THE PATH TO THE TOP
Portion of US factory workers who have a college degree: ¼
Portion of University teaching positions that are led by graduate students or adjunct faculty : ¾
Percentage of college professors teaching online classes who do not believe that students should receive credit for them: 72
These three facts tell of a world of trouble with the U.S. higher education, yet nobody dare pull the plug on it, because how else are we going to induce compliance with and bolster confidence in the absurd and completely artificial construct that sells internationally transferrable credit hours and certifications? What if the people who owe the over trillion dollars in student loans suddenly decide they were tricked and have no intention of repaying?
Higher education is our gatekeeper to jobs that let you sit in an air-conditioned office and play with your computer. If we let just anybody compete for cushy jobs without first enduring this systemitized hazing, why would anyone first endure years of superfluous schooling?
To keep the barbarians at the gate, we must all believe in the importance of education. In Iowa, it’s practically the state religion. We might not have much in the way of scenery, but darn it, we have good schools. Or we think we do.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have skipped college and gone on to some sort of self-employment, learning valuable skills along the way. Having always harbored an aversion to hard work of any kind, I’m not sure what that might have entailed, but since it’s all moot at this point, I’ll encourage the reader to imagine me with grease on my hands, lying on my back underneath a leaking truck engine. Anyone who actually knows me might have a hard time picturing such a scene. Because, like most of us, I hoped that the university would be my ticket to Easy Street.
Fortunately, I didn’t incur debt as I learned to drink coffee mornings in the student union, and beer at night, while developing an appreciation for the Firesign Theater. So my lost years weren’t really lost, just a sort of prolonged adolescence. Instead of drinking too much beer at night in a blue collar tavern after a hard day in the shop, I drank too much beer in grungy student apartment after a long day of goofing off. I thought reading Kurt Vonnegut was my job, not something one did for leisure and relaxation, after work.
But even though I didn’t emerge from six years of higher education any poorer, I did become a certified softie. After graduation, when I travelled in Mexico, people assumed I was a priest. They could tell these hands had never gripped a machete or a hammer.
Now that I’m older, I’m often mistaken for a psychiatrist. Again, no one has ever assumed I knew how to fix a car or an air-conditioner, for I wear my artificial sense of entitlement easily.
Unlike their South American counterparts, the real upper class in this country has learned to amass most of the wealth by simply playing by the rules. The bank bailout after the 2008 mortgage collapse resulted in this largest heist in recorded history, the greatest transfer of wealth ever recorded. And none of that money is ever going to flow back down to the middle class, at least in our lifetimes.
So what advice would I offer my eighteen-year old self if I could go back in time and meet me? Learn a skill that rich people need, and then hang around with rich people until you get some of their money. And remember, most learning is not accomplished in an institutional setting. Anything else is an uphill battle, with the slope getting steadily steeper over time.
Why do you think there are so many more plastic surgeons than pediatricians or geriatric specialists? Would you rather be an investment adviser a Wal-Mart greeter? I don’t know how many Wal-Mart greeters have college diplomas, but I imagine over time the number will equal the percentages of investment advisers on whose office walls hang framed diplomas.
2 thoughts on “JUST SAY NO TO SCHOOL”
Just to be cantankerous, I disagree. My work (I agree with Prof. Coffey that “work” is likely a misnomer) to obtain my B.A. and M.A. in English Lit. was a blast! It was also where I learned to roll smokes and refine my approach to women. Finally, it also gave me sufficient cred to get into law school. And, while it got sucky at the end, I enjoyed my time at the bar. So if you want to do something specialized as law or medicine, you’ve got to do it. But, there are joys to be found.
FROM IOWA WITH LOVE – damn fine writing and wordsmithing, Dan; and even dammer finer analysis… you do not receive enough comments to confirm how many people appreciate your assays (like taking the diamonds out of the cow-pies – opposed to essays which are mostly cowpie)… keep writing and traveling for those of us who must do both vicariously through you.