Why I argue with my husband about the virtues of four years at an American University *UPDATED*

My husband and I frequently debate the virtue of sending our children off to a costly four year university (assuming, of course, that they are admitted).  I’m agin’ it, because I think it’s insane to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars so that ones child can listen to this type of gobbledygook:

American Digest, from whence this link came, properly characterizes Donna Haraway’s two and half minutes of video fame as “bitter, intellectually insane blather.”  While I never had Haraway (who is, unsurprisingly, a professor at the tax payer supported, but always loopy, UC Santa Cruz), I had plenty of UC Berkeley professors who easily gave her a run for her money when it came to spouting meaningless academic jargon, wrapped in unintelligible elliptical phrases.

My current goal, one with which my husband strongly disagrees, is to have the children spend their first two years out of high school at a strong community college, which will see them getting the basics, cheap.  My husband points out, quite correctly, that the caliber of fellow students at the Ivies, or the more prestigious public colleges is much higher than at the community colleges, so my plan will deny the children the benefit of smart peers.  I point out, correctly, that, at least in the liberal arts and soft sciences, the caliber of teachers sinks in direct proportion to the college’s or university’s prestige level.  My husband can’t see his way to acknowledging this one, which makes sense, since it is a subjective conclusion.

UPDATE:  The perfect video to wrap up this post:

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  • Doug

    The problem is that the community colleges are so screwed up that it takes twice as long as you think to actually get your classes, and the level is much lower than at a higher level school and it’s not as easy to make the switch mid stream as they advertise.
    Why don’t you look at some of the more conservative schools?  They exist – CMC http://www.cmc.edu/ is an excellent college – one of the Claremont colleges and they’re pretty conservative over there.  And he can hardly object to sending them to the 11th ranked liberal arts college in the country…

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    The Claremont Colleges are exceptional (my niece and nephew attended), but, boy!, are they expensive.

    I’m sorry to hear about the problems with community colleges.  Back in the early 1980s, when I attended Berkeley, my mother signed up for classes at San Francisco City College.  She was taking the same classes I was taking:  art history and English lit.  Ironically, her teachers were significantly better than mine.

    I guess the rot, once it sets in, affects everything, both high and low.

  • Charles Martel

    Your husband is flat out wrong about the supposed superior quality of your kids’ future peers at Rip Off U. Junior college “kids” come in three batches:

    Batch Number 1 is the group of unmotivated kids who are hitting the books because doing so keeps the ‘rents off their backs for a year or two while they figure out what the really want to do. In the meantime they get stoned, drunk and laid. Their analogs at Rip Off U are legacy admissions. From Mr. Book’s point of view, the existence of this group means that the Book Kids wouldn’t really be missing rubbing shoulders with an important segment of the four-year college population.

    Batch Number 2 are the motivated kids, who for one bad-luck reason or another, couldn’t get into Rip Off U’s but are determined to take advantage of the superior quality of junior college instruction (no publishing, just teaching) and the almost direct-pipeline connection most juniors have with prestigious four-year institutions. These kids usually land at the Rip Off U’s running and thinking faster than Mr. Book’s imaginary aboriginal students.

    Batch Number 3 is adults who have been out in the trenches for 10, 20, or 30 years. Hardass sumbitches who’ve been there, done that and talked back to many a supposed intellectual superior. They do not take most professors seriously because they’ve met too many humbugs along the way. They are the true instructors on junior college campuses because they’re fearless about challenging and mincemeating pedogogic imcompetence. When they do, the little 18 year olds sit up and take notice because it’s their first encounter with people who are not impressed with experts.

    Not that Mr. Book will entertain any of this. From your description of him, he is a reactionary who measures academic excellence in terms of packaging, not content. Refer him to “Oz, Wizard of, The,” a little film from the 1930s in which an obviously intelligent character, made of straw, is not acknowledged as smart until the stupid people around him festoon him with a piece of paper that says, yep, he’s bright!

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    Possibly some useful information at the (fairly new) community college blog:
    Consistent with what Charles Martel said, someone in a blog post somewhere observed that while most colleges have students who follow a normal distribution, the graph of student motivation in a community college tends to look like a bra, with a couple of peaks: one for the totally unmotivated and one for the very highly motivated.

  • Danny Lemieux

    So, let me get this right: Mr. Book feels that it is very important for your boys to learn about gender studies, ethnic studies, political science and all that other warm fuzzy blather stuff than actually learning real-world skills?
    My kids are at various stages in their education. One is a triple-AAA student who excelled at a state university and already has a first-rate job lined up after next year’s graduation. Another one took much longer to appreciate the virtues of university education, in large part because of blithering idiots like the one in the video above. So, he joined the military reserves, which is helping him get a first class education grounded in real-life experience (they will help him will help him with both college tuition and real-life experience).
    Looking around at my kids peers, I see kids who went to hugely expensive universities to pursue the “easy” degrees (music, drama, journalism, sociology, psychology etc.) and who now, at the end of their fun experience, are terrified at the real-world unemployment they must now confront…they should be terrified! So sad. The parents are  a lot poorer, the kids will need to start all over when the economy recovers.
    I say, defund the universities!!! Force them to clean out these useless rent-seeking professors and administrators and force them to return to their original missions, which is to prepare our youth for productive citizenry. In my state of Illinois, this is already happening…the state is about 6-months in arrears in its financial obligations to the University of Illinois system. Incredibly, however, the university systems’ response is not to cut back on outlays but to increase tuition and fees. This is not a reality-based education system, don’t you think?
    Oh, had the kids and their parents only had the opportunities to read articles such as this:http://www.cnbc.com/id/38850643/

  • Gringo

    I agree with  you that “humanities,” “social sciences,” and “…studies” courses are a total waste at most universities, a waste that usually increases in proportion to the cost of tuition. Talk about a “value” education!
    One possible solution is to avoid such courses and go for STEM majors. You will find lefties teaching  “humanities,” “social sciences,” and “…studies”  at all levels, even community colleges. At least with STEM courses, there isn’t the time  for that nonsense. (=science-technology-engineering-math).
    From what I have read recently, it appears that the community college route is increasingly being seen as a high-value option by parents and students who previously wouldn’t have been caught dead inside the environs of a community college, for fear of catching cooties from the dummies.  One thing I have noted about the local community college is that it has a number of courses that prospective engineers would be taking- even engineering mechanics.
    Going to school with dummies or going to school with smarties is to me a wash.  I have done both. I went  to a  high school where it was VERY important to get into a “good school”  -read Ivy or such selective. Ultimately, the educational experience is you alone with the book or the sheet of paper or the computer screen. Whether or not your classmate is relatively smart or dumb doesn’t make that much difference. Bright people will find each other- if you are worrying about not finding appropriate peers. Instead of the “good school” mantra, the prospective college student should ask himself/herself: what do I like doing, what do I NOT like doing, what are my strengths, what are my weaknesses?
    After high school, I concluded that I liked math and hated writing papers, with corresponding abilities.  I chose a career path accordingly, but found out that writing is a skill that all professions use.
    I attended three rather different schools during my undergrad years. My freshman year I attended a cover school, then and now a top 50-rated university with average SATs  currently around 1300. Most of my education was at a generic State University. Sandwiched in-between State University was a state college which concentrated on teacher training at the time. The state college was not as demanding as the other schools, but the teachers were good. The only English course I ever liked from high school on was at the state college- on Shakespeare. Ultimately, the school doesn’t make that much difference.
    What counts is not where you are but what you put into your education yourself.

  • Doug

    One note about privates is that they often look more expensive on paper than they are.  The “discount rate” at a lot of schools runs about 50% (the price after aid).  Oddly enough this takes two forms – the second tier places can’t *really* charge as much as the first tier places, but it looks bad/cheap if they charge less, so they have some inflated number that nobody really pays (the school supplies “aid” which is just fictional money – they’re just giving a discount since they’re paying it to themselves).  The top schools tend to be able to get a lot of real aid, and it tends to be more merit aid than need based aid (i.e. socialism) but it gets you to the same place.  And at least in California you need to figure 5-6 years to graduate from a public school, especially if you’re in an impacted field, and a private will get you out in 4.

  • Doug

    Oh, and Gringo’s right about STEM majors being largely immune.  They are even within very liberal colleges, although obviously you have to look at the gen ed requirements and see how much garbage they’ll be forced to take.  If that’s their interest and they have the ability they should be looking at Harvey Mudd instead of CMC however. :-)

  • http://khemenu.blogspot.com Ari Tai

    In Australia a large number of able students (boys mostly) leave school at the end of the sophomore year and enter the trades and earn a good to great living, and find themselves men at the end of two years of work, hormones conquered, self-confident in their ability to make a life for themselves and a family with their hands, and some fraction decide to go back to school (with a nice nest egg to pay the way.. no culture of loan-based servitude).
    And unemployment in Australia is near zero (esp. if you’re able to work in the trades (“if you can hold a shovel or a trowel, here’s a (first) job”), and willing to work non-stop away from family in the minerals or energy business out west).
    A work-tourist visa lets a youngster make a wager that an employer will be impressed and sponsor them, and round-trip airfares (to Perth) can be insanely low (i.e. a third the cost is US government fees & taxes – $700-$1300 USD).
    BillG observes the nature of secondary education is about to change, perhaps radically.  Where a $2000 education will likely match a $20K investment (though arguably the $100K investment buys a child into a different strata – the ruling elite, where merit and grades don’t matter).  Granted, a revolution is coming that will impoverish the ruling-class, but it may not happen in our lifetimes.
    Bill Gates uplugged (a curious URL to an amateur video, but safe as of Friday Aug 27) http://kiwi.kz/watch/qnpt4tprnzto
    And for those not in college yet, here’s what Bill uses with his eleven year-old: http://www.khanacademy.org/

  • esurio

    Everyone should question long and hard the herd mentality to attend college without critically thinking if its the right thing to do. Why is this the only path, does it have to be the first step, and why should we pay thousands of dollars to listen to garbage like that in the video? She wasn’t even speaking English! If the Left has such a grip on education why are we allowing them to herd us through another gate, none the less dictate which are the “right” schools?

    Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) has been reporting about the higher education bubble and its inevitable burst for several months now. Both my husband and I are IT workers employed by academia, he works for a state college and I work for the public school system (our children attended Catholic schools) – we both agree with Reynolds that there will be a burst. The return on investment is dwindling rapidly. Reynolds has referenced a lot of great material including the one Danny mentions above and a response from golfblogger.com, a public school teacher, who addressed the Federal governments push for everyone to go to college. (http://www.golfblogger.com/index.php/19thhole/comments/lack_of_skilled_workers_threatens_recovery/)

    “…Rather than having the federal government dictate children’s futures, parents and students should have a wide variety of educational avenues available. The truth is that not every kid is meant to go to college, and not every kid should. The trades are honorable, worthwhile, and profitable….”

    My daughter is on full scholarship at the state college, but wasn’t ready for college and voices regrets for not taking time off. My son took a long look at the costs, his sisters experiences and the college culture and decided to enlist in the Navy. The pressure he received from his peers, his peers parents, teachers and family members NOT to enlist was down right shameful.

    “…One of the best things we could do to improve the college experience for students and faculty alike is to persuade a new generation of high school graduates that they ought to get the hell out of the educational system for a few years and thereby learn something about themselves.” from mindingthecampus.com

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    We can’t have students learning on their own. THey have to be properly monitored for maximum indoctrination effectiveness.

  • BrianE

    High schools are doing a poor job preparing kids, and the community colleges are stuck dealing with this.
    Due to my unexpected retirement I found myself back at the local community college this year. I retook the first year physics class (designed for engineering students) that was quite challenging, but most of the other classes were extremely dumbed down. Many of the kids just weren’t ready for college.
    I’m sure that is true at state u too, but hopefully to a smaller extent.

  • Spartacus

    From the “Do As I Say And Not As I Did” category: Don’t let them go off to college without knowing pretty specifically why they are going, and what they need to achieve to stay on track while there.  I went off to college because “it’s what you do,” and am still struggling with the consequences of having half-heartedly gotten the wrong degree for lack of any better ideas.  Taking some time to think about it in the military or a skilled trade can often be a very good idea.
    A couple of other specifics:
    – Possibly the smartest thing I did in college (sadly, there’s not much competition for that prize) was, about two years through, to lie down on the carpet one night with the course catalog and really, really, really study all of the course requirements needed for different graduation scenarios with different majors, and attack it like a logic puzzle or strategy game.  The result?  I realized that by taking all of my remaining elective credits in one department (which I enjoyed), I could add another major to my diploma for almost no extra cost or effort.  In my case, it merely changed the wrong major into the wrong double major, but the idea is sound in principle.
    – A co-worker of mine in college had done something very clever which made me want to slap myself for not having thought of it.  SATs are given during the junior year of high school, and juniors may apply to colleges at that point, with the idea that they will have the comfort all during their senior year of knowing that their college selection is already settled.  Having already been accepted at the university, he just skipped his senior year, much to the shock and consternation of his guidance counselor.  Depending on numerous different factors, this could sometimes be a wise choice.

  • Doug

    “Having already been accepted at the university, he just skipped his senior year”
    That can be really dangerous.  Usually all admits now are conditional on finishing up to the same standard.  I actually know somebody who had his acceptance to a UC revoked because he blew off 1-2 classes his final semester.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    ” so my plan will deny the children the benefit of smart peers. ”
    You mean your plan will deny your children the benefit of the company of narcissistic, megalomaniacal, wannbe tyrants?
    Yeah, i’m sure your children will benefit a lot from learning at the feet of a John Kerry or Obama.
    “The problem is that the community colleges are so screwed up that it takes twice as long as you think to actually get your classes,”
    The 2 year colleges are designed for adults, as well as companies/students who want to enter the job market immediately upon graduation if not sooner. Sometimes there are those who want a degree or a startup on a longer academics run, and they have a job which means they take part time. The colleges, thus, are not designed for frat boys living on a dorm that do nothing but take classes.
    The time scape is different. It is more flexible, which means sometimes people miss classes and have to wait cause not all classes are available all the time, and not everyone who goes in, is optimized by a grand plan. A 2 year a person can take shorter or longer. But full time students are usually those with the economic fuel to go to 4 year, full time, with no job or other economic influx. Other times, people find that they like working and don’t go back to school for a bit, cause they like the money. Then they go back and finish their degree, because they can make more money with the degree.
    Freedom is traded for control.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Also, the instructors at certain 2 year colleges, are interesting. Some actively practice what they teach. Some are psychotherapists and they just happen to teach psychology 101. You get a lot of good information and anecdotes, which makes learning more interesting and not as boring to people with ADD.
    Also, the maturity level is simply different. Because you are out of synch with your peers, you aren’t around them in classes all the time. That means sometimes you are around actual adults. And learning to mature, Book, for your kids will depend a lot on passive observation. And if all they observe of adult behavior comes from you two, and college professors, and mtv, you’ll never know what bad habits they were picking up, until they put it on your door step.

  • jj

    Well, I don’t know who the hell Donna Haraway might be – but I did spend two semesters with Howard Zinn many moons ago!  (The accomplishment was that I got two semesters older.)
    I think, having tripped through many a layer of school, including four excursions into grad school (you may call me Doctor if you wish, though if you do you’ll be about the only one: I don’t get much respect from the nearest and dearest!) that what my experience mostly tells me about it is that it’s all an elaborate scam.
    I’d go with community colleges over even (maybe “especially,” not simply “even”) the elite schools any day.  And that’s a term of art from which I get a good laugh, too; “elite” school.  What is an “elite” school?  Plenty of dopes infest the grounds at Harvard and Yale, plenty of demonstrable idiots instruct there (if what they do may be generously characterized as “instruction.”), and the best thing about them tends to be the nice, mellowly aged buildings.
    College is widely supposed to be broadening, it usually isn’t.  In fact it tends to be a narrowing experience, if I may put it thus.  You will be subjected to a single point of view at pretty nearly all of those “elite” schools, and there isn’t much room for intellectual curiosity, discussion, or argument about it.  (And no room at all for disagreement.)  At a community college, on the other hand, you stand a good chance of being exposed to people who both live and work in the real world, people who don’t have to theorize about what’s going on because they’re up to their noses in it.  That is broadening to a kid.
    I think esurio (#10) is on to the something, too.  There is this reflex we have come to in this country, the knee-jerk that says everyone needs to get a college degree.  Why?  Plenty of folks manage to do things that are personally and fiscally rewarding, and even useful, wherein the question of who really wrote Shakespeare just never comes up – or needs to come up.  Not everyone needs to spend time in college.  And there is also the fairly obvious conclusion that about 90% of us do not make careers out of things that have anything to do with our trip through higher education.  Other than those who require the piece of paper to indicate the time in school being trained was indeed put in (doctors, engineers, etc.) how many people are working at a job that actually relates to what they did in college?  (I exempt lawyers, Book, on the basis that one of the family retainers never darkened a law school door for so much as a second of his life – he clerked, then passed the bar 1st try.  Law school is not necessary.  Doctor school and engineer school are.)  Probably not many.  I stumbled into NBC purely by accident a long time ago, and took advantage of what came along once in the door.  (Years and years of accidents.)  I could have done that straight from the street, my 6 years (undergrad and first ride through grad school) had zip to do with it.
    At the very least I think college – like youth – may be wasted on the young.  The idea that a 19 year old at the end of his sophomore year is in a position to declare a “major” and decide what he wants to do for the next 50 years is ludicrous.  Most 19 year olds can’t locate their asses with both hands – (as we all know now, but did not believe when we were 19.)  A couple of years in junior college or community college to expose them to some folks who actually function, along with the theorizers, is probably a great idea.  Or maybe we should just redefine college as the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th grade, (which they increasingly are anyway) and accept that “education” does not begin until you’re in your twenties in grad school.
    Your husband, from what you have told us, seems easily impressed by appearances.  (I also suspect he may be a straw man you have erected to allow for clarity of argument.  I don’t think I’ve actually encountered anyone as dogmatic as you’d have us believe he is.)  But if he actually – despite what must be his life experience (“must be” because we all have such experiences) – believes he has encountered something positive in his dealings with the results of those “elite” educations, then he’s either been insanely lucky, or he’s new on the job and doesn’t know where to look to pay attention.

  • suek

    First thing I’d want to ask is “what do we expect college to do for kid”.
    When I went to college – never mind how long ago! – it was expected that part of the picture was to meet eligible young men of a roughly equal “class”, class being defined as those of certain educational standards, and rising to certain social expectations.  Most young women didn’t expect to have careers, so that meant that although the goal wasn’t specifically to find a husband, most of us did.  Today???  I don’t know – what percentage actually marry right out of college?  It seems like fewer and fewer.  Even if that were to be the goal – are the college students of the school you choose likely to be of the caliber you want your daughter to marry?  We don’t have marriage makers any more – and it seems to me that we need them more than ever! …the problem I see (with my young friend)… is that once someone is out of school, there’s no where to meet other eligible young people.  Their choice seems to be at work, at a bar or on line.
    Is college to prepare a young person for a career?  If so, I’m inclined to think someone would be better off working for a few years…at the very least, they’d find out what they _don’t_ want to do!  Especially if they don’t expect to marry until they’re in their mid-twenties…why not find out what working and budgeting are all about.  Start them into life with few responsibilities that match the new freedoms that go along with those responsibilities.
    I’m with those who are in favor of not going to college right out of high school, if you hadn’t guessed.  Of course, if your child gets offered a scholarship it’s one thing, but for most of them – I’d say let them learn about _why_ they’re going to college before they actually go.

  • Tonestaple

    Two suggestions that might help:

    1.  The kids should at a minimum take a gap year and work at an unpleasant job like waiting tables at a diner or being a janitor, etc. etc.  They should save that money to pay for their schooling.  They will also learn much about the real world.

    2.  Send them to trade school for two years – you pay – and they can learn something useful and have a way to earn money to pay for their four-year degree if they choose to pursue it.  I’m pretty sure you’re the one, Book, who introduced me to Eric Hoffer.  He should be the object lesson to both father and children.

    Seeing so much crap that supposedly educated people will swallow makes me quite glad that I did not finish college.  I’ve done a find job of educating myself, I think, certainly much better exposure to ideas that would never have seen the light of day in any academy.

  • http://thoughtyoudneverask.blogspot.com/ zabrina

    I have a different take. I think you are preparing your children well, Book, to recognize nonsense when they see it, even if it comes from a professor. I think they will be well insulated from being awed by unworthy experts, no matter where they go. Just as they will be able to find worthy teachers wherever they go. We are already helping our kids discern this from grade school up. Your job now is to continue helping your kids evaluate ideas, things, and people, and to make good decisions. Your job when it comes to college (or an alternative) is to help find the best fit for the individual child’s needs after high school. Don’t worry, it is a process you have already started, and you will know what to do when you get there. Nobody will know better than you as the parent, and your child, working together.
    Don’t rule out 4-year or even “elite” colleges (that offer scholarships) until you get there. But certainly don’t go into hock unnecessarily over a “name” college when you can get a comparable education for less. (As I tell my son, going to the state university on a scholarship, instead of paying $50K a year to USC, saves money for grad school, if that turns out to be what he wants later–not that we are promising!).
    As you start researching, visiting, and exploring your options in the years to come, a lot more will become clearer for you. Fortunately there are a LOT of options, and you are a person who is both well-informed and good at research. Your kids will be fine, and they are lucky to have you in their corner.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Thank you so much, Zabrina, for the kind words.  I do think I am teaching my kids to be discriminating thinkers, although peer pressure can sometimes be overwhelming.  I was going to say that some kids like to be rebels, but with mom a conservative and dad a liberal, I’m not sure how they’d pick which parent to be the focus of that rebellion!  :)

    My main problem is the economic one.  It just strikes me as insane to pay $50,000 a year in tuition for drivel.  At a hardcore science school, such as MIT or Harvey Mudd, you’re actually going to get educated, which might apply to my son, who was excited to learn he’s a STEM guy.  (“You mean there’s a word for me?  But I’m really STEMP, ’cause I’m also good at physical ed.”)

    My daughter, however, is pure English and Journalism, and, at the major universities, those departments are completely overrun by the same bad thinkers I had back at Bezerkly.  Yuck.  But at least Bezerkly was relatively cheap.

  • Doug

    For your son: You need to be clear that the level of STEM courses at a community college is very simplistic versus a decent four year school, and that’s far below the level of what’s taught at a place like Mudd.  There’s a reason that Mudd basically doesn’t take transfer students (maybe one per year) – they would basically have to start over.
    For your daughter… it’s harder to know what to do.  Maybe it’s worth getting a “checkbox degree” (something to make HR departments happy – I’ve worked at placed that required 4 year degrees for all employees) and focusing on cost.  Maybe it’s worth looking for a college that’s not too moonbatty.  Maybe it’s best letting her work for a bit and then deciding.
    One bit of good news – I don’t think I ever took any English-department stuff outside of Mudd (where I went) but I did take history classes at three of the other Claremont Colleges (Pitzer, Pomona, and Scripps) and they were all very well taught, useful, non-Moonbat courses even at Pitzer.  I should perhaps explain that at Mudd you have to pick a humanities concentration, and there are only so many taught on campus, so if you want some depth you end up cross registering a lot but it’s no more difficult to register in any of the Claremonts, so we generally did.  It wasn’t anything like the college I have dealings with sometimes now where it’s not enough to just teach Chaucer, it has to be “gender in Chaucer.”

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Color me impressed by your Mudd degree, Doug.  I actually know a few people who have graduated, who are in the process of graduating and, sadly, who couldn’t make it.  Mudd is a unique school in that it never let grade inflation or political correctness or soft science degrade its high standards.  Most schools, of course, don’t consistently focus their aim so high.

  • suek

    I agree with Zabrina – it seems to me that you’ve given your kids a pretty solid footing, and actually, having a confirmed lib for a Dad, they get exposure to the fact that there are different ideas and how to deal with them.  Children coming from a both parent conservative home don’t have that latter benefit – and are likely to be either overwhelmed by the Liberalsm they encounter, or if they choose to rebel, adopt it as “the opposite”.  As you say – your kids can rebel against _one_ of you, but it’s pretty hard to rebel against both!
    However – I don’t really see this as a discussion between you and the kids – the discussion is between you and _hubby_.  Of course, being a lib, he’s fairly powerless – you and the kids can pretty much make the decision and do whatever you’re going to do.  But it _would_ be nice to attempt to reach an understanding.  Not probable, but nice.

  • shirleyelizabeth

    I graduated froma state university in May 2009 (yep, got that Obama commencement). I was granted a 4-year scholarship to attend. I studied accounting, and currently am working as a Controller of a small business here.
    My husband is also studying accounting, but focusing on tax rather than corporate. He started at the community college level, and, when we had the occasion to have classes together in the upper division, I envied his better understanding and grasp of the principles that he gained from his beggining-level classes as opposed to mine, that were large 500-person lecture halls where I excelled by doing only the bare minimum, the bare minimum of course being all that was required to top my fellow classmates who were as Charles Martel described.

    Also, if you wuold like to know where some state schools are headed, in my term at ASU I had the opportunity to take some entrepreneurship and economics courses from two excellent teachers. Since I have left, the entrep. classes are no longer offered, and I have had a difficult time finding out if the economics teacher is still employed. I’m afraid his lessons taught too much truth.

  • shirleyelizabeth

    Quick clarification: the entrepreneurship courses are not offered at the business college as they were. They’ve been incorporated and combined with other crud.

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  • Doug

    Yep, Mudd’s a pretty special place – they do a lot of stuff that’s not necessarily in their benefit (in the conventional wisdom) like instead of gaming the selectivity numbers to help their ranking they tell people below some math SAT not to bother applying at all.  I guess they figure being the 18th ranked liberal arts college is good enough that it’s not worth dealing with the extra applicants but most colleges trying to improve their rankings encourage a lot of garbage applications because that’s a big part of the rankings and it’s pretty easy to manipulate.  CMC and Pomona accept something like 15% of their applicants as an example and are higher on the list.

  • Indigo Red

    My nephew finished his first year at SF State last May and promptly decided university was not for him as he didn’t think he was learning anything of value. Of course, his parents disagreed. Currently, he is in Mozambique with his sister, some sort of official with the CDC, for the next six months.

    In his very first week in Maputo, he learned some very valuable and useful lessons. He learned that police there carry AK-47s, armoured cars have very heavy doors, a lot of people live like the first two little pigs – houses made of sticks and and straw. He also learned that steaks and hamburgers come from cattle that must be slaughtered and butchered, and he had to help. That cow will be his meal for five months because his family can afford a freezer, but those in the houses made of sticks and straw will not have meat every day because they don’t even have electricity, nevermind a freezer. He learned that sometimes it’s better to just sit and wait because you’re not going anywhere until the elephants in the road decide to move.

    My nephew will return from Africa a much smarter man than when he ended his first year at SF State. 

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Indigo Red:

    I’m glad that all that your nephew learned there was nothing.  Since the 1970s, SF State has been a hotbed of Leftism and, more specifically, radical antisemitism.  For Jewish students, the campus is Germany, circa 1933.  They’re not yet getting killed, or even beaten, but they constantly have verbal venom spewed at them.

    It’s sad, too, because SF State used to be a quality municipal university.  My father got his masters in English there and, despite being a man with unusually high standards, was generally pleased with the classes.  Considering that he often knew more than his instructors, and was just going through the motions to get the degree, that’s saying something.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Hi Book:
    Don’t dispair over your daughter’s educational prospects. There are still some excellent Liberal Arts schools out there. My daughter went to Indiana U. with plenty of scholarships and got a first-class education (there were quite a few California students there, believe it or not).
    One of the jewels of the Midwest (also scholarship rich) is Michigan’s Hillsdale College, which I believe (if you peruse the link) still offers a traditional liberal arts education: http://www.hillsdale.edu/academics/default.asp

  • Danny Lemieux

    Oh yeah, one more thing.
    Your kids will both become conservatives. Why? Their mother just has too much common sense.
    As Churchill remarked, the most important thing that a good education can give you is the ability to discern when another person is speaking total rot.
    They get it, believe me.
    Reason I know, by the way, is that this is what happened in my own family. My father (hard Left / communist) can’t understand how both of his sons became Christian conservatives. Frankly, the answer is that it was our common-sense Reaganite mother.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    I think that, for my husband, Hillsdale would be an “over my dead body” choice — and he’d mean it!

  • Danny Lemieux

    Hmmm…so offer to have him buried under the student walkway at Hillsdale.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    It would make an ironically fitting resting place, wouldn’t it?

  • http://thoughtyoudneverask.blogspot.com/ zabrina

    But if your daughter really wanted to go to Hillsdale or nowhere, would he refuse her?

  • http://connectthedots2006.blogspot.com ConnectTheDots

    First, one of my favorite movies lines is from Rodney in that movie, when he tells the young college chick to “Call me when you got no class.”
    Second, I can guarantee that my (now 12 year old) daughter will NEVER attend an ‘elite’ school. My wife’s nephew just finished 5-1/2 years at Miami of Ohio(the most expensive college in the state), worked on the obambi campaign and then worked for the democratic party for a couple of years. Now he’s on unemployment because his job was “ended” at the end of a campaign. For his $100,000 in debt, he is a blithering idiot, speaking in circles without saying anything substantial. You know, a typical liberal.
    You want an education? I took a year off after high school, working as a manager in a fast food joint. I think everyone should work in some sort of menial job, a service job, to truly understand what life is all about, and to appreciate what a college degree can do you for.
    I went to a public state university paid for by my hard work — retail jobs, waiting tables, clerical jobs — and I valued it much more. Since retirement and college are hitting about the same time, and the dem’s fiscal policies are destroying my 401(k), I doubt there will be much money left for college.

  • Danny Lemieux

    I am totally with you on this, ConnectTheDots.
    My kids worked menial jobs before going to college. I told them that working as waiters/waitresses was the best business school training they would ever get. They agreed. For my son, working on a janitorial crew and a landscaping crew taught him that college was a good idea after all and also how to work with and respect people from different backgrounds.
    I don’t worry about them being grounded and knowing the value of work and a $-earned.

  • Gringo

    Book, did your son learn about STEM from this thread? Here is an interesting tale about STEM at Cornell, courtesy of National Review.
    This story in the Cornell Daily Sun notes that professors in STEM classes there have not given in to the widespread student preference for easy grading. Consequently, more students drop out and have to search for easier majors. One student is quoted as saying, “I wish my classes were more supportive instead of being so difficult.”
    There’s the bane of American education. Students are led to believe that it’s not up to them to adjust to reality, but that reality must adjust to them. If chemistry is hard, it isn’t up to the student to overcome the difficulties; it’s up to the professor to make it easier for him.
    We also get the usual line about the supposed need to “diversify” STEM faculty to have more “role models.” Prof. Ronald Ehrenberg says “We want the best people regardless of their race or gender, but we also want people to serve as role models.” If a college student is serious about learning any of these disciplines, the “role model” should be anyone who has already mastered the field, without regard to the professor’s personal characteristics. And if we were to take seriously the notion that students won’t learn as well if taught by someone who is “different,” then every “diversity” move is certain to make learning worse for some students. Hire a wise Latina chemistry prof and that’s bad for whites, Asians, blacks, and men, right?

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm


    Yup.  This thread introduced me to the STEMs notion, and I introduced it to my son.  1+1, thank God, doesn’t yield well to feminist theory.  They can try, with their fuzzy math ideas, but numbers still insist on being inexorable.  To the extent STEMs veers into the abstract, I’m perfectly willing to concede different approaches to problem solving.  I routinely drive my husband bonkers with the bizarrely non-mathematical analytical approaches I use to set up problems.  But at the end of the day, I have set up the problem, whether calculating interesting or comparing prices, and the math works.  And at the end of the day, that’s what has to happen in STEMs.  The approach to the problem works only if the numbers add up.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    You have great intuition, Book. Probably how you got aware of the Leftist beast. Your husband is still riding under the waves like a submarine, trying to keep off the radar/sonar.

  • Gringo

    There are no hard and fast rules about problem solving. What works for one person one time may not work the next time.  What works for one person may not work for another.
    In one sense, fuzzy math people are correct, that estimating a “good enough” answer is usually good enough for many situations the real world, like being in a checkout line. We all need “ballpark figures.” What they forget is that good estimations cannot be made without a good grasp of basic arithmetic. A good grasp of basic arithmetic is a prerequisite for  your getting  a handle for what shortcuts will work in estimation.
    I had problems with writing for years, after bad experiences with History and English courses in high school. I have  pretty much gotten over my writing phobia,  by writing. Do it.
    I often look at writing as problem solving, which may seem odd to a word person. For problem solving, AFTER you have studied the basics enough, the quick intuitive answer  is often the best.  Similarly, I find that for writing, I do best just writing what comes to mind- AFTER I know the subject I am writing about.

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