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Jesse Weinstock

Student - A.B. in Physics,

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Is college still the best way to go?

Heading into my Jr. year in college I got a notification that part of my financial aid was being pulled. After noticing that my brother had just graduated college, the office of financial aid noticed my family no longer needed the additional $8,000 in my scholarship.

In response to economic crises' in the world I have been asking myself more and more whether college is worth what I'm paying. As it stand now by the time I leave college I would be $72,000 in debt. When I leave college its seems more likely than not that I'd end up back home without a job.

Looking back I realize I didn't really even have a choice whether or not I was going to go to college. I had been told ever since I was 6 or so that "you are going to go to college no ifs, ands, or buts". I still don't have a good idea of what I want to do with myself. I'm just studying physics cause I'm good at math and I'll have a better chance at getting a job.

I do find some of the stuff interesting, but when I start to go off and explore the subject I feel myself doing worse in classes. As a result I find myself doing poor in class's I hold interest in and perfectly okay in classes I couldn't care less about.

So why again am I putting myself through all this?

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    Jul 28 2011: Any FORMAL educational program is aim to help you TO BE GOOD AT WHAT YOU WANT TO BE GOOD AT and equiped you with the PROOF of how good you are at that thing you want to be good at.

    Can you GET those TWO things without college ?
    If the answer is yes, the answer to your question is no.
    • Jul 28 2011: University education has little to do with "proof of how good you are at the thing you want to be good at." I agree that it should and that that is the ideal. But in practice, you cannot, for example, get a degree by testing out of everything. No institution, to my knowledge, allows such a thing. They allow testing out of a certain percentage of your total credits, but not all.

      The question to ask, then, is "If your grade in university is supposed to be numerical proof that you know the subject, why don't universities allow and even promote more testing?" The answer seems to be that they need justification for charging their exorbitant prices. If you or anyone could offer a better explanation, I would love to hear (or read) it.
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        Jul 28 2011: That's a new info to me.
        From where I came from you can't graduate if all those credits are not tested as in passed with decent grades. Unless they are sort of "extra curricular" thing.

        I agree completely, however, about how that "proof" might not reflect what it should be. But the gap, I was told (like Jesee here I was born into it :D), is closed by something called standardization. A statistic voodoo that everybody seems to believe that if the grades are the same, that bunch of people have an adequate average knowledge of the field or major. Says who ? Says all the experts in that very colleges (which often become second tier of that proof) .

        THIS is what being held as a "proof" by the industry. Company seeking potential employees demand a title to ensure they at least hired somebody who knows something about the field. In the court of law title defines the witness expertise to settle a case. Almost anything that question competency refer to this "proof". This is what makes college is practically mandatory.

        Jesee here will have a better shot if the industry starts to look for alternative "proof".
        And sharing a similar sentiment as yours, about the existing "proof" they are beginning to look for alternatives...
        • Jul 28 2011: Ah, I think I wasn't clear. Sorry for that. When I said "testing", I was referring to taking a departmental exam that allows the student to forgo taking the full class. In theory, it should be much cheaper to take such an exam. In reality, it is usually still quite expensive and often costs as much as the full course, minus the expense of books and associated supplies.

          Also, I don't mean to say that the little piece of paper you get at the end of university education isn't a good system for providing proof of skills or knowledge. It's just simply become very, very difficult and expensive to obtain such proof.

          In your line of work, I can see why requiring a degree is often necessary. As for alternatives, some higher education in the US has begun to focus on certifications rather than full degrees, something Germany did a long time ago. In computer related fields especially, certifications tend to trump degrees in the actual job market.
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      Jul 28 2011: I think you have hit the nail on the head.

      I believe just about anyone has a greater capacity to learn what they want than colleges can give. Because of the growth of the internet anyone has unlimited resources to learn just about anything.

      The problem lies in proof. As far as trends are going now the only things students will be expecting from college is a great social experience and a degree. How long will this piece of paper be worth the money required to get it.
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        Jul 28 2011: Now.. now... giving up on college is a bit hasty.
        Most of the knowledge on the internet came from people who go to colleges whether they graduate or not.

        The most important thing right now is figure out what you want or like to do.. to be.
        Study it .. research it... is there certification program like what Seraphim mentioned for what you want ? Are those certificate is well accepted in the industry ?

        Current educational system is in questions now not because the quality is declining, but the world... the way people do things are changing... it just no longer compatible... but they remain as human's best achievement in harvesting the race's (that includes you) potential so far.
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          Jul 29 2011: I do intend to finish college(after a semester or two off). I do actually find some of my professors to be extraordinary teachers. But as you said the system just does not work well with me. I'm just wondering why the process is so messy. If schools and society are continuing to loose compatibility when will another Institution come along to address the issues? Is this a time for a change in paradigms?

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