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Is our children learning?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DrFrylock, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. DrFrylock

    DrFrylock
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    I have more formal education than any human being probably should. I don't really have any regrets about it; I feel like that strategy worked for me. Others take different paths and have different feelings, though. I have noticed that there are many militant and self-proclaimed autodidacts out there who claim that the whole thing is a sham.

    FOCUS: How much formal education did you get? Do you feel like your formal education worked for you or not? If you had it to do all over again, what (if anything) would you change, and why?

    ALTERNATIVE FOCUS: Are the militant autodidacts right? Is extensive formal education just a big sham?
     
  2. hotwheelz

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    This is pretty relevant to the discussion:

     
    #2 hotwheelz, Aug 31, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2015
  3. The Village Idiot

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    As many of you know, I have a JD, which means I went to college for 4 years and law school for 3. I like my education, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it really has worked for me in the long run. If I had it to do all over again, I'd probably go into construction and not go to college at all, see below.

    In a word, yes, it is a sham.

    The whole push for college education started because of the Vietnam war. If you were enrolled, you weren't eligible for the draft. Thus, college numbers went way up, as did the dollars.

    Realistically speaking, most jobs do not require a college education to perform. Vocational schools would be far better, and far cheaper, than the typical 4 year college and actually train you to do something. Today's college degree is yesterday's High School Diploma. It gets you in the theatre, but you don't get to necessarily see the show.

    I'm not knocking education per se, I do think it's a good thing in theory, but the fact that it's become so mandatory in order to join the work force, with many jobs that are easily accomplished through training, has hurt the work force in general.
     
  4. Frank

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    I have a bachelor's in mathematics and out of school it landed me an awesome job in... wait for it... a call center helping people determine what health benefits package to choose and how much they should put in their 401(k). My supervisor was a 21 year old college dropout. I resented this so much at first thinking "I can do so much more, I have a college degree for crying out loud." But the fact of the matter is, they paid me to answer calls, not solve math problems and my 21 year old college dropout supervisor was better at it than me.

    As you can probably tell I think education is VASTLY overrated from a performance standpoint and a guy with a high school degree and four years experience will generally bring a lot more to the table than the guy with a four year degree and no experience. That said, we do live in a barriered entry society where you need the right qualifications to get the right job, even if the qualifications mean next to nothing when it comes to job performance. It's been mentioned here multiple times, law school has next to nothing to do with practicing law, but you still need a $150,000 JD to do it anyway.

    Right now I work in one of the most retardedly academic fields (actuary) where I have to pass a grueling set of exams that are barely related to my job. But shit, if an insurance company wants to pay me 50k more than I'm worth to pass a bunch of math tests (my wheelhouse) you bet your ass I'll do it.
     
  5. iczorro

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    I joined the Navy right after highschool, and have done a cumulative 1.5 years or so of Navy schooling in such things as basic electronics, system troubleshooting, component level troubleshooting, etc. The classroom basics were always nice to have as a foundation of knowledge, but basically, they were shammish.

    When your're working with something a lot, that's when you learn it's ins and outs. On the Job training is way more legit than formal education, in my opinion. At least when it comes to tech jobs.
     
  6. Samr

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    This.

    Today, it's almost expected that you have at least an undergrad degree. I also STRONGLY agree that vocational schools are the way to go.

    Similar to the guy with the math degree that said his 21 year old boss was better at answering phones than him, my job too is heavily reliant on just basic people skills, and common sense. I'm about to graduate after this semester with a BA in public speaking, then off to law school. That's the best I could manage to morph my "formal" education into essentially an elaborate vocational school. I know several philosophy, English, and math majors that are SOL and they're just starting to realize it.

    I've learned more about business just from work in the past four years than my cousin has who is about to graduate with a bachelor's in it.

    In general, yes, I do believe college is a scam. If you have no clue your direction in life, don't major in something like art, cultural studies, philosophy, or English just because you find painting, researching, thinking, or reading interesting. If you don't know what you want to do, go out and DO something. Real world trial and error.

    Now for some people, at least undergrad does, kind of, work; I've fortunately been able to manipulate my courses around stuff that is directly applicable to me and my future. Would I have been better off spending those four years in the "real world"? Of course.

    But I need the undergrad to get into law school, which at this point in time is something I can't comment on regarding the effectiveness/real-world applicability of it.
     
  7. Lasersailor

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    I'm with a lot of other people here that say real world experience is vastly more important. That being said I'm currently on a "Leave of Absence" from school.

    Basically I went through to get a technical engineering degree to be a Construction Manager. What tripped me up the worst were the very difficult classes I had to take that had no use or bearing on being a Construction Manager. I had no desire or drive to focus on them. Anyway, after 5 years with 1 more year to go I ran out of money, but mostly I ran out of patience. That's 5 years of 18 engineering credits per semester, and more to go because I fucked up some of them.

    I get a job in the real world and learn that roughly 80-85% of everything I had learned was outdated, wrong, or useless to the job.


    I really regret picking this hard, not so technical major. I wish I had gone for a Business degree while taking a couple construction classes. I could have been done and out with a comparative leisurely semester load in 3 or 3.5 years. And I would have been in the same shape that I am now (not to mention leaving school during the peak of a boom and not on the down slope).
     
  8. Frank

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    Just for the sake of clarity he was better because of experience, not because he had more common sense or better people skills, I had a better knack for it and a higher ceiling, but he knew the products and the game better than I did because he was there longer.

    I think this is pretty solid advice and it still baffles me that going directly to college after high school and trying to plan your future at 18 is the norm.

    Kind of off topic, but if anyone about to go to college is reading this, the following majors are pretty much completely worthless:

    - Latin (unless you want to be a teacher)
    - Sociology (unless you want to be a professor)
    - Psychology (unless you go to grad school)
    - Political Science (unless you are planning on going to law school, which is also a terrible idea)
    - Philosophy (unless you want to be a professor)
    - History (unless you want to be a teacher)
    - Communication
    - English (unless you want to be a teacher)

    These are all great MINORS or dual majors if you are passionate about the subject, but unless you know you can leverage a job through nepotism when you graduate I can pretty much guarantee you will not be working in anything even closely related to these subjects after college.

    So freaking true, you have to understand that your professors in the more academic fields have little or no understanding of real world application, they've lived their entire lives in academia. They made us do all our math in stupid ass programs like MAT LAB or some other shit that absolutely no one uses and completely neglected to teach us ANYTHING about Excel. Why? Because they don't know how to fucking use it and are so disconnected with the real world to understand its functionality.
     
  9. Trakiel

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    I recently (at age 30) completed my undergrad degree in business economics after going to college off and on for about 8 years. My primary motivation for doing so was personal accomplishment satisfaction; having that degree wasn't going to explicitly open any new doors for me in my current line of work, which is IT in the healthcare industry. That's not to say that the knowledge isn't useful, because economics knowledge is useful in and of itself whose principles can be applied to pretty much any field of work.

    Would I do it all over again if I could? Mostly, because the only reason it took me so long to graduate (aside from having a well-paying job throughout my college years) was because it took me 5 years to figure out that I really enjoyed economics and wouldn't have wasted half a decade half-assedly pursuing a computer science, then philosophy, then mathematics degree.

    Both of my parents have master's degrees and both have backgrounds in education, so there's no way I can say that higher education isn't valuable. However my dad, who retired after 36 years of teaching told me a long time ago that to a potential employer, all a degree shows is that you can commit yourself to achieving a goal and that you're smart enough to learn something.

    I think the biggest problem with higher education (and to an extent primary education) is that the academic system is more or less prioritizing teaching the same things it taught 75 years ago, which is ridiculous given how much the world has changed. Maybe things have changed in the last 15 years since I was in high school, but I remember computer class being an elective that wasn't given much importance while classes like humanities were still considered very important. Hell, I don't even remember there being a basic finance class available, which I suppose says something about some of the causes of the current recession. If schools aren't even teaching people basic necessary life skills, how can they prepare people for the modern work force?
     
  10. whathasbeenseen

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    My older brother (by 8 years) just finished with PhD in Education. Smart fucker is smart. He has read more books than I ever will and I love reading. We talk weekly and he is constantly up my ass to get my degree. I have enough experience in my field to make a comfortable living. I have no desire to be a manager and I have no idea what I'd go to school for if nothing more than just to learn and to be around others who enjoyed learning.

    My brother's reasoning is that the world is split into this baseline judgment regarding having a degree and I have to admit that I get sideways looks from people when they've found out that I haven't drank the kool-aid and have a degree. I've just always been of a mind that if I want to know something I'll go to Barns and Noble and spend months buying books and reading until I know a subject cold.

    My brother thinks I'm smarter than him and therefore should have a degree but watching him a degree isn't a measure of intelligence. Its a measure of your ability to sit, absorb, regurgitate, repeat ad naseum. I think eventually I'll get a degree in something I love like math or physics or history not because I want a degree but because I'll have just taken enough classes to qualify for one.
     
  11. Justadude

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    I completely agree that a 4 year degree is completely worthless. It is fucking retarded to offer 18 year olds thousands of dollars in student loans, especially if they are looking forward to going to a party school.

    What we have created the same system that existed a generation ago, but to move up to the middle class tier you have to spend, what was our parents', your first 4-5 working years fucking around in academia, taking out loans and living the "4 year college experience".

    With that said I'm now going back for a Master's in International Affairs and it is fucking HARD, but is a requirement to get into overseas aid work (per a very high ranking USAID official in Iraq). Am I learning a lot? Yeah, but I'm also missing the height of Afghanistan so I can't help feel that I'm wasting my time.
     
  12. effinshenanigans

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    I was an English major, so I can attest to how useless it seems on the surface. What I can also say, though (and which has a lot to do with the 1st bolded statement), is that if you are going to choose a major so notorious for its uselessness, make sure that you've got other practical experience to go along with it. For instance, I worked for a small tech company throughout high school and the first two years of college. They originally brought me in to answer phones, but realized that I could do more. I ended up doing accounting, managing shipping and receiving, marketing, and editing/proofreading contracts and SEC documents, among other things. After I left that job, I worked in direct sales for about 10 months. After graduating college, I worked as a freelance writer for a small marketing firm until I found the gig I have now.

    When employers looked at my resume, they glossed over my educational experience very quickly. Some never even mentioned it at all. They went right to the bulk of my resume that revealed practical experience in a number of different fields. I had the proper knowledge to do the job that I was applying for, but many interviewers commented that if I got the job that they might consider moving me somewhere else because of my experience in other areas (which, incidentally, is why I'm working for three drastically different subsidiaries of a large parent company right now).

    Moral of the story? An English major is fine as long as you have something else (or in my case, many things) to back it up so that, come interview time, you don't look like a pseudo-intelligent pile of meat who should've been a teacher or gone to grad school and studied something worthwhile.
     
  13. Bourbondownthehouse

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    I'm about 15 credit hours away from graduating a giant degree mill with a bachelors in Criminal Justice, with a minor in sociology, as well as one in history. This summer I completed a 14 police academy, and learned more about working in the criminal justice field than I have in all of my formal education. I think college is a scam, but one you have to get fucked by to succeed (in most cases). All of that said though, I've had a hell of time the past four years.
     
  14. hawkeyenick

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    Focus: Not only do I have a J.D., I decided to add another degree on top of it. I graduated about 2.5 weeks ago with an LL.M. in Taxation. Basically I spent yet another year in school studying tax law in great detail. My reasoning was I had enjoyed doing a few tax projects during internships and I liked my basic Federal Tax course in law school, so I thought I might enjoy working as a tax attorney (as much as anyone can enjoy being an attorney).

    I had a great job offer coming out of law school, but I didn't want to live in that city any longer. My wife and I wanted to move someplace new, so I decided to attend a tax program in the city we were moving to. I figured it would help me to network and find a job, and more education is never a bad thing. Frankly, that was pretty stupid. Tax is really interesting at a superficial level, but studying the depths of it just sucked. I have little desire to use my degree, outside of making sure I take advantage of all the tax breaks I'm entitled to. Plus, at a school that usually ensures everyone graduates with a job, the director of the program basically said to all of the students this year that because of the economy, he couldn't even do anything for us. I would have been better off having spent the past year searching for a job full-time than working towards a degree and ending up a year behind in finding a job.

    The one bright side is I am considering opening up a solo shop, and having a local degree and a few connections to call for advice or referrals should help make things slightly easier, at least in the short-term.

    Alt. Focus: I don't think formal education is entirely a sham. I personally wouldn't trade my undergrad years for anything. I became an adult in those years, but the environment made for a smoother transition than just jumping into the workforce could. If I could go back, sure I would have studied something more practical, but other than that I would keep everything the same. I enjoyed partying 5 nights a week for a while, I enjoyed a lot of my classes, and I made some great friends. To me, its impossible to separate the undergrad experience from the education, and I think those experiences were very important for me to go through, and I suspect I'm not alone in that.
     
  15. BrotherNumberOne

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    I dropped out as a Sophomore, but enough about me. I have several friends who graduated business school and have gone on to find moderate to great success in business and they all seem to allude to one fact: connections. Most of my friends have gone in seperate directions in business, but all seem to agree that college (mainly a business degree) allowed them to meet like-minded, driven fellow entrepreneurs and that is what really allowed them to succeed after college. Yes, what they actually learned helped build a foundation in business for these folks, but they all seem to think they could've figured it out on their own without a degree. I think this is pretty limited to a business degree as opposed to, say, a medical degree or JD, as the business world seems so much more fluid and expansive.
     
  16. scotchcrotch

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    In this economy, the last thing you need to do is overqualify yourself with an MBA.

    Nothing shouts "entitlement attitude" like an MBA, whether it's true or not.

    I've got a BA in Personal Finance, and can't think of an advantage to furthering my formal education.

    Now informal self education is worth it if it's applied.
    .
     
  17. Gargamelon

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    "If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want to learn something, go to a library." -Frank Zappa

    College has just become a White Person ritual that parents are all too happy to indulge in and kids like because it's the only place where being a 20 year old alcoholic is socially acceptable.

    If you're a junior in college and you have no major, everyone will laugh knowingly. "Hah! Don't worry about it, I changed majors so many times! Now look at me, I'm a dental hygienist!"

    Yes, it's what you make of it. But how many 18 year olds are self-motivated, mature, and eager to learn? And how many think a packed frat-basement full of sweaty drunken kids dancing to Lady GaGa is the pinnacle of the human experience?

    Plenty of people get their shit sorted out and get on a good path by the end of 4 years-- but I'm thinking a lot don't (and try to buy more time in Grad School). What do you get from college that can you can't get elsewhere? Basically some form of guidance, structure, and a lot of bullshit classes that you're going to skip.

    The piece of paper you get at the end is meaningless unless you have some skills to back it up. With most majors that's doubtful.

    In other news, I go back to school tommorow! WHO'S READY TO GET FUCKIN WASTEDdddd?
     
  18. caseykasem

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    I'm 21 and in my senior year of college. I think that the connections that I've made throughout my time in college have been worth it but the schooling has mostly been a bunch of bullshit. I'm majoring in political science and minoring in legal studies. I should have listened to my dad and majored in business instead. Although it can be interesting at times, political science as a college major, is shit and has little to do with anything of importance. I can see it's value as a discipline and why it is necessary but it is damn near worthless as an undergrad major. Many of my classes involve bashing the U.S. political system and whining about the economy. It is rare when someone has something constructive or compelling to say. Most of my classes consist of dumbass pseudo-intellectuals trying to stroke the professor's ego.

    I have learned very little from my classes in college and have maintained a high GPA without doing much work at all. On most days, I feel like I'm simply buying an expensive piece of paper. The most important thing I have learned so far is how to bullshit anyone and how to write a paper about a topic in which I know next to nothing while putting in very little effort and still getting an A.
     
  19. Now Slappy

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    I dropped out after my first semester junior year because I lost my scholarship after signing a minor league contract. I washed out (read: I realized I was never going to get to the show) after six weeks and decided "fuck them" I wasn't paying to go to school. I don't think college is entirely a scam, but as someone else has already mentioned there are very few 18-19 year olds who have the focus and discipline to make it really beneficial.

    I ended up getting my 100 ton captains license at 21 because for years I had worked for a ferry company in the summertime, and at 23 I upgraded it to a 500 ton Master with a 1600 ton Mate. Did the whole shipping thing until I was 27 and while between ships I started bartending. Found out that bartending was really lucrative and four and a half years ago I bought the bar/restaurant where I had worked previously.

    So I guess what I'm getting at is if you have enough drive and common sense you don't really need the formal education, but for those of you who are still young and in the midst of making these decisions be prepared to work because this road wasn't easy. Rewarding and fulfilling, yes. Easy, no.
     
  20. Harry Coolahan

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    I'm going to go against the consensus here and say that yes, I do think college is worth it.

    BUT, I think it needs to meet these criteria:
    - You need to know why you're going to school and what you want to study.
    - You need to be attending the right school for your area of study.
    - You need to be proactive about taking the classes where you will learn—most classes are pretty worthless.
    - Similarly, you need to be proactive about your experience there.

    Probably, the things I've learned in college could have been learned more quickly and effectively on my own time. And I'll be graduating with $80K of debt, and that's on top of a $140K scholarship. That's an absurd amount of money but I think overall it is worth it. I'm going to a school that is Top 10 for international affairs, and my professors have included a former FBI Special Agent, former CIA Case Officer, State Dept. employees, guest speakers like Andrew Card, etc. That is access to unique insight that you can't get anywhere outside of school (and, most specifically, a school that specializes in my field of study). In terms of specific knowledge, most of the stuff I learned in school could have been just as easily learned through independent reading; but the classes have definitely helped direct what I learn. In terms of skills, I've gotten much better at certain things like analysis and writing—but, again, that is only because I've been forced to write 30+ papers since getting to college, not as a result of any feedback from professors or TAs. As far as college experiences, I've developed a much better work ethic and matured a lot, had lots of weird booze- and sex-fueled nights, etc. Every three months my lifestyle changes in adaption to a new class schedule, so I've had lots of opportunities to experiment with the way I want to live.

    I don't think there's any way you could pack all of that into 4 years any other way, so in that respect it's a unique and valuable experience.

    That said, I am so sick of being a student. College is a self-enclosed bubble where students feel intelligent and important when in fact their existences are entirely worthless until they graduate.