generation limbo: 20-somethings today, debt, unemployment, the questionable value of a college education

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http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide/feature/college_dropout_factories.php?page=all

i basically had no idea there were tertiary institutions anywhere in the world with < 50% graduation rates until i read this.

caek, Thursday, 10 November 2011 12:33 (seven years ago) link

I wanna see the list of dropout factories that went with that article because based on the comments they accidentally put Concordia College in MN on it

sex-poodle Al Gore (DJP), Thursday, 10 November 2011 14:34 (seven years ago) link

iatee that's nonsense: they're not rational with their time, they're fucking around, playing video games, getting wasted, watching tv. that's rational? for fuck's sake they could learn how to write! or fucking scrub dishes, if they're not going to learn to use their minds.

I mean if your point is that most people don't want to be part of the ~knowledge economy~ then fine; but I gather you're prepared to see massive wage drops compared to now? if I'm a business owner I don't want to pay some know-nothing good coin to enter data into a computer; I want someone with ideas & energy to carry those out. & you don't develop those playing xbox or watching Jersey Shore while cased out on Schlitz.

Euler, Thursday, 10 November 2011 14:50 (seven years ago) link

Listen, when you work as an office drone, having ideas will kill ya.

It means why you gotta be a montague? (Laurel), Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:01 (seven years ago) link

getting wasted and interacting w/ modern technology is prob more related to the life of a modern office worker than reading about plato

iatee, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:10 (seven years ago) link

I'm sorry but you expect everyone to be steve jobs or something, yes I am prepared for massive wage drops and your field is included in that btw

iatee, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:13 (seven years ago) link

yeah that's just a failure of imagination, on your part & on the part of so-called college students today. no wonder everyone's depressed these days!

i.e. tl;dr; goodbye America

Euler, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:14 (seven years ago) link

I'd like some evidence that hard-working philosophy majors have been something that contributed new *ideas and energy* to the american economy, iirc they just become lawyers

iatee, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:16 (seven years ago) link

why are you hung up on philosophy majors

sex-poodle Al Gore (DJP), Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:17 (seven years ago) link

cause euler's a philosophy prof complaining about his lazy students

iatee, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:17 (seven years ago) link

ah, so you're using the rhetorical stratagem known as "being a dick"

sex-poodle Al Gore (DJP), Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:18 (seven years ago) link

i feel like ive lost the thread somewhere, what are the two sides of this argument

max, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:19 (seven years ago) link

you could start with "what do philosophy majors do" About 5,940,000 results (0.21 seconds)

& yes this oughtn't just be about philosophy; I think it's nuts to say it's rational for people to waste their time rather than work hard at learning (& yes I'm aware that I'm on this message board right now rather than writing today's lecture but this is a kind of meta-work for me right now as I try to sort out how to handle my classes today).

Euler, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:22 (seven years ago) link

euler: our generation is lazy / has a failure of imagination / needs ~ideas and energy~, his evidence is some people in his class go out and party and play xbox
me: sorry dude they don't really have any reason to care about your class they just want a BA, that is why they are there, this is nothing new btw, they might not have been there 30 years ago when they coulda gotten a decent job w/o a BA

iatee, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:22 (seven years ago) link

as I understood the argument, iatee's claiming that it's more rational for future "office drones" (his expression) to fuck around than to work hard at university

I disagree

Euler, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:24 (seven years ago) link

I think "office drone" may actually have been my expression but carry on.

It means why you gotta be a montague? (Laurel), Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:25 (seven years ago) link

making personal connections + being sociable is more important to your future job prospects than being rly good at writing papers on socrates

another one of those 'true value of college' things

xp

iatee, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:25 (seven years ago) link

also iatee you act as though as a BA has no value aside from signaling which I guess is your "conceit" on this thread but I'm saying: it's not just that you have a BA, but what you learned getting it, that gives you value. are you saying that you wish students could just go to class & give minimal effort & get great jobs w/o investing intellectual effort? because if so, I think I understand what you're longing for, where you're really coming from, at least.

Euler, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:27 (seven years ago) link

Great jobs?? I think they'd be okay with just getting JOBS remotely in their field of study.

It means why you gotta be a montague? (Laurel), Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:29 (seven years ago) link

Euler's point, though, is that getting a job in your field of study when you never actually studied it is... somewhat entitled.

sex-poodle Al Gore (DJP), Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:31 (seven years ago) link

right; he said decent jobs, that's fine too: minimal intellectual effort, decent jobs, that's the dream that this country was founded on, right?

is this just longing for blue collar America, get a factory job making solid buck? or do you want the jobs of the 90s, white collar management / consulting type work for the minimal effort folks?

xp DJP otm

Euler, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:33 (seven years ago) link

this has nothing to do with what I 'wish', we're looking at the situation irl for your students

I think a BA has value beyond signaling, just more personal-fulfillment type value than value that'd directly translate to the workplace. generally. it's a good experience and people should make the most of it. I loved college, sometimes I think I'm giving the impression that I didn't.

but someone who's there entirely for signaling reasons is not crazy or even necessarily lazy. it's not entirely irrational to not care about that personal-fulfillment aspect!

xp

euler teaches in a field where there is literally no job in the field beyond teaching more people about the field.

xp

iatee, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:34 (seven years ago) link

I think there's a distinction between "great" jobs and just jobs...people at the top part of the field will obv be those who excelled in their studies, but they will burn out and die if they have to do all the immeasurably boring and repetitive grunt-work done at the bottom of their field, so those jobs are structurally slated for those less ambitious, less studious.

I'm on hold w my dental insurance so I'm a little fragmented but that's roughly where I was going.

It means why you gotta be a montague? (Laurel), Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:37 (seven years ago) link

It's not merely personal fulfillment, though; you can actually develop skills! like how to write clearly! how to work with statistics! how to plan & set up & run & interpret experiments!

iatee has no idea what majors in my field go on to do but if he wants to do the search I recommended he'll see

what you're calling IRL: as though that's independent of the attitudes toward learning & accomplishment amongst students! what you're calling "the real world", I'm calling a failure of imagination. likely the truth is somewhere between but I think it's a lot closer to me than you.

Euler, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:38 (seven years ago) link

is this just longing for blue collar America, get a factory job making solid buck? or do you want the jobs of the 90s, white collar management / consulting type work for the minimal effort folks?

I'm not doing any longing I'm just trying to understand what's going on in the world. I don't see someone working hard in your class as something that's gonna affect their economic future in a significant way. why not play xbox? they're there for a piece of paper w/ important signaling power not because they think it's worth paying tuition to hear you talk about plato. as long as that's the case, you don't get to complain about their work ethic.

iatee, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:38 (seven years ago) link

we don't have to write-off an education in the humanities - we could work on having more employers see the advantage in hiring people who can think critically

but there is def major grade inflation in the humanities, hard to see if a lit major got her degree the right way or by writing about how much she really sympathized with molly bloom

ASPIE Rocky (dayo), Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:40 (seven years ago) link

iatee's approaching this from the other side of 'what does the job market look like/what does it require.' you can obv argue for the value of a good education in and of itself without any consideration of whether or not it'll get you a job. then the question becomes, what value should we pay for an education in and of itself. $40k a year? seems high.

ASPIE Rocky (dayo), Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:42 (seven years ago) link

again I think a good contrast is law school where how well you do *very very directly* affects your economic future. and people work pretty hard! you can argue that there's a difference cause that's a professional program but really it isn't in the way we teach law.

iatee, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:50 (seven years ago) link

I don't really know where iatee is coming from, actually. What he's calling "what's going on in the world", as if it's an immutable fact, I think is wrong. If students are putting in minimal intellectual effort, then why should an employer want to hire them?

maybe you just had lousy professors or a silly major? I don't really get the resentment here.

Euler, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:55 (seven years ago) link

his point is that students do sometimes put in a great deal of intellectual effort at their philosophy majors but graduate and face the same job prospects as someone who cased a 6 pack of schlitz while playing battlefield i.e. 0

ASPIE Rocky (dayo), Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:57 (seven years ago) link

wait euler are you implying that unemployment is high because kids dont get good grades in college?

max, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:58 (seven years ago) link

I know you live somewhere where panera will pay somebody $20 to slice bread but there are many parts of the country, where fresh grads graduate and they can't get jobs that are commensurate with how hard they worked in college!

ASPIE Rocky (dayo), Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:59 (seven years ago) link

it's not about grades, because of grade inflation. if we had realistic grading & mediocre students got Cs, then maybe grades would be enough. as it is, grade-hungry students without any appetite for knowledge or self-motivated drive end up striking out because what can they contribute to this economy? maybe in the 90s just showing up was enough. it's not now.

does that mean I'm wishing everyone were Steve Jobs? no, just come to class! do your homework! come to my office with questions! ask questions in class!

I'm probably just repeating now what DJP said yesterday concerning the infantilization of Western culture.

Euler, Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:06 (seven years ago) link

?? how does a philosophy major differentiate between grade-hungry students and those with an "appetite for knowledge" or who have "self-motivated drive"?

ASPIE Rocky (dayo), Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:08 (seven years ago) link

euler, in terms of employment prospects/"investment", how does a philosophy major justify itself?

ASPIE Rocky (dayo), Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:08 (seven years ago) link

as it is, grade-hungry students without any appetite for knowledge or self-motivated drive end up striking out because what can they contribute to this economy?

heh, this is a pretty.... unique explanation for unemployment

max, Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:10 (seven years ago) link

again I loved going to college and I went basically for free, I'm not personally bitter about how things went, but you should check the 99% tumblr if you want evidence that there are about a million people who are very disillusioned. the most disillusioned are the ones who *did work hard and don't see the fruits of their labor*. maybe they worked hard ~the wrong way~ but if there's any evidence w/r/t what ~working hard the wrong way~ is, it'd point to working hard during your 'mostly a signal' BA.

the fact that people in your generation are so incapable of understanding how the general dynamic has shifted so violently is amazing! and sad!

I'm not sure how you miss this again and again: employers don't want to hire lazy people but at the same time don't judge work ethic based on how they did in your class. internships, jobs, outside of class stuff generally gets more attention. that is pretty good evidence that the market doesn't currently place much value in 'how hard you worked in class' and considers it mostly just a hurdle to jump over.

xp

iatee, Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:11 (seven years ago) link

and again, a clear contrast is the law market. that's a market w/ a ridiculous dynamics for its own reasons (and again a place where this generations has things so, so, so much worse) but it's a job market that directly rewards working hard in class.

iatee, Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:14 (seven years ago) link

I don't think a philosophy degree is worthless btw I actually was accepted to college as one! didn't go w/ it tho.

iatee, Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:17 (seven years ago) link

good grief it's not "how hard you worked in class" that I'm talking about, but rather: did you make anything of that effort? do you see what you majored in as constructing some skill set that you can use to do work you value enough to warrant doing it, & that employers warrant? philo majors are doing fine enough (ours are, at least those who haven't sleepwalked through their degrees, & I'm not talking about service jobs).

keep in mind if it were up to me I'd eliminate all degrees except math, philosophy, & maybe physics and/or biology. I value skill-teaching over content-teaching, & think undergrads should have a pretty good idea after their first couple of years of what sort of work they envision. I think faculty & universities generally should help undergrads with this, but ultimately it's the student's responsibility to think through this for herself, & if she's too young to do so, that's not our problem.

Euler, Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:17 (seven years ago) link

you can use to do work you value enough to warrant doing it, & that employers warrant?

do you see that there can be a pretty big disconnect between the first half and the second half of this sentence?

and your viewpoint begs the question - the person who is self-aware enough to do that in college doesn't need college - she is steve jobs!

ASPIE Rocky (dayo), Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:20 (seven years ago) link

there's a disconnect between the first & second half mainly because we teach people to ~follow their dreams~ when thinking about careers / majors. Which is a mistake. Follow the money.

my view doesn't beg that question: I take it that students have some feeling for what they value, & we can help them shape that into practical career choices. If we did our job right, of course.

Euler, Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:22 (seven years ago) link

so euler your big theory of the economy right now is "recent college grads are unemployed because they dont know what they value and havent developed skill sets because they were lazy in college"?

max, Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:24 (seven years ago) link

okay, so what employers value the skill of talking intelligently about plato

ASPIE Rocky (dayo), Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:24 (seven years ago) link

I mean, under your view the logical step would be for high school grads to jump directly into employment after graduation - what better way to learn the skills that employers value than actually going to work for that employer and being forcefed those skills directly?

ASPIE Rocky (dayo), Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:25 (seven years ago) link

nobody is doing 'fine enough', the fact that you can even think that is astounding. I don't know where exactly you live and maybe the white collar job market is (in the short-run btw) a little better there but I personally know 'hard working' philosophy majors from name schools who are struggling. (I also know some who are famous bloggers otoh.)

xp

iatee, Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:27 (seven years ago) link

and how are employers to know which professors are evaluating their students using the right metrics? how can they differentiate an A in your class (given, presumably, because the student demonstrated "skills that employers would warrant") over another student who got an A from another philosophy prof (given idk for sucking the prof's dick after class)?

ASPIE Rocky (dayo), Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:28 (seven years ago) link

a few things

- its probably p hard to isolate the impact that 'getting good grades' has from all the other good things ppl who are going to work hard at college do but it seems p obv that the ppl who are working hard have a better chance at a getting a good job, being 'successful' &c

- there are direct benefits to good grades which iatee is kinda hand-waving at (and lots of big co.s ask for transcripts now even in stuff like advertising/pr) but there are clear indirect benefits (like impressing yr professors haha)

- it also seems probable (at least ime) that even the ppl working really hard are making efficiency decisions i.e. i am going to work exactly as hard as need to get a B+, keep an A average, impress this professor to get a good letter of rec

- but lots of students are bad at making efficiency decisions (haha thats why theyre there in the first place) and while there may be lots of things that are just as influential in finding a job postgrad (internships, creative extracurr, frat parties) its hard to say these are either strictly better or need to be independent of 'good grades'

- while macro factors are really whats going to fuck u, might as well control the micro factors amirite?

and a butt (Lamp), Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:32 (seven years ago) link

because grades don't mean anything anymore? what matters are letters of recommendation that highlight specific skills & accomplishments of students: "this student can use statistical reasoning to shed light on current debates on public policy, and can write up her results clearly; see attached short writing sample for details of her work, which you can expect to be applicable to your company on day 1 for the following reasons". this takes faculty who have their heads out of their ivory tower asses & obv mine is partly there but I've worked enough in "the real world" & keep up with friends out there to have a pretty decent idea of what's needed, & what's not.

but I think there's a disconnect here & I'm gonna have to drop out---this lecture is coming along but I can't afford the distraction anymore. It's interesting!

actually it looks like I'm gonna come to NYC in Feb or March---could talk these things out then? not sure how long I'll be around & I'm there for work as usual but it could be fun to hang out.

Euler, Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:34 (seven years ago) link

heh letters of rec are written just as much for signaling purposes as they are written as substantive evaluations of a student

ASPIE Rocky (dayo), Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:35 (seven years ago) link


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