resources like youtube. The only thing missing is a standardized academic testing industry.
jopay

climber
so.il
Nov 1, 2013 - 07:19pm PT
College is never a waste of time, probably one of my greatest regrets is not finishing college. In high school I was a gear head and didn't take the "hard" subjects, but as a senior I decided I wanted to go further and took the ACT test, I got in two years at community colleges and then the letter came and I spent three years in the military, where I interacted with 90 day wonders and senior officers and I saw what an education can mean, young 2nd Lieutenants had new sports cars and lived in bachelor officer quarters, I lived in the barracks and bummed rides.Then freshly discharged with a wife I tried, but it was an uphill struggle, my family were not college educated and my wife wanted to move closer to her parents, and eventually the marriage fell apart and so did my ambitions, it would have been tough but with tutoring I could have pulled it off.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 1, 2013 - 07:58pm PT
Not everyone needs to have a 4 year degree.

Sadly, that is not what this world is coming to. Employers don't want to
have to actually judge a job applicant on his or her ability to actually do
a job or think critically they just want to see a piece of paper that supposedly
verifies that they are 'qualified'. Now, if you want to spend your career
studying the Shroud of Turin then you're gonna need a lot more than 4 years.
WBraun

climber
Nov 1, 2013 - 08:13pm PT
I went to college and got my degree in wasting time ......
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Nov 1, 2013 - 08:28pm PT
^^^^^^

You did not.
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Nov 1, 2013 - 08:37pm PT
I sometimes wonder what my life would be like had I attended college.

Growing up, my parents were quite strict, but never stressed college as something that should be mandatory. After high school I focused on competitive skiing, and then found my way to trade work as a carpenter.

I truly love what I do, but in retrospect, it would have been better for my long term financial stability to begin trade work after college.
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA/Boulder, CO
Nov 1, 2013 - 08:44pm PT
Sadly, Reilly is correct. Though many will never, ever use what they studied to get their 4-year degree, it is becoming harder and harder to get a decent job if you don't have one. I also agree with those who want more vocational training at community colleges. That is one way to get a decent job without a 4-year degree.
WBraun

climber
Nov 1, 2013 - 08:49pm PT
After I got out of college I went to college of Camp 4.

Learned more there than any stupid college.

You really learn the ropes of life there ......
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
Nov 1, 2013 - 10:49pm PT
It partly helps develop citizenship...
Malemute

Ice climber
the ghost
Nov 1, 2013 - 11:28pm PT
and an expanded worldview
especially if you are from Podunk
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Nov 2, 2013 - 10:45am PT
Nut:
College, and education in general, is a tool. A tool is still a tool whether it is in the hands of an idiot, someone too lazy to make use of it, or in the hands of someone who knows how to make something beautiful and useful with it.

Bears repeating.^^

In general I don't feel college is a waste of time. Knowledge and experience is never a waste of time.

That being said.. my 6 years at CSUN sort of ended up being a waste when they eliminated my Major when I was only 24 units from graduating. I liked being in school and value the experience, discipline and knowledge I gained, but I am extremely bitter about not being granted the degree for the time I put in. I was fortunate to fall into an occupation where a degree wasn't immediately necessary, but later down the road, not having that stupid piece of paper shut the door on some major opportunities... ie:a formal apprenticeship with the Smithsonian's stained glass restoration department.

Edit to correct: It was the Smithsonian that had stained glass dept. The Getty ALSO turned me down for an internship because of no degree though.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 2, 2013 - 12:00pm PT
Skip, that's what I'm talking about. They were not willing to look at your
experience and knowledge on its own merits - all they want is that piece of paper.
Of course it also understandable that they want everyone else to have
gone through the same hazing.
sempervirens

climber
Nov 2, 2013 - 06:03pm PT
College isn't for everyone. Not everyone needs that kind of education in order to be highly successful in their chosen field. But college increases your chances of success.

There are plenty of examples of people who excelled without formal education. Many of them are just gifted, talented, super diligent, hard-working, or have all of these qualities. If you find yourself without a degree and complaining about your employment situation you're probably not one of these individuals who excels without the benefit of the education.

If all other things were equal, would you hire someone who has that "piece of paper" or someone who does not? If you hire someone don't you care about how well they'll do? Are all these employers so ignorant that they only care about a degree? Or is there some conspiracy against the uneducated? Or is it possible that the degree increases the chance that they're hiring someone who will succeed?

College can be highly productive, especially for the motivated self-directed individual. I myself was a mediocre student for four years and not very productive. I never used that B.S. degree but I learned so much more - including outdoor adventuring. Then later in my mid-30s I did another four years and was very motivated, self-directed and productive. That degree earned me a career that has brought a ton of fulfillment over the past 15 years.

If you ask me (I know, you didn't), ... I say, go to college.
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Nov 2, 2013 - 06:21pm PT
In the 1950s one of the few professions having considerable time off was teaching. So, of course, to become a teacher (professor) I went to college and have never regretted it. The subject matter intrigued me as well and I enjoyed doing a little research. I did stall around, however, and didn't really finish until 1971, about the time college teaching positions became scarce. I was fortunate and was able to get tenure and make a career in a small state university, and, in retrospect, I feel I ended up in the right place.

If I were starting out now, however, I'm not sure I'd go that direction. It has become difficult to get tenured positions, with full time professors being replaced by poorly paid adjuncts. I really feel sorry for those caught in this dilemma. A love of the subject matter can go only so far.

TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Nov 2, 2013 - 07:16pm PT
Many of them are just gifted, talented, super diligent, hard-working, or have all of these qualities.

Lacking at least some of the those qualities a degree won't make any difference.

(unless it's the entree to a government job where those qualities inspire jealousy.)

A sheepskin is proof to a prospective employer that you have at least exhibited enough of some of those qualities to earn one.

I didn't go after mine till I was in my mid 40's when I decided I was bored with what I was doing and was in a position to do it.

I'd do it over again and still go through several college level courses a year on DVD. Not all the easy ones either.



sullly

Trad climber
Nov 2, 2013 - 08:08pm PT
At 50 I'm taking three night courses at Stanford. I would never have gotten in as a high school senior. Continuing studies programs are so fulfilling.

I've taken courses previously from my current august older professors, who are of the tweed jacket Paper Chase variety. They and their subjects (Sophocles, James Joyce, great American plays) will be things of the past soon enough. Sure glad I get to sit in while it lasts.
Bad Climber

climber
Nov 2, 2013 - 08:52pm PT
Prof. Gill makes a good point, but academic positions, if hard to get, still come around from time to time. I was finishing grad school in the mid-80's with a goal of teaching at the community college level. A crappy economy and a dark forecast by many pundits made my career choice sound like a long run-out above RP's. But I was in love with my subject (English), a young Romantic addicted to climbing, and what else was there to do? If we don't pursue our dreams, what's the point of being on this wondrous orb? Still, the adjunct teaching grind almost took me out of the game, but after six years of scraping by, I started getting offers for full-time work and landed a tenure-track position shortly thereafter. I've been in my current job for about 16 years now. Summers off, winter and spring breaks, decadently sweet gig.

As a teacher, however, I see way too many students wasting their time--and mine--because they think college is the only way to go. Often, of course, they don't know what the hell they're doing. I do my best, but the body count in my classes can get pretty fearsome at times. I don't cotton to self-esteem grading, if you get my drift. But I've had my success stories, too. I'm especially proud of Maria Peneda, daughter of field workers who refused to take the extra time allowed on the exams because English was not her first language. She went on to graduate and become a nurse. Damn straight, I tell you what! Freakin' awesome gal. I have a few of these every semester, and the ones who drop sometimes come back, years later, and get the job done right. Sometimes what appears like failure is just a TR burn to prepare for the red point later on.

Sure, college can be a waste of time. It depends on what you bring to it.

BAd
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 3, 2013 - 01:23am PT
There's an old saying about youth being wasted on the young. I think there may be an analogous, if less catchy, line about education. It too, is often wasted on the young.

I know a lot of older folks who wished they had made more of the educational opportunities that they had, as well as others who would like to find ways to go back to school at relatively advanced ages, for no other reason than to learn about stuff they wish they knew more about.

I and many of my fellow science and mathematics grad students often supported ourselves by tutoring people, usually in elementary statistics, who had shunned math all their lives and now found it essential to their chosen goals. I can't begin to tell you how many times I heard "I wish I had learned this well when I had the chance."

My mom didn't graduate from high school, but eventually got a college degree in her fifties. She felt so privileged to finally have had that experience and she genuinely couldn't understand the attitudes of many of her youthful fellow students, kids who seemed to view the entire enterprise as a distasteful fraternity initiation rite they had to go through, and who seemed determined to get as little as possible out of it. Meanwhile, she had waited half a century for societal attitudes, finances, and life-situations to make it possible for her to learn about things she had increasingly wanted to know about.

When the occasional class cancellations happen, often to the delight of my students, I sometimes joke that education is the only commodity that consumers rejoice when they get less of it for their money.

Sometimes it takes some life experience and some maturing to realize just how fascinating and enriching academic pursuits can be. It is true that not everyone needs to go to college, but it is also true that not everyone needs to go when they are 18 years old. Unfortunately, it is pretty hard to either go or return to school later in life, when in many ways people are more receptive to the benefits, especially those that are less tangible.

On the other hand, while we, surrounded by comforts and forced, by law, to acquire at least a modicum of knowledge, decry the utility of education, girls and teachers in Pakistan risk their lives every day in order to acquire just a little bit of what some of us so easily scorn.

I must say that I find it ironic to hear climbers speak of education as only having vocational value if that. Here we have a group of people who have devoted enormous amount of energy, invested countless hours, have repeatedly risked their health and even their lives, and have often committed themselves to a terribly uncertain financial future, for what exactly? A passion certainly, but not one of any "value" except to themselves. It would seem to me that these folks, as much as anyone, would understand the almost irresistable draw that other activities, including those classified as academic, might might exert on the human soul.

Education has the potential to fling open the gates to gardens people didn't know existed, to provide unimagined vistas, and to cast entirely new light on the familiar and mundane. Yes, to paraphrase a line from the Torah, many of us walk sightless in the presence of miracles. Education can open a chink in that enveloping darkness. It's a big gamble, to be sure---the candle can gutter and go out, and the darkness remains. But climbers, so used to embracing risk in the pursuit of self-fulfillment, ought not to be strangers to that concept.
Bad Climber

climber
Nov 3, 2013 - 08:59am PT
Here! Here! Rgold is golden. Well said.

BAd
Norwegian

Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
Nov 3, 2013 - 09:27am PT
college is what you make it,
myne was atypical:

i lived in my car, or beneath the interstate;
i showered in the geology building;
i ate meals wherever i could
fill my instant pouches with tepid water;
i studied in denny's or the free lab at
escuela.

i tiptoed around massive debt;
i stomped into my brain a viable
knowledge;
i explored new cultures in urban america;
and i left behind, others.

then the now became malleable,
and i continue to mold it into
new shapes and understandings.

everything is a waste of time.
time has a half-life of
never(mind) squared.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Nov 3, 2013 - 09:27am PT
My parents were the first generation in their families to have a college education.

I have 14 years of college, without which I wouldn't be one of the one percenters. You can't convince me that college is a waste of time.

Excuse me now, I'm getting ready for a scuba trip to a luxury resort in the Turks and Caicos Islands, where I'll contemplate how much better off I would have been with just a high-school education.
The user formerly known as stzzo

climber
Sneaking up behind you
Nov 3, 2013 - 09:39am PT
"how many lines of code could you write?"

Not everyone has the wherewithal to learn best practices, theory, etc on their own.

I wouldn't want my airplanes, ABS brake system, elevators, medical equipment, bridges, and so-on designed / built by any old do-it-yourselfer.

But maybe I'm too picky...
Srbphoto

climber
Kennewick wa
Nov 3, 2013 - 10:03am PT
Some might argue that college dropouts will sit in their parents' basements playing Halo 2, doing Jell-O shots and smoking pot.

I thought that's what you do in college.
manemachen

Sport climber
Pinedale, Wyoming
Nov 4, 2013 - 12:45pm PT
the most important things I took away from college I did not learn in the classroom. Attention to detail, finishing what I had started, and to never fear not having $- that situation is always in flux. Spell check equalizes my universe since speed bumps were invented-lots of times during those years, I should have asked for my money back..if I had a kid-I would insist on tech school first.
stevep

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Nov 4, 2013 - 01:52pm PT
Yes, a good college will teach you critical thinking, problem analysis, and communications skills. All of which are very valuable in the working world, almost no matter what job you choose.
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