The value of a college education…

On my way to class on Wednesday last week, I tuned in to the Diane Rehm show and got an earful about what’s wrong-headed about college education.

The show, broadcast on NPR, is here:

As is often the case, I found myself talking to the radio, which has cathartic benefits but fails to solve any real problems other than to raise my blood pressure.

I’ve stewed on the discussion since then, having completed finals in the first two college courses I’ve taken since 1987, when I failed to grasp the reality behind attaining a Master’s degree in Costume Design. (Western Civilization and the Modern World and 2-Dimensional Basic Design, thanks for asking. I have As in both classes.  Apparently I’ve learned a thing or two about college since 1985. But I digress.)

So why, I ask, did it take almost 45 minutes before anyone mentioned the Human Resources requirements for college degrees? In fact, why hasn’t anyone focused attention on the database method of hiring? If we have to spend hours customizing every job application to fit each job listed, perhaps we should spend more time looking at the specialization movement instead of asking why college is so important.

Lord knows, college isn’t for everyone. The bureaucracy alone is enough to turn many people’s minds to mush. Endless paperwork, boring lectures that are best handled with judicious combinations of textbook reading combined with constant searches on Wikipedia (yes, my professor insisted this was a way to manage in his class) and the ultimate test – the written essay question – are unrealistic as real-world examples of what we’re expected to do…unless, of course, we’re working in an office environment, where we are constantly expected to write, research on the Internet, and listen quietly to boring speeches about whatever topic(s) our boss(es) think are vitally important to our jobs.

So, yes, if you’re destined to be an auto mechanic, a trade school might be more appropriate for you, and no, college isn’t necessary, but if that’s what the entire population of the US is destined to become – a nation of auto mechanics, waitresses, retail workers and hairdressers, then by all means, eliminate college as an option except for the very wealthiest of us.

But if we do, we shouldn’t expect these people to be able to purchase automobiles, eat out at restaurants, or buy a lot of clothing, because there won’t be much of that when the working class spends most of their money on food and shelter.

If we want to enjoy an economy that works for everyone, we need everyone to work at a living wage that pays more than just for the basics. The sheer waste of food, manufactured clothing and goods outweighs our ability to enjoy these things. And Congress has found ways to make the decisions even harder for us.

In just the last month, the House has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (for the 37th time) and to take away overtime pay. They have done more damage to the working class than anyone can possibly imagine, and threaten to do more if they get their way. It’s not just about voting against anything President Obama wants. It’s about hurting the people who put them in office.

We all need to wise up and throw them out. All of them.

Then, maybe, we can go back to concentrating on earning a living so that we can actually enjoy our lives.

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