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Are high school and college anachronisms?

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Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby bdog » Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:10 am

Penelope Trunk with a unique perspective as always

The biggest barrier to accepting the radical new nature of the job hunt is the reverberations throughout the rest of life. If you don’t need school for work, and you don’t need school for learning, then all you need school for is so parents can go to work and not worry about taking care of their kids.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby penquin » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:31 pm

I heard it said a while ago that one of the main reasons public schools came about in America is because child labor laws were passed and the youngsters who couldn't work anymore were running loose in the streets....so schools were created/formed in order to give 'em something worthwhile to do.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby Detritus » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:33 pm

The short answer, at least in terms of lifetime earnings and treating data in the aggregate, is "no." The most important thing someone can do to boost their lifetime earnings is graduate from high school. A college degree (BA/BS) is the second most important thing. Degrees after that are highly variable, not just by discipline but also by school--for example, an MBA from the Wharton School = Mucho Dinero; an online MBA from Globe University = trying to pay off school loans doing whatever you did before enrolling at Globe.

One interesting thing about a high school degree: the statistics indicate it is far, far better to just get the damn degree than to drop out and then go the GED route. People getting the degree are far more likely to then enroll in a technical college or university than GED holders, and if they do enroll, they are far more likely to finish with a degree than GED holders.

An interesting thing about BA/BS degrees, is that, specific cases aside (like Bill Gates), not only are the vast majority of CEOs BA holders, the majority of those have soft, squishy undergraduate majors like English, Philosophy, and History, albeit typically augmented later with an MBA of some kind.

In sum: for all the problems with secondary and higher ed, your odds are still better with those degrees than without. Graduate school, particularly in an area where your only employment option is to teach at a university, is another matter.

I can post links to data if you like.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby Detritus » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:35 pm

penquin wrote:I heard it said a while ago that one of the main reasons public schools came about in America is because child labor laws were passed and the youngsters who couldn't work anymore were running loose in the streets....so schools were created/formed in order to give 'em something worthwhile to do.

Not true at all. The first US public schools were established in the 1820s. Child labor laws are primarily an early 20th century thing (federal child labor laws date to 1916, if I remember correctly).
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby bleurose » Wed Apr 24, 2013 1:41 pm

Oh, yeah, this approach will be successful for the masses.

No, high school and college are not anachronisms. I will be the first to say that a regular four year university is not for everyone and that many young people/high school graduates would be much better served by going to a technical/community school or even taking a year or so off to work while deciding what to do with their lives. There should be nothing wrong with this particular choice and as a society, I think it should be encouraged in any number of situations.

The other thing though, is that not every kid needs to go to the highest priced college they can get into. There are plenty of colleges and universities which provide good-excellent educations and don't have the "cachet" price tag. Tuition has for some years now been rising and it is much more accurately reflecting what it costs to educate individuals. I'm not going to argue about what others "think" constitutes education, that is another conversation for another thread. But this constant rise in tuition is a direct result of states and the feds cutting back for the past couple of decades on the amount of monetary support provided for education.

Finally, what individuals "get out of education" is definitely linked to the work they are willing/able to do to attain it. Too many kids arrive at colleges and sit back to wait to be educated. They view it as a passive process which should "happen to them" rather than an active one they participate in.

And I don't have any time for those who say, in one form or another, "this isn't what I need to know" or "this doesn't have anything to do with what I need". Yeah, right - if I had a nickel for every one of these self-proclaimed geniuses who are so sure they know exactly what they need to know, then I could retire. It usually shuts them up to point out that if they really knew what they needed to know, then they wouldn't be in this class/program now, would they?
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby acereraser » Wed Apr 24, 2013 1:45 pm

This is a clever animation of talk given by Sir Ken Robinson, in which he examines the current paradigms of public education and why they are in need of change. What he suggests goes beyond reforms, and is a great starting point for discussing the topic of the thread.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby penquin » Wed Apr 24, 2013 2:48 pm

Detritus wrote:Not true at all.


I'm pretty sure that my source for that was an Uncle John's Reader. Thanks for setting it straight.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby Detritus » Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:53 pm

penquin wrote:
Detritus wrote:Not true at all.


I'm pretty sure that my source for that was an Uncle John's Reader. Thanks for setting it straight.

Well, we'll just wipe that comment, shall we? Not to discommode anyone....
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby peripat » Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:31 pm

So as a practical matter high schools exist to keep kids off the street and colleges to keep them out of the labor market for another 4 or 5 or more years? Sounds about right.
What a diploma or a degree really shows is that the individual can deal with day to day b/s which is really important in the workplace. A GED is less acceptable than a HS diploma- even though up to 30% of graduating seniors can't pass all the GED tests-because the very fact that someone has a GED rather than a diploma shows that they were not very organization minded.
College students, of course, get out of school with nearly unmanageable debt.
And now, because welfare is only for the rich, businesses will not train their own employees but insist that taxpayers do that for them.
Great system we've got going here.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby snoqueen » Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:39 am

And now, because welfare is only for the rich, businesses will not train their own employees but insist that taxpayers do that for them.


It's worse than that. They're trying to take apart publicly-funded technical and trade education and hand it over to private businesses, so that students need to get loans to cover their own retraining. Only certain taxpayers (the students, that is) will be paying.

Which is a poor incentive, because technical retraining is (quite properly) a never-ending process and the obvious result is the student-employees never get out of debt.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby bleurose » Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:51 am

Vis a vis sno's remark and in the category of "it gets worse": our idiot gov's latest idea is to tie state funding for the university system to how many students are able to get jobs in industries that say they can't find "qualified workers". What ever happened to employers training their own employees to do the tasks that employers need done in their businesses? It's not now and never has been the role of universities to ensure that graduating students can walk onto a job that day and know all the tasks and responsibilities that an employer needs/requires. That is why there are orientations and other employees to show the newbies the ropes.

This is basically a way, as sno said, for taxpayers to pay for private business job training.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby wack wack » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:45 am

bleurose wrote:What ever happened to employers training their own employees to do the tasks that employers need done in their businesses? It's not now and never has been the role of universities to ensure that graduating students can walk onto a job that day and know all the tasks and responsibilities that an employer needs/requires.


I wonder about this every day. the current right wing push is to make higher education literally serve business. No need to develop people, just develop workers. Developed people are a threat to business.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby WestSideYuppie » Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:07 pm

Some more wisdom from Penelope Trunk:

When I’m at the airport, I miss my planes. A lot. My biggest problem is that I can’t actually read my boarding pass.

And her stunning resume:

My career began in Los Angeles, where I played professional beach volleyball. Then I went to graduate school for English. During that time I learned HTML which allowed me to get a job at Ingram Micro, a Fortune 100 company, managing their web site.

After that, I worked at a few smaller software companies and then started my own company, Math.com, a math-tools resource for the teaching community funded by Encore Software. I sold that company for a small sum, and founded eCitydeals, an online auction service for city governments, which was funded by Shelter Ventures, and was shut down in the dot-com bust.

During this time, I wrote a column for Business 2.0 magazine about my experiences as a startup founder. I relocated to New York City and after only a few months at the next startup, I found myself a block from the World Trade Center when it fell.

I decided to be a full-time writer so I did not have to leave my apartment. And I focused on giving career advice instead of writing about myself.


Also, here's a quote from our Governor:

We’re going to tie our funding in our technical colleges and our University of Wisconsin System into performance and say, if you want money, we need you to perform. In higher education, that means not only degrees, but are young people getting degrees in jobs that are open and needed today -- not just the jobs that the universities want to give us, or degrees that people want to give us.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby Igor » Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:55 pm

At the root of the problem:

- HR departments use degrees to filter out applications. Sometimes this is appropriate. Other times, it is just expedient.

- It is not in the best interests of a university to let a student get a degree in 3 or 3.5 years instead of 4 or 5.

The easiest way to assist students with loans would be to either figure out how to cut General Degree Requirements, or else more accurately target them to their majors. My 20 credits of Music Appreciation, History, Geography, and Astronomy were easy A's but I'm not sure that they affected my life in any way.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby Detritus » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:22 pm

Igor wrote: - It is not in the best interests of a university to let a student get a degree in 3 or 3.5 years instead of 4 or 5.

I don't believe this is true, or at least I don't believe that public and private, non-profit university administrations believe it to be true. There is significant pressure to push students through, and universities with low throughput (average time to degree > 5 years) are looked at very critically by accreditors and the guaranteed student loan people.

Most universities want as many incoming students as possible making it all the way through as quickly as possible. Each year past 4 that a student fails to finish increases the chance that they won't finish at all, which means that using resources that a more successful student could put to better use, plus when they do drop out they become a negative mark on the university's record.

Plus, successful students make for successful alumni, and successful alumni are a treasure to a university. The UW-Madison has gotten way more value out of John and Tasha Morgridge as successful alumni that it could have gotten out of another 1-2 years of tuition from either or both of them.

Private, for-profit universities, yes, by and large they do their best to soak their students, and they have the dismal completion rates, poor post-graduate success rates, and complete lack of successful alumni to show for it.
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