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  1. #1 Ditch The Degree. 
    For Most People, College Is a Waste of Time
    By CHARLES MURRAY
    August 13, 2008; Page A17

    Imagine that America had no system of post-secondary education, and you were a member of a task force assigned to create one from scratch. One of your colleagues submits this proposal:

    First, we will set up a single goal to represent educational success, which will take four years to achieve no matter what is being taught. We will attach an economic reward to it that seldom has anything to do with what has been learned. We will urge large numbers of people who do not possess adequate ability to try to achieve the goal, wait until they have spent a lot of time and money, and then deny it to them. We will stigmatize everyone who doesn't meet the goal. We will call the goal a "BA."

    You would conclude that your colleague was cruel, not to say insane. But that's the system we have in place.

    Finding a better way should be easy. The BA acquired its current inflated status by accident. Advanced skills for people with brains really did get more valuable over the course of the 20th century, but the acquisition of those skills got conflated with the existing system of colleges, which had evolved the BA for completely different purposes.

    Outside a handful of majors -- engineering and some of the sciences -- a bachelor's degree tells an employer nothing except that the applicant has a certain amount of intellectual ability and perseverance. Even a degree in a vocational major like business administration can mean anything from a solid base of knowledge to four years of barely remembered gut courses.

    The solution is not better degrees, but no degrees. Young people entering the job market should have a known, trusted measure of their qualifications they can carry into job interviews. That measure should express what they know, not where they learned it or how long it took them. They need a certification, not a degree.

    The model is the CPA exam that qualifies certified public accountants. The same test is used nationwide. It is thorough -- four sections, timed, totaling 14 hours. A passing score indicates authentic competence (the pass rate is below 50%). Actual scores are reported in addition to pass/fail, so that employers can assess where the applicant falls in the distribution of accounting competence. You may have learned accounting at an anonymous online university, but your CPA score gives you a way to show employers you're a stronger applicant than someone from an Ivy League school.
    This guy has it nailed! Read the whole thing. The college experience is nothing more than an expensive extended daycare for adults who act like teenagers.

    I used my CLEP scores and AP scores to avoid or evade a boatload of freshman-level classes. If I could have tested out of the rest of the course work, I'd have done it in a heart beat. It would be cheaper, faster, less biased, and infinitely more entertaining than slogging though some TA's insipid sketch of the material.

    WSJ
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member LogansPapa's Avatar
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    South Park. Chef: "Don't do drugs kids. There is a time and place for everything. It's called college."
    At Coretta Scott King's funeral in early 2006, Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert Kennedy, leaned over to him and whispered, "The torch is being passed to you." "A chill went up my spine," Obama told an aide. (Newsweek)
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  3. #3  
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    The solution is not better degrees, but no degrees. Young people entering the job market should have a known, trusted measure of their qualifications they can carry into job interviews.
    If our high schools properly prepared kids with basic literacy and competency in math and science, the Bachelors of Arts degree wouldn't be as popular.

    Graduate from high school, employers assume you have no real value.
    Graduate from college with a BA, employers know you can follow directions and show up on time.

    I hate it when people use the lump term "college education" to disparage what they are really criticizing, liberal arts degrees.
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    So a guy with a BA from Harvard and a PhD from MIT doesn't think college is a good thing.... for people who aren't at his elite level. :p
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  5. #5  
    Whats' wrong with a system that requires that I take geology to earn a BS in Accounting.

    The solution is not better degrees, but no degrees. Young people entering the job market should have a known, trusted measure of their qualifications they can carry into job interviews. That measure should express what they know, not where they learned it or how long it took them. They need a certification, not a degree.
    One of the reasons we hire many combat veterans with hard and soft skills.
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  6. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by M21 View Post
    Whats' wrong with a system that requires that I take geology to earn a BS in Accounting.
    Why do you have to take algebra to major in theater, or art?

    To expose you to different topics, many of which require some unique thinking skills that will aid you in other areas. We all have to know a little bit about science to be a responsible citizen these days that can actually make somewhat informed and intelligent political decisions (especially in the earth sciences, biology). Not saying the introductory science courses always serve that purpose, but thats the theory anyways, and it makes sense.

    I do think more courses need to be taught on basic logic skills, reasoning and philosophy instead of teaching a scientific subject and hoping the student just picks up those skills. This place (the US, and even the world) is experiencing a critical thought famine (/waves at the creationists)
    Last edited by wilbur; 08-14-2008 at 11:57 AM.
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  7. #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by wilbur View Post
    Why do you have to take algebra to major in theater, or art?

    To expose you to different topics, many of which require some unique thinking skills that will aid you in other areas. We all have to know a little bit about science to be a responsible citizen these days that can actually make somewhat informed and intelligent political decisions (especially in the earth sciences, biology).
    I expected this response from somebody, just not so quickly. :) It's the standard answer of academia. You see I don't need "responsible citizens" making "informed political decisions". I need technical experts. They can get well rounded on their own time. ;)

    Quote Originally Posted by wilbur View Post
    Not saying the introductory science courses always serve that purpose, but thats the theory anyways, and it makes sense.
    I don't think it makes sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by wilbur View Post
    I do think more courses need to be taught on basic logic skills, reasoning and philosophy instead of teaching a scientific subject and hoping the student just picks up those skills. This place (the US, and even the world) is experiencing a critical thought famine (/waves at the creationists)
    I agree with you on this point.
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    how can it offend you that there are some people who want to attend college? people who agree and say its a waste of time drop out and find something else to do. and not all people who go to college are doing it just because they think it will get them a "better" job. there actually are people out there who are truly enthusiastic about learning new things. i think for some college can be a real positive experience, it doesnt have to take on the role of an adult daycare. just like anything in life, the college experience is exactly what you make of it. if you go to school and spend the entire time drunk, that is your waste of tuition and time. but if you actually go to school, study, go to your classes and engage in dialogue with others, you can really learn.
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    Quote Originally Posted by linda22003 View Post
    So a guy with a BA from Harvard and a PhD from MIT doesn't think college is a good thing.... for people who aren't at his elite level. :p
    Good point. Only 25% of all Americans have a college degree, and a tiny fraction of those have PhDs.
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  10. #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by cowbell View Post
    how can it offend you that there are some people who want to attend college? people who agree and say its a waste of time drop out and find something else to do. and not all people who go to college are doing it just because they think it will get them a "better" job. there actually are people out there who are truly enthusiastic about learning new things. i think for some college can be a real positive experience, it doesnt have to take on the role of an adult daycare. just like anything in life, the college experience is exactly what you make of it. if you go to school and spend the entire time drunk, that is your waste of tuition and time. but if you actually go to school, study, go to your classes and engage in dialogue with others, you can really learn.
    I believe there is greater value in "learning by doing" using the crawl, walk, run methodology than in classroom instruction on theory. I can teach a man FAR more in a day on the job than he'll learn in the classroom in a week.

    For me it's about getting the most bang for the buck.
    Last edited by M21; 08-14-2008 at 12:56 PM.
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