Honestly, I’m not even sure what we were debating at this point! The woes of using Medium.
Eryn Ammons

I don’t want to assume your stance on any topic, but from what I gathered, you have issues with modern day college education and perhaps the necessity of it?

Oh I definitely have issues with the college system. ;) I’m not quite sure they are around the necessity, but more about the pedestal we put it on and the disconnect with the post-graduate world.

We can definitely talk about that, because I have many mixed feelings regarding my education.

I’d love to read them, particularly as my eldest daughter started classes today. ;)

What Rick (another Medium user) and I were talking about is the myriad of majors/concentrations/interests available in many universities now and perhaps how to get those to fit into a career path?

Hrm, yes. That is actually one of my points of contention with the current system and how we (collectively, not necessarily you and I) look at it. Historically colleges in the U.S. were generally not intended to put you into a career field, but to provide a broader education outside of that field. Over time as we developed a more formalized approach to science and engineering, for example, it became so for a small subset of the economy.

We then “converted” that into also including a broader “career based” mission. I’m still on the fence on whether that was good, bad, or indifferent. We got there by confusing correlation and causation, which is an entire topic on its own. But that does lead to the other part of it: once we accepted that college was the way to be successful, the powers that were then felt a moral obligation to push more people into college.

Except most people don’t want to be scientists, engineers, mathematicians, doctors, lawyers and so on. Ok, many of us say we do, but don’t want to do the work to get there. ;) As a result we had a large growth in degrees that were largely academic and not in demand in the non-academic world. The 1980s and 1990s were particularly interesting from that standpoint.

This sudden influx of non-occupational degree holders had to do something. But being credentialed in fields lacking sufficient demand they had to work outside of their field. I think this was part of a positive feedback mechanism. Because we didn’t see the improvement we thought we’d get, we doubled down on it. In the process we swelled the demand for college admissions while broadening the scope.

Because you can’t simply build a rigorous collegiate curriculum program quickly, there was (is?) a long delay which was somewhat moderated by a sharp increase in the prices. Except we chose to subsidize that price increase, which acted to re-amplify the problem. All well intentioned, but ultimately flawed.

So today we have a broad variety of degrees and degree holders that either do not have an occupational counterpart, too many degrees in an area that lacks the job supply needed to keep pace, and the cost increases have reduced the economic value of the degree in those fields. This is a perfect setup, if one wanted to create one, for most degree holders not working in their degree field.

From that standpoint I do question the necessity of the system today in that it doesn’t do either what it was designed to, and it doesn’t do what we currently bill it as doing. Which is probably why I’m not quite certain on whether I think it is an issue of necessity versus implementation and expectation.

I’m am fully behind a system for adults to “continue their education” in whatever we find interesting, and a form of college may be well suited for that. In one sense, that is “old school” college, which was essentially reserved for the wealthy because they didn’t have to work (though going back further it wasn’t even that because the fnancial cost was very low).

Where I am increasingly drawing the line or question is in the value of the system. If only 27% of graduates work even in a related field, can we rightly claim the system is career/occupation oriented? If we justify the high cost of it based on earning more, but our degrees don’t get us the jobs, and those jobs aren’t paying at a level above our other options, can we rightly say it is “working”? Do we then have cause to consider that those courses are ineffective or “useless” in what we’ve positioned them as? I wouldn’t use the term “silly”, but I can understand the sentiment.

In terms of having a job or career, there are a awful lot of useless classes and degrees. In terms of an idividual’s personal interests, they may not be. Thus, to me, it comes down to why and what we want or expect the system to be or do.

Anyway, that is probably more than enough to start with. I’m quite interested in what concerns or issues you have and see with your experience. Not the least of which is because of having a daughter in the system as of today. ;)

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