Website owner:  James Miller

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Should one go to college?

Young people today are told that they ought to go to college. Many are going to college and, in doing so, incurring huge debts that they later have to pay off. Should everyone go to college? Is college worth the high cost? That all depends on what you study, what you major in, what career you are preparing yourself for. If you intend to study music or drama or history or literature, I would say that, from an investment viewpoint, it is not likely to be worth the investment. On the other hand, if your wish is to become an engineer or scientist or doctor or lawyer, then the high cost may be worth it. I know a fellow who got a degree in drama from a prestigious university, thinking he would become a famous Hollywood actor. He is now middle aged and has never had a decent job. He has worked as a waiter, car salesman, sold windows, worked as a physical fitness trainer, none of which required any college education. All that financial investment did nothing for him financially.

Some people think the government should treat everyone to a college education. What do I think about that? I think that right now a very large portion of our high schools are providing young people with a very poor education. The students may be graduating with good marks, but the system is a sham. It is just not doing what it is supposed to do. Young people graduate from such schools who can scarcely read or write and want to go to college so they too can say they are college educated (which, in their mind, will put them on a level with the “best”). They then find some college that is willing to take them and it gives them a college degree that is also a sham. (This world is full of foolishness). How much good do you think this empty degree does them in the end? Their intellectual lack will soon become obvious to any employer. But they incurred a big debt in getting this degree and now they have to work at McDonalds to pay it off.

How much education do I think people should have? I attended grades one through eight of a one-room country school and I think when I graduated I was pretty well prepared for life in regard to education. I think it provided me with a pretty solid education in reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, history, English grammar, spelling, and general science. I think that that eight years of grade school would be adequate for most people if they have no ambition for some career that requires specialized training such as being a doctor, lawyer, mathematician, physicist, engineer, etc. After grade school I then attended high school. What did high school do for me? It prepared me for college. I took a hard curriculum in high school — a year and a half of algebra, plane geometry, solid geometry, trigonometry, chemistry, physics, biology — along with four years of literature, U. S. History, world history. My goal was a college degree in mathematics or physics. I went to a good high school with good teachers and got a good education. The teaching was serious and rigorous. But suppose I hadn’t wished to go to college? I think, in that case, my grade school education would have been adequate. Remember that if you have mastered the basics of reading, if you are able to read well, the entire world is open to you. You can read as much literature, history, geography, science, etc as you want and there is no end to what you can do in self-study, self-improvement. You are even in a position to study mathematics, physics, chemistry, etc. The problem here is the way the world works. We live in a world of sham. People look at degrees. They want to know how many degrees you have and form an opinion of you on that basis. The degrees may be empty ones, sham degrees, but that is what they look at. It should be possible, however, to obtain a degree just by demonstrating that you have mastered various subjects. A person should be able to demonstrate his knowledge of a subject by taking tests. I believe that with the guidance and supervision of a teacher, a person could, through self-study, master the most difficult of subjects. What is needed to do this is good, well-written exposition on the subject. If you can find several well-written books on a subject, you can master it. A teacher could, from his home, provide guidance and supervision to a student via the internet. The teacher would need to point the way, recommend what books to read, etc. Such a way for getting a degree should cost only a small fraction of that involved in attending a university.

I think that what many young people want is simply a degree. A degree in anything will do. Preferably a degree in something that is very easy and something they enjoy. They hope that degree will help them get a better job. The reason they want it is ego and status.

Most people go to liberal arts colleges, colleges oriented toward the humanities. I went to a technical college. I highly distrust the humanities. Just give me the facts. I am not interested in your opinion and philosophy. I don’t wish to be told what ideas are true or right or to be indoctrinated. I will think for myself. The Bible with its outlooks and values is my humanities course. I read literature that reflects my Bible-oriented values. I don’t like most modern literature. In most modern humanities courses I would likely find myself very much at odds with the professor. I wouldn’t like him and he wouldn’t like me. I would probably get all F’s in all my humanities courses.

I think the only valid reason for going to college is to prepare for some specialized career. If you are just interested in improving yourself, you can do that through reading, and do it for free. That won’t cost you a penny. As for whether a college education is worth the cost, I have heard that experienced plumbers are now making $40.00 an hour. That is $83,000 a year. That is not a bad income. A college degree will cost you four years of your time and quite a lot of money. Will the college graduate make enough to actually, in the end, come out ahead of the plumber? I would say that for most degrees, the answer is probably no. The college degree is probably not worth all the work, time and money required to get it. If this is true, all the young people who are being told that they need to get a college degree are being misled.

Nov 2016

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