The Value and Flaws of College Education: A Student Perspective
College education has long been regarded as a pathway to success and a prerequisite for a high-paying job. However, in recent years, there has been a shift in attitudes towards college education, with some students questioning its value and necessity. According to a recent post on Hacker News, there are three main uses of college education from students’ perspectives: trade school for technical professionals who need specialist education; a finishing school for the elite; and a blood sports arena for the brilliant to compete for professorships.
The post argues that many students have been tricked into going to general education and liberal arts college programs under the guise of “becoming a lifelong learner” or something, which can cripple their future career prospects. The author points out that many career paths don’t require the education you get from a college, and many aren’t smart enough for it, which can lead them to be saddled with debt.
However, the author acknowledges that college education has benefits, including exposing people to far more depth of thought and building professional networks. The author indicates that more education is almost always good, assuming the person is smart enough to receive it.
Nevertheless, the author recognizes that money is a factor, and schools have become increasingly expensive. More people are finding alternative routes, and it shouldn’t be that everyone needs college. The market is correcting itself.
One of the main concerns raised in the post is the shifting focus of colleges away from teaching students how to think critically. The author regrets that there isn’t a bigger focus in physics, math, and philosophy for those who don’t know what to do - learn one of those, and you can do just about anything. The author suggests that a hundred+ years ago, college was a place for those hungry and willing to sacrifice for intellectual growth, and it has become a baseline consumer good that “almost everyone” is expected to consume.
Another concern is that some classes, especially in liberal arts, might have been taught differently years ago; for instance, a class that critically analyzed Native American cultures may not be taught today since it would be considered racist. The author seems to indicate that the left wants minorities treated with kid gloves, and the right wants to muzzle schools that would say anything critical of white people or positive about minorities.
Overall, the post highlights the pros and cons of college education and emphasizes the need to be thoughtful when deciding whether or not to pursue it. The author suggests that making mistakes is essential in college, but that is becoming difficult with the increased scrutiny of students’ actions. The post concludes by pointing out that colleges have not been able to maintain a culture of intellectual curiosity since the percentage of the population going through them has increased. Despite all this, the author recognizes the value of college education in building professional networks, learning depth of thought, and exposing students to different cultures and life experiences.
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Author Eliza Ng