In my family, college is an expectation. Preschool, elementary, middle school, high school…then college. Which college? Doesn’t matter, so long as it’s not in the ghetto, not in the middle of nowhere, and doesn’t put me (well, my parents) in debt for the next thirty years of my life. Accordingly, I applied for the University of Kentucky, received a fairly decent scholarship, and started my post-secondary education.
But honestly, is college for everyone? I enjoy academic life; I’m a nerd. I love learning, even if it won’t exactly help me out in my future career. I’m interested in a variety of topics and love the choices I have at UK. My chosen career path requires a bachelor’s degree (actually, it requires a Master’s), and I’m glad it does. I wouldn’t want somebody without an education working with MY children in speech therapy. However, there are many careers that simply don’t require a bachelor’s degree; at least, not a liberal education that “normal” universities provide.
All the general education requirements are simply a waste of time for people who want to get out in the work force, but must first acquire a degree. You’re forking over tens of thousands of dollars for a piece of paper that says “Hey, hire me! I know what I’m doing!”
An article by Charles Murray (from 2008) inspired my ramblings, plus the complaints of my boyfriend that college is making him less intelligent. To be honest, he’s probably right. If he were on his own, he could be learning first-hand what he wants to do with the rest of his life: software engineering. He’s already had internship offers because he’s good at what he does. But to fit in with society’s requirements, and because he probably won’t be another Steve Jobs, he has to fulfill the general studies requirements, take basic (dated) computer science classes, and listen to professors who know less than he does.
Where has education gone wrong? It became ritualized. Teach to the test, get the kids to pass. Don’t actually LEARN. Give them what they need to “succeed” in this society, and let them go. But drain their bank accounts first.