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Thread: What does college actually do for people and society?

  1. #1

    Default What does college actually do for people and society?

    Once upon a time, colleges didn't exist. You didn't need a college or worse yet a university degree just to get a decent or even great job.

    So, what created all of this emphasis for *everyone* to go to college? That only people who go to college gets good jobs? Because now people are graduating and not finding jobs that pay well enough to pay off the debt they racked up by going to college full time.

    Not to mention some are stuff with nearly if completely useless degrees or worse certificates.

    Do employers really value a piece of paper that says "____ passed this course at ____ college/university" this much?

  2. #2

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    In some cases, it is important to learning a specific skillset. Lawyers and doctors have needed degrees for eons. Urban planners, social workers, and others also learn specific skillsets from university education.

    In other cases, it is a differentiator. Many companies that specify a degree requirement do not actually need someone with that degree to fill the job role. Instead, in an era when literally hundreds of people are applying for a single position, it's an easy sorting method for the company. If 100 people apply, and 15 of them have master's degrees and another five have excellent experience, there are 80 resumes that can be thrown away pretty much immediately. There might be someone great for the job in that stack of 80, but...

  3. #3

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    IMO the education level has steadily increased over time.

    Back when just being able to stay in high school and finish was an accomplishment because society was family oriented and multiple hands got the farm work done. The next step was everyone had a lot better chance of finishing high school and if you wanted the upper level jobs you went on to college. Over the last few decades the trend has been that as the manual labor jobs became automated or sent over seas the upper level was moved to entry level and you have to have a degree just to get into the door. We are already well on the way to having to have a higher degree to get the "good jobs", but what are we going to do when it costs more to get the degree then you can earn?

    I unfortunately see that as not pretty. At some point commonsense has to win out over greed, or social order is going to collapse and sociopolitical theory is going to be challenged and there is proof that the original ideas did not work because greed is still in control.

    Unfortunately I am still part of the problem because all I come up with is more questions and no sustainable answers, just like the rest of the world politicians.

  4. #4

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    it's all a part of the legacy of our system of governance (and the class system). a bureaucratic governance needs people who're schooled in particular ways and subjects and this sets the tone for all schooling since it is a self-serving enterprise.
    a long way down the line, where we are now, in the current 'global economy' and with much of the many laborious tasks having been pawned off to 'the developing world', educational qualifications become more needed as the best jobs are within or in the service of the governing bureaucracy, and this bureaucracy also becomes more expansive in order to soak up the masses of what-would-otherwise-be unemployed people.
    so, the trend of educational qualifications above all else takes hold, and all at the expense of commonsense and basic needs, which further exacerbates the situation.

    i don't know about the US, but over here, in the UK, things have gotten so bad that you need a 'qualification' just to be a security guard (at a considerable cost, of course), which is just one more example of the ever-increasing bureaucracy we have to suffer. the film Idiocracy rarely gets it's worthy mention, but it's very much the way things are going.
    it's hard to say if we're the victims or the instigators of our own fate.

  5. #5

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    Once upon a time an Associates degree could get you a decent job. The Bachelors has almost gone the way of the Associates in some respects.



    Quote Originally Posted by GDA
    If 100 people apply, and 15 of them have master's degrees and another five have excellent experience, there are 80 resumes that can be thrown away pretty much immediately. There might be someone great for the job in that stack of 80, but...
    And there's one of our biggest problems at the moment, and that's over saturation. I was listening to NPR the other day on how a few well known science labs are no longer hiring Phds over this issue. Most of the reading I've been doing is that a lot of graduate programs are failing to prepare you for the workforce anyway.



    Quote Originally Posted by Fire2Box
    Do employers really value a piece of paper that says "____ passed this course at ____ college/university" this much?
    Some employers will look at a few core classes relevant to the field and go "Ah hrmm that's good" and might have some weight. That C+ in English in your freshman year? They don't care. The more helps of course.

    It really hit me hard in my 4th year of college that I have nothing to show in terms of real work experience. Until I signed on with a lab after hours for student research is when I started actually learning something. Some of that stuff you got bored listening to in lecture hall actually started to click.

    So now in my last year I'm trying to get more of that actual job experience in application I don't think my university gave me enough of. I'm hoping that sets me apart from the 80 or so applicants. All my university had done is push me toward PhD work: another 5 years of schooling and more crushing debt for the most part.

    I wish the system was better, frankly. The things they don't tell you early on I wish I knew.

    /rant

  6. #6

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    Many students are not only getting their degrees, but also doing internships, trying to get on the job experience in addition to the degree. I my case as a church musician getting an organ performance degree, my conservatory enabled me to perform at New York Philharmonic Hall and Carnegie Hall with both Leonard Bernstein and Leopold Stowkowski. Some experience can't be gained any other way. In addition, I had a church director job all four years, and I was able to learn almost as much about music from my fellow classmates, as from the professors.

    College/university gives you a fraternity/sorority in the sense that you are networking with like people in your generation. My son-in-law got his Masters degree at MIT more to make business connections with like minded comrades. The MIT association is formidable indeed, just like the Skull and Crossbones of Yale, or the eating clubs of Princeton U. I wouldn't trade my Princeton education for anything. It was the experience of a lifetime.

  7. #7

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    I think one of the accepted reasons for the importance of a college education is the economic idea of signaling:

    Signalling (economics) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The wikipedia article is more detailed, but the basic idea is that by getting a degree you show potential employers that you're serious by a substantial investment of time and money. In theory that makes you more likely to take a job seriously.

    As others have mentioned, it also provides a basic screening mechanism for resumes. Having been on the hiring side for a while now, when you have a stack of resumes often you look for any reason to reject someone, just due to sheer volume. For what it's worth, this is why networking is important. If you can get a resume in through a "back channel" other than some web form, chances are someone will actually look at it. They might not bring you in, but at least someone looked at the resume.

    Leaning skills is also useful. I'm a programmer, and have a degree in Computer Science. Lots of what I learned in school is directly applicable to my job, and the parts that aren't directly applicable are still very important. Take algorithms/running times - yeah, you can probably write a webapp without a detailed understanding of Big O notation, but if it's slow and you're trying to speed it up that algorithms class is going to come in very handy. Other engineering fields are similar. And for humanities/social science degrees, research and writing skills are very important, and applicable to most jobs.

    That said, I've worked with several programmers who either didn't have college degrees or got them a lot later than "normal," well after they'd started their careers. It didn't really matter at all. There are some of them I'd rather work with than people with degrees.

  8. #8

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    It works in much the same way as the credit system. You are a slice of data on a page. It's either play the game or get outta the way.

    As much as I despise this system I had to adapt to it to succeed. I surely disagree with such a system of recognition in it's principle but have no choice but to adhere where I must.

    The solution is to be creative.

  9. #9

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by GoldDragonAurkarm View Post
    In some cases, it is important to learning a specific skillset. Lawyers and doctors have needed degrees for eons. Urban planners, social workers, and others also learn specific skillsets from university education.

    In other cases, it is a differentiator. Many companies that specify a degree requirement do not actually need someone with that degree to fill the job role. Instead, in an era when literally hundreds of people are applying for a single position, it's an easy sorting method for the company. If 100 people apply, and 15 of them have master's degrees and another five have excellent experience, there are 80 resumes that can be thrown away pretty much immediately. There might be someone great for the job in that stack of 80, but...
    I agree that lawyers, doctors, urban/social planners and even theme park ride designers need further education then just high school. My issue is with jobs that once dint require a college degree 10-20, 30 years ago. But the same job/company wants degrees now. I only assume most of us know people who after college with degrees in hand can still only find work at say applebee's or some similar job while racked with debt they'll never really be able to repay if they don't get a career job.

  10. #10

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    When I was growing up they always said go to college, get a four-year degree. My father went to a two-year school and that did hurt him from time to time. He didn't have the funding or were there programs at the time to advance his education. It also didn't help that my father's college money was spent on bail for his idiot brother. I tried to go to college myself but it didn't take. I didn't like school in the first place and I didn't like the idea of more school.

    It also does not help that for generations people have told their kids to go to college, get a good job and don't go to work in the fields and or the factories. And guess what happened? Those jobs went overseas and cheaper labor.

    When I was growing up; it was always- Go to college, don't go to work in the food game, don't go to work doing menial labor, go and get a good job that pays six figs a year or something better than your father had. That was what I was taught. I found myself actually happier doing the jobs I was able to do when I was physically able to- dishwashing, fast-food, things like that. I liked the jobs but not how low you got paid. That's a subject for another topic...

    I have pondered the same question that the OP has over the years too...

    WildThing121675

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