Tuesday, November 21, 2017

So much for a modern college education

Jim Goad brings the smackdown to current US college standards.

American colleges are no longer institutions of higher learning. It would be more apt to refer to them as state-sanctioned seminaries for the secular religion of Cultural Marxism. Instead of strolling out of college with nimbler minds, students now stumble out into the real world with their brains scrubbed clean of the ability to hatch a single independent thought.

. . .

Rather than being instructed in crucial matters—such as how to detect logical fallacies and distinguish between what’s objective and subjective—modern students indenture themselves to the loan-peddlers for the dubious honor of taking inane courses such as “Kanye Versus Everbody! [sic],” “Sci-Fi Queered,” “What If Harry Potter Is Real?,” and “How to Watch Television.”

While piously posing as staunchly anti-racist—whatever the hell that means, because it can’t be quantified—students are instead encouraged to channel all of their latent racial hatred toward the very idea of white people.

. . .

American colleges no longer bother to even pretend that they’re teaching students how to think. Instead, their noble mission is making sure that every last trace of a dissident thought is mercilessly shotgunned out of their students’ brains before unleashing them into a world where they have trouble tying their own shoes without doubling their normal dose of antidepressants.

So let the colleges die. Let the teachers—almost to the last gender-fluid one of them an Armchair Marxist who fetishizes the “working class” from afar—learn what it’s really like to earn a living.

For grade school and high school, hire teachers who know how to keep their personal ideology out of the classroom. Have them act like boot-camp sergeants in drilling the three Rs into kids’ soft little skulls.

The current yearly average cost for a college education runs from about $10K for state residents at public colleges to a little over $30K for public colleges.

For about a thousand bucks, you can buy a cheap laptop and an internet connection for a year. And if you’re remotely intelligent and inquisitive and motivated, you can find all the knowledge the world has to offer online. We need more autodidacts and fewer casualties of collegiate indoctrination.

The only intelligent thing to do with modern American colleges is to get rid of them.

There's more at the link.  Highly recommended reading.

I've had contact with a fairly large number of current students and recent graduates over the past decade or so.  Almost uniformly, they astonish me with their lack of knowledge and lack of understanding of the real world.  They appear to have been taught to demand that the world conform to what they think it should be - and their thoughts have been trained and formed almost exclusively from a Marxist rhetorical perspective.  They bear little or no relation to reality.  There are, of course, some honorable exceptions to that rule;  but I'd say four out of five students don't qualify, in my experience.  Obviously, some fields (e.g. medicine, engineering, etc.) require a college education;  but in the fields of liberal arts, the "soft" sciences, etc., I can't help thinking that most students would be better off not going to university at all, given current academic standards (or the lack thereof).

I also wish more young people would consider part-time instead of full-time tertiary education.  I could never afford to go to university full-time, so all four of my tertiary qualifications were earned part-time;  two through correspondence study, and two through evening classes after work.  I missed the "social experience" of life on campus, of course, but looking back, I can't say that did me any harm.  Instead, I graduated every degree free of student loan debt, and having earned an increasingly good living in the process.  Such distance education degrees are freely available to US students, particularly if they register with overseas institutions such as Britain's Open University or the University of South Africa (there are many others).  Even better, the academic standards at foreign universities are often higher and more rigorous than those at US institutions, and free of many of the "politically correct" requirements that bedevil US curricula.  That has the potential to deliver a superior education to students who are prepared to put in the work necessary to take advantage of it.

The Internet wasn't a factor when I did my degrees, but it would have helped enormously.  Nowadays, when many Ivy League university lectures are available online, either free of charge or for a relatively small fee, it's indispensable.  What's more, there are many accredited "online institutions" dedicated to providing low-cost, high-quality education.  I know a couple of young people who are auditing lectures online from several different universities, then using what they've learned to "test out" of the subject requirements at the state universities where they've enrolled.  Through careful planning, they've found they can complete more than half the required coursework in this fashion, and cut the time needed to earn a Bachelors degree almost in half - not to mention saving tens of thousands of dollars in course fees and related expenses.

Finally, of course, many jobs don't actually need a university education - it's just become expected by default.  Mike Rowe deserves kudos for setting up the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which offers "scholarships for jobs that actually exist", encouraging work-seekers to enter apprenticeships and technical studies instead of colleges.  I highly encourage any young person looking for career opportunities to consider its programs.  If I were younger, believe me, I'd be banging on his door first thing!  Compared to most US colleges today, that's a no-brainer decision.



Anonymous said...

While you touched on it in the last paragraph, whining about the colleges is not going to fix the problem. In fact its not the problem.

If I want my child to do well in our society, earn a good to better income, that means STEM or medical. Not possible to become a doctor or engineer without college. Parents arent sending kids to college because they have spare money to spend, its because they need to pledge the college to get where they want to go. Colleges are the gatekeeper to most well paying careers, and as you mentioned (briefly) far more careers than necessary.

Return high schools to dual track education, college prep and vocational, and as a society stop denigrating blue collar careers.

Old NFO said...

Gotta agree with Anon. There is nothing wrong with VocEd tracks, and there is GOOD money to be made in actually working in a trade for a living. Apprenticeships are not short, but when one finishes, they make more money than most college graduates starting out, and have no debt.

Ray said...

For an MBA from a top school I am questioning the roi. Cost for 2 years with lost income is $400k. Middle and lower tier schools just don’t make sense from roi viewpoint. No bump in pay.

My daughters thinking of one.

Jonathan H said...

I'm with them. The school system where I used to live had a Votech school with a LONG waiting list to get in and test scores rivaling the 'flagship' high school in the wealthy part of the county.

There are many well paying jobs that don't require a college degree, and others that require one to get hired, but not to do the actual work.
Trades such as carpentry, electrician, or mason will keep you in shape and pay 6 figures for an experienced professional.

Make an intelligent considered choice as to what degree, if any, to get. Also remember that some state schools have followed private schools off the deep end, so look into ANY school before committing.

Sam L. said...

I've read that the "requirement" for a college degree is an inadequate substitution for employers not being allowed to do background checks.

Ken said...

Very interesting article and I agree with most of it, but have to agree with Anon and Old NFO for the most part. We have two kids that started at community college, finished at "big state U" with degrees in Applied Mathematics (Summa) and Statistics (Magna). Both went on to fully funded graduate degrees (PhD in EE and MS in Marketing Strategy) at big name schools. The entire cost of their education to us was $20k each. There is no way they could have done this outside of going to college, but there IS a way it can be done inexpensively.

Our theory is that if it is extremely difficult material that involves hard math (not just engineering math), chemistry, biology, etc. then college is probably the best way to do it. Even degrees that require more memorization, hard work and long hours than intelligence including law and sometimes even medicine might be better learned in apprenticeship type environments with coursework interspersed with hands on practice managed by industry and the profession.

Getting an MBA from a big name school might be good for that guy, but in my experience it has rarely been good for the companies that hire them (Note: I have predominantly worked in high tech startups--it might be different for larger, established companies).

P.S. I have been a lurker at this blog for several years now. Love your work, buy your books. Keep up the good work.

deborah harvey said...

daughter CLEP tests at college and tested out of the english and some other subjects. was able to concentrate on her major and skip the lower level stuff.

Jester said...

Here is the problem with what the folks above me have said about having to go to college for the harder or applied mathematics science or what have you. You're not sending your kids or going yourself for -just- those classes typically, especially at the bigger schools. You're taking more than fifty percent, seventy five percent in some cases of fluff filler classes so that "you/they get a more well rounded education" Stuff that does not matter in the real world like liberal arts stuff, or things that should have been taught at home/HS. Or just basic life skills stuff. OF course when its a per credit charge and the colleges are all in on the racket they can get away with it. But a large bulk of college classes have little bearing on each other or in particular a specific degree or sphere of employment.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading Jim Goad for years and the man is a national treasure.

The higher education system must be reformed. The poisonous ideologies that they spew must be ripped out at the roots. I don't know how to do it though. Ending federally guaranteed student loans would be a start. Let the private market take over and treat it like any other loan. If the banks know that degrees in post modern racial constructs in Japanese anime, women's/queer studies, medieval puppetry aren't going lead to meaningful employment they're not going to loan people 100k to pursue those degrees when the debt isn't guaranteed by the Fed's and it's dischargeable in bankruptcy. I'd say return universities to their religious roots but modern American Christianity is in horrendous shape, especially mainline denominations, so much so that they would be unrecognizable to their founders.

If they're not pursuing a hard STEM subject then keep your kids out of them. Even then they're going to need iron will and razor sharp discernment. And keep your daughters out of college unless she's extremely gifted, level headed and pursuing a degree in something in the medical field like nursing etc or STEM and keep them as far away from "campus life" as possible. From personal experience its corrupting influence is far worse than most people can imagine. I won't go into sordid details but anyone who has been on the college party scene over the past decade or two knows.

Paul, Dammit! said...

Undergrad for me, in my university's biology department, was very much a hands-on environment. I commuted to Boston every day in a 2-hour commute between walk, bus and train. I got no 'traditional' college experience, and it forced me to treat undergrad as a job, not as 'life experience,' or whatever crap it's being sold as today. I had no time for BS. I was too broke to stop working, except for classes, and even then, I often missed lectures because I was working in the laboratory for that class. Losing working hours to attend lecture HURT me, and had to be paid for with more work. As such, I had no interest in distractions, and my personal life was for home, not for school. I could get drunk for free at a biker bar in my neighborhood, and didn't have to listen to some rich snots talk about T.S. Elliot there.
STEM fields are supposed to be different in university, but more than half of the 4 years is spent on non-core classes that often enough are a distraction from the whole reason for being in university to study STEM, so don't believe that a STEM degree is an exemption from your children having to navigate through the ridiculous and destructive college environment.