Why Go To College If You Have No Intentions Of Using Your Degree?

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by MainerMikeBrown, Jan 7, 2015.

  1. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    You know what's a really good way to get better at thinking about what you're writing, making sure you have evidence to support your arguments, and not getting carried away with empty rhetoric?

    Liberal arts education.
     
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  2. HelloImRex

    HelloImRex Senior Member

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    Or I could just fail in arguments a few times on a forum and learn it faster.
     
  3. Charisma

    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    For me, university life has always been about discovering myself. I had myself figured out (or so I thought) in my O-Levels, but then I entered a phase of identity moratorium (and still am wandering through it, sort of) and that means I start every day with a hundred questions about my place in the universe, and a day in my life is a journey of purpose. I think I may also have mild mood problems (or maybe it's a writer thing), so I tend to swing back and forth who I am and who I want to be. I always wanted to go in a university where I could immerse myself in the learning experience and expand my horizons.

    I didn't go to my university of choice, granted, but it turned out to be a very good experience overall--I've learned to critically analyze, empathize and work as a team. Having worked with diverse individuals from people who openly condemned divinity (keep in mind I belong to a nation with a 97% population of Muslims) to people whose life started and ended with it; guys who would whistle at me as I walked by and others who never so much as gawked my back as I walked away; to girls who were completes bitches versus those breaking the stereotype. In university, it did not matter if you stood up and said "Screw the government." The instructor would only say, "Interesting, go on!"

    I guess it isn't the same everywhere, but for me this freedom and cultural diversity was a real eye-opener, and thoroughly refreshing. I learned not only about my subjects but about culture, professionalism, world affairs and teamwork. My mother doesn't agree but I think, with only one semester remaining, college has made me better able to analyze and interpret information, from a Facebook post to a research article. Could I do it without college? Maybe, I don't know. But I made a choice to pursue a degree, and I don't regret it.
     
  4. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    1/ I'm not sure that it's true that there are more jobs in science or engineering. I would concede that most jobs in those fields would require a relevant degree, whereas many other areas are less demanding. The point of a degree in a field such as accountancy (and you can get job-related degrees here) is that you can demonstrate that you have a mind that is trainable, and willing to learn.
    As far as the time management goes, I'm even less convinced. With a degree such as history, such a large part of it involves reading and analysing the data, a student has to learn to manage his own time. I suspect (I stand to be corrected) that a science degree would involve a lot more lectures/lab time, and would require LESS time management, since the structure of the course would do that for him.

    2/ I'd have expected that somebody with a science background, such as you have, would have provided better evidence to support your assertions than
    3/
    4/ I think the reason it's a wagon, and not a train, is that it originated in Oregon, which indicates its antiquity. It has, however, been used more recently, notably by Montgomery Scott in (I think) one of the Star Trek films. As to why it stuck? Same reason as "Tell that to the Marines" did...it's a pithy way of expressing yourself...which becomes an irritating catch-phrase after enough repetitions!

    As far as what the audience thinks you should do now? Well, this is a forum. We debate things. Sometimes you'll persuade the other guy that you're right, most times you won't. We all come on here with our preconceptions, and those are HARD to change.
     
  5. Jack Asher

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I didn't really think I had to explain it, but "If my grandma had wheels she'd be a wagon" is a way to poke fun at circuitous if statements. If @HelloImRex went to a lit class then he would find himself drunk all the time and passing all his classes.

    But, we've found out, he took one easy class, assumed the rest of the program was like that, and wrote it off. It's interesting that in an argument about learning to write well he can't form a cogent argument, but whatever.

    As far as the difficulty of a liberal arts major I can attest to this: Science and Engineering have only one right answer, and discovering it is a easy as going through a spreadsheet of steps. Art and Philosophy, you have to convince someone that you have the (a) right answer. Rex is already finding that to be more challenging than he had expected.
     
  6. chicagoliz

    chicagoliz Contributor Contributor

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    Didn't he also indicate it was an *online* class? I don't see that as relevant at all as far as assessing the value of a university or the educational value of attending. (Except insofar as to confirm that online classes are indeed inferior to the real life experience. I think online classes *can* be a good addition to a university education, and they can give you some good information if you're truly motivated to learn, and in some cases they're better than nothing. But I do not think they can truly be compared to the experience of attending a true college.)
     
  7. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    Art and philosophy don't have any answers at all. You just make **** up. It's almost universally agreed which type of majors are harder. Not that it should matter. You do what you're passionate in.
     
  8. HelloImRex

    HelloImRex Senior Member

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    1: Some science classes have only three or four tests required all semester. Its completely time management whether you decide to go to the lectures and study outside of class. Learning a process is harder than memorization and history is largely memorization. Of course some people are worse at memorization and better at logic problems like math and ochem.

    2: The problem is that difficulty is completely subjective to measure. There is a strong stereotype that liberal arts degrees are easier and less useful in getting jobs than science degrees. I've honestly never been in a circle where this assumption was seen as debatable.

    3: That's a good point.

    4: I honestly found it to be the equivalent of someone in 2080 yelling swag or yolo. That was my first impression when I saw it. It did fit a little bit better I'll admit.

    I only provided that experience because someone asked me to provide an experience. I knew it had its holes because all experiences do. We all extrapolate from a little bit of data to form opinions, that's why using personal experience as evidence is always flawed. Someone asked me to do it though, so I did. That one class is not even important in why I think what I do.

    Everyone else seems to argue against me intelligently, but you just seem emotional and erratic. The part you said about convincing someone your answer is right being harder is just absurd and that it would be hard for me to do so in a college setting is equally absurd. I'm not going to write a paper in a liberal arts class about how liberal arts degrees aren't that useful. You can pick your opinions and writing against what you think to please the teacher makes acceptance of your argument much easier. If I had argued the opposite point of view instead of being truthful about what I think I wouldn't have gotten the same reaction regardless of the construction of my argument.

    Learning a process and how to apply it correctly to a given situation is nothing like filling out a spreadsheet. Calculus, Ochem, and brain surgery are all processes in which you have to learn specific steps. At any given point there are concrete right moves and concrete wrong moves. The spreadsheet analogy just doesn't work. It works in history because you don't have to apply anything to a situation, you just have to regurgitate information you saw previously on any tests you encounter. In things like calculus, ochem, and brain surgery, you get a new model every single time and have to come up with an objectively correct answer based on previous similar data. If you're really saying that's easier than picking an opinion you know is shared by your professor and then writing a paper preaching to the choir then I just don't know if this argument is worth it with you. And please don't point out that calculus and brain surgery have two completely different difficulty levels, I know that.

    As for your wagon expression, I got what it meant, I found it odd and dismissive. There was more in my first post than a flawed if statement.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015
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  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    That really wasn't the context of your statement. (Edited to add: Hmm. It's also emotion based.)

    And your evidence for this is....? Are you under the impression that writing, good writing, writing that if it doesn't deeply impress the professor you take major hit on your grade, takes no time at all?

    Why?

    A creative writing major could say,

    "It doesn't take much to assume that what I'm doing is harder than what a person majoring in a bunch of technical classes would be doing. All that person has to do is memorize a bunch of facts. OK, sure, they have to know some techniques for using the facts--I know you have to not just know what the formula is, but how to use it. But he can read about that, or somebody can show him exactly how to use it. It's all just cookbook stuff; if you're reasonaly smart, you can just learn it."

    You'd say that that "cookbook stuff" is nonsense, right? That he doesn't understand? What makes you think that you understand what he does?

    Are you under the impression that creative writing is just a continuation of writing assignments in junior high? "Wow, most of your spelling and grammar is correct, and you wrote the required number of words! You get an A!" I really, really doubt that that's the way it works in a good program.

    Oh, so you were TRYING to make your argument emotion-based, but you're not comfortable with that? I do agree that your argument is almost entirely emotion-based, and I agree that it's not working. It's OK to give us the facts and logic now; I assume that you must have some.

    For example, to bolster your opinion about creative writing classes, you could present us with experience with creative writing classes. Experience with literature classes is really not relevant. It would still be anecdotal information, and not worth a lot, but it would be worth more than experience with someting completely unrelated.

    You made an entirely emotion-based (I'm assuming that the emotion is pride) assertion, based on comparing an area in which you have extensive experience, with an area in which you have essentially none at all. Yes, I think that the wisest thing to do would be to concede. If you're supposed to be a scientist/engineer, you should have some respect for logic and facts, and you should not make assertions that aren't backed up by those things.

    No, some people think it's wrong to make a sweeping, judgemental statement with no evidence whatsoever. Many of those people are scientists and engineers.

    Edited to add:

    Oh, my. :) You really need to give us a coherent, emotion-free argument before this will produce anything but a giggle.
     
  10. HelloImRex

    HelloImRex Senior Member

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    You asked me to construct an argument using experience in your first post. You knew it was going to likely be an emotionally based argument at that point and now you criticize it for not relying on facts.

    You criticize me for not providing evidence on a comparison in difficulties. Difficulty is subjective to begin with, difficulty is in fact assigned by how difficult society generally considers something to be.

    Here's a little challenge. Find me some hard evidence that running a mile is easier than solving a theoretical physics problem.

    Sure, less people solve theoretical physics problems, but maybe the outcome of running a mile is more rewarding. Running a mile burns more energy in joules than solving a theoretical physics problem. The theoretical physics problem is suddenly looking like it could be easier. What, you said you ran a mile once and it was really easy? Well it was obvious you were on a downhill slope and were oxygen doping like Lance Armstrong before hand, of course it was easier. Also, Stephen Hawking who is an expert can attest to the fact that running a mile for him is harder than solving a theoretical physics problem.

    That can't even be argued in the way you are expecting so I guess claiming that the theoretical physics problem is harder is a sweeping judgmental statement.

    Some of you should apply to law school with the skills you've demonstrated here.
     
  11. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    That's a pretty strange universe you're living in. Do you have anything to back up your claims of universal agreement? Obviously the posts on this thread suggest the exact opposite...
     
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  12. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I applied to law school and graduated from it, too!

    And while I was there, I learned about how to make a good argument, and what evidence is appropriate to back up that argument.

    Do you have any damn evidence? I did enjoy the line about 'somebody somewhere probably has some, and it probably matches what I'm saying', but obviously your wishful thinking isn't too compelling.
     
  13. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    ?? No, I thought it would be based on facts. Facts about a single experience, but, facts. And in fact, you did present facts. However, in a discussion about creative writing, you present facts about a class that was not creative writing. They were not relevant facts. I took the bait and discussed them anyway, but they weren't relevant.

    What? The first clause of that last sentence isn't translatable by me. The second clause, I would disagree with. If society as a whole thinks that it's easy to play a Beethoven symphony, society as a whole is wrong.

    Why would I do that? I haven't made the assertion that it's easier, so I have no obligation to come up with the evidence. I may have an opinion about which one is easier, but if I'm not prepared to dig up the evidence, and if I haven't done both, then I have no grounds whatsoever for an opinion.

    Making any claim without evidence is an unsupported judgmental statement. Whether it's "sweeping" would depend on whether it criticizes a substantial portion of a person's life accomplishments, or addresses something smaller.

    You seem to be making the argument that it's hard to justify statements of fact, and that therefore you should not be required to justify them. That suggests that it's essential that you make the statements. It's not. If you don't want to be challenged on them, don't make them.

    ... I'm trying to say something without being too snarky, and I'm struggling. Pretty much, what I want to say is that if your science/engineering/technical degree didn't arm you with enough logic and communications skills to have this argument, I'm worried about the state of those sorts of degrees these days.
     
  14. HelloImRex

    HelloImRex Senior Member

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    Now I feel less stupid about falling on my face earlier in this argument and I feel this confirms I learn more here than I would from writing a paper in a college setting. I'm arguing against multiple people and one of them is trained to argue for a living. I really do feel privileged by this experience, that's no joke, learning from people who are clearly better than you is a fortunate situation.

    As for the evidence, how difficult something is doesn't have a precise measurement associated with it in the sense was are assessing difficulty. In physics you can accurately measure how much work was done, but associating amount of energy with difficulty doesn't work in this situation. Brute force is considered easier than a clever, lower energy solution in many cases. Maybe you could measure what parts of the brain are active when people do coursework from different classes, but that doesn't mean one is harder. There is no way in current times to accurately measure how hard it is to create one pathway in the brain versus another. Therefore, difficulty as we are talking about it is simply what people view to be hard. So I guess I'm off to find a statistic of a random sample being asked if a liberal arts or science/engineering degree is harder. Somehow I don't think you will find that satisfying evidence though.
     
  15. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Why do you care? Is it that important to you to prove that you're smarter than some specific group of people? Sure, you could spend a few years analyzing every kind of degree, every school, and come up with an approximate conclusion, one that wouldn't apply to any specific pair of degrees, because your data would be full of outliers.

    Wouldn't it be easier to just say that you don't know, and move on? Wouldn't it be easier to admit that the world is full of things, including lots of smart people, that you don't happen to know anything about?
     
  16. HelloImRex

    HelloImRex Senior Member

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    Facts about a single experience are irrelevant in science when accounted after the fact. There aren't any exceptions to that. I know that, so if I'm asked to provide experience that I know cannot possibly validate an argument because of the argument's nature, the experience I provide isn't going to have much effort in it to sound like its valid. Its not, the only way to make it sound valid is to use credentials or emotions to make it sound better which both inevitably lead to logical fallacies.

    Why would you do that? You are asking for something that makes no sense given the context. You seem to think I'm obligated on a more intricate argument, so why not try it on a simple argument with a clear answer to make sure it is in fact possible in the first place. Or do you not care why I am unable to provide evidence?

    You can make the same type of argument where you can't provide any concrete evidence. Take "Killing is wrong.", tell someone to give evidence and you just get a mess. Does that mean you can't say killing is wrong without being sweeping and judgmental? If you are sweeping and judgmental are you wrong?

    My degree deals with the measurable, how difficult something is just isn't something that can be evaluated with precision. Does that mean nothing is more difficult than anything else? I'd like to think no, but if your answer is yes it becomes a purely philosophical debate. Asking for evidence in a philosophical debate is silly.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015
  17. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    @HelloImRex
    Listen, you're embarrassing yourself by even arguing this. Most know that, as a general rule, your assumption regarding liberal arts is more or less correct. Just be confident in your assertion and move on.
     
  18. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    FYI, I want to make one quick addendum to the posts made above. The distinction in difficulty between majors erodes at the graduate level. It would be impossible to say, objectively, all around which field is harder when we're talking PhD, Masters, and career wise.
     
  19. Jack Asher

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    No, no one knows that. I'm pretty sure from the context you've never been to a college class. If you wanted to convince someone you might one to use a few less quantifiers. "A general rule", "more or less". We aren't interested in anecdotes from someone with no experience, as everyone on this thread is pointing out. Confidence in the assertion is ungrounded, and wrong.

    Hey! Here's another link to the Dunning-Krueger effect!
     
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  20. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    Jack, next time I go to Denver to visit my sister, you and I are grabbing a beer.
     
  21. Jack Asher

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    A root beer maybe? Because I don't drink. And I hate root beer. Have to pass on that one.
     
  22. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    I hate beer, too. And soda. We're still meeting.
     
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  23. HelloImRex

    HelloImRex Senior Member

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    Yeah, I'm taking number's advice.

    From this post I learned how people can set a trap when asking for experience in a situation where its not applicable. I think this type of thing is unorthodox as an exercise, but actually improves my writing. Thank you guys again.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, well you won't fool me twice.
    I always liked that one no matter if other people found it dumb.
     
  24. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    There's a spectrum of proof, from "I have absolute documented incontrovertible proof" to "I have no evidence whatsoever, and for that matter I don't even have any information about the subject."

    The fact that it's essentially impossible to argue from the top doesn't justify arguing from the bottom. You are arguing from the bottom with regard to creative writing, and just barely above that with regard to liberal arts in general.

    If you had personally received both a creative writing degree and a technical degree, that would lift you somewhat from the bottom. If they were both well-regarded degrees, that would lift you higher. If your spouse or a good friend had a creative writing degree, that would lift you slightly off the bottom. I was hoping that you had some experience or evidence that would lift you off the bottom.

    If you can't reach a place on that spectrum that justifies an argument, the logical thing is to refrain from making an argument at all.

    Logically, you should have learned that when you make a sweeping statement, people assume that you have some semblance of backing for it. To say that they're unfair to ask for that backing is an extremely emotional argument, not worthy of a scientist.

    You are arguing very, very emotionally.
     
  25. Jack Asher

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    You told us that creative writing was easy.
    We asked you to back that up.
    You provided an anecdote about a single easy class.
    We pointed out that basing your opinion an a single easy class was very stupid.
    You said that the example was very poor, but that it somehow backs up your original premise.
    Trap!

    When I look at it diagrammed like that I can see how clever we were in setting up this villainous trap. And all that you had to do was make very stupid arguments to fall in!
     
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  26. Megalith

    Megalith Contributor Contributor

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    you know that burden of proof is a double edged sword? Because when you ask for it, and they don't have it but it really exists, it makes you look like the jerk. Anyone who actually pays attention to this stuff rather than taking it from some unreliable source knows that college degrees are getting less and less valuable every year. Here some statistics from 2010 just to start this off..

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/20/only-27-percent-of-college-grads-have-a-job-related-to-their-major/ (Posted on the washing post, referencing a study by Jaison Abel and Richard Dietz of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, for the Bureau of the Census.)

    From this chart, not only does 27% get jobs related to their major, but only 62% get a job that requires a degree.

    "Look back at the oldest of the data. In the mid-60s, prior to the great push to increase the number of people going to college with federal student aid, the average earnings gap was quite small. Up until that time, very few good careers were foreclosed to Americans who didn’t have college credentials. For reasons of professional licensure, some fields required college degrees—law and medicine for example—but otherwise young people who had good high school educations could get into entry level jobs in finance, insurance, manufacturing, hospitality, and most other businesses.

    After the government started vigorously promoting “access” to college, however, something changed in the labor market: credential inflation. Employers, facing a market in which more and more job applicants had college credentials, began to screen out those who didn’t. (One reason for that was the Supreme Court’s 1971 ruling in Griggs v. Duke Power, the subject of this Pope Center paper. That decision made aptitude testing legally dangerous for employers, so they increasingly turned to using college credentials as a proxy.)" - Forbes

    People believing that college is better than not is dangerous belief which is hurting our employment market. And people end up with super expensive papers which are only truly useful less than half the time. So those of us who are smart of enough to realize the fraud, and those that fell for it, are the victims of this world wide epidemic.

    "Unfortunately, the authors never ponder this paradox: How can it be that college education is getting more and more valuable in financial rewards when there is abundant evidence that many students learn little while in college?

    In their book Academically Adrift, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa quantified what numerous professors have said for years—students can pass many college courses with minimal effort owing to falling academic standards and the erosion of the curriculum. Falling academic standards and declining learning by students seems clearly inconsistent with the notion that degrees are becoming increasingly beneficial.

    The solution to the paradox is that the gap is widening because credential inflation is steadily wiping out good careers for people who don’t have college degrees." - Forbes

    A philosopher once said, "You can learn everything about anything by staring at a screen." The sound, visuals, and text of information being received were enough to tell you everything you could know, compared to any other method. Honestly it is to each his own, and different strokes for different folks jazz, but consider the Lost Boy story of Wreybies.(2nd page of this thread) He gives plenty of real life example of people following the flow and letting others make the biggest decisions of their lives. If people weren't being caressed into the college life so biasedly, then maybe the economical mess this World is in wouldn't be so dramatic. there are plenty of things people can do to fix the problems of this world, and not going to college is one of them. Affordable or not. But I do agree with Charisma in that it is a unique experience which can expand world views. A conglomeration of races is a good environment for that sort of thing. But college isn't the only way to get it. Here we are, from all over the World, arguing about this subject over the interbutts. That is really all I needed to expand my world view ten fold and growing. Here from my desk I can learn just about anything from tons of different sources with different credentials. And because of that, I not only see college as useless, but to some extent detrimental.

    Quotes from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeleef/2014/04/21/college-degrees-arent-becoming-more-valuable-their-glut-confines-people-without-them-to-a-shrinking-low-pay-sector-of-the-market/
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015

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