FBI coordinated crackdown of Occupy

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Re: FBI coordinated crackdown of Occupy

Postby Shyster on Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:30 am

ExPatriatePen wrote:One thing a liberal arts degree shows, is a willingness to focus and dedication to accomplishing a goal.

Maybe it's not a 3.8 in Pre-Med, but it does show at least a minimal ability to stay on task and complete assignments.

But does it really accomplish those tasks any better than a high-school degree? Should it? Is college hard enough?

I agree that one of the traditional benefits of a college degree--regardless of major--was a demonstration that the graduate possessed the intelligence, work ethic, self-control, etc. necessary to take rigorous college courses and pass. It was a sign that you could stand up under pressure and perform challenging mental work. But with so many more people heading to college (a phenomenon that politicians have pushed at every turn), do we all really think that college is as hard as it was, say, 50 years ago, or even 25 years ago? Colleges don't want to fail out huge percentages of their students, so rather than send the more marginal students packing for home (like mac's theoretical 2.1 lit major), you dumb down the coursework so they can still graduate. But by dumbing down the coursework, you destroy the very value of the degree--a demonstration that someone can accomplish challenging mental work.

The attitude toward college in this country today reminds me of a cargo cult. During World War Two, a lot of the battles in the Pacific theater took place on or around islands populated by natives that didn't have much experience with modern technology. In some of those places, the natives saw Allied or Japanese soldiers carve airstrips out of the jungle and then magic flying machines would land and deliver all sorts of wondrous goods. Greatly impressed by this, the natives would try to build their own landing strips, often including control towers made of logs and even "radio equipment" made out of junk, with the expectation that the flying machines would come and deliver wondrous goods for them too. Of course, it is not the building of a runway that causes cargo aircraft to land, but they didn't know that. I see the same attitude for college. How many times have we heard that college graduates make "X" more dollars over their lives than people with high-school diplomas? But is that caused by the college degree, or is it maybe the fact that the people who have traditionally gone to college are the brighter, more capable, harder-working among us? Maybe it's the fact that college was tough, and a degree demonstrated that one could surpass that adversity? It's not the piece of paper on the wall that causes higher salaries.

I think a lot of students today are feeling the same sort of disappointment that the cargo-cult natives must have felt. They spent years of their lives and tens of thousands of dollars carving their runways, but the mere fact that they obtained a degree did not make the big-money job offers land. Like the cargo cults, they are realizing that there is not necessarily a causative relationship between what they've been doing and what they want to happen.
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Re: FBI coordinated crackdown of Occupy

Postby bhaw on Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:56 pm

Shyster... :thumb:

And another :thumb: for good measure.
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Re: FBI coordinated crackdown of Occupy

Postby Alejandro Rojas on Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:50 pm

Brilliant analogy Shyster.
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Re: FBI coordinated crackdown of Occupy

Postby Gaucho on Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:56 pm

I'd happily cut my wrists in a world without liberal arts.
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Re: FBI coordinated crackdown of Occupy

Postby ExPatriatePen on Tue Jan 01, 2013 7:47 pm

Shyster wrote:
ExPatriatePen wrote:One thing a liberal arts degree shows, is a willingness to focus and dedication to accomplishing a goal.

Maybe it's not a 3.8 in Pre-Med, but it does show at least a minimal ability to stay on task and complete assignments.

But does it really accomplish those tasks any better than a high-school degree? Should it? Is college hard enough?

I agree that one of the traditional benefits of a college degree--regardless of major--was a demonstration that the graduate possessed the intelligence, work ethic, self-control, etc. necessary to take rigorous college courses and pass. It was a sign that you could stand up under pressure and perform challenging mental work. But with so many more people heading to college (a phenomenon that politicians have pushed at every turn), do we all really think that college is as hard as it was, say, 50 years ago, or even 25 years ago? Colleges don't want to fail out huge percentages of their students, so rather than send the more marginal students packing for home (like mac's theoretical 2.1 lit major), you dumb down the coursework so they can still graduate. But by dumbing down the coursework, you destroy the very value of the degree--a demonstration that someone can accomplish challenging mental work.

It's very hard to 'flunk out' of High School. You almost have to work at it.

College isn't an MBA program, or Law school. It's not as tough as getting an advanced degree, still, as an employer, the value of an B.A. still shows some level of commitment above an GED / HS diploma.

While there may be cases of students getting through college simply by going to class, thats not the norm.



Shyster wrote:The attitude toward college in this country today reminds me of a cargo cult. During World War Two, a lot of the battles in the Pacific theater took place on or around islands populated by natives that didn't have much experience with modern technology. In some of those places, the natives saw Allied or Japanese soldiers carve airstrips out of the jungle and then magic flying machines would land and deliver all sorts of wondrous goods. Greatly impressed by this, the natives would try to build their own landing strips, often including control towers made of logs and even "radio equipment" made out of junk, with the expectation that the flying machines would come and deliver wondrous goods for them too. Of course, it is not the building of a runway that causes cargo aircraft to land, but they didn't know that. I see the same attitude for college. How many times have we heard that college graduates make "X" more dollars over their lives than people with high-school diplomas? But is that caused by the college degree, or is it maybe the fact that the people who have traditionally gone to college are the brighter, more capable, harder-working among us? Maybe it's the fact that college was tough, and a degree demonstrated that one could surpass that adversity? It's not the piece of paper on the wall that causes higher salaries.

I think a lot of students today are feeling the same sort of disappointment that the cargo-cult natives must have felt. They spent years of their lives and tens of thousands of dollars carving their runways, but the mere fact that they obtained a degree did not make the big-money job offers land. Like the cargo cults, they are realizing that there is not necessarily a causative relationship between what they've been doing and what they want to happen.

There's certainly some merit to that analogy, but it speaks to a completely completely different issue than your first point.

To repeat:

Shyster wrote:But does it really accomplish those tasks any better than a high-school degree? Should it?


Yes, I don't even see how you can equate the two.
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Re: FBI coordinated crackdown of Occupy

Postby DontToewsMeBro on Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:59 pm

Shyster wrote:Maybe it's the fact that college was tough, and a degree demonstrated that one could surpass that adversity? It's not the piece of paper on the wall that causes higher salaries.

I think a lot of students today are feeling the same sort of disappointment that the cargo-cult natives must have felt. They spent years of their lives and tens of thousands of dollars carving their runways, but the mere fact that they obtained a degree did not make the big-money job offers land.


If I was a better writer, this is what I would have said. +1.
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Re: FBI coordinated crackdown of Occupy

Postby ExPatriatePen on Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:09 pm

DontToewsMeBro wrote:
Shyster wrote:Maybe it's the fact that college was tough, and a degree demonstrated that one could surpass that adversity? It's not the piece of paper on the wall that causes higher salaries.

I think a lot of students today are feeling the same sort of disappointment that the cargo-cult natives must have felt. They spent years of their lives and tens of thousands of dollars carving their runways, but the mere fact that they obtained a degree did not make the big-money job offers land.


If I was a better writer had gone to college and learned to write, this is what I would have said. +1.


FIFY

Spoiler:
I'm joking... please don't take it personally.
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Re: FBI coordinated crackdown of Occupy

Postby Shyster on Wed Jan 02, 2013 7:29 pm

ExPatriatePen wrote:College isn't an MBA program, or Law school. It's not as tough as getting an advanced degree, still, as an employer, the value of an B.A. still shows some level of commitment above an GED / HS diploma.

While there may be cases of students getting through college simply by going to class, thats not the norm.

I do think the value of a college degree has been significantly devalued, and that’s not a good thing. I reference Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses by Richard Arum of New York University and Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia. In the book, they looked at surveys of college students, including the test results of the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which are both tests that seek to gauge how much college students are learning (think of them as Iowa tests for college). The findings in the book include:

- Gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills (i.e., general collegiate skills) are small or non-existent for a large proportion of students. At least 45% of undergraduates demonstrated “no improvement in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills in the first two years of college, and 36% showed no progress in four years.”

- 35% of sampled students spent five hours or less a week studying; the average was around 12 hours.

- According to historical data, full-time college students in the 1920s to 1960s spent 35 to 40 hours a week in academic pursuits(attending classes + studying). Since the 1960s, that has dropped to less than 27 hours per week.

- Half of the sampled college students reported that they had not taken a class in the last semester requiring more than twenty pages of writing for the entire course, and a third had not taken a class requiring more than forty pages of reading per week.

- Many students admitted that they gravitate to lenient professors and to courses that are reputedly easy.

- More than 90% of surveyed employers rated written communication, critical thinking, and problem solving as “very important” for the job success of new labor market entrants. At the same time, the employers reported that only a small proportion of four-year college graduates excel in these skills: 16% excel in written communication and 28% in critical thinking. In another survey, employers rated only 26% of college graduates as being very well prepared in writing, and 22% as being very well prepared to think critically.

You can hear an interview that NPR did with one of the authors here: http://www.npr.org/2011/02/09/133310978 ... nts-adrift

Admittedly, the fact that 36% of students showed no progress in four years means that a significant majority—64%—did. Still, that means that for more than 1/3 of college students, their degree may be of questionable use. And for employers looking at college graduates as potential employees, it means that 1/3 of them aren’t any better at thinking, reasoning, and writing than they were when they graduated high-school. If you are an employer who is looking at college as a mechanism to filter the wheat from the chaff for your applicants, that’s a lot of chaff that’s still getting through. The surveys referenced in the book show that employers are fully aware of that, too.
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Re: FBI coordinated crackdown of Occupy

Postby columbia on Wed Jan 02, 2013 7:31 pm

I can think of a lot of people to blame for the above, but I'm not sure that I would focus on the students.
Do we really want to castigate 18 year olds for going through with what society tells them is the required path?
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Re: FBI coordinated crackdown of Occupy

Postby Shyster on Wed Jan 02, 2013 7:56 pm

I wouldn’t focus on the students, either. But I do think we need to have a conversation in this country about what college should be and how many students should be headed there. Personally, I would focus on the push from government and politicians to get students to go to college. I’ve seen a statistic recently (I think it was in Charles Murray’s book Real Education) that something like 75% of high-school students expect to go to college and eventually get professional “office” type jobs. But 75% of the jobs in this country aren’t office jobs. Plenty of those young men and women are going to be disappointed. I think we should head off that disappointment before they spend tens of thousands of dollars on a degree, especially when student loans in this country are all now run by the federal government—and thus backed by our tax dollars.
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Re: FBI coordinated crackdown of Occupy

Postby Digitalgypsy66 on Wed Jan 02, 2013 7:59 pm

I can agree and see first hand a lot of the research in Shyster's post above.

I know talking from alumni from my college that things are getting easier and easier. At a recent homecoming event, I heard variations of "When I graduated from here, the diploma meant something."

Just two observations: I have a colleague that is a history professor that doesn't require reading outside of class, because they don't bother to do it at all or properly. I've met second semester seniors who have never written a research paper or much of anything longer than 4-5 pages.

Like columbia mentions above, I don't think it's the students to blame here. It's huge academic bureaucracies that need to be fed with more and more students. Why? So these schools can have an umpteenth VP or Assistant Dean. Smaller schools with a flat organizational chart (i.e. no huge bureaucracy) still need the tuition money more than ever, so they take anyone with a SAT/ACT score. I met with a prospective student that had a 800 SAT score and wanted to go Pre-Med at our school. Delusional. He should've been in the local tech college getting his medical technology certificate, but we offered him money...and now he's our problem.
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Re: FBI coordinated crackdown of Occupy

Postby MWB on Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:08 pm

Increase the number of vocational programs available in high schools, and I bet you'll see the number of kids going to college who really shouldn't/don't need to be there decrease. In time, you'd see the level of expectations at colleges go back up.
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