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  1. #1
    Kizmet is offline Moderator
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    Why Go To College At All?

    I don't agree with this but thought I'd throw it out there anyway.

    Why Go to College at All? - NYTimes.com
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  2. #2
    SurfDoctor is offline Moderator
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    Sounds to me like the sour grapes of a college dropout. I would take the guy more seriously if he had actually finished a degree.
    Be satisfied with what you have, but never be satisfied with what you are.

  3. #3
    PilgrimPastor is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by SurfDoctor View Post
    Sounds to me like the sour grapes of a college dropout. I would take the guy more seriously if he had actually finished a degree.
    Maybe, there are a few valid observations in there... Mentor guided practical learning is basically what happens in internships, etc. and we (academic types) place a high premium on those learning environments.
    “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” ― Jonathan Edwards

  4. #4
    StefanM is offline Registered User
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    The problem is that he was "unschooled." Students who come from that kind of environment don't have a lot of experience with formal educational environments, and I would imagine that it would be quite difficult to adjust.

  5. #5
    ryoder is offline Registered User
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    I do believe this statement. College is a litmus test. There is a lot of truth to what he is saying. This is why I think kids should take as many AP courses as they can, CLEP the rest, and finish college with 30 b&m credits or online while working at a real job that hopefully offers tuition assistance. There is a girl on the degreeforum.net with 106 credits and she is 16 years old. If I knew I could CLEP out of all those courses while still in high school, I would have done so long ago.

    The key factor may be not the degree itself but the degree earner, Mr. Stephens contended. “It’s not that college creates success,” he said. “It’s that smart and motivated people in our society tend to go to college. I bet if you took those smart and motivated people and put them out into the work force, they would earn more than other people.”

  6. #6
    Petedude is offline Registered User
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    External validation.

    My coworkers at one post used to hear that phrase until they'd gotten tired of it.

    But it's the point of all this. . . diplomas, certifications and the like. The idea is that your knowledge/learning/skillsets are being validated by some party external to your "inner circle"-- not your dad, your office drinking buddies, your favorite high school teacher . Hopefully, the external party is non-biased (or has few biases) that will affect the value of said validation.

  7. #7
    japhy4529 is offline House Bassist
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    Quote Originally Posted by Petedude View Post
    External validation.

    My coworkers at one post used to hear that phrase until they'd gotten tired of it.

    But it's the point of all this. . . diplomas, certifications and the like. The idea is that your knowledge/learning/skillsets are being validated by some party external to your "inner circle"-- not your dad, your office drinking buddies, your favorite high school teacher. Hopefully, the external party is non-biased (or has few biases) that will affect the value of said validation.
    While I am a strong proponent of higher education , I would argue that "external validation" does not need to be in the form of a college degree. Employers can (and often do) require entrance tests as part of the application process. I believe that the best of both worlds (e.g. self-directed learning w/ external validation) comes in the form of Independent Study degree programs offered by many colleges (a number of which are available through online and/or correspondence).
    Tom
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    A.S., Liberal Studies - Excelsior College 2009

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  9. #8
    japhy4529 is offline House Bassist
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    He believes that typical college coursework is largely divorced from reality: “Taking a psychology course doesn’t mean you know what it’s like to work as a psychologist.” Better to observe, shadow and perhaps intern with professionals, he said, noting that coursework or a degree may be required to enter a profession or gain licensing.

    The typical college psychology course is focused on theory, not practice. This is as it should be, since one cannot effectively practice as a psychologist without first learning theory. Now, one could argue that potential applicants to graduate psychology programs could learn all of the undergraduate psychology material on their own and simply take an entrance exam to gain admission. However, I don't see that happening anytime soon (if ever).
    Tom
    B.S., Behavioral Science - Bellevue University 2010
    A.S., Liberal Studies - Excelsior College 2009

  10. #9
    Kizmet is offline Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by japhy4529 View Post
    While I am a strong proponent of higher education, I would argue that "external validation" does not need to be in the form of a college degree. Employers can (and often do) require entrance tests as part of the application process. I believe that the best of both worlds (e.g. self-directed learning w/ external validation) comes in the form of Independent Study degree programs offered by many colleges (a number of which are available through online and/or correspondence).
    I had to take a test as a part of my application/interview process but I never would have even gotten to the interview without a degree.

    In some fields it's virtually unthinkable that you'll even get a glance without having a degree. In other fields it may be technically possible even if it's highly improbable. And on and on.
    Everyone has heard the boring example that says, "Bill Gates doesn't have a college degree so that means that a degree is not necessary." My response is always, "If you think that you have the intelligence, the creativilty the drive and the ambition of Bill Gates and if you're prepared to put it all on the line re your future and the future of your family then by all means, skip college. Drive a truck. Maybe in 30 years you'll own the trucking company. If that works for you then we're all good and you can stop visiting a web discussion forum dedicated to people who actually see the value of earning a degree.
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  11. #10
    sideman is offline Registered User
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    I was of the same mindset when I was as young as this Stephens. I didn't have such elaborate arguments as him and yet I stubbornly thought the world would see how brilliant I am without the paper. I'd like to think that we do education to become better critical thinkers and more well rounded, but we know there are many reasons besides that and some are certainly not altruistic. A college education is what it is, it's not proof positive that you're more intelligent than someone without a degree, it simply means that you put in the time and effort to achieve a goal that you set out to accomplish.
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  12. #11
    perrymk is offline Registered User
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    Although college provides structure and resources for learning, “I don’t know that structure is a good thing,” he said. “When you go out into the world, there’s no structure like that. A job doesn’t give you a syllabus.”

    The problem with this statement is it really only addresses undergraduate education . Graduate school, at least for me in chemistry, had no syllabus or rigid structure. It was a great time in my life to learn. But before one can run, one must walk. And before one can experience the freedom of research, one must learn the fundamentals.


    And he criticized the education system – and standardized testing in particular – for being “efficient but not effective.”

    I have interns who talk about not doing well on tests and disliking public speaking. I work in a forensic laboratory where testimony is a part of the job. I tell them I typically get one chance to testify and so I had better get it right. If things like getting it right on a test and public speaking are a problem, they reality is they need to consider another occupation.


    His ideal is self-directed education forged on the principles of project-based learning, perhaps with the guidance of mentors.

    This also describes my graduate school experience and much of the experience of my interns.


    “Understand why you’re going so you can make the most of your experience. Be honest about it,” he said.

    I actually agree with this statement.

  13. #12
    BobbyJim is offline Registered User
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    Coloring outside the lines

    After spending a third of my career coloring outside the lines like young Mr. Stephens, I spent the next third getting the required credentials.

    Law changes required that I have an engineering license to advance my engineering career. Distance education , evening/weekend courses, ACE evaluated courses, equivalency testing (CLEP, DANTES, etc.), a degree completion program, and a sympathetic licensing board allowed career advancement.

    Taking the standard education route would have been much easier, but certainly a lot less interesting.
    BobbyJim, Professional Engineer (Ret.)
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    “Hell, there are no rules here; we are trying to accomplish something.” Thomas Edison
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  14. #13
    LearningAddict is offline Registered User
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    The only time I have a problem with the way degrees and entrance tests are used in the workforce, is when it's used against workers with experience and a strong track record. About 3 years ago, I had a friend who had over 15 years experience in Telecommunications. He'd done everything from Rep, to Escalation Specialist, to Supervisor, to Business Analyst, to Quality Manager and was well-respected. The company he worked for laid everyone off and eventually folded due to numerous lawsuits as a result of corporate-level misconduct, so he had to re-enter the work search game. He applied for a job that happened to be the exact same thing he'd done for a long time. He didn't have a degree though. It came down to him and a kid fresh out of college who had never done the job a day in his life but had a degree in Telecommunications from a good school.

    Selection day came, and the kid got the job. 7 months later, according to my friend, the company that had turned him down previously was now calling him for the same job. It turned out that the kid was no good and was let go. My friend said he told them something like "Thanks but no thanks. The fact that you went with a guy who'd never done the job before and had zero experience over an accomplished, proven professional makes me feel uncomfortable about your company's judgement." Pretty brave words, although I'm sure the fact he'd already found a job had more to do with his willingness to unload on them, lol.

    Now about assessments: I feel that job entry assessments are okay. But I get the impression that a lot of companies are relying on these more than using common sense and considering a person's resume. After all, if you worked as a Director of Sales for a large corporation for 18 years, it's pretty likely that you'll do fine as a Head sales manager for some no-name wireless company regardless of what some entry test says. I've seen some of these tests and I think the creators really believe that based on that you can tell how a person will act in the moment, when in reality all kinds of situational variables apply that can't be accurately measured by an exam. I don't know, I just think a lot of qualified people are getting shut out by this, credit checks, and the way companies are widely denying people an opportunity because they are currently unemployed or have been unemployed for a while. Hell, if a qualified person is unemployed, NOT giving them a chance certainly isn't going to help the matter, smh.

  15. #14
    BlueMason is offline Audaces fortuna juvat
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    It's a shame but it seems that the world is going the way of the "paper route". When I started in IT, I had hands on experience and was hired because I could talk the talk and walk the walk. Fast forward and now companies are hiring the ones that can "talk the talk" without ever having walked (degree), although some companies are realizing that a piece of paper doesn't mean squat if the person can't do the job (ie MS hiring hackers who are self taught.. and the VAST majority of hackers are self taught.. because they have a desire to learn and to know (not talking about script kiddies here)). Nowadays a Masters Degree seems to be the old Undergrad degree.. problem if course is it still doesn't mean the person knows what they're talking about.

    I feel that in order to qualify for a Masters, one should have several years of practical experience under ones belt before trying to build on it (clearly there are exceptions for those vocations that require a Masters to get qualified and get a job (Psychologists come to mind)). ...

    I also want to bring this discussion back to another thread -> trades schools. Why go to College, earn a degree that may not get you a job (a friend of mine graduated with a History degree.. he was a Manager at a fast food joint for years, though I don't believe he knew the history of the burger for that joint) when the same person could have went to trades school, spent 1000's less and started making $ much sooner?
    "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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