"An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't"
Last year I went to my oldest daughter's graduation. I have been down this road before. I also attended her high school graduation as well as her undergrad in Saint Cloud. Now she has her Master's Degree. At all three events, the numbers of students graduating were staggering. The event last night involved almost 1,000 undergrad and graduate students and took slightly less than forever to complete. I told her that was it - I was done.
As I was sitting in my chair watching the proceedings, many thoughts crossed my mind. One of the most profound thought occurred when a bevy of students received degrees in a unique major - self directed or independent studies. Not knowing much about it, I assume that degree to be this - take classes that are of interest and develop a major which is not only fun, but also allows students to follow their muse.
Now I love learning - I think in today's world, if you want to learn, there are a multitude of venues to choose from. However, to spend the money that most colleges charge just to learn something "fun", is a very questionable investment. When I graduated from the University of Minnesota back in the stone ages, I majored in Business Finance. Not because it was fun, I did it because it gave me the best chance of getting hired and making a livable wage. If I had wanted to major in something fun, I would have majored in English Literature, History, Psychology, Sociology or whatever.
One of my complaints about colleges has always been this - when a student declares a major, the college should counsel the student about the vocational outlook upon graduation. For this example, I will make some numbers up. If a student wants to obtain a undergrad degree in English Literature, statistics show the chances of finding a job in that field is 7%; to obtain a grad degree, the chances increase to 42%; to get a PhD in that field would give the student an 82% chance of getting a job. That way, when a student gets out of school, heavily in debt, with a degree that may not land a job, full disclosure would have taken place.
This next part is going to be tough. If you go a bank to obtain a small business loan, and if you cannot show the banker the loan would result in a good investment, your chances of getting the loan would be slim at best. If you want to take out tens of thousands of dollars in loans to obtain a degree which has a very small chance of landing employment, is that a good investment? Is it wise for the cash strapped Federal Government to back loans to students who want to learn something which is just "fun"? Where there is a good chance the loan can never be paid back?
I will say again - I love learning. I am grateful every day for the unlimited opportunities we have in this country to continue learning. There is no excuse these days to not be a life time learner. However, we need to be realistic about how we spend our education dollars. To spend thousands of dollars on a "basket weaving" degree, serves nobody. It is time we ask this question - at what price should a higher education be obtained? I think we are all smart enough to answer that one.