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(Wall Street Journal)   Seven years of college down the drain   (wsj.com) divider line 318
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39018 clicks; posted to Main » on 14 Aug 2008 at 2:10 AM (5 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2008-08-14 04:48:51 AM
I give this thread a 2.3 for now. By the midday we should be looking at a 3.5.
 
2008-08-14 04:49:47 AM
I recently came to the realization that the whole point of college is so you can get a job where you don't have to stand all day.

I am well aware that the English degree (along with the biology minor) I'm pursuing will probably prove utterly useless in my future job hunts, but the fact is, I like reading and analyzing poetry (especially eighteenth century British poetry). It may not be practical, but a lot of the "useful" degrees would drive me insane if I were to pursue them.

I've long since accepted that I'm going to be in debt until I'm 40, but I couldn't care less.
 
2008-08-14 04:52:11 AM
mercurial: OMG so unbelievable! I've talked to doctors on admission boards for professional schools. They especially scrutinize Stanford applicants because half the time, their GPAs are not representative of their intelligence or studiousness.

Is this before or after they put the applications from top schools on a separate pile to be looked at first?

Then again GPAs mean nothing since classes differ greatly in difficulty which is probably the real reason they scrutinize them. Not really fair to penalize people simply because they took a class that wasn't a walk in the park.

I've heard stories of Stanford students in the midst of failing a course and coercing the professor into giving them As. Many Stanford professors feel a lot of pressure from parents and students to hand out As.

Not really or probably not more than any other school. Well unless you count certain well ranked business schools were nothing short of murder would get you below a B.

And I'm not speaking for all Stanford students, but a lot of people pay their way into that school with mommy and daddy's money, especially with "contributions."

No they don't, if you want to disagree than go right ahead but apparently your view is based on a bunch of movies.
 
2008-08-14 04:57:54 AM
exiguous: mercurial: exiguous: mercurial: OMG so unbelievable! I've talked to doctors on admission boards for professional schools. They especially scrutinize Stanford applicants because half the time, their GPAs are not representative of their intelligence or studiousness. I've heard stories of Stanford students in the midst of failing a course and coercing the professor into giving them As. Many Stanford professors feel a lot of pressure from parents and students to hand out As.

And I'm not speaking for all Stanford students, but a lot of people pay their way into that school with mommy and daddy's money, especially with "contributions."

I'm sorry to hear your application was rejected.

Oooh, trollish! Sorry bub, I didn't apply to Stanfurd.

Not trolling. You're the one who went on a ridiculous rant based on a few case singularities and hearsay. Probabilities simply favored the reason for your jumpin' on the Stanford-hating train was having received the thin envelope.


Where did you go to college?

JavaSchools are a plague and should be burned to the ground to prevent infection.

I know next to nothing about Stanford or its CS program, but Paul Graham sure as hell made sure I knew about JavaSchools. I'd say that a degree from a JavaSchool is by itself suspect, since the idea of the institution is to shift the focus of the program to material which is both easier to digest and more immediately rewarding. The point is to encourage more enrollment in CS programs and increase retention rates.

This leads to people who can perhaps assemble a decent Java GUI, but who have little to no experience with pointers, let alone many advanced concepts.

While I think "fear of Java" is overblown and somewhat elitist, I find the very idea of a JavaSchool frightening, and I've spoken to a hell of a lot of people doing CS who just aren't really learning it very well. They sort of get token assignments from professors that almost unanimously seem geared towards using a specific feature of Java itself, and not really displaying the true innards of programming or computer science.

Then again, I'm an EE major, so I'm sort of getting the whole package. I feel that a real computer expert should always understand the machine itself, not just the abstractions necessary to manipulate it.
 
2008-08-14 04:58:10 AM
I'm horribly disappointed in all of you that I'm the first to mention this:

static.flickr.com

Tommy: Did you hear I finally graduated?
Richard: Yeah, and just a shade under a decade too, all right.
Tommy: You know a lot of people go to college for seven years.
Richard: I know, they're called doctors.
 
2008-08-14 05:04:50 AM
better headline: 20 years of schooling and they put you on the day shift.
 
2008-08-14 05:05:58 AM
2and4: FTA: "Most important in an increasingly class-riven America: The demonstration of competency in business administration or European history would, appropriately, take on similarities to the demonstration of competency in cooking or welding."

Looks like the author and editor got a "certification" in journalism.

/Though I agree with the article


Except there's nothing wrong there. Riven is a word, and works better than 'driven' (what I think you thought the author meant) would in that context. It's a nice, almost-forgotten word that at least got used by a very pretty game from the 90s.
 
2008-08-14 05:13:23 AM
Gyrfalcon: I've been saying this for 25 years. Ever since the public school system decided that EVERYONE, regardless of aptitude or desire, should go to college after high school.

Now we're at the same place we were 30 years ago: in 1975, for most jobs, you needed a High School Diploma to be employed at an entry-level job. In 2008, you need a Bachelor's Degree to be employed at the same entry-level job. Same job=bigger debt because now you have student loans to pay off. But same job doesn't pay more money just because you have a degree (like it did when I graduated the first time).

But what do we know? It's not like we've been to college or anything.



Maybe forcing people into debt before they start working is the whole idea.....
 
2008-08-14 05:15:43 AM
/went to school on my parents money
//got me where I am today (literally. no degree = no visa)
//Thanks mom, dad.
 
2008-08-14 05:19:11 AM
crazypeltast52: Buoyancy tests to find the weight of an airplane?

Stick it in frictionless state, apply known force, measure resulting acceleration.


How is this diffrent than sticking it on a scale? You are placing it in a known acceleration (9.8m/s^2) and measuring resulting force. I think that any solution is a result of fixing one of the variables in the F=MA equation.
 
2008-08-14 05:21:11 AM
Nonesuch:

Maybe forcing people into debt before they start working is the whole idea.....


ya think?
 
2008-08-14 05:31:46 AM
JericoPaladin: Where did you go to college?

JavaSchools are a plague and should be burned to the ground to prevent infection.

I know next to nothing about Stanford or its CS program, but Paul Graham sure as hell made sure I knew about JavaSchools. I'd say that a degree from a JavaSchool is by itself suspect, since the idea of the institution is to shift the focus of the program to material which is both easier to digest and more immediately rewarding. The point is to encourage more enrollment in CS programs and increase retention rates.

This leads to people who can perhaps assemble a decent Java GUI, but who have little to no experience with pointers, let alone many advanced concepts.

While I think "fear of Java" is overblown and somewhat elitist, I find the very idea of a JavaSchool frightening, and I've spoken to a hell of a lot of people doing CS who just aren't really learning it very well. They sort of get token assignments from professors that almost unanimously seem geared towards using a specific feature of Java itself, and not really displaying the true innards of programming or computer science.

Then again, I'm an EE major, so I'm sort of getting the whole package. I feel that a real computer expert should always understand the machine itself, not just the abstractions necessary to manipulate it.


Uh, Penn '05, Sorbonne '06.

Well, I don't know much about CS or EE programs (not my field), but I agree with what you're saying here.

I just found it preposterous that we've got a thread full of stanford-bashing conspiracy theorists who claim the university and the CS program are terrible, worthless and a scam, despite 1) Stanford CS consistently topping rankings done by independent bodies and 2) Stanford CS students being highly highly valued by Google, Yahoo, and others.
 
2008-08-14 05:31:54 AM
Timdesuyo: /went to school on my parents money
//got me where I am today (literally. no degree = no visa)
//Thanks mom, dad.


H1-B?

respect. that shiat takes a buttload of work, is hard to come by, and they make it harder every year.

/resident alien
//got married while on F-1 OPT after MA graduation
///nannu nannu
 
2008-08-14 05:33:12 AM
bluedotgrrl: /resident alien
//got married while on F-1 OPT after MA graduation
///nannu nannu


Damn foreigners.

/looks around
//oh shiat
///why dont people speak my language when I am in their country?
 
2008-08-14 05:36:16 AM
stellar_wench: Bathia_Mapes:

Even those that are blind, deaf, mentally handicapped, etc? Even those living in parts of the planet so remote that they literally have no contact with the outside world (and there are tribes like this in areas of the Amazon, etc.)?

I think that there are some blind and or deaf programmers who would like to have a word with you.

/Seriously, have you never worked with someone with a handicap?


Yes, as a matter of fact I have. But you're still going to have those who don't have the intelligence to learn what you're wanting to teach them.
 
2008-08-14 05:39:18 AM
jamesishere: Or understand college is an experience and accept your future career at McD's.

Why, talk about some lovely false dichotomies there.
 
2008-08-14 05:40:54 AM
stellar_wench: I think that there are some blind and or deaf programmers who would like to have a word with you.

They just can't find you.
 
2008-08-14 05:41:44 AM
I already have a job lined up and haven't even finished my BA yet, so I'm really getting a kick out of these replies.

Co-op education (1.5 years of paid internships + 3.5 coursework) makes all the difference. I can't imagine going to school for 4 years, then trying to enter the job market cold. Anyone with an English, Philosophy, or other bullshiat liberal arts degree will tell you the same thing once they hit the real world and realize they aren't employable.
 
2008-08-14 05:43:22 AM
matthew_tray: One other thought as well that I don't think has been mentioned yet. There are wayyyyy too many colleges nowadays. About a year ago, I was dead set on getting into law school. One of the things, though, regarding law school, and I found this to be true, in general, is that the name brand helps way more than you can possibly think or imagine.

For example, I graduated from UT-Austin and currently live here in Austin. We have two other colleges here in town, St. Edward's, a very small Catholic university, and Huston-Tillotson, an even smaller African-American school. Most people outside of Austin have never heard of these schools, and guess what? Neither have employers. Too many colleges have diluted what getting a college degree is supposed to mean or what it was supposed to mean. Now just about anyone from anywhere can get a degree with the proliferation of colleges everyone and online. That, and the fact, that we have a number of schools here in TX that I swear would accept a corpse if it had a SS#.

/By the way, got a 148 on my LSAT the 1st time
//Got a 149 the 2nd
///Gave up the law school idea after the 2nd time

btw how many farking lawyers do we need anyway. we are eat up with them. That's one of the problems with this country, they keep on finding new things to sue for to keep themselves busy. hence the gay marriages, all the lawyers are salavating over the gay divorces. we need to cull the herd(lawyers)fark john edwards too.
 
2008-08-14 05:44:44 AM
BokChoy: . Anyone with an English, Philosophy, or other bullshiat liberal arts degree will tell you the same thing once they hit the real world and realize they aren't employable.

The highest paid person from my class at high school would like a word with you. She has a BA in English, that's it. And with your attitude, you deserve nothing better than digging ditches, since obviously school has been completely lost on you.
 
2008-08-14 05:45:26 AM
If you lack the essential motivation to make something of yourself, then by all means, go for training. You can lock in your future without having to really think on your feet.

If, on the other hand, you want to experience life and consider your job to be a means to an end, rather than an end in and of itself, then this whole "worthless" degree crap is...well, crap.

I have a liberal arts degree. I wanted it. Why? Because I was running a record label, writing, and working for bands on the side. I could use real world experience for credit, and conversely, I could learn things about my field while going to school. I've done quite well with it, thanks.

A focused, motivated individual is a focused, motivated individual. Their degree/certification/whatever, whether it's in rocket science or basket weaving, is secondary. A bright person with a liberal arts degree will ultimately be worth more than a dull person with an engineering degree.

But hey, you wanna fight over who gets to be second banana, be my guest.

/damn, I'm cranky today
 
2008-08-14 05:46:23 AM
SgtArkie: how many farking lawyers do we need anyway

We have too many lawyers, but too few people who know and understand the law. Alas by making law a graduate course of study and making it real spendy, we'll keep it that way.
 
2008-08-14 05:46:53 AM
Danger Avoid Death: JericoPaladin: Humans certainly are capable of that, and nothing will stop us from being forgetful, ignorant, or apathetic if we so choose.

I can't remember if I just don't know, or I just don't care.


Thread's over. You win.
 
2008-08-14 05:49:24 AM
BokChoy: I can't imagine going to school for 4 years, then trying to enter the job market cold. Anyone with an English, Philosophy, or other bullshiat liberal arts degree will tell you the same thing once they hit the real world and realize they aren't employable.

Philosophy degree here and now I am a shipbroker...
 
2008-08-14 05:53:39 AM
socialpoison: Sometimes you need the degree. If you're in software, you either need to have years of experience (like a lot of the "older" generation of programmers) or you need that degree. Plain and simple.

I don't think I saw any entry level software dev positions that didn't require a BS in Computer Science (or equivalent) when I was doing the job hunt thing.


And if you went back to college and graduated at 40 like I did? No one even wants to talk to you.
 
2008-08-14 05:54:15 AM
2and4: FTA: "Most important in an increasingly class-riven America: The demonstration of competency in business administration or European history would, appropriately, take on similarities to the demonstration of competency in cooking or welding."

Looks like the author and editor got a "certification" in journalism.

/Though I agree with the article


"Riven" as in "rift." He didn't mean "driven" and leave off the "d".

/Dropped out unintentionally, now I'm an editor. Seriously.
 
2008-08-14 05:56:37 AM
zero point zero
 
2008-08-14 06:05:05 AM
I dropped out of college after the first year simply because I didn't want a $60,000 debt right after finishing that I'd have to pay off for the next 10-15 years. This system is terrible and does nothing but make drones. If you're looking at $60,000 in debt, what do you do? You immediately go out find a job, put on your shackles and bend over because you now have no choice but to keep working so you can pay your bills.

So how did that dropping out of college thing work for me? Well...I'd say it was the best decision I ever made....During the second semester of my first year I decided that I would not continue with it. It seemed, like the article pointed out, to be a waste of time. So, about a year after I dropped out, I went to China, got an EFL certificate and started teaching English there. I lived and worked in China for 20 months and learned Chinese. During this time I also met an awesome Russian/Ukrainian girl who I asked to marry me (3 years ago today now to think about it...).

Then I came to the Ukraine to be with her and I've been teaching English (and learning Russian [among other languages]) here for the past 2.5 years, getting married in the process. So, here I am - a seeming impossibility. I've got about 4 years of experience teaching English, lived and worked in two separate countries and no college degree...
 
2008-08-14 06:06:04 AM
this calls for a tOgA pArTy.
 
2008-08-14 06:09:23 AM
socialpoison: Sometimes you need the degree. If you're in software, you either need to have years of experience (like a lot of the "older" generation of programmers) or you need that degree. Plain and simple.

The old way, where a CS degree would work, but it wasn't the only way, was probably better. I can remember not very many years ago where if you were good, a few good bits of programming put on a couple floppies and brought in to an interview would do the trick. Of course, the hiring was being done by programmers, who knew good code when they saw it.
 
2008-08-14 06:09:37 AM
FOOLS ! THATS WHY ULTRON WENT TO HVAC SCHOOL !
 
2008-08-14 06:10:33 AM
FTFA: Certification tests would disadvantage just one set of people: Students who have gotten into well-known traditional schools, but who are coasting through their years in college and would score poorly on a certification test. Disadvantaging them is an outcome devoutly to be wished.

i526.photobucket.com
 
2008-08-14 06:11:56 AM
TenDeuChen: Then I came to the Ukraine to be with her and I've been teaching English (and learning Russian [among other languages]) here for the past 2.5 years, getting married in the process. So, here I am - a seeming impossibility. I've got about 4 years of experience teaching English, lived and worked in two separate countries and no college degree...

All well and good til you come back home, all my TEFL friends who farked around in cool countries are having a hard time finding jobs back home. I wouldn't regret it though, those kind of experiences are worth having a rougher time finding a job.
 
2008-08-14 06:20:17 AM
The real reason that college is a waste of time for most people seeking a liberal arts degree is that they don't take their studies seriously. It would be far better if schools attacked grade inflation and made degrees actually worth something.

Inventing tests for certificates would mean professors would be expected to teach toward those instead of teaching students to think critically, something they should have learned earlier in life but which doesn't happen because elementary and secondary school teachers are expected to teach for tests instead of actually educating students.

The point of an education in the liberal arts isn't to prove to some employer that a certain set of facts has been learned in each of the disciplines studied.

What's been lost is the understanding that classes not directly relevant to a specialized major are critically important in developing well-rounded thinkers, who can then take these skills and apply them to more specific disciplines that may or may not need formal course work.
 
2008-08-14 06:21:46 AM
Well...

If you can do binary math in your head and understand the concept of "next hop", you can pass some certifications that will net you six figures every time.

I just didn't have the patience to complete a college curriculum - I had too many races at TMS to go to, to many trips to Mexico, to many road trips through the US to take on, and too many herds of Caribou in Alaska that required my attention.

But, I did have the patience to learn a few key concepts and learned a foreign language in my car going to and from work, and learned IPv6, routing protocols, and access-lists on numerous plane flights and hotel rooms.

Now I'm a titled VP at a suprisingly large company, and I have an unimaginably fat salary, 7 weeks of vacation per year, and quarterly bonuses.

And we're still growing. Amazing.

And I still get calls from recruiters. Yes, I know the right people, and yes, I'm a little lucky, but most of this is the result of me finding and niche that played to my strengths and maximizing the potential benefits. I'd like to think this type of opportunity is available to all of us if we are willing to suffer a sub-mtv lifestyle for a couple years and find our occupational wheelhouse.

We can't all win American Idol you know. Although I wish Antonella Barba was still on TV.
 
2008-08-14 06:44:31 AM
WhyteRaven74: BokChoy: . Anyone with an English, Philosophy, or other bullshiat liberal arts degree will tell you the same thing once they hit the real world and realize they aren't employable.

The highest paid person from my class at high school would like a word with you. She has a BA in English, that's it. And with your attitude, you deserve nothing better than digging ditches, since obviously school has been completely lost on you.


Yeah? Good for her. I'll bet her profession has absolutely nothing to do with her English degree. Some people can draw on other skills besides research paper writing, and be successful. Which makes the degree just as pointless, except as a shiny star on your resume.

My roomate is getting an English degree. He has no job prospects now beyond shiatty, dead-end summer jobs; the degree will be, by his own admission, useless to him. A classmate in my current major is now in his eight or ninth year of school because, the first time around he went for English, and it got him jack shiat. 4 years of college down the drain.
 
2008-08-14 06:47:14 AM
BokChoy: . Which makes the degree just as pointless, except as a shiny star on your resume.

If you think any degree is pointless, do the world a favor, go dig ditches.
 
2008-08-14 06:52:03 AM
BokChoy: Yeah? Good for her. I'll bet her profession has absolutely nothing to do with her English degree. Some people can draw on other skills besides research paper writing, and be successful. Which makes the degree just as pointless, except as a shiny star on your resume.

The point of a liberal arts degree is for your own personal fulfillment, its not supposed to be trade school.
 
2008-08-14 07:07:40 AM
afterall not all little snowflakes get tho brain math scientists. Someone has to work at the titty bars,dig ditches, fast food ect....oh wait we got mexicans
 
2008-08-14 07:11:38 AM
afterall not all little snowflakes get thoto be brain math scientists. Someone has to work at the titty bars,dig ditches, fast food ect....oh wait we got mexicans

///fixed that for me
 
2008-08-14 07:19:26 AM
When I went to college, the first day we were pointedly told that the diploma would not get us a job or be necessarily relevant to what we end up doing. It was just proof that we had some intelligence and capacity to learn. Turned-out to be true.
 
2008-08-14 07:21:50 AM
The key is to restrict the market for colleges. only 10% of the population should be going to college at all. Grand the top 10% of each graduating high school class (that means 10% of Stuffy-prep high and the top 10% of Jackson Heights U ) a license to attend college before 21.

Employ everyone else immediately. the whitebread slackers who want to get stoned, drunk and laid for four years can do it while living in their parent's basement.

When the 90% reach 21, offer them what is effectively a starvation grant to attend college with housing included in the grant. Yes, you can go to college, but as an adult with some kind of work experience, not as a kid with boozing and partying and your first independence from mummy and daddy conflated with the whole thing.

Yes, this effectively gives the top 10% of students a huge leg up by both having wiser and older peers in University AND giving them a whole three or four years to advance their careers. What it will largely squelch is the favoritism of bedroom communities and prep schools. College will largely become an adult, not a teen, phenomenon, shifting from keggers and spring break-centered calenders to student-driven classes and degree structures pointed at real world job skills.

Additionally, it will vastly improve the quality of high schools as millions of parents, realizing that their snowflakes will have to get jobs on their HIGH SCHOOL educations, start pushing for vocational training and real logic, language and rhetoric classes. The Desire to push out 'troubled' students will reverse, as they will effectively grant more people that precious license, and it will stop degre inflation as more employers see 21 year olds with 3 or 4 years of experience in the workforce.
 
2008-08-14 07:26:06 AM
lilplatinum: The point of a liberal arts degree is for your own personal fulfillment, its not supposed to be trade school.

Then why do schools and employers keep perpetrating the idea that it's critical to being a bank manager or a project manager?

Fortunately, I am in a tech field, so I can ask people if they can name six prime numbers, four search methods of an array and the difference between encapsulation and polymorphism and pick the losers out right away. ENGINEERING is not a trade school product, nor is Medicine, Law, Math, Economics, or Science. They are technical degrees.

BAs are nice , and should exist but need to be in a totally different class than a BS degree.
 
2008-08-14 07:34:11 AM
I have a job that required a BS, but I haven't finished my degree, so I got a kick out of these replies.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2008-08-14 07:45:05 AM
As somebody who managed to get a job without a piece of paper saying I was qualified to do it, I'm getting a kick out of this article.
 
2008-08-14 07:50:38 AM
One professor at my college put it this way: "A degree gets your foot in the door, nothing more."

That even rhymes. I have my M.A. and I have a good job, but what he said is totally true. You have to perform/do well at your position, because no amount of degrees will impress people enough if you do nothing at work.

Unless of course you work for the government.
 
2008-08-14 07:51:59 AM
rubi_con_man: The key is to restrict the market for colleges. only 10% of the population should be going to college at all. Grand the top 10% of each graduating high school class (that means 10% of Stuffy-prep high and the top 10% of Jackson Heights U ) a license to attend college before 21.

Bullshiat, its a free market and colleges can accept as they like.. People can get out of college what they want, and if they want to piss away 60 grand getting stoned for 4 years it is their perogative. I wouldn't have wasted my youth working my ass off for an engineering degree, I know that much.
 
2008-08-14 07:55:35 AM
rubi_con_man: Fortunately, I am in a tech field, so I can ask people if they can name six prime numbers, four search methods of an array and the difference between encapsulation and polymorphism and pick the losers out right away. ENGINEERING is not a trade school product, nor is Medicine, Law, Math, Economics, or Science. They are technical degrees.

BAs are nice , and should exist but need to be in a totally different class than a BS degree.


I agree, technical schools should exist for the purpose of getting jobs, that way they can leave out the useless math and science requirements for the people that go to school to learn what interests them..
 
2008-08-14 07:58:46 AM
rubi_con_man

Furthermore, in societies where school is far more specialized, like here in Germany, you are funneled into a career and have limited options for change. That pretty much sucks. Sure my BA and MA aren't specialized, but I can work in any number of fields. Its amusing to watch my CS and Engineering friends who worked harder for less money.
 
2008-08-14 08:03:13 AM
Zero point zero.


Daniel Simpson Day... has no grade point average
 
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