science education

Why read newspapers? Why go to college?

Spread the love

Naomi Schaefer Riley, a former editor at the Wall Street Journal, is the author of the forthcoming The Faculty Lounges .?.?. And Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For” complains about high-price, low-impact education here, and says something interesting about legacy media journalism along the way:

Think about it this way: Suppose I start a print newspaper tomorrow. I might think I’m selling excellent journalism, while my “readers” are actually using my product to line their birdcages. It might work out fine for a while. But the imbalance in this transaction would make it difficult to talk in general terms about improving the product or whether the product is worth what I’m charging. I might think I should improve my grammar and hire more reporters. My customers might want me to make the paper thicker.- “What is a college education really worth?” (Washington Post, June 3, 2011).

Yes. That’s the trouble with both education and media today. Education is about fronting materialist dogmas that no one can consistently believe, and legacy news media are about the exact same thing.

Colleges and universities have allowed their value to slip by letting students call this an undergraduate education. There is no compelling understanding among students of why they are there. Studying is not how they spend even the bulk of their waking hours, and their classes seem random at best. They may spend Monday in “19th Century Women’s Literature,” Tuesday in “Animal Behavior” and Wednesday in “Eastern Philosophy,” but these courses may bear little relation to any they took the previous semester or any they will take the next.

Yet some degrees are worthwhile:

Practical ones. Study engineering or nursing, not Victimhood Studies, Shoe Fetish Literature, or The Evolutionary Psychology of Cannibalism.

Or, if you like theoretical, study math or serious philosophy. I’ve been impressed by clear thinkers like Bradley Monton,author of Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design (Broadview Press, 2009). If that’s philosophy, study it. Learning to think clearly is a big help, wherever you find yourself.

Either way, study as if you had to account for the time you’ve been given, by Whoever and for Whatever. Does it really matter whose religion is right? You own your time. Use it wisely.

Hat tip: Five Feet of Fury.

5 Replies to “Why read newspapers? Why go to college?

  1. 1
    DrREC says:

    I find it really cute when people like Naomi Schaefer Riley go on a higher-ed bashing spree. Was it her education and degree from Harvard, or her high-school diploma that got her an editor position at the Wall Street Journal?

    Perhaps she should omit her degree from her resume in the future, if she finds it so worthless. Let us see how she fares in her future endeavors.

    I also find it amusing how many of the pieces bashing traditional higher ed come from, or are sponsored by media outlets that OWN for-profit educational institutions, some of which are under investigation (e.g. Washington Post=Kaplan).

  2. 2
    nullasalus says:

    Was it her education and degree from Harvard, or her high-school diploma that got her an editor position at the Wall Street Journal?

    That’s what got her the editor position? Fresh out of Harvard she landed an editor job at the WSJ on the force of her diploma? Maybe it was it the classes she took?

    Perhaps she should omit her degree from her resume in the future, if she finds it so worthless. Let us see how she fares in her future endeavors.

    And if she succeeds, will this be evidence that her degree wasn’t all that useful?

    I also find it amusing how many of the pieces bashing traditional higher ed come from, or are sponsored by media outlets that OWN for-profit educational institutions, some of which are under investigation (e.g. Washington Post=Kaplan).

    Just how much of the article is ‘bashing’ as opposed to pointing out a flaw in the system? And a flaw which in large part comes down to what people want out of higher education versus what higher education providers often see themselves as offering, as well as whether the education is really providing even what it’s supposed to?

    From the article: ” Executives at U.S. companies routinely complain about the lack of reading, writing and math skills in the recent graduates they hire. Maybe they too will get tired of using higher education as a credentialing system. Maybe it will be easier to recruit if they don’t have to be concerned about the overwhelming student debt of their new employees.”

  3. 3
    paragwinn says:

    Maybe it will be easier to recruit if they only have to pay their HS diploma hires 60% of what college graduates earn.

    http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm

  4. 4
    nullasalus says:

    Maybe it will be easier to recruit if they only have to pay their HS diploma hires 60% of what college graduates earn.

    As the article suggests, businesses currently do use college graduation as a metric for hiring. The question is whether the education itself is what is or should be the primary factor, whether the debt associated with a college education is typically worth any after the fact payoffs, and most of all – whether there’s a better way for adults and young adults to learn what they need to know to get a job, a good job, or work in the field they wish to. All that and the supply/demand questions – just how much is a bachelor’s degree (for example) worth, if everyone has one?

    Maybe there are better alternatives than four years and tens of thousands of dollars spent, the latter of which amounts to nigh-impossible-to-shake student loan debt.

    It gets even touchier when we look at particular fields: In developed nations, the number of PhDs given in the sciences each year has grown by almost 40 percent since 1998, reaching about 34,000 doctorates in 2008. This type of expansion sounds great in theory: interest in the sciences is growing, and we now have a population that is more educated than ever. However, the effects of this worldwide trend are troubling. The workforce cannot absorb all these highly trained graduates, there is little money to support these expensive programs, and the quality of education is often low, among other problems.

    The US is one of the largest producers of PhDs, second only to China. In life sciences and physical sciences alone, our universities bestowed nearly 20,000 doctorate degrees in 2009. Most PhD students are striving toward a tenured professorship, but academia just can’t take all these graduates. In 1973, 55 percent of PhD recipients had tenure-track positions within six years of earning their PhDs. In 2006, merely 15 percent of recent graduates found themselves in this position.

    Furthermore, industries such as biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies are downsizing left and right, so jobs in the private sector can’t take up the slack. One possibility for PhD holders is to spend years doing postdoctoral work, but the funding for that type of work these days just isn’t there. The other choice, which is becoming more and more common, is to take jobs that don’t require PhDs.

    This new reality not only wastes intellectual talent, but also a significant amount of money. Most PhD students in the sciences (unlike those in other fields of education, such as medicine or law school) are fully funded through research assistantships, teaching opportunities, and fellowships. With so many graduates these days taking jobs they are overqualified for, some educators and economists believe this money is simply being wasted.

    And most striking of all…

    Finally, it may be time to encourage some young people to forgo graduate education and enter the workforce. Some companies actually prefer to hire recent college graduates—or even undergraduates—because they believe that PhD students are not well-prepared for real-world jobs. Although this point of view is still somewhat rare, and having a graduate degree does open some doors, it might be wise to encourage students to consider their options before they jump into a PhD program with dreams of a tenured professorship.

    Don’t worry though. This all comes from some biased, hillbilly trash mag. 😉

  5. 5
    aki33 says:

    All capable young Americans who want well-paying jobs should be encouraged to complete high school, college, or some form of technical school and apprenticeship/internship.

    As I found out when had to write my paper on our education system, an important point to remember is that it is not necessary for all of this happen at once. It does not need to happen in a specific order. Perhaps a high school graduate needs to take a year or two to make enough money to pay for college. Perhaps a community college graduate realizes that he can make gains in his income by getting certified in a technical program. Sometimes, employers will even subsidize the costs of obtaining these certifications, because they know that it will yield improved efficiency and productivity in the work place.

    Ultimately though, it falls to the individual to decide his/her career path. Sure, critics will point out that not everyone has the leisure of taking time off here or there throughout their lives to complete an MBA, a technical certification, or other job training. But if states and the Obama administration commit to improving high school education quality and access, everyone should have a strong enough base education to choose the continued training that is correct for them. If one really wants to raise their income and subsequent living standards, he/she will find a way to get the needed training, despite the obstacles.

Leave a Reply