The Degree QuestionThread Started January 24 at 11:17AM
Yet again I have read something about student debt in which the majority of the commentators remark upon the 'useless' nature of any degree not in engineering, science or tech.
There was a time, and it wasn't so very long ago, when only the brightest minds did degrees. And they weren't all in practical, scientific subjects. Because getting a degree wasn't about getting a 'job'. It was about learning stuff, because you were academically capable.
You didn't do a degree because there wasn't anything else to do. The universities didn't accept anyone and everyone despite their grades because bums on seats means big profits.
Universities were seats of learning, not a fast-track to big money jobs. Studying the arts was as respected as studying the sciences, because universities didn't accept people with mediocre grades because 'it's only drama, anyone can do it'.
Not everyone can be a plumber, however 'useful' it is. Some of the greatest minds on the planet are probably useless with a spanner. But you know what some of the greatest minds on the planet do? They write plays, screenplays, novels. They direct and perform. So other people can go to the cinema, or the theatre, at the end of a hard day's plumbing.
Theatre arts are skills, and like every other skill, it can be learned with training. It isn't the 'soft option' people think it is, which is why theatre arts see more dropouts in the first year than you might think.
Leaving aside the arts, which tend to get a huge bashing from people whose idea of entertainment is reality TV, what about the so-called, 'Mickey Mouse' degrees, like women's studies, or sociology? Doomed to flip burgers, right?
Only because the notion of a degree has changed from being a reflection of your mental agility and focus to 'something to get the kids off the streets and the unemployment stats'.
When a place at university is hard-earned, not bought, the fact is that to even get there shows some level of mental ability. Doesn't matter if you study fine art, or quantum physics. The fact is that to GET THERE, you'll already be pretty damn competent academically. And to STAY THERE requires putting time and effort in.
People without degrees often say, 'I got where I am the hard way'. Well, getting a degree properly isn't the 'easy way' people think it is.
I'm the first to admit, I've only got my degree because I went to an unfussy establishment. In the good old days, I wouldn't have been allowed within spitting distance of higher academics, because I am nowhere near bright enough. In my parents' day, graduating with a degree was reserved for the top 5% of brainiacs in the country. So neither of THEM have degrees.
Despite the fact that I wouldn't have made it, I advocate a return to the good old days. When degrees were about prestige and mental prowess, learning and knowledge, not just getting a 70k job.
Maybe we could then go back to how it was in my parents' day, when gifted youngsters got in based on brains, not the size of their parent's wallet, or how big a debt they were willing to get into. When the state COULD pay for degrees because every man and his dog wasn't signing up for it.
Of course, that was back when we valued intellectual pursuits for their own sake. Sigh.
Reply on January 24, 2018 01:12 PM
I don't know about your country, but here, a college degree can and does get one a JOB...and in some instances a good one...degrees are not given away, students are expected to meet specific requirements to enroll, and continue in class...to those that are not interested in a attending a 4 years school, there are schools that prepare a person to become a plumber, electrician, auto mechanic, even certified nursing assistants much be trained...along with others..
Of course there are schools, some of the best, that pick and choose the students they will accept, and that's as it should be, these schools can cost upward of $30,000 per semester...and its clear only those that can afford it will attend.
High school students are encouraged to further their education, in order to become well rounded people...however, its not uncommon to find people with more than one degree.
Here, because of the cost of a higher education, unless a student has acquired assistance, their families will pay for their education...often a student loan is needed...no one is forced to take out a loan, no one is forced to try and get into some of these higher priced schools...and of course the cost for medical, and legal fields can be extremely costly
At one time, here, just a high school diploma would get a young person a job...today that's not the case, and so we will find many more people furthering their education.
My daughter has a degree in English/Teaching and one in Chemistry along with certificates in others....my son has a degree in Chemistry, and 2 separate degrees in specific fields of engineering...also with certificates so that he keeps up with advances...he's now retired because of illness.
Also there are programs that prepare high school students, (that may not have high enough scores) that are given in colleges...(New York City University)...to allow them to then move over to an associate degree program.
Yes, some go to 4 years specialized colleges for the joy of learning, and no one denies that, but here, without further than a high school education one cannot look forward to a well paying job...and it is not unusual to find people with more than
Although I have 3 degrees, over the course of my lifetime, I can truly say my education has been one that included the arts, music, and every course taken was at my cost, (or when I was young, at my parents)...there was no such thing as student aid when I graduated from high school.
With all the progress in research, science, and technology some kind if degree is expected.
Just Some Thoughts!
Reply on January 24, 2018 04:20 PM << Modifed January 24 at 4:34PM >>
What a minefield this subject is. My first degree proper was in Information Studies back in the 90s. I've been in IT most of my working life, including various periods teaching it. Then, a couple of years ago, I was downsized out of my government job. Guess how much value a 20+ year old IT degree has in getting you a job - especially when you're on the wrong side of the magic 50? - Zero! And it's not like the degree ever really got me anything in the first place job-wise, as I'd already been working in my field for years beforehand, even started my own consultancy business.
So then, finding no one was exactly bashing my door down to offer me work, I thought I'd go back to school. Got my formal adult teaching qualifications (which weren't needed when I started way back when), and an MBA for good measure. I thought "surely that will open a few doors". It might have, if I was 30.
This idea of sending everyone to uni out of school is really silly, IMO. As is the idea you can't be anything without a degree. It's basically just a way for governments to put off paying unemployment benefits.
How many people with degrees are now unemployed, or working in office jobs which pay little?
If I had my time over, I'd go to technical college and learn a trade. Builders, electricians, plumbers... these are the guys asking what they like, and hauling in the sacks full of money. And try and find one if you've got any work that needs doing. They've got so much work available they can pick and choose only the easiest, best paid stuff. Your little job will most likely never get done.
Yet where are all the government ads on TV encouraging people to learn a trade? No, it's full of ads telling young people they must do a uni course... any course.
While I agree with Emma that sciences shouldn't be the only thing that university courses offer, my blood does boil when I hear of some of the "research" that my taxes pay for. For example, how much did it cost to enable researchers at Cambridge University to discover that Spiderman doesn't actually exist? (yep, that's a real study). Or that "most of your Facebook friends are not really your friends" (Oxford University).
When I finished school, somewhere around 20-30% of school leavers went on to uni. Some similar number did trade courses, and the remainder just went straight into work. I think that might be about the right mix.
Reply on January 24, 2018 11:50 PM
I can't begin to comment about what happens in any other country, but I do know what goes on here...at least some of it...and yes students are encouraged to get further education to keep up with the need for them in industry...At this moment in the U.S. there are not enough people to qualify for some of the jobs available...there are jobs that do require a college degree to even begin the process toward the person's goal...in many fields.
What is shown by the willingness to further one's education is they are showing a desire to be available and ready to start.
As the population grows older, how else would their positions be filled with the same
quality of workers...I think that's a serious consideration here...I know that because of what I see around me, the meetings I attend when it comes to education in our communities and in government research...that's education for adults and the young people...
At my age, I may not be able to teach in a school setting, but many of us do continue to be active when it come to our children...and preparing them to be productive human beings.
Again, I don't know about what goes on in other countries, but I am quite familiar with what the importance of education means here...also I'm sure there must be some research that can substantiate some of my thoughts...I don't know it all, just somethings.
I'm very pleased about the number of young people that are starting their own places of business... all of that requires knowing how, and that's where technical schools, plus certificate and all other educational programs are extremely helpful.
Not every person is interested in spending years of schooling, but there is a place for
those that do, and those that do not...and the furthering of education is important here...there are hundreds of Colleges, University systems, and Technical training schools, that can meet the needs of everyone.
Just Some Thoughts...
Reply on January 24, 2018 11:57 PM
So did we disagree about something?
Reply on January 25, 2018 01:22 AM
Not at all, I just wanted to speak to the need for specialized education in the U.S...No criticism intended...Its becoming a problem seeking qualified workers in some fields...
Reply on January 25, 2018 01:33 AM
OK, I just wanted to check if I'd missed something that required answering. There's also a lack of specialised education here... the kind offered by technical colleges. And that's because everyone is being forced (by peer pressure / parents / government propaganda) into university. And, to go right back to one of Emma's points (I think), not everyone has the aptitude for university level study. But universities are being "encouraged" (to put it politely) to take them anyway. Thus the courses get less demanding, and the standards lower. Allowing higher education institutions to charge massive fees also, I believe, lowers the standard. They feel a need to make their courses easier than the next institution, to attract more students, and therefore more dollars, which becomes the important thing when universities are run like businesses.
Reply on January 25, 2018 12:20 PM
Because of the number of educational institutions that accept students here, there will always be those that accept only the highest scholastically scored students...and then their are those that accept the students that need extra help to even be considered in city/state schools..and that's how it should be.
There certainly is no change in the reputations or value of attending any of the very best schools here...schools like Columbia, NYU, Princeton, Brown, Harvard etc, are still considered some of the very best schools in the country...and at costs of $30,000 and more per semester...(some private schools can cost up to $50,000)the students that go there do so, because of the scholarships given, student loans they receive, and their families ability to pay...and as I said, they do not accept students that do no meet their qualifications...( I know some do, because of affirmative action)...trump has made that change against Obama, to the point of wanting to see his grades...(there again is for another conversation)..
All of these schools, require education that includes the arts, and are exposed to
the best that can be offered...(at least in a school setting)..
Now, there are schools I don't agree with, and they are not always accepted as being accredited institutions, and those are the online schools, that doesn't mean they aren't good, I just prefer face to face education...(like I said some may be good, so I don't want people to think I am speaking about all of such schools).
To imagine that the number of people that attend College, Universities, lowers the value of these degrees just doesn't seem to be the case...at least not for me.
On the contrary, one of the reasons that trump prefers to have those that enter the U. S. to be educated, have specific skills, and can speak english...as opposed to those that do not..is because of the lack of people here that have acquired the necessary education to get some specific jobs...(there are reasons for that, but that's another conversation).
I will say, though, that a long time ago, a high school diploma was considered a plus, but now that just isn't the case, when it comes to being considered for specific professional positions...and I believe that's because one requires more technical knowledge not given in the high school setting...
I hope this post explains my position, not criticism, just my point of view.
Just Some Thoughts!
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