Is College Education Over Rated?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Mark R, Mar 27, 2003.

  1. Mark R

    Mark R
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    In our little town we have dozens of kids that have gone to college and then enter fields that they did not even study. The burden of debt that some kids face after college also concerns me. I have a High School Junior and a Freshman, so we are being faced with some big decisions. Advice and counsel anyone?
     
  2. Rev. Joshua

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    College is not job training, and it's unfortunate that it has started to be viewed as such. We would be much better off with a wider variety of trade schools (along a European model) intended for people who are are currently going to college simply to learn how to do a particular job.

    In essence, an undergraduate education is meant to provide three things:

    - broad cultural literacy
    - clear communication skills
    - critical thinking sills

    It is assumed that graduates will take those skills and use them either in graduate school or the workplace to train for specific careers.

    Joshua
     
  3. Mark R

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    You're right of course, college education does not mean what it used to. Given the economic realities of our times, it does seem that college training can be helpful in securing financial well-being. Choosing a practical field of study seems to be the problem. There are just so many bio-chemistry positions open.
     
  4. stubbornkelly

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    For some people, yes.

    But liberal arts education is not preparation for a specific trade. Yes, students have a focused field of study outside of their general ed requirements, but there's really no technical or trade school equivalent for, say, history.

    I'm not in my field of study, largely because there isn't much of a field, period. [​IMG] I took a dilettante-ish major, and it's really not going to help me get a job, until after I have graduate work under my belt.

    But I value the education that I got, the experiences I had, and the friends I made. Now, I went to a very small school, and got to participate in some of the college decision-making process, through my involvement in some faculty committees and heavy work in the student senate (managed the club/organization budget and a student planning committee).

    Could I have learned the same academic stuff if I hadn't gone to college? Probably. Although, I don't think I would have known where to start looking. Professorial direction is a wonderful thing, at least it was for me. And I don't know that I would have had the discussions - both in and out of the classroom - that really led to further understanding of material and theories. And then there's the matter of time. I'm certainly not saying a person can't make time to learn outside of a structured environment. I'm still doing independent study and research, writing articles and essays and things - but it's a lot more difficult to make the time for it, now that I work 50 hours a week and have other responsibilities that take up my time.

    And I don't think I would have gotten the theatre and music experiences I had just going out into the world on my own. And living with a roommate? An excellent experience, even when things got rough. And the people I met . . . I can't even begin to describe how valuable those relationships are to me.

    I had some bad experiences in college, of course, but I'm glad I had some of them there, rather than in the "real world."

    As for loans - I got some scholarship money, and my parents did pay for a big chunk, but my starting loan balance was $20K. If I'd gone to a state school, my loans and scholarships would have covered it all. The $160 I pay each month is chump change when compared to what I got out of college.

    College isn't for everyone. And I think it's essential to talk to your kids and get an idea of what they want to do as well as what they think they want to do. Switching majors isn't a bad thing at all. But I do think far too many students go to college because they're supposed to, and those are the students whose money supports the students who want to be there. Really. Unfortunately, because the market is so saturated with college grads (many of whom really didn't want to go and didn't get much out of it than a dgeree), an undergraduate degree is becoming more and more important, with graduate degrees becoming more and more desired by employers. My mother's agency won't hire anyone who doesn't have a master's. Anyone.

    I know it's confusing to some parents when their child gets a degree in, oh, I don't know, philosophy, and then takes a job in, hmm, accounting. :D It doesn't seem to make sense. But college - at least undergraduate study - isn't about preparing for a specific job. It's about learning how to think.
     
  5. Johnv

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    College education, or for that matter, any education, is not overrated. An education is something that can never be taken away from you.

    It's been my observation that education is something the less educated tend to find overrated.

    The only way you can be overeducated is if you don't apply your education in life.
     
  6. j_barner2000

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    I waited till I was 26 to start college. It was tough with a wife and children. took a lot of classes. Enough for a BA if I'd have had a solid plan. Finally took a planned approach and have an AOS in computers. Now I am studying through Seminary Extension. My advice is to help your child decide what they want to do. At least reccomend a degree in arts. The skills learned will be well utulized in the future. The place I work requires an associates degree just to work in the mail room. and we are a sales organization.
     
  7. Pete Richert

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    I followed a rather practical approach to higher education

    mathematics -&gt; computer engineering -&gt; electrical engineering

    and it is apsolutly essential for my job.

    But I got so much else out of college. I went to a Christian school so I grew a lot in my faith. I made the best friends of my life. I married my wife. I competed in collegiate level athletics (track) as well as IM for fun (basketball). I had a nice in between time between living with my parents and being out on my own. I studied things I would never had studied outside of school such as history, english, philosophy, philosophy of art, spanish, chemistry, and a whole load of other things. I learned to learn, learned to study things on my own, become much more culturally aware, became less afraid of diversity, etc.

    By the way, state schools aren't all that much.
     
  8. Dr. Bob

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    In 1900, the vast majority of young people did not finish 8th grade. "Graduation" at that level was a great accomplishment; many schools had special services.

    By 1950, high school graduation became the "norm" if one wanted to be something in life.

    By 2000, college graduate is just the "minimum" for going on to be something in life.

    Feel that by the time my grandkids get to the age, a Masters or Doctorate will be "typical".

    Whether out plowing a field or designing micro technology, NO education is wasted. As Sam Jones, the great old Methodist preacher said, "Get all the education you can, even if you're just going to drive a mule. It makes that much more difference between you and the mule." :rolleyes:
     
  9. Madelyn Hope

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    Much of my college education has no "direct" bearing on my future career since most of the material I need to know to be a doctor is taught in medical school. However, I feel that my background in the liberal arts (English and biology) will make me a better physician because I have a broader knowledge of people and culture in general that will help me approach my patients. Knowing specific information about particular authors/texts is less important to me now than my ability to critically analyze texts and present my arguments concisely in both verbal and written formats.

    In a larger sense, college was also important in terms of the social experiences that I had during my four years. I pushed myself to take various leadership positions on campus in order to get over my fear of public speaking. I became involved in various political and community service projects. Socially, I made many good friends. I was able to travel to Europe to study history and literature. I had the opportunity to live away from my parents and be responsible for my own decisions. I was able to make both bad and good decisions and reap the consequences either way which went a long way towards helping me move from basing my moral/ethical system from just what I was taught as a child ro how I will choose to live as a adult.

    I do think, however, that there is great pressure on students, particularly those in families where college education is the norm, that one must go directly from high school to college. Some people do not have the maturity at that time in their lives to make college a beneficial experience and for them, choosing to work for a few years before returning to school might be a better option.
     
  10. Mark R

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    Yesterday my oldest son and I toured the campus of a prospective Christian liberal arts college. I would love for him to attend school there
    14 to 1 staff to student ratio, a real caring bunch of folks from what I saw. I am a small town pastor and even with scholarships, grants etc. the money makes my head hurt. Is post-college indebtedness as bad as I've imagined? Is joining the military with an eye upon the educational money and GI Bill a bad idea? He'd be a 22 year old freshman after 4 years in the Air Force (they want him) Good posts so far! Thanks
     
  11. Rev. Joshua

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    The GI Bill is a wonderful benefit and I would strongly encourage it. Nothing wrong with being a 22yo freshman. The Army still owes me a chunk of change on loan repayment, but even still I have a little over $ 60,000 in student loans (including grad. school). Education is definitely not cheap.

    Joshua
     
  12. stubbornkelly

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    Debt is a hardship for many students, but not for others. A friend of mine from school left with around $60K in debt, much higher than the average student at my school (with tuition and board totalling an average of $23K per year while I was there), yet I left with only $20K. So many factors are involved. I'm not hurting at all from my debt payments, and expect to have them paid off within 5 years instead of the standard 10. Also, many loan programs won't put the interest rate above the prime rate, and offer all sorts of rate reductions (for instance, I save 1/2% by paying via direct debit). Only a handful of my college friends are having trouble repaying their loans, and only one has gotten a forebearance.

    Being an older student can be a good thing. I was 20 when I restarted college (I dropped out at 17 the first time around), and it was kinda nice, actually. Granted, the kids in my year weren't much younger than I, but had been three years behind me in high school, which was a little hard to swallow, but I was still heavily involved in school activities. 22 wouldn't be that strange, I think, although he may want to seek out an older roommate, or live off campus. I think of even private schools that require campus residency relax those when a student is a little older. At my school, you had to be 22 or have a certain number of credits to be relaxed from the residency requirement.

    Also, some schools have different (read: cheaper) programs for students of non-traditional ages. The year I hit 23, my tuition dropped from $17K to around $5K because I became eligible for the school's "continuing education" program for students who already had a bachelor's degree or were 23 years old. Not a bad deal.
     
  13. Mark R

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    Only 20K? I have a real problem with debt from a christian standpoint, but it seems to have been worth it in your case. I've never heard of lower costs for older students, but I don't get out much. I'm so lost at this point I don't even know what questions I should be asking of prospective colleges. Any more advice and counsel?
     
  14. Pete Richert

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    I running on about 32k, but it certainly worth it since i wouldn't have a job (in my field anyway) if I hadn't gone to school. Either way, it is a whole lot less at about half the interest rate that my house is going to cost me :confused: :confused: :confused:
     
  15. Daniel David

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    Well, it took an extra year and a half to finish my undergrad, but I do not have any school debt. I have a good job (that my degree has nothing to do with :rolleyes: ), a wife, and now two sons.

    I am working on my Masters in Theology. Given the current rate, we will still be debt free at the end. If such is the case, I will immediately pursue my doctorate.
     
  16. Rebecca9557

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    Here's someone with a master's degree in education that believes that FORMAL education is overrated.

    Mark, there are many alternatives to the expensive education you're looking at. I absolutely loved my years at a Christian college, and I grew in the Lord there, but it wasn't nearly so much because of the classes my parents were paying for as it was because of the interaction with other Christians. Now that we have a 16-year-old and no money, we'll be looking at creative alternatives for her to get that same kind of exposure.

    As far as the degree goes, there are several books on market to help us think of alternative ways to earn that degree without the outlay of funds. "Bear's Guide to Nontraditional Degree Programs" I think is the name of one. If you look up "Bear's Guide" on the internet, you'll most likely find it, and you can probably get it interlibrary loan.

    I believe in education very much. But I think FORMAL education is highly overrated. I've met people who didn't go past high school that I thought had a far better grasp of the Scriptures (for example) than some people with a doctorate in theology. They were self-educated. Everybody can get a hold of good books.
     

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