Friday, April 25, 2014

A university diploma is just a piece of sheepskin designed to cover one's intellectual nakedness...

A Facebook friend posted this today.  A few snarky comments were made, including the one that I used to title this post.  Whenever I see someone posting something like this, I can't help but think the reason they're posting it is because they're trying to denigrate someone who had the good fortune to attend an institution of higher learning.  I'm generally not impressed by that attitude.  To me, it sort of signifies sour grapes.  If you didn't go to school and you're happy with your choice, why would you need to tear someone else down for their choice to go to school?  If you aren't saddled with a shitload of student loans and are able to make a living that satisfies you without benefit of a college degree, you should be glad and even proud of that fact, not crapping on people who chose to attend college.

Granted, I do understand that there are plenty of people out there with degrees who aren't very bright.  I know that having a degree doesn't actually mean you are any smarter or better than someone who doesn't have one.  Plenty of people have made a name for themselves without having had benefit of college.  What a degree does say is that the person who earned it had enough self-discipline and tenacity to complete a degree program.  It also means that they somehow came up with the money to go to school-- perhaps it means they got the money from their parents, but it also might mean that they worked hard or took out loans so they could formally educate themselves.  It means they hoped for and invested in what they thought might lead them to a "better life".  Most people can't afford to attend college just for shits and giggles.  They go to school because they hope it will lead them to something more than a dead end job.

Obviously, there are many professions that require graduation from a university.  In today's world, you can't be a doctor or a lawyer if you haven't been to college.  You can't be a social worker or a psychologist or a teacher or a certified public accountant if you haven't been formally academically prepared.  I do realize that there are many professions where that "sheepskin" isn't required.  You can work your way up in plenty of jobs, though it might take longer and you might have a harder time finding someone to give you a chance.  I certainly don't have to be college educated for what I do.

Many people go to school, not just for what they learn in a classroom, but also for social reasons or because they want to meet other peoples' expectations.  My time in school enriched me and broadened my horizons.  And dammit, it wasn't easy to earn those degrees, either.  I worked very hard for them… particularly when I was in graduate school.  It wasn't just the academic work that was difficult; it was living alone and juggling jobs to support myself while I also attended class and made satisfactory progress toward completing my degrees.  Those three years were challenging and worthwhile, though not in the way I expected them to be.  They led me to a good place, though not the place I expected them to lead me.  They presented me with different opportunities and experiences than I might have had if I had not gone to grad school.  Of course, we are now paying for those degrees, but even that experience has been educational.  In fact, I have learned firsthand how paying a little more each month on a student loan can really pay off in the long run.

Life is pretty hard.  It's harder for some people than it is for others.  Everyone has a path to follow.  If your path doesn't lead you to an institution of higher learning and you survive alright, then good for you.  But it really isn't very becoming to accuse someone who went to college as "trying to hide their intellectual nakedness".  In fact, I think it makes you look petty and jealous.  On the other hand, if you run into someone who acts superior just because they went to college, feel free to roll your eyes as hard as you can.  They probably really are "intellectually naked".  But they'd probably be that way if they hadn't gone to college, too.  Some people are just assholes.

I think a lot of people are starting to think of higher education as a "scam".  People think they have to get a degree, but they aren't sure what they want to study.  They go to school, try something, and hate it.  They drop out, which is bad news if they've taken out student loans.  They find out that being unsuccessful in college and dropping out doesn't mean that the loans go away.  For some people, going to college is a big mistake.  For others, I say that going to college is a good thing… as long as you are prepared for the challenge and can afford to go.  And if that's the case, no one should be putting you down for making that choice.  I loved my years in school… I got more out of them than I put in, even if I am now "The Overeducated Housewife".

According to 7th Heaven, if you don't go to college, your life will go down the toilet!

For the record, this particular storyline on 7th Heaven did make me roll my eyes.  I think Mary was smart not to go to college until she knew what she wanted to study.  Nowadays, going to school to "find yourself" can ultimately end up leading down a road to financial ruin.  And for some people, a technical track is a better fit anyway.  Why spend time and money on general ed classes if you don't have a goal in mind?

Anyway, that's my rant for the day… so far at least.

By the way, Bill's interviews in New York seemed to go very well.  Even if he doesn't get a job offer, I think it was a worthwhile endeavor.  At the very least, he was able to go to Eataly and buy me some Italian hot chocolate mix.  ;)

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