Why Did 17 Million Students Go to College?

  • metta

    Posts: 39107

    Dec 05, 2010 4:08 AM GMT
    Why Did 17 Million Students Go to College?

    I'm still a big supporter of higher education but I think that people need to be more careful in choosing what they go into.

    http://chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/why-did-17-million-students-go-to-college/27634

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    Dec 05, 2010 5:44 AM GMT
    I personally changed my degree cause the last field I was in Finance is super saturated! So many people with those degrees out there. So now working on a Civil Engineering degree cause I love science and theres a high demand for them in the US still and little people to pull from.

    Still I'm at a job that I can move up so much to the point of not really needing any degree and it makes me wonder what do I do. Thanks for this article.
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    Dec 05, 2010 6:57 AM GMT
    Frankly, there's some interesting parts to that post, but there's also a great deal that is offensive.

    From what I can tell given the vagueness of his post, his argument is that the US is investing too much in college education, seemingly some portion is tax dollars.

    But his view if very limited and fails to take into account how many of those people with BAs working in jobs that don't require such a degree may be doing so because the market is so bad. Or, they earned a degree in something - theater, comes to mind - that they enjoy doing but can't (yet) earn a living at.

    What I find most offensive about his view is that it fails (or maybe doesn't) to take into account that having an educated populace is necessary for a functioning democracy. Certainly, most students do not graduate from high school with even a rudimentary understanding of civics anymore.What he is arguing against is education for its own sake. And that's utterly opposed to even the most basic understanding of democracy.
  • Mepark

    Posts: 806

    Dec 05, 2010 7:08 AM GMT
    I think too often people choose to go into fields "they love" when in reality education in unnecessary or fruitless. Sometimes you just gotta face life. Take me for instance, I spend two years in art school till I realized, "hey, I'm naturally creative and I don't need a 150,000$ 4 year private school degree that will lead me no where. I'm taking that money and spending it on medicine, even though I never envisioned being a doc. The whole do what you love mentality is really turning into a nightmare for many people. Don't misunderstand, it's important to love what you do, to a limit, but you still have to be careful. Maybe you can find some balance between that love and the demand out there. For me, plastic surgeon perhaps icon_wink.gif
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    Dec 05, 2010 7:30 AM GMT
    You'll like this guy then. One of the things he says is that we are training people and expecting them to retire in 50 years but we have no idea what the next 5 will look like.


    Now, compound this with people like James Burke who assert that humanity is in a time of transition (whether we know it or not) where we are seeing such drastic changes in the world and drastic shifts in technology... and we are in the laborious process of updating our institutions.


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    Dec 05, 2010 7:41 AM GMT
    Well a person does not spend all those years at University to become a medical practitioner, to work for a National Health Benefit and be paid a pittance.
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    Dec 05, 2010 8:38 AM GMT
    I don't think there is any problem with going for an education in something you are passionate about, but you really have to be smart, strong, and CREATIVE about how you are going to apply it to the rest of your life. You also can't just tell people that they shouldn't at least TRY if they have the resources to try, otherwise there are many who won't realize their potential to become people that create real change in our world.
    But THEN you have people who go for anything for the sake of having a degree in something, plus the pressure of going at it right after High School. I think people need to mature and take time to think about what they want to do if they are interested in higher education. If it's not for them and they find something else that works better for them then it should be equally respected.
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    Dec 05, 2010 1:04 PM GMT
    It's a double-edged argument:

    On the one hand, universities face increasing pressure to provide "practical" programs that will meet the demands that employers have, i.e. to train the future workforce in skills that the marketplace dictates.

    On the other hand, universities have an unwritten (or in some cases, written) mandate to be centers of knowledge production and thinking. Practicality is a quality that stifles developments in both of these areas. It's a huge dichotomy for a place that should be teaching students how to think about the world beyond "practical skills" to simply become a worker factory.

    Since post-secondary education in North America is not publicly funded, and is not independently wealthy/sustainable (because we live in a society that does not, in fact, value knowledge or its development) universities have been forced to promote themselves as the former, as opposed to the latter to maintain revenue streams. Thus students are lead to believe that their degree is necessary to obtain a job.

    When I was going to high school, university was just the "logical next step". It didn't really matter if you knew what you wanted to do, you just went to university after high school because that's what you had to do to get a "good job".

    Divorcing "university" from "job" would be the best thing to happen this century. Yes, a university education positions you in a more favourable spot for certain jobs (which you may or may not be after). The very notion that practicality may be preventing the world's greatest writer/scientist/historian/philosopher from becoming just that, makes me ill.

    Part of doing what you love is having the courage to go after what you love. University education should be about allowing the student to explore a variety of options to discover where their passion lies, as opposed to strictly defined path-oriented programs that produce a mindless middle class.
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    Dec 05, 2010 1:55 PM GMT
    Depends on what you're going to school for. If you're getting an over saturated degree like finance, theater, or business then of course the job isn't going to match the investment in the degree. But that doesn't mean there aren't degrees in which the benefits equal or exceed the investment in the degree.
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    Dec 05, 2010 3:43 PM GMT
    Universities only did in the 20th century been so closely married to job attainment. Any other time in history a university was the center of scholarly pursuit, and personal intellectual attainment.
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    Dec 05, 2010 3:49 PM GMT
    bryanc_74 saidIt's a double-edged argument:

    On the other hand, universities have an unwritten (or in some cases, written) mandate to be centers of knowledge production and thinking. Practicality is a quality that stifles developments in both of these areas. It's a huge dichotomy for a place that should be teaching students how to think about the world beyond "practical skills" to simply become a worker factory.

    Since post-secondary education in North America is not publicly funded, and is not independently wealthy/sustainable (because we live in a society that does not, in fact, value knowledge or its development) universities have been forced to promote themselves as the former, as opposed to the latter to maintain revenue streams. Thus students are lead to believe that their degree is necessary to obtain a job.

    When I was going to high school, university was just the "logical next step". It didn't really matter if you knew what you wanted to do, you just went to university after high school because that's what you had to do to get a "good job".

    Divorcing "university" from "job" would be the best thing to happen this century. Yes, a university education positions you in a more favourable spot for certain jobs (which you may or may not be after). The very notion that practicality may be preventing the world's greatest writer/scientist/historian/philosopher from becoming just that, makes me ill.

    Part of doing what you love is having the courage to go after what you love. University education should be about allowing the student to explore a variety of options to discover where their passion lies, as opposed to strictly defined path-oriented programs that produce a mindless middle class.


    I agree.


    Some people say that a 4-year college degree is the new high school diploma.


    Colleges and universities have had to "dumb down” the system so that incoming students can meet university standards. One of my professors has had to scale all the exams this semester just so more than half of the class could pass. I hate scales (most of the time), extra credit, etc.

    Also, I had to teach a calculus student (!) how to divide fractions during the first week of classes back in September. Another student I tutor just cannot seem to grasp basic ideas in chemistry--she's a great student, tries very hard, and has followed all of the advice that I (and other tutors) have given to her. She is just unable to grasp the material in the allotted time.

    Not to mention the classrooms are full of lackadaisical *kids* who care very little about their education and knowledge base--many care only about passing and graduating.

    I'm so sick of hearing student whine, "Why do we have to learn this? It has nothing to do with what I'll be doing in my career."