Remember College ?

In Debt, Education, Ethics, Generosity, Occupy on 11/03/2011 by Beyond the Face of facebook . Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


With student loan debt for the first time exceeding consumer debt, for example, the dysfunction of college is no longer just staying isolated to phenomena experienced by college students. 


“Big deal, have a drink, friend!”


BIG deal,” indeed…  The trend of more people attending college seems to be having GROWING repercussions on society, as well.


What are some of your issues & solutions ?


My thoughts after having spending 6 years of my life in college (4 years undergrad, 2 years grad), thank G-d… 2 points:

1) College does not prepare one for a life of living generously & giving.  After investing 4 – 6 years of one’s life spent in college, a recent graduate must then struggle to relearn an occupation the employer’s way, from scratch, on-the-job.  Additionally, said student is now tens of thousands of dollars in debt.  What could a person in this situation focus on aside from endeavoring to make a ton of money and escaping with it on any remaining free time?   What, then, is the value of college?  The smiley, happy corporate propaganda we’re sold on campus is just that… it only applies within the bubble of a college campus.  Rarely are people smiling in the workplace (MAYBE upon first-time introductions).  Even outside of work, it’s mostly not happening.

Overall, traditional college prepares one to be very one-dimensional – contrary to the flexibility required of a person who will need to communicate effectively with people from all walks of life.  …We sit on our rears and learn how to be SELF-directed/SELF-determined via cramming for paper tests.  Rarely did I experience preparation or was I assessed for real-life dynamics, such as interpersonal communication. …Exception, preparation by cramming (again like with the paper tests) for a job interview – again, more preparation for one-time, static events (“tests”).

…More rigmarole of a college day: go to class, take in for yourself the info. (the professor is the “Master”/knows everything/can never learn anything new from a student/can do no wrong- same with the book). Then, that night, isolate yourself with the reading materials, and in a few weeks of doing this (while coping via practices in escapism – partying, tv/media, games, etc.) show your “skills” (ie, study habits) in the pretend, academia/book world on a paper test (ie, play the game of “tell the teacher what they want to hear“). Repeat. This is deemed “preparation for life.” …”Potential squandered” & “Financial Duress” is what I call it.

Also, in college, I don’t recall much emphasis on building or refining character traits & relationship building other than learning to “feel sorry for ‘poor people'” (the “Third World,” the homeless, and the such) – that is, people not “like you” (or “America”/the “American Dream”). …Sitting behind a book & desk, college students are “learning” by watching the world from the outside – being non-participants in a world that they will need to participate in, upon graduation…

…Fiscal responsibility or ethics learned in college? Hello – Enron, Arthur Anderson, Wall Street, Clinton/Lewinsky, Bush-Cheney, etc, etc! And colleges encourage us to be lifetime debtors at 18 years old.  At that age, however, it’s illegal for us to buy alcohol or rent a car.

How do they say it these days… “EPIC FAIL?” Look around us for the outcome of college – learning how to buy & sell dreams in a bubble, while reality always retaliates, “WAKE UP!”  And we’re all scurrying & groggy from our slumber.

2) Nothing is free. However, today’s costs for college are akin to an 18 year old selling their soul to buy into the privilege of college (which is what college really is – paying for the fantasy/illusion of being part of a privileged group). Most things can really be learned in the workplace: a SOCIAL, dynamic learning environment that accounts for and works in the context of human nature – not via the context of regurgitating book knowledge – through doing.

Further contributing to this air of privilege… walk around a major college – it’s a country club. All the chic & grand facilities... the sprawling & manicured campus… the ginormous staff (including a police force, food service, etc)… the massive physical plant… athletics… national marketing… speakers… tenures. Who pays for all that? 18 year-olds, over most of their adult years – starting the “American Dream” as a major debtor (…which would have qualified them as a criminal, earning debtor prison, in the past – when there were more values in our fabric and more to our character than just making money).

Finally, similarly contributing to the exorbitant cost of college is they are all competing with each other (like an arms race) to “out-country club” each other. …To be more visually appealing and prestigious (“special“) than the other. Why competing? ALL colleges are businesses – they buy and sell. They BUY buildings, staff, advertising, massive amounts of utilities & food, etc. What do they SELL? …Intangible products (services), such as dreams & reputation/status/prestige to 18-year olds and parents, as well as food & licenses. Colleges also sell tangible products such as books, research, merchandise…

Even this Harvard professor will admit that his Harvard class is “not more different” than that of a less expensive and “less prestigious” univeristy (in addition to the class size being similar in size to that of the “impersonal” state university – 700 students).  Oh, and by-the-way, listen to who wrote the textbook for the class, as well:

A possible solution to work towards (unlike the Occupy movement, which just complains without working on a constructive solution):  apprenticeships/hands-on experiential education/mandatory national service is the way to go.

The Ethics of Our Fathers (Pirkei Avot) say to not study alone and to find yourself a friend & make for yourself a teacher. On the other hand, also one needs to be shown – mentored – how to go about doing that – it’s not just born with us.  To be continued…

BFf .

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