Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Hot Under the Scholar

College is an interesting idea on paper. It seems like the natural progression in becoming a knowledgeable adult. You go to elementary school to learn the basics and take naps, go to high school to learn the intermediates and try to get laid, go to college and forget the intermediates and take naps while still trying to get laid; you graduate and get a job: the road to success. Or is it?

College is honestly a bill of goods. We're told "You go to college, you get a good job." It creates a sad sense of entitlement where people believe they deserve a college education and in turn, deserve a good job. We treat physically laborious, "blue-collar" jobs as a sign of failure, and that if you have one you aren't really working hard enough. I mean, it's not like there are college educated people working part time jobs, right? We talk about how important it is to have access to education, but confuse the difference between access and need. Should people, if willing, be able to get access to substantial higher education? Yes of course! Does everyone need or deserve it? Nope.

Picture Related
Historically, Universities were institutions in design where only the foremost minds in Medicine, Law, and Theology gathered to brag about who was smarter and sell their knowledge to the highest bidder. If you wanted to learn how to be a doctor, a clergymen, or a attorney, you sought out a university. Literally everyone else was an apprentice of some sort. If you wanted to be a knight, you would squire for a knight, carrying his shit around until he was slain and you picked up his arms. If you wanted to be a black smith, you would follow some dude named Smith, carrying his shit around until he died and left his business to you. Generally, getting a job without higher education involved waiting for the person ahead of you to die.

Other than the copious amount of death, nothing much has changed. While we as a species overall have gained more knowledge and technologies, an individual's capacity for knowledge can be just as abysmal now as it was then. Just like there was someone who was doomed to shovel shit until they died of the plague back in ye olde times, there's some poor sob who will be mopping pissy bathroom floors at the Cubs Stadium at 3 AM.

Some people do not have the capacity for knowledge overall, let alone specific schools of thought, that no number of classes can fix. There are things that I will for the life of me never understand, and there are things that I will pick up and retain immediately. For instance, network topology. I can't explain to you the extent that I cannot even begin to explain what I don't understand about it. It just doesn't make sense to me. I can explain the hell out of algorithm time complexity though.

Left: Pretty simple stuff
Right: Black magic. Seriously there's even a fucking Hexagram.
We live in a coddled society where "everyone is a winner" and anyone can make it if they try hard enough. So teachers can't tell students that "hey moron, you're not going to be a doctor so learn how fix air conditioners" so they'll encourage students and tell them that they are all capable of greatness no matter how bad they failed biology. I probably could have been a surgeon if I tried really, really hard, but I would be a C student surgeon at best, even after pulling all nighters and killing the bare minimum number of patients as a medical intern. Do you really want an average med student to be your surgeon?

The standard for a "good" college education is a 4 year stint at a "accredited" institution, with the average of 10 classes per year. That's 40 classes. More often than not, only half of those will be relevant to your desired career path. So why the hell does anyone need those other 20 classes? As a Computer Science major, what good are two fine art classes going to do me? Outside of an ethics course, why do I need any humanities classes?

"I modeled this encryption algorithm from the 3rd Stanza of the Fairie's song in A Midsummer Night's Dream"
-No One, EVER
All of those extra "General Education" courses should be handled in high school, and only the essentials should be focused in college. An Art Student doesn't need college level Calculus, and a Law Student doesn't need a fucking Music Theory Class. Those classes are fluff that waste a fledgling adult's time and money which could be better spent on better things like an internship and working to save money or eating taco bell and playing copious amounts of video games.

I get the idea behind college. There are too many people in the world for every person to apprentice under a master to learn their trade, and most apprentice work is now done by machines or minimum wage workers. College is necessary to import industry-level knowledge on students when it is impossible to provide hand's on experience for every potential student. That way when they're done with college they have all of the means to take on the world and get a great job that help pay off those 4 years of drowning debt.

Wait... shit....