I spent four years at a private university and it was a complete waste of time – at least the academic part was.
I really couldn’t tell you more than a couple of facts that I learned from the numerous text books I read and countless hours of reviewing online research articles. The worst part is that, at the time, I felt like I was literally filling my brain to capacity with crap I would never need in my life. And in hindsight, I was completely correct.
While I do agree that there is a certain amount of foundational information that a person needs to learn in order to become a well-rounded and educated individual, for the most part people learn what they need to know through trial and error.
Yes, it’s great to have a head start so you don’t make the mistakes that others have in the past, but try to tell that to a pro athlete. Do you think a professional baseball pitcher gets good by reading a book about how to hold a baseball? To become a good pitcher, you need to throw the ball hundreds of thousands of times.
Little by little, a person’s skill improves in any medium by consistent repetition and immersion.
Comparing sports with education is a bit of a stretch, but the point is that our current ‘college experience’ for most university students is unbelievably unrealistic to how the world actually works.
Real education comes from real experiences.
Real experiences are not made in a classroom with hypothetical consequences.
Our collegiate system has been designed to create well programmed graduates who can simply move from the classroom to the cubicle – it’s completely true, if you think about it.
Higher education teaches you how to think and what to think, because the working world needed these types of people – preprogrammed workers.
For the last 100 years, the Western world’s economy has boomed from the formation of corporations that have a well defined hierarchy that allows workers of different skill to be plugged in on a variety of levels based upon complexity of tasks. Basically, schools are making human robots to perform simple yes or no tasks with an occasional think-on-your-feet decision.
And for the most part, this system has worked wonderfully. College graduates have been able to fall right into jobs that pay well, offer great benefits and provide a somewhat enjoyable working environment. Job placement for a college student was pretty much guaranteed upon receiving a higher-education certification.
Now things are much different.
We have industries like driverless cars and 3D printing that are disrupting the traditional style of commerce in such an enormous way that ‘traditionally educated’ workers are outdated.
Universities rarely even provide classes on the industries that are the future of our world, and most importantly, the fostering of unique methods and outlooks of creative thinking are all but squashed.
Yes there are some great schools out there that do provide some of these special education processes, but as a whole, we as a society are creating a working force of miseducated individuals.
I didn’t say uneducated, but miseducated.
That is why so many college graduates today are still hunting for jobs – employers simply don’t care about degrees. They care about skills and accomplishments that were developed from experiences.
As a current employer and someone who often hires freelance workers, I couldn’t care less about a college degree. I care about the work ethic, the work quality and the overall attitude of the potential employee.
I know tons of people who graduated from very respectable universities, but I wouldn’t trust taking care of my pet rock. Likewise, I have several friends who didn’t finish high school, but I’d invest all of my money with.
The stamp of approval that universities issue to their graduates means nothing to me, and lately it’s meaning less and less to other employers.
Why should I care about the information that was taught to an individual, when really what I’m looking for is the ability to produce quality work.
I don’t see the current college system disappearing anytime soon and unfortunately I don’t see it changing much either. Students will continue to pay money for an educational experience that is nothing more than a waste of time and an opportunity to rack up debt.
Furthermore, I don’t see the education process evolving until the market puts demands on the education system – which needs to happen from the ground up. Or in other words, universities will have to be forced to change strategies when college applications start to decline.
Slowly, parents and young adults are starting to realize that attending higher education institutions may not be the right path, and will instead choose to travel or immediately start working at the bottom of a company – or even better, start their own.
A four year college experience has turned into a baby-sitting experiment. High school students are migrating from their parents homes to college dorms where they learn how to drink beer, wash laundry and get into debt.
Instead of using the four year journey as an opportunity to become an expert in their field of study, students are wasting their time bouncing around different majors and different personal challenges. Really, there is nothing wrong with that, but college is not the place to figure those things out at $50k a year.
Perhaps a year of travel or work will sort out the maturity issues and add to the life experience resume that so many high school graduates need.
Our society has created the expectation that an 18-year-old person should know exactly what they want to do with their life and should know exactly what path they should take to get there. How unrealistic is that? There are simply too many complexities and options in our world today to expect a young adult to execute such a plan.
Furthermore, many of the educational opportunities that universities offer are unbelievably outdated. Areas of true opportunity in our real economy have very few, if any, college education opportunities.
Of course it’s easy to nit-pick all of the negatives in our educational system and I won’t be totally negative. There are certainly many, many benefits to higher education, especially when it comes to areas of study that require certification like the medical field.
The point here is that the process of learning that has been ingrained within our culture needs a major overhaul. An approach that allows each individual to first find their true calling and allows young adults to work (with a small amount of suffering) in a variety of industries, would drastically change the workforce that our economy currently employs.
The emphasis for high school students should be to figure out what they want to do at the lowest cost possible before they even consider attending a major university.
Whether it’s a one-way ticket to South America or a job as a brick layer, no one has ever been able to find their passion without first searching.