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  Topic: Free college or not?, continued from Panda's Thumb< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
stevestory



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Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 21 2005,16:24   

Quote
Comment #53117

Posted by Steve S on October 21, 2005 07:00 PM (e) (s)

And yeah, I really do think that degrees in biology, chemistry, finance, etc, should get much higher priority than the humanities. If there’s going to be no standard for what kind of education you publicly fund, then why stop at an undergrad degree? Fund everyone through their Ph.D. That way all the English BAs I used to work with at Borders can now have Dr. on their little nametags.
Is where I left off on PT. Let me continue: I think the current system of getting student loans is superior to Lenny's idea to just give everyone free college. One reason is this--20-30% of people get worthless English degrees. Linking someone's education to the cost, placed in the future, encourages them to go into more valuable, lucrative fields, such as business, engineering, etc. If the taxpayers payed everyone's education, there would be less incentive for people to avoid worthless majors.

   
sir_toejam



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Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 21 2005,16:33   

I'd say to be careful in how you define a degree as "worthless".  that would depend on a great many factors.

just as a generalization, every university i have ever taken note of typically has general requirements to meet for a BA of any major that most would consider valuable assets in increasing ones' level of awareness.

even a BA in liberal arts or *shudder* english gets enough of a broad education that I personally would still consider it to be of value.

why specifically do you devalue a degree in english?

just curious.

  
stevestory



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Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 21 2005,17:31   

Worthless is shorthand. I think some educations, like science, engineering, and business, are much more valuable. Economic value is not everything, but it's a good place to start. Before I graduated I worked at places like Borders, making $5/hr, and half the people I worked with had degrees in art, english, and graphic design. When I graduated with a physics degree, My salary instantly jumped 300%. I love the humanities. I've read nearly every play by Shakespeare, multiple times. I'm usually reading 2-3 books at a given time. But I don't think such degrees are nearly as valuable. If we're going to talk about buying everyone free educations, we should decide if some are worth buying and some aren't.

   
sir_toejam



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(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 21 2005,17:45   

careful - you are treading on the same grounds as those who would eliminate artistic expression of artworks they find objectionable.

censorship has little place in an educated society.  as you clearly point out, pure economic value isn't the only criteria of value to be used in education.  otherwise, all we would have are business and trade schools.

those wonderful works of literature you admire might fade into dust without english majors...

would you like your kids being taught high school english by an engineeer, or an english major?

i for one, wouldn't want to make decisions on what the value of an education is in purely economic terms; that would devalue any education in and of itself.

note, I have a masters in zoology, but still wouldn't consider my friends with advanced degrees in english to have wasted their educational time.  Nor do i consider my education in zoology to be one that contributes or has high value "economically" (at least presently - it did when i embarked on it many years ago tho. ), regardless of the amount of hard science involved in obtaining it.

  
stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 21 2005,19:17   

I don't think your response has anything to do with what I said.

   
sir_toejam



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(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 21 2005,20:42   

hmm. that's a problem then, steve.

you can't see the similarity between judging the worth of an education and judging the worth of a particular piece of art for public funding?

I would certainly label the public funding of art based solely on the potential economic value of the art to be censorship, wouldn't you?


I ran into PhD's in physics working at McDonalds; does that really say anything about the value of a degree in physics?

One of my undergrad professors told me a story of a PhD in marine biology he met in a logging camp in B.C. who was a prostitute.

does that shed any light on the value of marine biology as a career?

what part of that has no connection to:

"But I don't think such degrees are nearly as valuable"

do you feel qualified to sit in judgement as to which educations are "valuable" and which are not, because you met english majors at Barnes and Noble?  What if you met a PhD in physics working as a cashier in McDonalds?

each person's history is unique, and their current circumstances don't always reflect their educational backgrounds by any means.

Simply because you were successful with your degree in physics, do you really feel qualified to judge the value of everyone elses' education, both on an individual basis AND as those educations might contribute to the world as a whole?

I'm sure you're a nice, reasonable guy Steve, but I certainly wouldn't vote for ya, no offense.

of course, all this is an aside to whether it would be a good idea to publically fund advanced education or not, but still...

  
stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 21 2005,21:18   

"I would certainly label the public funding of art based solely on the potential economic value of the art to be censorship, wouldn't you?"

of course that's not censorship.

"I'm sure you're a nice, reasonable guy Steve, but I certainly wouldn't vote for ya, no offense."

Well if a guy who calls himself "Sir Toejam" wouldn't vote for me, I guess I'm crazy. No offense.

   
The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 22 2005,08:40   

Quote
you can't see the similarity between judging the worth of an education and judging the worth of a particular piece of art for public funding?

I would certainly label the public funding of art based solely on the potential economic value of the art to be censorship, wouldn't you?

 Well, I think you're conflating the idea of censorship with the concept of public funding. I may reject the government's right to censor a work ("Buttman and Throbbin' ", let us say) while simultaneously arguing that it is not entitled to my taxpayer dollars. Even if you define censorship as a withdrawal of taxpayer funds, that work may still be subsidized by the private sector. Tax money is finite, after all, and I think it wise to allocate it with an idea of maximizing return, whether financial or social.

--------------
Dey can't 'andle my riddim.

  
bystander



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(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 23 2005,22:40   

Interesting topic but who defines what is useful. I think that as most companies and government are run by lawyers and accountants, I think that their view of value is very narrow and science not showing immediate returns will suffer. Having worked as an engineer with engineers and scientists for a long time, I worked with some arts types for a while and it grated at first but found that the differing perspectives caused a good gestalt. It still grates but I think that it the nature of it as well as the jokes:

Q:What did the arts graduate say to the engineering graduate in McDonalds.
A:Do you want fries with that?

I think that all disciplines should be supported. I think that the people who do arts and history can create a great counterpoint to the engineering and sciences. Anything to lessen the number of accountants and economists.

For instance, I think those with a good historical perspective could see the hollowness of the ID/Creationist approach as well and after reading about classical Roman and Greek times is going think we a currently in a moral miasma.

bystander

  
IMind



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(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 26 2005,04:47   

Hehehe there are exceptions to every rule. And the degree no matter what it's subject is worth the paper it's printed on.

I was a philosophy major in college. I make a signifigant amount more than most of the engineers who I would have graduated with.

My uncle has a chemistry degree from an excellent school with an outstanding chemistry department. He's a wine salesman.

There are so many variables at play that determine a persons worth and the worth of a degree than salary...

I may also make a lot more than say an English teacher, but I'd be loath to say that I am "more valuable."

  
MidnightVoice



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(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 26 2005,10:19   

Quote (IMind @ Oct. 26 2005,09:47)
Hehehe there are exceptions to every rule. And the degree no matter what it's subject is worth the paper it's printed on.

I was a philosophy major in college. I make a signifigant amount more than most of the engineers who I would have graduated with.

My uncle has a chemistry degree from an excellent school with an outstanding chemistry department. He's a wine salesman.

There are so many variables at play that determine a persons worth and the worth of a degree than salary...

I may also make a lot more than say an English teacher, but I'd be loath to say that I am "more valuable."

I was fortunate to grow up in a meritocracy, where the brightest went to college and were paid for it - no matter what they took as their major.  It helped increase education, it helped broaden people's horizons, it help break down the barriers caused by money (or lack thereof).  It helped people who were bright but poor get an education. So I think any degree is valuable to  society.

It is not the only way to improve things, and someone with a degree can be as stupid and worthless as someone without, but it can be beneficial.  I am all in favor of free education.

--------------
If I fly the coop some time
And take nothing but a grip
With the few good books that really count
It's a necessary trip

I'll be gone with the girl in the gold silk jacket
The girl with the pearl-driller's hands

  
Julie Stahlhut



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Joined: July 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 14 2005,12:02   

This piece of news is interesting -- I'm hoping that it works out well for Kalamazoo (where I lived for 13 years).  I was about to call it an "experiment", but since it's not entirely controlled, maybe "innovation" or "approach" is a better word.

http://www.freep.com/news/latestnews/pm7367_20051111.htm

BTW, I'd be very, very careful about making assumptions about people's job prospects based only on their college degrees.  It's true that, say, engineering degrees are more geared toward developing specific marketable skills than are humanities degrees.  However, quite a few people with humanities degrees seem to do very, very well in the business world (including a relative of mine who has a BA in philosophy and now holds a lucrative position in banking). The fallacy lies in assuming that all college degrees should be judged on whether you're going to get paid, after graduation, to do the same kinds of things you did for grades when you were in school.  That's not realistic -- not even engineers do problem sets for a living.  And, a lot of people are inspired to pursue further education after being out in the workforce for a few years.

If, as a college student, you don't major in something you enjoy, you're setting yourself up for at least several years of severe unpleasantness, and probably an increased probability of dropping out (I'd be interested in seeing some numbers on this, BTW; my above claim is anecdotal.)  If you find yourself underemployed or bored a couple of years out of school -- and this can happen to engineers too, folks --  both your education and your later experiences can give you a perspective on where to go next.  Lots of people find themselves in law or business school a few years down the road.  I've even met an M.D. whose initial degrees were from a music conservatory.  He had to take several science classes as a part-time student in order to get into med school, but I don't think he'd have given up his earlier experiences as a music student for anything.

  
Hyperion



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 14 2005,17:21   

Most importantly, the original argument suffers from an important fallacy:  In determining that there is little economic value in English and other humanities degrees, the original poster ignores the fact that at present, many people do pay tens of thousands of dollars from their own pockets for such degrees.  Clearly this demonstrates an economic value for such degrees.

The market determines the value of any commodity.  Whether such value makes sense to an individual observer is irrelevent, such a judgement involves a personal or emotional judgement, whereas the only economic judgement is the free market.

Therefore, the fact that the free market offers these degrees at the same cost as any other degree, and the fact that consumers pay the same price, indicates that clearly the market as a whole has found this particular subject to have value.

Now, obviously I'm discussing undergrad degrees.  At the graduate level, we might see differences in cost between, say, a medical degree and a masters or PhD in the humanities.  But again, in this situation, we do recognize that a particular expert degree might be more valuable to society than another.

At the undergrad level, however, what we usually see is that most baccalaureate degrees carry similar economic value.

  
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