Monday, September 22, 2008

My College Degree Has Become Obsolete

There has been a lot of talk recently about whether a getting a 4 year college degree is all that it's cracked up to be. Most of the talk has centered around a book that was recently released by a reknowned political scientist, Charles Murray. He argues that for about 80 percent of the population, a B.A. is a joke, simply because 80 percent doesn't have the IQ necessary to actually understand most of their college work anyways, and that the piece of paper they get upon graduation infers nothing to future employers about how well that person will fare, or something along those lines. I posted some quotes from a NY Times interview with this Murray guy because clearly my IQ isn't capable of explaining his theory.

"Let’s stop this business of the B.A., this meaningless credential. And let’s talk about having something kids can take to an employer that says what they know, not where they learned it. " -Murray

To the belief that anyone can do anything they choose if they really put their mind to it: "You're out of touch with reality in that regard. You have not hung around with kids who are well in the lower half of the ability distribution. " -Murray

To his theory that only 20 percent of college students are smart enough to be there: "Eighty percent are not able to deal with college-level material, traditionally understood. Someone can sit down with Paul Samuelson’s textbook and stare at the pages and know what most of the words mean. That does not mean that they walk away from it understanding economics as it is taught in the textbook." -Murray

He basically argues that a 2 year vocational school is the way to go for many kids, or that simply getting a shit-job out of high school and busting your ass for a few years is much more educational for the dummies (80 percent) than attending a 4 year university.

I'm not sure if I agree with Murray because in my personal experience I fall on both sides of the fence. Yes my 4 year B.A. in Political Science is absolutely worthless when it comes to applying what I actually learned in college to a job, any job, not just bartending. Even in my 9 to 5 jobs I didn't use an iota of what I learned (in the classroom).

On the other hand, the experience of going to college helped make me the outgoing, quick-witted, man-whore that I am today. I learned more from the experience of being there than I did from any text book. By dealing with college, professors and my peers I was more prepared to go into sales and then of course bartending, than I would have been if I had become, say, an electrician straight out of high school.

I agree that a majority of the population is stupid and that a piece of paper that says you went to school for four years should be considered worthless, unfortunately without that piece of paper most decent companies will never hire someone. What I find funny now though, is that I'm almost certain that any future (distant future) job I end up getting will have nothing to do with my degree, or the fact that I have one. Infact that next job will come solely from knowing people and street skills, not from being able to explain campaign finance reform or by being able to name the last 17 Republican vice presidential candidates. Kids, a Poli Sci degree is a joke. Don't let anyone tell you different.

I very seriously doubt I'll ever have to verify that I'm a college graduate ever again, which sort of sucks because I'm still paying that place 200 bucks a month for letting me get drunk all the time and banging an unspeakable amount of sorority girls.


Ethan said...

' unspeakable NUMBER of sorority girls...'

"Amount" is for non-discrete things like water and booze.

OTOH, sorority girls could be considered homogeneous enough that they flow like booze.

Anonymous said...

Well girls and booze aside, I do think that for most families, in these days, the four year degree is too expensive of an investment. They would be better off sending their offspring to a decent community college for a two year degree, then letting them figure out if they have the academic drive for a four year university. Unfortunately, college education in this country has become a lot like the real estate market with too many people borrowing too much money to live beyond their means for dubious returns on their investment.
Now back to the girls and booze...

Anonymous said...

Where you went to school seems to be important in some areas of endeavour. Has Booger joined the alumni association?

Like the Hokie & Hoo mafiyas at some places of work..

This happens in other states, too.

Johnny said...

Isn't this how Britian deals with higher education? Good schools for smart kids, vocational schools for everyone else.

Anonymous Coward said...

You have a degree in Poli Sci, and you don't see how that applies to your daily life, how much money you could make, and power you could amass?

Murray was right.

You didn't get what Locke, Hobbes, Mills, DeTocqueville or any of those other guys were saying.

Jack Goes Forth said...

Anon Coward- I knew someone would make this argument. Knowing theories such as Tabula Rasa or the Social Contract does make for a smarter, more well rounded person, but does it give me an ounce of real world know-how or ability? Of course not. I may be able to shoot the shit on these topics, but (1) I rarely do, and (2), that shit isn't putting bread on the table or gas in my car. Okay so if I wanted to become a poli sci professor or my intent was to someday run for office, maybe my degree would come in handy.

I know attorneys with Poli Sci degrees that would agree.

Ethan- Wait, so you're saying that sorority girls are actual human beings?? Really?

Richmondite said...

Unfortunately for you, bartending/blogging/whatever it is you do, is destroying your resume. Although you're right about the fact that you will find a job by knowing people, they will still be happy to see that you have that degree, if only to keep HR happy.

Will you use what you learned? No. But the piece of paper will always matter.

Brie said...

I think you only get out of college what you put into it. I feel like my B.A. in creative writing/literature of diversity was well-worth the four years (and student loans) I invested in learning so many new things.

Call me naive?


Anonymous said...

People like Charles Murray should stick to what they know, such as taking the SAT. The whole notion of "80% of people can't understand the material" is a nice academic conclusion, but does nothing in real world practices. Some of the best sales people I've known have had bartending experiences (they know how to read their audience). Some of the absolute worst business people I've known have IQ's of 140 (too smart for their own good, don't know how to trust gut instincts, etc). Besides, if you really examined the differences between 4 year degrees (such as "economics") and "trade crafts" (such as "database programmer"), it's all semantics. A B.A./B.S. just tells me that the person parked their butts somewhere for four years while they were maturing (hopefully) and share some common background... well, that's how most hiring managers see it. They look at your experience to see what you bring to the table.

Anonymous said...

Don't listen to Murray, he is a moron. Just look up his theory the 'The Bell Curve' and see if you believe another word that this lunatic says.

Anonymous said...

Griggs vrs. Duke Power (US Supreme Court 1971)

Prior to this case, Duke Power used a one hour broad based aptitude test to choose and promote employees. These tests disparately impacted African American candidates for the better paying jobs. The Court required that the tests be "reasonably related" to the jobs. Duke Power dropped the testing and required four year college degrees.

Thus, a one hour aptitude test was replaced by a four year college degree. 30 years ago, these degrees were cheap. Today they have become heavy debt burdens to service.

Some authors have argued that the college experience delays maturation; that an 18 year old could mature faster outside the campus.

Two reasons to pay for college:
1) to get a professional ticket punched (nursing, accounting, medicine, law, teaching)
2)to satisfy genuine intellectual curiosity, beyond the realm of a library card.

I'm thinking of my cousin who wasted three years trying to get an engineering degree, but gave it up in deference to the math requirements. He now makes $125,000/year as a technical welder.

Anonymous said...

Too bad you ain't an art major..


Online College Consulting - Applywise said...

College degree is important if you are after on your course. Get a job related on your degree and use all the learnings you've learn from college. It only become obsolete when you get a job which is totally not related on your course. Then from there, you can consider your degree as "trash".

Jason said...

college degree is very important if for getting job related to your related degree. Use your all skills which have you learn from your college.

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