I’m pretty sure that, sometime in the past, I explained that this blog is about me and my life experiences and that this blog is not about my thoughts and philosophies. The motivation behind this separation was the fact that some people like me even though I’m an asshole. By separating life events from personal thoughts people who like me, but don’t agree with me, can follow along without being soap-boxed to death. Philosophy belongs on the “other blog” which, as it happens, I still have yet to start.
But I’ve decided to make an exception. I spent the final months of school angry, and that anger followed me (and was magnified) as I left college and started job hunting. The emotional portion of my anger has been subdued as of late, but philosophically nothing has changed. I’ve decided to share (or at least introduce) some of the issues I have with our garbage education system because I think not sharing it leaves this weird hole in many of my previous statements. And, as it were, I may be bringing up school once or twice more in upcoming posts and I think you guys deserve to be a little more in the know.
So be warned: ahead there be dragons.
First, Set The Bar Low
If I told you I didn’t learn a damn thing in my four years of “higher education” I’d be lying. I learned a lot. But I didn’t have to. This deserves clarification because, really, this is at the heart of my biggest gripe. In saying that “I didn’t have to”, I’m not saying that I didn’t have to learn a lot. I’m saying I didn’t have to learn at all.
I have seen students pass classes that included projects which they accomplished without even understanding the goal of the project itself. Imagine asking someone to build you a bridge and they accept without knowing what a bridge was. They then go about building said bridge and when it’s done, they still have no idea what a bridge is. This was school. We spent many, many hours in the lab trying to make progress. During these times we discussed the projects out loud and in front of white boards. Always the leaches were there. Sometimes asking, other times quietly taking note of component values or circuit topologies. But it’s not as if all they did was lurk and steal progress. They asked questions, they networked, and, more often than not, people would throw them a bone.
And if I got started on “group projects” I would blow a capillary in brain before I finished. I sincerely believe that the only reason group projects exist in college is so that the morons would pass and be able to pay another term of tuition.
The point is, major components of student’s grades (projects) were often faked, stolen, or stumbled through with zero actual knowledge of course material. Now sure, there was more to grades than just projects. There were exams after all.
C’s Get Degrees
This is college’s biggest shame right here. In order to get credit for a class in your major you need to get a ‘C’ or above. In most classes that equates to 70%. I’ve can’t think of a single class where you couldn’t snooze your way to a C. Many classes made you work for an ‘A’, but there’s not a person reading this who couldn’t get a ‘C’ in the vast majority of college classes with little effort.
“But wait,” you say, “everyone knows you need a 3.0 or better to have any hopes of finding a job in your field, and a ‘C’ average is a 2.0.”
Yup. A 3.0 is a ‘B’ average. So let’s look at a “normal” college education. Roughly half of your classes will not be “core” classes where “core” refers to classes in your major. Anything not core is considered “general education”. Take out physics, calculus, differential equations and (possibly) linear algebra and what’s left of your gen. ed. classes are some of the saddest examples of education (higher, lower, or otherwise) in modern America. Getting an A in a gen. ed. classes usually requires little more than a pulse.
To this we add all 100 level (i.e.: freshman year) core classes. These are the engineering classes before you know anything about engineering. It’s the college equivalent of playing with blocks.
So almost half of your classes are easy A’s to begin with. We pad that with freshman core classes which are also easy A’s. Finally, to really make sure you get that paper (after you pay your tuition of course), about 90% of your classes get curved. This isn’t about education. It never was. If you thought it was, learning that you’re wrong will be the education you get. So yeah, in addition to projects there are also exams. But truly, the system is rigged to help you pass.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
So college is a sham. Truly. Wasting my time getting a fake education made me mad. Quickly spending money which took me a years to save up made me mad. Having to take out loans on top of burning through my savings made me mad. But what really fucking burns me up is the value we’ve placed on four years of lies stitched together into a single diploma.
I’ve seen my career severely limited by not having a degree, so much so that I eventually quit and got one. But not everyone is able to do so. I have a friend who is also a technician (and ex-coworker) and I would guarantee he’d make a better engineer most of the people I graduated with. As I’m the first person in my family to get a degree, I’ve seen the lives of everyone in la familia held back by the lack of a diploma.
School is a farce, and we use it as an arbitrary way to create a class system which means nothing. Well, almost nothing. Getting a degree does mean one thing. It means you’re willing to play. It means you’re willing to shut your fucking mouth, pay your tuition, and pretend you deserve what comes after it. Now if you don’t feel like joining our little club (or can’t afford to), that’s fine, but good luck paying for that health insurance.
I’m angry that you don’t need to learn to get an education. I’m angry that my career was capped due to my not having this fake education. I’m angry that the dumbing down of the entire education system also causes education inflation, and now a bachelor’s degree is what a high school diploma once was. But most of all I’m angry that no matter what I do from here on in, I’ve given in to the system and now my hands are covered by as much bullshit as my colleagues.
No matter what I do or say for the rest of my life, there’s a certain level of hypocrisy that I simply can’t defend.
So that’s the nutshell explanation why the college experience has angered me so. There’s more to say, and more detail to go into, but I think this is enough soapboxing. I just wanted to share enough so that when I make references to school, or some reference to the fake world we live in, you know what I’m talking about about.
As for me personally, my emotional anger has subsided enormously over the past 8 weeks. The logical/philosophical anger will hopefully stay with me as long as the problem exists. The system is shitty and we let it be shitty. We keep people down using lies and falsehoods, and perpetuate a system which requires you to buy into it or suffer for not doing so. Intelligence, understanding and education are now passe.