Comments on: The value of college: great for me, not so much for thee! History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sun, 21 Sep 2014 11:42:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: Not Given Sat, 11 Jun 2011 10:47:00 +0000 What do you think now about a certain type of professional education?

By: Historiann Tue, 13 Jul 2010 15:02:37 +0000 p.s. Gee, it’s funny that people who are linking to and commenting on this post all seem to be disaffected attorneys! I guess it took you all 7 years of higher education to figure out what a scam we’re all running here. (There are a lot of families who’d love the chance to get their kids even a 4-year degree, let alone a professional education, which was presumably your choice.)

I’m sorry that you don’t feel like you spent your money or time wisely. But that doesn’t make it a waste of time for other people–just maybe not the right decision for you.

By: Historiann Tue, 13 Jul 2010 14:58:31 +0000 Yeah, that’s right: college professors today are just all about creating a new “slave population.”

When I see members of the ruling class refusing to send their kids to college, then I’ll be totally on board with the “skip college, you’ll be better off!” crowd. But somehow, I don’t think that’s going to happen!

BUH-bye, and thanks for playing.

By: BL1Y Tue, 13 Jul 2010 14:50:11 +0000 Racial minorities are more likely to rely on loans for their education and also generally get worse interest rates.

So, perhaps the people defending higher education are actually only doing so because the extreme difficulty in paying off student loans allows us to use college as a means of creating a class of indentured servants. And, as the student loan slave population becomes increasingly integrated racially, some people defend higher education more. Sounds like those people are the real racists.

…Or race just has nothing to do with it and the arguments one way or the other are pretty contrived and unconvincing.

By: Historiann Tue, 13 Jul 2010 11:40:10 +0000 Sorry, Southerner–I think you’re completely wrong. First of all, employers are smart enough to distinguish between some degrees and others as it is, so I think that any “university” education that’s accomplished via DVDs and Kindle will be recognized for what it is–a very poor substitute.

Secondly, your comments here are entirely colored by the current economy. No one was saying back in 1998 that college was a waste of time, when Comp Lit and Art History majors were making money hand over fist in the Dot-Com/tech boom. No one was even saying that back in 2008, either, and the fact remains that college graduates will have more opportunities than HS grads once this recession lifts. (See above Fratguy’s comments upthread about the unemployment rate of college grads vs. HS grads even now.)

Finally, this: “When there were no student loans, it was possible in many cases for students to work their way through college in four years, or perhaps five.” You don’t know what you’re talking about. I agree that the student loan program has been corrupted by big money, but the reason that college got so expensive in the past 30 years is that the federal and state governments no longer fund it the way they used to. More responsibility has been shifted onto students–but that’s not the fault of the loan program. That’s the fault of our craven politicians and poor leadership, as well as (I grant you) a lot of crummy decision making from the top at many universities.

Good luck with that DVD and Kindle!

By: Southerner Tue, 13 Jul 2010 09:23:33 +0000 It DOES matter what percentage of people in society have a college degree, because the people with college degrees are competing against each other for a limited pool of job opportunities.

It is good that anyone who wants to attend college can do so, but it is tragic that there are so many college graduates that a man running a paint store can get away with rejecting high school graduates in favor of college graduates. A high school graduate still living with mom and dad might be perfectly happy to be working at a paint store. A college graduate with $100,000 in debt won’t be happy. He will think that he should be employed in some executive capacity somewhere. The high school graduate can save some money from his wages and soon get a car, and an apartment of his own. The college graduate will have little left over after paying Sallie Mae, and will be traumatized and depressed to realize that he will be financially dependent upon his parents for years, and unable to get married and lead an independent, adult life.

People of my parents’ generation joined the work force right out of high school, with only a small percentage going to college. Many high school graduates had interests that they pursued in their spare time, including reading works of literature, painting, playing a musical instrument, etc. There were fewer intellectual poseurs in those days, and I doubt that the ranks of the self-actualized have grown much over the past few decades as the college population has swelled.

When there were no student loans, it was possible in many cases for students to work their way through college in four years, or perhaps five. Under the current Sallie Mae program, it takes up to 25 years of longer in some cases to pay off a college degree. I learned a lot in college, but I could have learned just as much by spending twenty-five hours per week at a library. Nobody is saying that education is a waste of time. But people are increasingly questioning whether a diploma is worth the opportunity cost of four years of lost income followed by twenty-five years of being dunned by Sallie Mae, if you are likely to end up working in an upscale paint and tile store.

The whole education industry is about to go through a great shake-up, and when it is over, “college” may be a series of lectures on DVDs combined with textbooks on Kindle.

By: Knitting Clio Mon, 12 Jul 2010 13:13:51 +0000 I agree with the points made by Tamora — and would add that there’s a certain degree of snobbery in our culture towards those who decide to enter the skilled trades. I see this especially among middle-class parents who are “disappointed” when their child decides to become a plumber or a cosmetologist instead of go to college. I know plenty of smart people who are electricians, painters, and carpenters and show more interest in current events and other intellectual topics than some college graduates.

By: Helen Huntingdon Mon, 12 Jul 2010 12:48:02 +0000 Living-wage jobs that don’t require a degree still tend to be pretty male-dominated. You can get manufacturing jobs as a woman, but the ones that pay well and promotions and raises tend to be heavily reserved for men, for example. It’s not hard to find men in those trades with “college is for the weak” notions.

I think more education is definitely better than less, but isn’t it funny how costs have been driven up to the point where all but the rich have to ask themselves, “at what cost”?

I’m one of the STEM types who has a long history of exasperation with the humanities side of the house. It started because I went to a college-prep high school that got me a better humanities education than most people I’ve run into with degrees. Then I went to college. I tried a SLAC, I tried graduate courses at an R1, I tried various public undergrad options, and in all cases I found myself frustrated and unable to find the same quality of experience I had found at my high school. I generally wanted to slap nearly all my classmates upside the head and tell them to quit being so stupid and whiny. I didn’t start to mentally devalue the humanities courses because I valued the disciplines less, but because I didn’t like being cooped up with classmates who apparently didn’t value them much at all.

I veered into the STEM end because I found the level of challenge I was looking for, partly because my education in that area was lagging by quite a bit, and because I found classmates who took the subject matter seriously enough that I could actually have enlightening discussions with them. My classmates were a lot less whiny in my R1 EE program, mostly because we were all in something like shell shock all the time trying to cope with the information firehose. At that point, we all experienced a sort of disoriented wonderment at how easily credits were given away in the humanities courses of comparable level, for a tiny fraction of the work we had to put in. Yeah, contempt started to set in for all of us. I managed to weasel my way into grad-level classes for the last of my lib ed requirements, and I was still stunned at how they were orders of magnitude easier than my undergrad EE courses. Even when the time commitment became comparable, the level of painful mental effort never came close. But then, that was partly due to my unusually good grounding in basic composition in high school.

I don’t have any good answers to the problems I saw, but I can tell you that it’s very easy to confuse for a too-easy class full of lazy-seeming classmates with an entire discipline, if that class is your only experience with that discipline. I see it a lot in the STEM-area undergrads.

By: Historiann Sun, 11 Jul 2010 13:14:04 +0000 Jodie–thanks for that. I didn’t realize nursing was such a differentiated field.

By: Jodie Sun, 11 Jul 2010 12:31:18 +0000 Correction to the above: LPN is one year, RN is two years, RN/BSN is four years. RN and BSN can hold the same jobs; BSN is slightly more likely to be management.