Watching The Bubble Pop

There are no worthless degrees [1] – only dumb, entitled or inflexible people.

My BA in English set me up pretty good for a life where I changed careers 2-3 times before I turned 40, and taught myself to work in a STEM-related field (and doing very well, thankewverymuch).

But my major advisor, the late Dr. James Blake, was a pretty no-nonsense guy. For starters, it was he the finally convinced me I was really a conservative (he characterized himself as a “Monarchist”); I doubt you could find anyone like him in an English program today. He was also pretty diligent about reminding us that unless we wanted to a) spend years chasing a PhD and then academic appointments, or b) teach high school, or c) work for near-slave wages in the literary world, the odds of “working in our field” after college were miniscule. We were going to have to adapt, be mentally nimble, and *think* to make a living.

So the chuckleheads who are cheering the demise of liberal arts and humanities programs have it half wrong. They COULD fill a very useful niche.

But today, unfortunately, outside of places like Hillsdale College, they do not. They are sinecures for intellectually sloppy but boundlessly entitled academics who “teach” soggy, rootless, post-structural, personal-feelings-based ideology rather than the arts and humanities that *civilization is built around*. And we’re all poorer for it, even if you didn’t go to college, or major in humanities if you did.

And for that, a reckoning is due.

[1] that don’t have the word “…Studies” in them, anyway. Those are all pretty worthless.

11 thoughts on “Watching The Bubble Pop

  1. My BA from a liberal arts college has served me well. I’ve had to reinvent myself multiple times and the critical thinking skills I gained in college have helped me through that. My son will soon have a BA from a liberal arts college. He’s learned how to do research and statistical analysis, a marketable skill. From what I can tell, he’s only absorbed enough mush to parrot back to his professors to pass the exams, but is otherwise immune from the nonsense. We’ll see how it goes for him, but I suspect he’ll come out of his experience better than many of his peers. As always, the distinction between what you are taught, and what you learn, matters.

  2. The problem is, colleges are churning out more studies majors than ever before. Studies majors who are brainwashed into thinking their degree is equivalent to an MD, or BSc, or PEng, or MBA, or CPA, and that they should be paid at the same rate. In other words, baristas should be paid the same as a nuclear engineer or a cardiologist. Hmmmm, I wonder if that had been tried somewhere before?

  3. JPA – I’m going to guess that it’s the studies majors professors that are doing the brainwashing.

    If only someone could get to the student before they went off to school. Sit them down and show them 1) what it’s going to cost in terms of sacrificed income now, and interest paying back loans down the road. 2) what type of pay the field you’re going to study has, as well as are there any jobs in it? and 3) that a STEM degree is going to be hard. It isn’t writing papers of your thoughts/feelings on a subject. It’s memorization, understanding real life concepts, and a bunch of grind***. Not much time to protest. Or party. Or…

    Anyhow, I wonder who does the sitting down with now? For me, it was my dad and the school guidance counselor. And this was before the internet.

    (***Note, this is not a dig on liberal arts majors of the past. More a reflection on current issues. Learning critical thinking, learning how to learn, and how to show up and do what’s required are some of the two biggest things that should be desired end states for any post-secondary degree. Or, even secondary)

  4. I took a double-major in English Lit and Theory of Government (now called Political Science) from a small religious college in the late 70’s, when Critical Theory was just beginning to seep into the classroom. Students were allowed to disagree with the prof but were expected to explain why, to be able to argue from reason and logic and not merely spout emotions or pre-existing beliefs. There was no “safe space” for shoddy thinkers in some of those classes, I assure you.

    I strongly suspect that nowadays, my entire education would be considered one giant hate crime.

    That’s why I’m worried about the next generation. They have the same initials behind their names as I, but the credential doesn’t mean what it once did.

  5. The first two years of a liberal arts degree could easily be completed by an average student in the junior and senior years of high school. Probably the first two years of a STEM degree as well, if the student was gifted in math.
    Here are a of couple of interesting graphics:
    IQ & gender by degree field:
    IQ by occupation:

  6. “I strongly suspect that nowadays, my entire education would be considered one giant hate crime.”

    Saaaay. How about a MSh8 program for those of us wishing to up our player level?

  7. JD,

    I’d say that you nailed it.

    College professors today, are basically narcissistic jerks and think that they are the smartest guy in the room. Consequently, a challenge from a student that may know more than they do, damages their huge egos, so they need to show them who’s the boss.

  8. Per boss’s comment, I wonder if part of the reason colleges like to favor certain races and ethnicities, and why so many colleges admit a lot of people they know have no reasonable chance of graduating, has something to do with professors not doing well with kids who can see through nonsense.

    Which is, in a nutshell, my only big objection to a modern “liberal arts” education. Too many young people are being taught what to think instead of how to think. I know an Ivy League graduate–my brother–who actually has refused, in my presence, to even consider the implications of a contrary idea. We are not talking about dummies here, but about smart people who have learned to toe the line.

  9. If only someone could get to the student before they went off to school. Sit them down and show them

    Alas, we send what we thought was a balanced kid to Madison only to have her emerge as a brainwashed bot. And she was not even in Studies!

  10. Too many young people are being taught what to think instead of how to think.

    This about sums it all up. Thanks bb.

  11. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 03.08.18 : The Other McCain

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