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creekland

For those debating if college is worth it

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My cousin is high up in HVAC. He went to a trade type of school (paid for by his company) which I think is the norm for that field. To me, that is extra education and counts for post high school education. It might not be a 4 year degree, but it certainly is credentials.

 

They can not be CAD operators, estimators, project managers, field workers... or the owner of the business
Engineers can be all these things - perhaps just not in HVAC. Hubby does CAD, estimates jobs, is a project manager and has been since before he owned the business, has done tons of field work and now is the owner of his own business. He's had his PE for years (Civil Engineering in his case).

 

CAD workers do not need to be engineers, but we'd never hire an engineer that didn't know CAD. Field workers can be lower skilled workers (my boys often help with that). All the rest would need degrees for us. Field workers only make minimum wage here - and are only part time as needed - no benefits. We can't afford people like that full time when there aren't jobs to support it.

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No offense intended to the engineers here on the board, but...

 

Not everyone wants to be an engineer! Nor are they cut out to be one!

 

No matter how good the job market may be for engineers, inserting "none of these rules apply to engineers" into every one of these threads does not help the other 98% of the kids out there (and their parents) who want to go to college but see:

 

1. a depressed economy with very few jobs for anyone

 

2. horrifically expensive tuition & expenses that pretty much make it impossible to attend w/o loans (which then cannot be repaid due to said lack of employment)

 

3. article after article after article in the mainstream press and all over the blogosphere sounding the alarm that the paradigm society has considered "mandatory" (a college degree) is shifting.

 

What we are shifting to is still a big unknown, but it is shifting. And I think *that* is the fear we are discussing.

 

 

asta

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No offense intended to the engineers here on the board, but...

Not everyone wants to be an engineer! Nor are they cut out to be one!

 

Agreed. I think, however, that it is still important to point out that it may be a very pragmatic thing to invest work in math and science because the fields where the jobs are, and will be in the future, ARE typically the ones where a lot of math and science is needed. We can whine and complain about it, but it remains a fact. So, instead of telling a "non-mathy" kid it's OK to abandon his studies because they are hard, we may have to encourage them to keep going, even if they find it difficult because the reality of the job market makes it necessary.

It is one thing to "want" or "not want" to do a certain thing - another is to have a realistic perspective whether this is feasible. And perhaps that may mean choosing a career that it practical and allows one to support a family while following one's passion as a hobby.

That does not have to mean doing something one hates - but for instance, a student who loves writing may end up combining this skill with a science degree and end up with an edge over somebody who goes for generic general English.

 

Btw, I became a physicist for very practical and unromantic reasons, and ended up loving my job. But my real passion would have been to be an opera singer ;-)

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No offense intended to the engineers here on the board, but...

 

Not everyone wants to be an engineer! Nor are they cut out to be one!

 

No matter how good the job market may be for engineers, inserting "none of these rules apply to engineers" into every one of these threads does not help the other 98% of the kids out there (and their parents) who want to go to college but see:

 

1. a depressed economy with very few jobs for anyone

 

2. horrifically expensive tuition & expenses that pretty much make it impossible to attend w/o loans (which then cannot be repaid due to said lack of employment)

 

3. article after article after article in the mainstream press and all over the blogosphere sounding the alarm that the paradigm society has considered "mandatory" (a college degree) is shifting.

 

What we are shifting to is still a big unknown, but it is shifting. And I think *that* is the fear we are discussing.

asta

 

I agree. I know many families who are specificly giving their children an engineering education. Not much consideration is given to whether the student can or wants to ever explore that field or any other.

 

And while I think it is high time the paradigm shifted, I don't see it doing so significantly before several of my kids are in the job market, and even when it does shift, I think degrees will still be valued.

 

So that doesn't change our game plan in this house.

 

Agreed. I think, however, that it is still important to point out that it may be a very pragmatic thing to invest work in math and science because the fields where the jobs are, and will be in the future, ARE typically the ones where a lot of math and science is needed. We can whine and complain about it, but it remains a fact. So, instead of telling a "non-mathy" kid it's OK to abandon his studies because they are hard, we may have to encourage them to keep going, even if they find it difficult because the reality of the job market makes it necessary.

It is one thing to "want" or "not want" to do a certain thing - another is to have a realistic perspective whether this is feasible. And perhaps that may mean choosing a career that it practical and allows one to support a family while following one's passion as a hobby.

 

I agree. Also, everything gets hard at some point. Yet working through it might bring to light an interest or ability they wouldn't have discovered otherwise. And yes, we are very pragmatic about career discussion with our kids. Maybe they won't get to do their passion at work, but the income will permit them to do other things.

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<sigh> College doesn't necessarily = skilled, and not attending college does not automatically = unskilled. I think anyone is perfectly capable of learning anything they have an interest or need to learn without needing to be accountable to someone else and paying for someone else's oversight. Can you read? Then you can teach yourself.

 

Further, unemployment rates apply to those who have chosen to be employed by others, not to those who have chosen to find ways to earn a living that do not depend on being hired or considered acceptable by other people.

 

Not everyone grows up wanting to be an employee. Not everyone needs to be led by the hand and spoonfed at outrageous cost to learn skills one thinks one may need to be successful. Who taught you how to teach your own kids? You read, and you learned because you were motivated to do so. You are an example of a person not needing to attend college to develop competence in a chosen area. <sigh>

 

:iagree::iagree: Thank you SO much for saying this! So true.

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He's put together a logic test for all new hires. OUCH! I've seen it and I agree with it, but I think that about 90% of the local high school grads would not be capable of passing it.

 

 

 

Faith

 

FaithManor,

 

I work in a logical field and we tend to hire people who do not think logically. I have mentioned that we should use a screening test. Would it be possible to get some examples of the questions your father created for his hiring test?

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. Maybe they won't get to do their passion at work, but the income will permit them to do other things.

 

Reading bios should show teens that many famous people throughout history have had a paid job or business that financed their real dream or their education towards their real dream. The one that caught my teen's eye recently was Lonnie Johnson's story..can't remember what the TV show was, but it was interesting enough that he googled for more detail.

 

 

>>Few jobs for anyone.

 

Depends on where you live and what your skill set is. There is nothing here for high school grads aside from part time security guard in the dead of night. However, if you can problem solve, use tools, and have an electrical/mechanical engineering/technician background and employee skills such as showing up on time and working with light supervision or independently, there are jobs here...certain employers cannot find enough qualified people. They're recruiting peope leaving the military who can't find work in their rural home locations. Other jobs require additional skill sets.

 

>>2. horrifically expensive tuition & expenses that pretty much make it impossible to attend w/o loans (which then cannot be repaid due to said lack of employment)

 

College is an investment in yourself. Books have been written on how to do it on the cheap. Without the athletic or academic full-ride, most successful I've seen involve living off campus:

a) live with a relative, work part time, go to CC and transfer to 4 yr

Plan ahead so your part time is better than burger flipping - cut/color hair, have a pressure washing business, car detailing business, be a nanny, give instrument lessons etc.

b) defer your admission, and take a gap year and work a trade or remodel & sell a house with your dad

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Agreed. I think, however, that it is still important to point out that it may be a very pragmatic thing to invest work in math and science because the fields where the jobs are, and will be in the future, ARE typically the ones where a lot of math and science is needed. We can whine and complain about it, but it remains a fact. So, instead of telling a "non-mathy" kid it's OK to abandon his studies because they are hard, we may have to encourage them to keep going, even if they find it difficult because the reality of the job market makes it necessary.

It is one thing to "want" or "not want" to do a certain thing - another is to have a realistic perspective whether this is feasible. And perhaps that may mean choosing a career that it practical and allows one to support a family while following one's passion as a hobby.

That does not have to mean doing something one hates - but for instance, a student who loves writing may end up combining this skill with a science degree and end up with an edge over somebody who goes for generic general English.

 

Btw, I became a physicist for very practical and unromantic reasons, and ended up loving my job. But my real passion would have been to be an opera singer ;-)

 

:iagree:

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No offense intended to the engineers here on the board, but...

 

Not everyone wants to be an engineer! Nor are they cut out to be one!

 

No matter how good the job market may be for engineers, inserting "none of these rules apply to engineers" into every one of these threads does not help the other 98% of the kids out there (and their parents) who want to go to college but see:

 

1. a depressed economy with very few jobs for anyone

 

2. horrifically expensive tuition & expenses that pretty much make it impossible to attend w/o loans (which then cannot be repaid due to said lack of employment)

 

asta

 

Hubby is an engineer as I already mentioned, but exactly none of our three boys are heading that way and I'm ok with that. Oldest is double majoring in Community Development (international track) and Business. Since he's at or near the top of his class with a very connected prof, he won't have any trouble getting a job he wants even in a poor economy. He might even be getting an internship his freshman summer. He would have it already if we could pay the airfare to China. We can't. We're waiting to see if they will throw in airfare.

 

Middle son wants to be a doctor - his choice since 3rd grade. If he continues to want that through college and can get into med school, he'll have no problems finding a job.

 

Youngest will head biological or ecological. He'll possibly have the hardest time finding a job, but time will tell. When his time gets closer I'll be looking to find the best connected school we can afford that fits him. I already know we'll be paying more for him than we do for the other two (not counting med school), but it's worth it to us to give him the opportunities he'll have with a degree vs without one.

 

Incidentally, at my oldest son's college, he's told me the Computer Science and Business seniors he knows who have done well in college have job offers already (which isn't necessarily all of them, but it's a fair number). The seniors he knows without job offers already are majoring in English, History and Music. We specifically talked about this over spring break.

 

3. article after article after article in the mainstream press and all over the blogosphere sounding the alarm that the paradigm society has considered "mandatory" (a college degree) is shifting.

 

What we are shifting to is still a big unknown, but it is shifting. And I think *that* is the fear we are discussing.

Maybe we live in a different area, but every place I've seen has been shifting alright - to demanding degrees where previously one wasn't required. The last one I heard about from a student at school was to be an airline flight attendant. It's hearsay, but I had a girl tell me she wanted to be one and checked into it and needs a degree... I didn't ask it it was 2 year or 4 year.

 

I think there are many people who would like to see a shift in the other direction, but I just don't see it happening in reality outside a few selected trades (and trade school, to me, is furthering ones education in a similar manner).

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The biggest problem I have with college is that it has become a 'racket' and a 'social experience'. I would like to see something like the CLEP exams extended to cover the all of the subjects needed for a complete undergraduate degree in a number of fields, complete with a score like the SAT or ACT scores. I think then that someone who wants to self-educate can have their knowledge validated without the requirement of paying tuition or wasting vast amounts of time sitting in class (sorry, college professors, you are not all interesting and dynamic). I think that if a student feels he or she needs some more guidance in preparing for a subject exam than a suggested reading list, then that student can hire a professor or a tutor to help. If an internship is required, then one would pay for the supervision for the internship or clinical rotations.

 

Why don't we do this? Because college IS a racket. And the students with the highest scores on their exams may not come from the best (and most expensive) colleges.....oh dear! And THAT would really mess up the paradigm.

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Rainefox

 

I'm not surprised college is a racket. Politics is part of work life and it starts with schooling. Before even college.

 

However, how much of a racket or social experience or spoon fed lacking in building leadership and individuality it is depends on the school chosen and how the student approaches their education. We can't blame it all on the schools when there are number of kids/parents specificly looking for schools like that.

 

And you might not get all of an undergraduate degree via CLEP, but you can get VERY close and complete the rest via distance learning at some very decent colleges. Parents and students needs to think outside the box. There IS more than one path towards getting a valid degree.

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I would like to see something like the CLEP exams extended to cover the all of the subjects needed for a complete undergraduate degree in a number of fields, complete with a score like the SAT or ACT scores. I think then that someone who wants to self-educate can have their knowledge validated without the requirement of paying tuition or wasting vast amounts of time sitting in class (sorry, college professors, you are not all interesting and dynamic). I think that if a student feels he or she needs some more guidance in preparing for a subject exam than a suggested reading list, then that student can hire a professor or a tutor to help. If an internship is required, then one would pay for the supervision for the internship or clinical rotations.

 

Excuse me if I disagree. Part of a learning experience is not just cramming material that can be tested via a computerized multiple choice exam, but also discussing various points of view, explaining reasoning, presenting to, and communicating with, both people who know nothing and people who know a lot about a subject.

A single exam score in a subject is not necessarily an equivalent for the learning that has taken place while taking a class. I am not talking about listening to a professor lecture - yes, that is ineffective and can be done online. But I see a lot of learning happening when students explain problems and concepts to each other, when they present in front of the class, when they have to work open response problems... all these experiences would be absent if the student just self-studied for a certain exam. Also, very often a true understanding is not achieved UNTIL you can explain it to somebody else - you may be able to go through the motions and successfully work a certain problem, but you may not actually have the full insight into what you are doing. A student without a learning community of some kind will most likely not realize that, especially if he tests well.

I am with you in the respect that the "social" component of college is overrated - but in that assessment, I am referring to extracurriculars, fraternities, parties, etc. I believe that the atmosphere of group learning, the being immersed in a culture of education and surrounded by students and faculty with various backgrounds, approaches and views IS beneficial and can not be replicated at home.

Aside from labs, which are already hard to do at a high school level at home... doing college level science labs would not be possible.

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Excuse me if I disagree. Part of a learning experience is not just cramming material that can be tested via a computerized multiple choice exam, but also discussing various points of view, explaining reasoning, presenting to, and communicating with, both people who know nothing and people who know a lot about a subject.

A single exam score in a subject is not necessarily an equivalent for the learning that has taken place while taking a class. I am not talking about listening to a professor lecture - yes, that is ineffective and can be done online. But I see a lot of learning happening when students explain problems and concepts to each other, when they present in front of the class, when they have to work open response problems... all these experiences would be absent if the student just self-studied for a certain exam. Also, very often a true understanding is not achieved UNTIL you can explain it to somebody else - you may be able to go through the motions and successfully work a certain

problem, but you may not actually have the full insight into what you are doing. A student without a learning community of some kind will most likely not realize that, especially if he tests well.

I am with you in the respect that the "social" component of college is overrated - but in that assessment, I am referring to extracurriculars, fraternities, parties, etc. I believe that the atmosphere of group learning, the being immersed in a culture of education and surrounded by students and

faculty with various backgrounds, approaches and views IS beneficial and can not be replicated at home.

Aside from labs, which are already hard to do at a high school level at home... doing college level science labs would not be possible.

 

 

I actually agree with the first half of your position. I simply don't think taking a final exam, any final exam, precludes that assertion. And it is a bit insulting. My two oldest are going to take the western civilization 1 clep in a couple weeks. They most certainly have learned the material and can discuss it and explain it. They are not just cramming temporary information. (I have no idea why people say this about some testing and not others. You sure don't hear a parent being accused of just cramming for the AP or ACT or SAT2, all of which I'm sure are crammed by many, if not most.)

 

As for your second argument, that is the EXACT same argument used against home schooling in elementary school, and again in high school. I didn't buy it then and I'm not buying it now.:) I have no doubt some subjects might be easier or better taught outside the home for various reasons, but that is less about replicating a social culture than it is about a particular subject need.

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I think that if a student feels he or she needs some more guidance in preparing for a subject exam than a suggested reading list, then that student can hire a professor or a tutor to help. If an internship is required, then one would pay for the supervision for the internship or clinical rotations.

 

 

So, the apprentice can get to the master's level of expertise without the master's guidance? Yes, but at what cost in time and money? How long will he spend in isolation figuring out what cost a thousand years of man's time? Ramunajen comes to mind. Heck, my mother comes to mind. I'd have eaten much better in college had I paid more attention to the master cook of the home while in high school. Why repeat the mistakes and go down blind alleys when there is a master to learn from?

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As for your second argument, that is the EXACT same argument used against home schooling in elementary school, and again in high school. I didn't buy it then and I'm not buying it now.:) I have no doubt some subjects might be easier or better taught outside the home for various reasons, but that is less about replicating a social culture than it is about a particular subject need.

 

No, it is not the same - because any parent should be able to know the elementary material and know whether a student understands what is going on. A parent is able to verify whether the student can read and do elementary math, can redirect and explain. Nobody, not even a big homeschool proponent, would suggest that an elementary student can homeschool himself without parental guidance.

 

A student self-studying subjects like quantum mechanics or differential equations usually has NO way to verify whether he understands the material or has misconceptions unless he has a chance to interact with other students of the same material, if possible under the observation and supervision of somebody who REALLY knows what is going on. Not even working out the correct answer to a problem is a guarantee that the concept has been understood, because it is frequently possible to arrive at correct answers for entirely the wrong reason.

So, the academic discussions about the concept are essential for the student to determine whether he or she has understood the material.

The elementary school student will narrate to his parents what he has learned and will receive gentle correction or clarification. The same interactions is necessary for the college student engaging in conceptually difficult material. For harder material that goes beyond memorization, the "parental" role must be taken by somebody with expertise in the field. It can, to a certain degree, be taken by peers.

 

Even the experienced scientist must interact with peers and discuss scientific findings and concepts, in order to fully understand, clear up misconceptions etc. The idea of a lone scientist sitting in his study and producing publication upon publication is NOT realistic. The cooperation with people from other fields, other institutions, other branches of the own specialty is vital for stimulating one's own work (and for recognizing the limitations of one's work and understanding.)

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And I think something is being missed here.

 

If a student reaches a point of needing more, an internship, an apprenticeship, deeper understanding, peer discussion... Whatever. All of that is an option. I haven't heard anyone suggest otherwise. In fact, I said I understand some courses or subjects or just some students DO need that - tho whether they get it in a college setting or elsewhere isn't nearly as important as they get it, IMO.

 

What I have seen expressed, and my opinion too, is that such a situation is not needed for every class, every year, for every field and certainly not for every student.

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Even the experienced scientist must interact with peers and discuss scientific findings and concepts, in order to fully understand, clear up misconceptions etc. The idea of a lone scientist sitting in his study and producing publication upon publication is NOT realistic. The cooperation with people from other fields, other institutions, other branches of the own specialty is vital for stimulating one's own work (and for recognizing the limitations of one's work and understanding.)

 

This applies not just to the science fields. I have a family member who has been passionate about England since her pre-teen years, it started with a fascination for the Beatles. In college she became interested in film restoration. Because of her school connections she was able to move to England. She now has a full time job in England, working in her career choice. She used her academic training to help fulfill a personal passion. She's young, but I would bet she won't be moving back to the US anytime soon.

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No, it is not the same - because any parent should be able to know the elementary material and know whether a student understands what is going on. A parent is able to verify whether the student can read and do elementary math, can redirect and explain. Nobody, not even a big homeschool proponent, would suggest that an elementary student can homeschool himself without parental guidance.

 

A student self-studying subjects like quantum mechanics or differential equations usually has NO way to verify whether he understands the material or has misconceptions unless he has a chance to interact with other students of the same material, if possible under the observation and supervision of somebody who REALLY knows what is going on. Not even working out the correct answer to a problem is a guarantee that the concept has been understood, because it is frequently possible to arrive at correct answers for entirely the wrong reason.

So, the academic discussions about the concept are essential in determining whether I have understood the material.

The elementary school student will narrate to his parents what he has learned and will receive gentle correction or clarification. The same interactions is necessary for the college student engaging in conceptually difficult material. For harder material that goes beyond memorization, the "parental" role must be taken by somebody with expertise in the field. It can, to a certain degree, be taken by peers.

 

Even the experienced scientist must interact with peers and discuss scientific findings and concepts, in order to fully understand, clear up misconceptions etc. The idea of a lone scientist sitting in his study and producing publication upon publication is NOT realistic. The cooperation with people from other fields, other institutions, other branches of the own specialty is vital for stimulating one's own work (and for recognizing the limitations of one's work and understanding.)

 

You switched to the first person.

 

 

a

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Am I the only person who had college profs require reading of the books outside of class and cover entirely different things IN the class? We were responsible for both on the tests. One can only get so much from books...

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Here in NZ I'm seeing a rise in the need for qualifications, not necessarily degrees. Dh does not have a degree, but when he left school (many, many years ago ;)) he completed a 5 year apprenticeship in carpentry. On the other hand, I went directly to university from highschool. We both finished our "training" at age 21, dh with a trade certificate & I with a BS. In many ways dh was better prepared & better connected in the job market.

 

With our dc we have required that they get the qualifications they need to work in the areas they desire. For dd that means a degree as it will be internationally recognised & open doors for her to opportunities that would not be possible without a degree. For ds#1 that means a trade certificate + 4 year apprenticeship, as that will show he has the skills & experience needed to do the job he wants. If he later sees that he wants to move more into the theorical end of engineering, he can work towards his degree. He will be a much better engineer by having the hands-on practical experience. Ds#2 is aiming towards diesel mechanics & to do that he'll need a trade certificate + 4 year apprenticeship. A degree wouldn't prepare him with the necessary skills needed to do the job.

 

Here in NZ education doesn't stop after leaving school. It is very common to continue studying or retrain later in life. Life experience is valued & given credit where applicable. University isn't seen as the expected next step after highschool. Students do 3-5 years at highschool, before moving on to tertiary training. The form that teriary training takes is determined by career goals.

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LOL, so then people taking classes online are missing a vital part of the learning experience? I doubt it, and a good percentage of those classes do not include web conference sessions. Or should we revoke the accreditation of the schools that offer online classes in the interests of preserving that special classroom experience?. No, it is all about the money, baby.

 

 

And people who are interested in learning a subject usually seek out like-minded others and rarely study alone in a basement with no human interaction. Or do you really think that studying a subject outside the classroom leads to one turning into some kind of medieval anchorite?

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LOL, so then people taking classes online are missing a vital part of the learning experience? I doubt it, and a good percentage of those classes do not include web conference sessions...

 

And people who are interested in learning a subject usually seek out like-minded others and rarely study alone in a basement with no human interaction. Or do you really think that studying a subject outside the classroom leads to one turning into some kind of medieval anchorite?

 

Again, for some subjects that may be entirely fine - but for other subjects, yes, I would say an online class without a discussion forum or the opportunity to at least discuss with the instructor will NOT give the full learning experience. (For example, it is not possible to become proficient in a language through an online class without conversation opportunities - the student must have access to a person who speaks the language fluently.) The situation for higher math and physics is similar.

And finding like-minded students for some subjects would be rather difficult if the student insists on moving outside the traditional university environment. Where do you find a study group for certain topics in higher mathematics, if not at a university?

 

If it is so easy, why do we never see self-educated scientists who just show up to test out of their classes and pick up their degree?

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Am I the only person who had college profs require reading of the books outside of class and cover entirely different things IN the class? We were responsible for both on the tests. One can only get so much from books...

 

I had too many professors who rambled and taught nothing in class. If I hadn't been able to self-educate from books, I wouldn't have passed those classes. Actually, I probably would have passed, because those kinds of professors grade on a huge curve. But I wouldn't have actually learned anything.

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If it is so easy, why do we never see self-educated scientists who just show up to test out of their classes and pick up their degree?

 

Because the colleges and universities won't let them. There isn't a way to test out of most upper level undergraduate courses, that is the point. The opportunity to do so SHOULD exist.

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Again, for some subjects that may be entirely fine - but for other subjects, yes, I would say an online class without a discussion forum or the opportunity to at least discuss with the instructor will NOT give the full learning experience. (For example, it is not possible to become proficient in a language through an online class without conversation opportunities - the student must have access to a person who speaks the language fluently.) The situation for higher math and physics is similar.

And finding like-minded students for some subjects would be rather difficult if the student insists on moving outside the traditional university environment. Where do you find a study group for certain topics in higher mathematics, if not at a university?

 

If it is so easy, why do we never see self-educated scientists who just show up to test out of their classes and pick up their degree?

 

Oh, and I find most like-minded folks to discuss things with on the internet, like THIS FORUM. There are also many sites that people on this forum use regularly to practice conversing in a foreign language. And if a student really felt that he or she needed more help then by all means that student should seek out and hire a tutor.

 

Knowledge is what is important, not sitting in a seat in a classroom. Knowledge is not exclusively acquired in a classroom, and classrooms are becoming an anachronism. It is time to think outside of that particular box.

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I had too many professors who rambled and taught nothing in class. If I hadn't been able to self-educate from books, I wouldn't have passed those classes. Actually, I probably would have passed, because those kinds of professors grade on a huge curve. But I wouldn't have actually learned anything.

 

The profs I'm thinking about I really liked. We learned all the "basics" from our reading in the books and then in class we talked about case studies or other research and similar that was going on that didn't make it in the book. This happened in Physics and Psychology at least.

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I am from salt-of-the-earth people and am the first in my generation to get a college degree. One of my brothers has one, one does not. My parents did not advise me or even offer an opinion on what they thought I should do. College and medical school were my idea alone. I borrowed to attend both, as did my dh. And I have NEVER, ever, once regretted any of these decisions. I work part-time, as I have since finishing my residency, and my dh is an academic psychiatrist. So for physicians, we are not uber-wealthy. Yet we both have flexibility and great job satisfaction and security. We can choose to work for others or have our own business.

 

Having a professional degree has allowed me a level of control over my fate that my degree-less brother does not enjoy. I have freedom of movement and will never be trapped by my circumstances (well, one can never say never, but almost never), as he is, in a miserable marriage and with no way to get out, without financial ruin and more misery for both of them. He chose to forego getting a real estate liscense and regrets it. He still doesn't own his own house. It's only one person's story, but for me, it's familiar because my parents were similarly trapped by circumstances and had many years of severe financial stress simply because they were unwilling to take chances and were very poor. It's not a fate I'd wish on anyone.

 

I believe having a degree is only one part of the puzzle of finding sustaining and satisfying work, but it smooths the way tremendously.

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Because the colleges and universities won't let them. There isn't a way to test out of most upper level undergraduate courses, that is the point. The opportunity to do so SHOULD exist.

 

It does exist, but few get that far on their own for the reasons already stated. I would hazard that a curious mind would want to learn what he hasn't figured out on his own. People like Erik Demaine who come in to college with tremendous knowledge and thinking skills and finish up an undergrad degree in two years are an exception, not a norm.

 

It is about the credentials as well as money. For some fields, showing what you know and your level of thinking/reasoning skills takes a lot of time..and some employers and customers would rather have the college do the evaluation than take the time and expense to do it themselves. And of course the evaluators do deserve compensation - they are evaluating to the standards of their particular college and it does take time.

 

The major expense in many colleges is the living expenses. Depending on where one goes, tuition can be a bargain, especially considering some of the specialized resources involved.

 

>>Oh, and I find most like-minded folks to discuss things with on the internet, like THIS FORUM. .

 

Most? Most in the world don't have access to the intenet. Only app 1/3 do.

 

Many like conventions and conferences, as well as papers and private discussion. Leading edge is not in a book nor is it necessarily shared with all of the world. There are many ways to communicate, with public forums being just one. Why cut out the colleges, where one finds expertise that one can't find elsewhere, in favor of re-inventing the wheel?

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I think the internet has brought the possibility of self-education to many people, especially in the US where I live. I grew up without the internet. If I was interested in learning more about something I was limited to what was in the local public library. Now, I can find out about books on the internet, read reviews of those books, and even order them the same way, sometimes used at a discount. If I was interested in discussing a topic in the pre-internet days I was limited to my geographic community. Now, I can use the internet to search for yahoo groups or forums full of other people with the same interests. The internet is amazing. I actually did my graduate work online.

 

I think that with the internet the time has come to accept that learning isn't limited to the classroom. The internet brings so many of the same resources of the university town to every little rural community. We haven't successfully yet integrated post-secondary learning into everyday life, but the first step to that is freeing that learning from the traditional college environment and eliminating the traditional gatekeepers. Why can't we test out of all degree requirements? Why do we have to pay for tuition for all classes instead of having the option to simply pay a professor for tutoring for the classes we think we might need the extra assistance?

 

The previous poster who stated that employers rely on a degree as part of a screening process is correct. But in an age when a high school diploma is no indicator of an ability to read or perform simple arithmetic and in an age when the news is full of stories about declining academic standards in college can employers truly rely on a traditional degree as a guarantee of basic competence? No, things are going to change, just as we have seen that things are changing in elementary and secondary education right now. I don't know where this change will take us, but I am really interested in learning about and exploring less expensive and alternative ways of validating learning.

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Admittedly, I am an academic traditionalist. But I am really trying to wrap my poor brain around some of the shifting educational paradigms proposed in this thread.

 

Take my field, Mathematics. I can see students teaching themselves the content of lower math courses (the Calculus sequence, Differential Equations). In fact, many schools have options for students to place out of these basic courses. But when the material shifts to greater abstraction (courses like Real Analysis or Topology), most students need the bridge of a professor to connect them to the ideas as presented in the text. Perhaps posters know some self taught mathematical geniuses like the janitor in the film Good Will Hunting. I do not.

 

I hang out with a number of biologists. Their lab equipment is incredibly expensive, not something that the individual is going to have in his home. (Electron microscopes in the dining room?) Sure, my son did AP Bio at home, but he could not complete a number of the AP labs because we do not own the proper equipment. I did not worry too much because he had done things like electrophoresis protein analysis in a summer science class with a college professor and later took a microbiology class at the CC where he had a great lab experience. Do online lab experiences go beyond the basics?

 

One area in which the Internet vastly improves the sharing of information is with things like Nexus. It used to be that one had to go a college library to read journals if you were not a subscriber. My son uses Nexus (I think that is right) to access journals from his computer. Part of the technology fee students pay is for services like this.

 

When my son was a high school student, he said that Google Books was the great equalizer. As a rural student, he had access to an amazing library. Granted, these books are not necessarily new, but there are remarkable things available.

 

I suspect that the Internet could be utilized well for conversation in foreign language although, again, something is lacking. Consider the French shrug. There is so much nuance in language that is not spoken.

 

I'd enjoy more conversation on this.

Jane

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Jane, In areas like hard science and math, it seems less likely that an individual would be able to self-educate, at least at the college level, but the humanities are significantly more squishy. The humanities have expanded and imploded in the last three decades. There is no longer a canon, but, rather, a hodge-podge of unrelated materials that may or may not have significant value. It seems likely to me that the university will survive intact for the needed hands-on science, math, engineering stuff where learning is precise and proscribed, but fracture when it comes to the liberal arts. While guidance from learned professionals will still be valuable, the on campus presence seems less necessary, at least at the undergraduate level.

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Jane, In areas like hard science and math, it seems less likely that an individual would be able to self-educate, at least at the college level, but the humanities are significantly more squishy. The humanities have expanded and imploded in the last three decades. There is no longer a canon, but, rather, a hodge-podge of unrelated materials that may or may not have significant value. It seems likely to me that the university will survive intact for the needed hands-on science, math, engineering stuff where learning is precise and proscribed, but fracture when it comes to the liberal arts. While guidance from learned professionals will still be valuable, the on campus presence seems less necessary, at least at the undergraduate level.

 

:iagree:

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I think the internet has brought the possibility of self-education to many people, especially in the US where I live. I grew up without the internet. If I was interested in learning more about something I was limited to what was in the local public library. Now, I can find out about books on the internet, read reviews of those books, and even order them the same way, sometimes used at a discount. If I was interested in discussing a topic in the pre-internet days I was limited to my geographic community. Now, I can use the internet to search for yahoo groups or forums full of other people with the same interests. The internet is amazing. I actually did my graduate work online. .

 

The limitation was by choice though. Other families and communities made other choices in the pre-internet days, which included using youth groups to network and dispel knowledge and improve thinking skills, to have satellite learning courses in the high school, to hire outsiders and find a place for them in the community, and to invite guest lecturers & performers as well as learn from radio, magazines, newspapers and conversation via letters or visits. There was also the trip in to the big city resources and to conventions with one's peers to keep up with the new developments. Additionally, outstanding students were sometimes offered a spot in a larger regional high school or graduated and moved on to the U - some rural towns even had businessmen who saw the potential and sponsored a child.

 

I agree that the internet is a bonus, and its use certainly points to the need to understand sources and read well however quite a bit of it is fluff that takes considerable time to search through. One of the bonuses of college is that one cuts the search time down by locating the experts and the boundaries of the field much faster than searching through old, nonconfidential material. One also learns how to evaluate what one reads with more than a few grains of salt.

 

 

I think that with the internet the time has come to accept that learning isn't limited to the classroom.

 

I think we're well past that point, except for the NY Teacher's Union with its love of seattime which guarantees customers. :001_smile: Even in my college days, one could demonstrate proficiency and move on..one just took other suitable electives.

 

 

But in an age when a high school diploma is no indicator of an ability to read or perform simple arithmetic and in an age when the news is full of stories about declining academic standards in college can employers truly rely on a traditional degree as a guarantee of basic competence? No, things are going to change, just as we have seen that things are changing in elementary and secondary education right now. I don't know where this change will take us, but I am really interested in learning about and exploring less expensive and alternative ways of validating learning.

 

You can set up your own shop without the degree and let the proof be in the pudding, however there will always be people who won't be customers or co-workers. I've worked with enough self-taught people to realize that serious misconceptions and gaps can be present, and that leads to expenses that the business doesn't need as well as errors in delivery of services. I'd rather work with someone who has the basic body of knowledge and thinking skills and also knows his limitations. It is the difference between the journeyman and the master.

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Jane, In areas like hard science and math, it seems less likely that an individual would be able to self-educate, at least at the college level, but the humanities are significantly more squishy. The humanities have expanded and imploded in the last three decades. There is no longer a canon, but, rather, a hodge-podge of unrelated materials that may or may not have significant value. It seems likely to me that the university will survive intact for the needed hands-on science, math, engineering stuff where learning is precise and proscribed, but fracture when it comes to the liberal arts. While guidance from learned professionals will still be valuable, the on campus presence seems less necessary, at least at the undergraduate level.

 

As the pragmatist in the room, I have been trying to visualize how self-education of a college degree could work. Admittedly, I hit a wall with math and science early on.

 

I gave my foreign language example as something from the humanities. I have attempted to learn French on my own. It quickly became evident that I could probably learn how to read French reasonably well through practice. But developing conversation and writing skills on my own would be problematic.

 

Music? There are some self taught musicians out there but even for more "free form" music styles like jazz there is a tradition of the old guys teaching the younger their chops.

 

Any of us can read novels but do we have the same experience as that of a student who is taking a class on Faulkner or a class on Shakespeare with people who have made a profession of studying these authors? Maybe this is that thing you call "squishy". Not everyone wants to analyze literature through a Freudian lens or whatever.

 

The cool thing about self education is serendipity. You read one author and recognize a line from another author so you jump ship to read the second author when literally a book falls off the shelf and at your feet. So those authors are forsaken for a disparate idea which becomes connected. Wonderful stuff. But it is hit and miss. Stacy used the word "canon" and perhaps that is the issue. Has the canon been tossed in most humanities? I'm not so sure.

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One of the benefits of a college education is having a mentor.

 

My dd's advisor has opened the door for truly incredible internships for her (in Amsterdam, at the Smithsonian, etc.) He has encouraged her, nudged her, challenged her, and advised her. When she was applying to grad school, she consulted with him as to schools, programs, what to look for, etc. His help to her has been invaluable.

 

Are mentors available outside college? Absolutely! But for a young adult to find a mentor in an obscure field like art conservation is a non-trivial challenge. Dd has a number of links (including local both paid and unpaid work in a related field and a number of personal connections) with our local museum that does art conservation, but even with all of her credentials and connections, no one there would do more than a random short phone chat with her.

 

Most people are paid to work, not to reach out and help young adults. Professors, however, are paid to help young adults. That is part of their job description (at least at small LAC's)!

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One of the benefits of a college education is having a mentor.

 

My dd's advisor has opened the door for truly incredible internships for her (in Amsterdam, at the Smithsonian, etc.) He has encouraged her, nudged her, challenged her, and advised her. When she was applying to grad school, she consulted with him as to schools, programs, what to look for, etc. His help to her has been invaluable.

 

Are mentors available outside college? Absolutely! But for a young adult to find a mentor in an obscure field like art conservation is a non-trivial challenge. Dd has a number of links (including local both paid and unpaid work in a related field and a number of personal connections) with our local museum that does art conservation, but even with all of her credentials and connections, no one there would do more than a random short phone chat with her.

 

Most people are paid to work, not to reach out and help young adults. Professors, however, are paid to help young adults. That is part of their job description (at least at small LAC's)!

 

:iagree:

 

When people IRL question the value of a college education, I point to a number of benefits (motivated peer group, among them), one of which is the one Gwen just mentioned. When I graduated from college and wanted to work in Germany, a quick office visit to a professor-mentor and I had a list of names to write to. I benefited directly from his large international network of high-level colleagues, and because I could say "Professor X suggested I write to you about a job ..." I soon had offers from all seven, two of which came with very generous stipends. I chose one, and was off to Germany for a year. I learned a lot from working in a German lab; I learned German; I traveled a lot and still managed to come home with a big chunk of change, which paid off my ~$5k in student loans from college.

 

That's another point - I DON'T recommend taking on a lot of debt, but people forget that some of these schools have serious merit/need-based $$$ ... There's that heart-breaking story in NYT recently about the girl who is $100k in debt for a degree in something unmarketable from NYU, and I think she's now working as a photographer's assistant. What were they thinking?!

 

My best friend got her PhD at Columbia in medieval lit, but put herself through (after the stipends ran out) using her speech pathology master's degree and her BS in Nursing ... It was those "practical" degrees that enabled her to pursue her highly 'impractical' dream :001_smile:

 

OK, I'll stop rambling now ...

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:iagree:

 

When people IRL question the value of a college education, I point to a number of benefits (motivated peer group, among them), one of which is the one Gwen just mentioned. When I graduated from college and wanted to work in Germany, a quick office visit to a professor-mentor and I had a list of names to write to. I benefited directly from his large international network of high-level colleagues, and because I could say "Professor X suggested I write to you about a job ..." I soon had offers from all seven, two of which came with very generous stipends. I chose one, and was off to Germany for a year. I learned a lot from working in a German lab; I learned German; I traveled a lot and still managed to come home with a big chunk of change, which paid off my ~$5k in student loans from college.

 

That's another point - I DON'T recommend taking on a lot of debt, but people forget that some of these schools have serious merit/need-based $$$ ... There's that heart-breaking story in NYT recently about the girl who is $100k in debt for a degree in something unmarketable from NYU, and I think she's now working as a photographer's assistant. What were they thinking?!

 

My best friend got her PhD at Columbia in medieval lit, but put herself through (after the stipends ran out) using her speech pathology master's degree and her BS in Nursing ... It was those "practical" degrees that enabled her to pursue her highly 'impractical' dream :001_smile:

 

OK, I'll stop rambling now ...

 

:iagree: And I've seen many of the same things.

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My best friend got her PhD at Columbia in medieval lit, but put herself through (after the stipends ran out) using her speech pathology master's degree and her BS in Nursing ... It was those "practical" degrees that enabled her to pursue her highly 'impractical' dream :001_smile:

 

 

 

I just gotta say---What A Combo! Nursing, & speech pathology are linear degrees, but PhD in Medieval Lit?????:D

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I just gotta say---What A Combo! Nursing, & speech pathology are linear degrees, but PhD in Medieval Lit?????:D

 

Haha, yes -- she's a pretty unique person. We're all very proud of her!

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Again, for some subjects that may be entirely fine - but for other subjects, yes, I would say an online class without a discussion forum or the opportunity to at least discuss with the instructor will NOT give the full learning experience. (For example, it is not possible to become proficient in a language through an online class without conversation opportunities - the student must have access to a person who speaks the language fluently.) The situation for higher math and physics is similar.

And finding like-minded students for some subjects would be rather difficult if the student insists on moving outside the traditional university environment. Where do you find a study group for certain topics in higher mathematics, if not at a university?

 

If it is so easy, why do we never see self-educated scientists who just show up to test out of their classes and pick up their degree?

 

Jane, In areas like hard science and math, it seems less likely that an individual would be able to self-educate, at least at the college level, but the humanities are significantly more squishy. The humanities have expanded and imploded in the last three decades. There is no longer a canon, but, rather, a hodge-podge of unrelated materials that may or may not have significant value. It seems likely to me that the university will survive intact for the needed hands-on science, math, engineering stuff where learning is precise and proscribed, but fracture when it comes to the liberal arts. While guidance from learned professionals will still be valuable, the on campus presence seems less necessary, at least at the undergraduate level.

 

I've mentioned this before: My niece isn't even being given the option to take some of her MAJOR classes in a classroom. And she goes to a major, brick and mortar university. With an excellent reputation.

 

Things are shifting! We can argue all we want, and we can continue to seek out 100% brick and mortar courses for our kids as long as they are available (somewhere) - and hope that they aren't in stadium seating of 300+ students - but the reality of the situation is that interaction as "we" know/remember it is all but dead for many, many subjects.

 

 

a

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At some schools small classes are still available. My daughter, currently a senior, has had only one class with over 20 students. It was general chemistry, and it had 40 students in it. All her other classes have been 20 or fewer students.

 

This term her class sizes are 1 (thesis), 2, 3, and 20.

 

Small classes with lots of interaction time with professors do exist!

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He had a "full ride" scholarship also. This past summer was his freshman year summer. He got a job working a "co-op" job as a lineman for the electrical company in our town. During the summer, a full time lineman position came open and he took it.

 

He was planning to get a degree in electrical engineering. I bumped into him at the bookstore a couple of weeks ago where he went on and on to me about how he just loves working outdoors and with his hands.

 

Sigh....I get that. He's a 20yo man who has ALWAYS loved not just HARD work, but HARD *outdoor* work (I've known him since he was little...he's always been that way). BUT, this young man doesn't get it that when he's 45 or 50yo he more than likely will NOT enjoy the physical aspect of this job any longer.

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