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Undergrad education and "prestige" - Page 5

post #61 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Augusto86 View Post
When did colleges and universities, even the Ivies, become little more than trade schools??

Unfortunately, for many students (and their parents) these days, the point of college is to provide for job training.

Oddly enough, in my limited experience, this expectation does differ by school.

As some know, I taught at four different schools. Two are big state universities, one not great at all, one highly-regarded in fields other than mine (and for football); two are small private liberal-arts colleges, one very highly ranked, one not.

The students at the highly-ranked private liberal-arts college were the most interested in learning for learning's sake. The second runner was the other liberal-arts college--but only amongst a small subset of the students. Neither of the big state unis' students seemed interested in that.

b
post #62 of 92
Where did Chuck Norris go to school - if any?

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post #63 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by oscarthewild View Post
Where did Chuck Norris go to school - if any?

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Chuck Norris didn't attend any school. However, he is the Dean of the School of Hard Knocks (and Extraordinary Professor, Roundhouse Kicks Department).
post #64 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdawson808 View Post
The students at the highly-ranked private liberal-arts college were the most interested in learning for learning's sake. The second runner was the other liberal-arts college--but only amongst a small subset of the students. Neither of the big state unis' students seemed interested in that.

b

This is what I would expect to hear, that a highly ranked liberal arts college was full of students interested in learning for learning's sake. Forgive my crass question though, but how does one put this to use in the employment market (not the market of academia)? What sort of job does a student that graduates at the top of his class in Eng. Lit. move into? How would this degree prepare you for med school or b-school? Or like Jeffery Feiger, do they all get degrees in Theater and then go to law school? What does an undergraduate degree in philosophy from say Colegate or U of Windsor (home of our much beloved conversational logic FYI), impart in the way of concrete marketable skill sets?

I share Augusto's alarm that post-secondary education has become nothing but glorified trade schools, on many levels, but knowing that, I find it hard to justify getting degrees that do not develop a marketable and employable skill set for the average joe. Sure, if I was a trust fund baby, I would have done the total liberal arts thing. But as someone born to poverty and blue collar, how could I possibly justify not seeking education that is designed to increase my probable compensation?
post #65 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piobaire View Post
This is what I would expect to hear, that a highly ranked liberal arts college was full of students interested in learning for learning's sake. Forgive my crass question though, but how does one put this to use in the employment market (not the market of academia)? What sort of job does a student that graduates at the top of his class in Eng. Lit. move into? How would this degree prepare you for med school or b-school? Or like Jeffery Feiger, do they all get degrees in Theater and then go to law school? What does an undergraduate degree in philosophy from say Colegate or U of Windsor (home of our much beloved conversational logic FYI), impart in the way of concrete marketable skill sets? I share Augusto's alarm that post-secondary education has become nothing but glorified trade schools, on many levels, but knowing that, I find it hard to justify getting degrees that do not develop a marketable and employable skill set for the average joe. Sure, if I was a trust fund baby, I would have done the total liberal arts thing. But as someone born to poverty and blue collar, how could I possibly justify not seeking education that is designed to increase my probable compensation?
First of all, I think you're drawing a false dichotomy between "Trust fund babies" and "Blue collar poverty." There's a lot of middle ground in there. Second, it's well known that many if not most people don't go on to do what they studied in college. Perhaps they start there, but as you suggest, there are as many English majors in law school as pre-law. The dirty not-so-secret of post-graduate education is that they prefer to educate kids in their own way, and so they often find that they produce the best doctors, lawyers, etc. from people who didn't start out in those fields. Broader thinking and all that. Obviously there are fields like biochem, engineering and CoSci where that isn't so true. Finally, and this is just amateur psychology, but you say you come from a poor, blue collar background. Perhaps that experience makes you more concerned about money than people with more financially sound childhoods. The same way people who lived through the depression always tended to keep reserves of jewels/gold, eat all the food on their plates and be somewhat cautious or suspicious. But these things are not set in stone. My grandmother grew up in an orphanage in the 30s because her parents could not afford to raise her. She worked her way into college, where she studied English and became a teacher, worked for the State Department in Iran and Brasil and had quite an interesting life. So the idea that an English or Philosophy or other liberal arts major is worthless is wrong. The future earnings are not as certain, but the future possibilities are much wider than, say, a chemical engineer's.
post #66 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Augusto86 View Post
First of all, I think you're drawing a false dichotomy between "Trust fund babies" and "Blue collar poverty." There's a lot of middle ground in there.

I agree, there is more middle ground. However, people in the middle ground, or to clarify even more, people that are not financially independent due to what family they were born into, need to work to earn a decent living. I used "trust fund baby" to indicate someone that really could just concentrate on learning for learning's sake, with no thought of time frame, eventual employment chances, etc. Do not think I in any way am against trust fund babies, I am not one of those people. If I could make my kids financially stable as a starting point, nothing would make me happier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Augusto86 View Post
Finally, and this is just amateur psychology, but you say you come from a poor, blue collar background. Perhaps that experience makes you more concerned about money than people with more financially sound childhoods.

No, that's very accurate. Have a couple of Xmas's where if the church congregation had not given the family a turkey, there would have been no turkey, and presents were along the line of new socks...well that does leave an impression on you. As you indicate, when you grow up with money, you just always assume it will be there.

Also, in today's world, if I had to pick between a Chem E and English undergrad, it would be Chem E all the way. Again, your grandmother's day was much different than today. She is to be commended for what she did with her life, but a teacher's salary vs. a Chem E's? And a good Chem E degree sets you up perfectly for a good MBA and you'll have all the skill sets for Finance etc. Yes, I sound mercenary but education breaks down to a Maslow pyramid for me given today's world.

Go watch "A River Runs Through It." First it's a good movie. Second, those were the days where liberal arts education was a sure ticket.
post #67 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piobaire View Post
This is what I would expect to hear, that a highly ranked liberal arts college was full of students interested in learning for learning's sake. Forgive my crass question though, but how does one put this to use in the employment market (not the market of academia)?

I have absolutely no data, only anecdotal evidence of students I have known and what they do now.

BA Religious studies went on to joint MAs in Social Work and Public Policy, now does something related to that.

BA in History, 3 years in Peace Corps, Nursing degree, now does that.

BA in History, 3 years teaching English in China, MA in Chinese studies, not sure what she does now.

BA in International Studies, 3 years in Peace Corps, now in Med school.

The things is, those four above all were and/or became very good learners. That is the value of a liberal arts education to me. Not only can you quote Virgil, but you can do calculus, and learn to do other tasks quicker than others who studied only one thing and know that very well.

To my knowledge, by the way, none of those four came from even well-to-do families. All totally middle-class. I know that one's father was an admin law judge and another's father is a college prof. One comes from a theater family (sister on Broadway now). No clue about the others. But none rich by any stretch.

I've also known many students in Bio to go into Med school, others from Poli Sci, Bus, Econ, to go to law school. And a bunch of econ grads that went on to "business" jobs of various sorts.

b
post #68 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdawson808 View Post
I have absolutely no data, only anecdotal evidence of students I have known and what they do now.

BA Religious studies went on to joint MAs in Social Work and Public Policy, now does something related to that.

BA in History, 3 years in Peace Corps, Nursing degree, now does that.

BA in History, 3 years teaching English in China, MA in Chinese studies, not sure what she does now.

BA in International Studies, 3 years in Peace Corps, now in Med school.

Notice they all went on to something else? Nothing was a terminal degree. Also, the BSN? So basically two undergrads, one of which (trade school) makes money.

Hey, each to his own. I am not saying my thoughts/way is the only one. We all have our personal indifference curves. I also have said, repeatedly, I wish we were still in a world where learning for learning's sake was something that was viable for those of us not born with financial security. Now, what I consider "viable" will differ from what others do. Given the taste of clothes, cars, houses, watches, shoes, that I see here, I doubt if "viable" is covered on 30k a year. But if that's good for you, that's just great. For me, my personal sense of responsibility was such that after I was woken up to things, I went for an education that would place me in demand. It would seem like my thoughts are echoed by many, many people though, since as we have noted, much of post secondary education is indeed focused on "trade school" type stuff, like accounting, engineering, b-school, med school, law school, etc.
post #69 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piobaire View Post
What sort of job does a student that graduates at the top of his class in Eng. Lit. move into?

Publishing.
post #70 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
Publishing.

This is something I desperately want to do, and also something I fear. As an English/Creative Writing/Journalism major, the fields that interest me are Publishing and Journalism. I find both fascinating, and I'm also aware of the low pay grade and the fact that both are in a sense dying professions as newspaper and book readership plummet...

BTW, Piobaire, what is your field of work/training?
post #71 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Augusto86 View Post
BTW, Piobaire, what is your field of work/training?

I'm in the health sciences and management with reflective educational preparation.
post #72 of 92
I find it amusing that people that argue over all the small details of clothing believe all schools are made the same.
post #73 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piobaire View Post
I am not saying my thoughts/way is the only one. We all have our personal indifference curves. I also have said, repeatedly, I wish we were still in a world where learning for learning's sake was something that was viable for those of us not born with financial security.

Some of this comes down to the difference between a short-term and a long-term investment. You're worried about buying a car and getting married and finding a DB pension by age 23? There are some careers that pay better up front and some schools and majors that feed those careers.

I noticed at B-school that the people who were most interesting to talk to and had the widest prospective set of options available to them (and there were always exceptions) were the liberal arts grads. Some of them had pretty low-earning pasts and profoundly "irrelevant" degrees, but had a lot together personally. People with business or accounting undergrad degrees did OK too, but I wouldn't want the jobs that most of them have now. Not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with the choices they made. You just have to know yourself and what you want/don't want.
post #74 of 92
The short answer should be that going to an Ivy is the safest bet if you want to do well in life financially and careerwise, but it is not any kind of guarantee that you won't be outperformed by a guy who didn't even graduate from college. The reality is that financial success mostly results from risk taking and vision. As my boss frequently says, it's more about "balls" than it is about being some sort of intellectual. Look at the wealthiest men in the country-- their position has little if nothing to do with where they went to school even if their education has served them well. It's true that going to an Ivy or a top 30 school will allow you to get a good job, but this is because these schools are highly competitive environments in a very traditional fashion. Employers want to make safe, good bets and hiring someone from a top school like MIT, Harvard, Stamford etc. is probably the safest bet you can tell that someone is intelligent, hardworking, and well connected. However, these people ultimately don't perform simply because they went to these schools-- there was no secret formula that got handed out on the first day. Look around at extremely successful businessmen: Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Henry Kravis, etc etc etc. Top performers in the business world and elsewhere beat out an army of similarly qualified or "better" qualified people who have higher SATs and better resumes. In conclusion, going to a state school will not make things easier for you. It's true that things will be more of an uphill fight getting out of school and making your way, but my experience has been that many Ivy and "top school" associates I've met often are not risk takers, lake initiative and are afraid to deviate from a very rigid view of how to get ahead. Additionally, I went to a small prep school where at least one graduate matriculated to each Ivy League School. Looking back-- a few of these guys were highly intelligent people who got in on their own merits. More often those headed for the Ivies were pretty intelligent guys who were legacies or intelligent guys who had a myriad of stunning stuff on their resume resulting from the great opportunities afforded by very wealthy parents (think: private tennis lessons, etc. as well as potential donations to the school). These guys hated to admit that it wasn't exactly a level playing field and I think that is true even when you run into these guys as adults. Going to a particular school becomes a deciding badge of how smart and successful they are, even though much of their status in life flows from an existing family fortune. As is often said: they were born on third base and think they hit a triple. In the interest of disclosure, I went to a small private school with less than 2000 students-- most people have never heard of the place, but I feel my education is on par with just about any place. At times, I enjoy that most people look harder at what I have achieved in my career at a young age than at where I went to school.
post #75 of 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTGuy View Post
The short answer should be that going to an Ivy is the safest bet if you want to do well in life financially and careerwise . . . In conclusion, going to a state school will not make things easier for you.

+1

"Purely anecdotal" alert: As someone who has taken the path from state school (if fun = prestige, than it was full of it) to top 5 NY Biglaw, it can be done (although, there are times when you feel you have to work twice as hard to make the same inroads). Along the way, you definitely see those that have benefited from undergrad prestige. Career-wise, why put yourself at that disadvantage? Transfer away!
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