So where do we get this nonsense cliché that everybody should go to college? If that's the case, then college would have to be dumbed down, would it not? Don't worry — that's already been taken care of. [link]
College was a scam even back in my day over fifty years ago, but it hadn't reached the magnitude and sophistication it has today. I could actually pay my tuition with a part-time job, and college loans were minuscule compared to what they are today.
The fact is, a large part of the population has internalized about all the formal education they can tolerate by age sixteen, never mind high school graduation and never, never mind college. The people making a living off the collage trough are well aware of this, except maybe for the stupider ones, but they don't want to endanger their rice bowl by saying so. The more warm bodies they scam into wasting their time attending college, the more money they make, and the more secure their jobs are.
And if you don't believe it's largely a waste of time, just look at your local college catalog, and see some of the dopey classes they offer. And a lot of colleges will let you major in idiotic things like Women's Studies, Black Studies, Queer Studies (funny how so many of them are "Studies"), and other propaganda programs which are worse than useless.
No, some time back, college education was limited to law, theology, and medicine. Everything else was either on-the-job training, or some kind of recreation that you were expected to do on your own, if you wanted to.
Careers like music, engineering, art, literature, STEM in general, are probably better handled by specialized private schools that teach what is needed for those professions, and nothing else. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for scientists and engineers and the like knowing about art/music/literature, but why should any of that be part of their curriculum leading to their specialty? The only answer to that one is that it's good for the instructors teaching that sort of thing because it guarantees them students.
And please don't tell me that we need people to get well-rounded college educations, because many such courses are practically designed to prevent a well-rounded education by fulfilling requirements with easy courses instead of challenging ones. I recently learned that in some colleges, it's possible to get a bachelor's degree in English without studying Shakespeare. So much for well-rounded. I know I had to read a Shakespeare play in high school. I wonder what they're reading now. Probably Toni Morrison.
And do be aware that a person who graduated from high school in the 19th Century was better educated than your average college graduate today. Maybe it was because they didn't spend their time watching films about Martin Luther King all day. But there were problems long before my day, too [link].
In his piece below, Stuart Schneiderman points out that in other countries, effective apprenticeship programs take the place of college degrees for many job careers. I'm all for that, and I'd take it further than most people would. Take education, for example. Why do you need a college degree to teach, say, geometry in high school. How about a high school graduate who's good at geometry, and who takes a standardized test to prove he is? And maybe an internet course in "how to teach." And then apprentice him to a geometry teacher for a year, and then he's qualified. Thousands of dollars saved, and you most likely have a better teacher, too. And of course this applies to teachers of most subjects. And now here's Stuart Schneiderman's piece, from Had Enough Therapy?:
Bringing the jobs back home might be easier said than done. The American educational system, run by the same teachers unions that are up in arms about Betsy Devos, is apparently not doing a very good job of educating children.
Teachers are very fortunate that their salaries are not related to student performance.
The New York Times reports:
When the German engineering company Siemens Energy opened a gas turbine production plant in Charlotte, N.C., some 10,000 people showed up at a job fair for 800 positions. But fewer than 15 percent of the applicants were able to pass a reading, writing and math screening test geared toward a ninth-grade education.
“In our factories, there’s a computer about every 20 or 30 feet,” said Eric Spiegel, who recently retired as president and chief executive of Siemens U.S.A. “People on the plant floor need to be much more skilled than they were in the past. There are no jobs for high school graduates at Siemens today.”
Funnily enough, it’s not about having a high school education. These job applicants could not pass at test geared toward ninth grade students. The world of educational testing has shown over and over again that American children cannot compete against their peers in many other countries. Count this as further, and more practical evidence of this phenomenon.
How to solve this problem? Should we send more students to college? Or do we send too many children to college? Unfortunately, if you think that elementary and high school education is bad, college is a racket to end all rackets. It’s yet another instance of what happens when the free market is stifled.
Anyway, the Times does not see any great advantage to sending more unqualified candidates to college:
Even if those jobs returned, a high school diploma is simply no longer good enough to fill them. Yet rarely discussed in the political debate over lost jobs are the academic skills needed for today’s factory-floor positions, and the pathways through education that lead to them.
Many believe that the solution is for more Americans to go to college. But the college-for-all movement, which got its start in the 1970s as American manufacturing began its decline, is often conflated with earning a bachelor’s degree.
Many high school students rush off to four-year campuses not ready for the academic work or not sure why they are there. Government data show that 44 percent of new graduates enroll directly in a four-year college, but based on recent trends, less than half of them will earn a degree within four years. And though two-year colleges have long been identified as the institutions that fill the job-training role, some 80 percent of community college students say they intend to go on for a bachelor’s degree, or they leave with generic associate degrees that are of little value in the job market.
Students go off to college, but they do not have the skills to do college level work. And besides, what are they taught in college: how to protest for social justice?
In other countries, students can choose between a liberal arts education, and an apprenticeship program that prepares them for good-paying jobs.
In America such programs are occasionally sponsored by corporations themselves. Clearly, it is far too little, considering the need and the demand.
The Times tells about how it works at John Deere:
Faced with a skills gap, employers are increasingly working with community colleges to provide students with both the academic education needed to succeed in today’s work force and the specific hands-on skills to get a job in their companies. John Deere, for example, has designed a curriculum and donated farm equipment to several community colleges to train technicians for its dealer network. About 15 to 20 students come through the program at Walla Walla each semester. Because they are sponsored by a John Deere dealership, where the students work for half the program, most graduate in two years with a job in hand.
Siemans did something similar in Charlotte:
Struggling to fill jobs in the Charlotte plant, Siemens in 2011 created an apprenticeship program for seniors at local high schools that combines four years of on-the-job training with an associate degree in mechatronics from nearby Central Piedmont Community College. When they finish, graduates have no student loans and earn more than $50,000 a year.
Apparently, there is bipartisan support for apprenticeship programs in America. One suspects that university system, needing more warm bodies to justify itself, will oppose this.
The Times explains:
Here in the United States, most students are offered a choice between college or a dead end. The college-for-all movement, it seems, has closed off rather than opened up career options. For working-class voters who feel left out in this economy to be able to secure meaningful jobs, educational pathways must be expanded and legitimized — in the process redefining and broadening what is meant by higher education.
One cannot help but agree.
----------Quibcag: Illustration is of the characters from Gin Tama (銀魂 Gintama, lit. "Silver Soul") in a classroom.