Tuesday, 10 February 2004

The value of college

Dean Esmay, who’s gone (back?) to college to get a degree so he can go back to working in the same job he used to be employed in before the tech bust, wonders if society overvalues the B.A. and B.S. degrees these days. Several bloggers have responded, including Dr. Joyner and Dr. Taylor. Kevin McGehee points to the dumbing down of high school as part of the cause, and certainly that is part of it; I think at some level, the creation of “honors” programs and the like in high school has not so much resulted in a better education for the upper tier of college-bound kids (although I suspect it has to an extent) as it has a lowering of expectations for the rest. And, to some extent, a lot of colleges have brought it on themselves by instituting remedial programs rather than requiring students who don’t have the necessary skills to succed in a four-year institution to attend a community college before coming for their undergraduate education.

On the other hand, while I wasn’t exactly thrilled about some of the classes I took as an undergraduate at the time, particularly in the sciences (I loathed physics with a passion, particularly mechanics), they gave me a lot of the background I’ve needed to succeed later on in life. Granted, until two months ago what I was doing in life was learning more stuff so I could be prepared to teach undergraduates and do cutting-edge research in political science, but I think a lot of that training would have been valuable no matter what I decided to do with my life.