Can Our Universities Be Saved? (Hint: No)

Che Guevara: The face that launched a thousand...

Pop the college balloon–don’t go.

I just read a piece in Chronicles, by Paul Gottfriend, entitled “The Difficult Task to ‘Dewoke’ American Universities” (, in which he and other academics try to imagine reforms that will get our universities back on the right track.

Dudes, you’re overthinking it. Big-time.

You are not going to get Far Left dindles to stop being Far Left dindles, and firing them all is out of the question. If you want the nation’s universities to stop being black holes of cultural and political Marxism…

Don’t go. And don’t send your kids there, either.

How badly does anybody need a degree in Superhero Studies? It would take all week just to list the ridiculous, useless, and very often intellectually stultifying nonsense trotted out as “education.” And college costs a lot. Some grads will spend the rest of their lives trying to pay off their student loans.

“Everybody has to go to college! You can’t get anywhere in life unless you go to college!”

This assumption is just plain wrong. If everybody goes to college, the whole business gets watered down, the universities bloat up with silly courses and meaningless, worthless degrees, and the effect is the same as having no college at all.

Don’t go. Earn money instead of wasting money. At the very least, you’ll be spared endless hours of getting nagged and bored by Che Guevara wannabes.

If America’s commitment to the colleges were to be cut back by 50%–or even more!–who would ever notice? Besides professors and administrators who suddenly had to look for honest work. I doubt they’d find it. But the rest of the country would get by just fine without them.

You don’t need a university to learn the things you need to learn. Stay in college long enough, and you might never learn them.


7 comments on “Can Our Universities Be Saved? (Hint: No)

  1. Well stated.

    Just earlier today, I was wishing that I could study some advanced mathematics. I do well with the math used in my profession, but I’d love to have a broader base. The problem is, colleges insist that you take a bunch prerequisites, many of which have no bearing whatsoever on one’s ability to function in their chosen profession. I can see the reason for a refresher course in business English, so you can write well, but this is where they tend to insist on courses which strike me as little more than political indoctrination.

    A former coworker went for a degree, in the field we both already worked in. He had an almost endless series of courses, many of which were of questionable value. At the end, he told me that he didn’t learn anything new, by taking his degree. He also was forced to take courses in a second language, even though he won’t ever use it.

    The funniest part was when he had to choose an elective and took piano/music theory. So I ended up giving him music lessons, in my free time, because the course was not realistically paced. So here’s an IT worker, giving music lessons to another IT professional, so he could complete his bachelor’s in Network Administration.

  2. The communist corruption plan to destroy education was planned in the mid 1800s. Charlotte Iserbyt attempted unsuccessfully under reagan to have the dept of ed eliminated. She passed in February and has a great website . John Taylor Gatto also was a true education advocate after winning awards in NYC (3 years in a row) and NY state he left education because Gatto rejected what he called the “school religion punishing the nation” and left his formal profession of teaching in search of a job where he “didn’t have to hurt kids to make a living.” .

  3. I believe there’s more to a college education than simply acquiring or sharpening skills in a person’s profession. For that, there are tech schools. A college education used to be an introduction to things we aren’t already familiar with, a broadening and deepening of our experience of the world. And yes, there are “uses,” even in IT or medicine or banking or other technical occupations, for a general knowledge of history, literature, philosophy, the arts, sciences, and other fields outside our own occupations. We all live in a world filled with people outside our limited fields, and we face — and vote on — situations that our occupational knowledge doesn’t tell us much about. No one can know about everything, of course, but a smattering of knowledge about what goes on outside our own bubbles can help us manage those bubbles, understand the world outside our bubbles, deal with people who live in other bubbles, and even help us survive and flourish if our bubbles burst.

    So I’d be more inclined to argue that the trouble with the current academic world isn’t the absence of technical-skills training, but the absence of everything. Joe Collidge isn’t the only student who majors in Nothing Studies. Students emerge with vacuums where their minds and experiences should be. And although nature abhors a vacuum, tyrants love working on these vacuums.

    1. “One cannot but agree, Socrates.”
      There should always be a place for scholarship, per se. My grandpa and my mother had a wide knowledge of history and passed it on to me.

      But like you said, “What scholarship?” Scholarship isn’t what colleges are doing anymore. I say they’re making people stupid. Better to be ignorant–that can be fixed–than to “know” a lot of things that are simply untrue.

    2. I was raised in a Fundamentalist background that discouraged higher education, so I had to forge my own path. The only other choice would have been to become financially and emotionally self sufficient, at the age of 18, and essentially losing all family ties. I spent years broadening my perspectives, read many of the great works of literature and expanding my boundaries. If college actually did that, anymore, id be it’s greatest advocate, but it has quit doing that. A friend of mine, born in the mid ‘40s, told me that even in his college years, some of his required course materials bordered on the obscene and/or pornographic. As an example, he lent me the textbook for a philosophy course he was required to take, and it read like smut, suggesting that every aspect of human nature was either a manifestation of sexually perverse impulses, or scatological in origin. It was debasing.

      The friend in question completed college, completed medical school, and had a brilliant career as a physician in a respected specialty, but he didn’t feel that college, even in his day, was doing a good job of expanding awareness. Now, he was an obviously well-educated man, but it was what he did with his college education that made the difference.

      One other aspect of this is that a physician, comes out of Pre-Med as a star student, then starts at the bottom, in Medical school. That student is no longer outstanding, because their medical school peers were all star students. After medical school, they serve an internship, where they are once again, reduced to a lowly role in life. After a grueling year of internship, they go back to the bottom of the ladder, as Residents, who must prove themselves once again. A medical degree is a mere prerequisite to the hard earned skill of being a physician, and especially so for a surgeon, who may spend the better part of a decade as an apprentice to their ultimate goal.

      What I have observed in the last 20 years or so, is that recent college grads no longer strike me as well read, or well spoken. Their speech tends to be peppered with double negatives and malapropisms, not to mention mispronunciations that wouldn’t have passed muster in the grade school I attended. I had grown up in a neighborhood filled with architects, physicians and engineers. The parents of my age peers tended to be well spoken and to have well rounded educations. Just being exposed to such people was valuable, and this poor little Fundamentalist kid quickly realized that there was a larger worldview, than that of my family.

      I no longer see this, at least with regard to people coming out of US colleges. The most impressively educated person I’ve met in the last 20 years, was an Afrikaner, educated in Johannesburg. He was well spoken, well read, interested in anything new and was open minded. IMHO, he was the real thing. He was head and shoulders above average; liked by many, but scorned by a few.

      With regard to the technical aspect of college education, these days I’m afraid that I must disagree. I’ve been in the position of hiring people for technical positions, and have repeatedly met people, even with advanced degrees, who had no idea of how to actually accomplish meaningful tasks. In one case, a young fellow I hired called me two days before his starting date, and confessed that he had no idea of what to do. I told him to be there by 08:00 on his first day, and I’d help him to get started. He was a bright fellow, but had zero understanding when he came to work. Fortunately, he was malleable, and took direction well, so I was able to help him get started. His first job was installing and dressing patch cables, but within a few weeks, he was able to proceed to more complex assignments. As he came out of college, he was essentially unable to accomplish anything useful, but because he was willing to learn, he became a capable worker. He has since advanced in the field, but his formal education was, at best, incomplete and unbalanced.

      Unfortunately, this success story was the exception, because I’ve seen any number of people coming out of the colleges with no concept of how to actually accomplish meaningful work, or actually managing a project successfully. Instead, they call endless meetings, and their projects become the lowest common denominator of the inputs others make in those meetings. Frequently, such people end up in a niche, where they are considered a Subject Matter Expert, but in far too many cases, such people have no notion of how their niche knowledge fits into the overall workflow, or overall dataflow.

      The most competent technical people I have ever worked with tend to be people that have worked their way up through the ranks. I work in an exceptionally complex area these days, my role being data communications and security. The servers my work supports are equally complex, and the team which creates and supports these are all people that worked their way up, literally from being Helpdesk techs, that assisted end users with mundane problems. These people stood out, because they extended themselves to become more capable than the base requirements of their jobs, and eventually, they became all but irreplaceable.

      In my hiring decisions, experience became preponderant, and that almost always proved to be a reliable indicator of actual ability. I often felt that a better indicator of ability, than anything on a resume, or any answer given in an interview, would be to place someone in the wilderness with a vehicle that wouldn’t start, and to observe whether they tried to analyze the problem, or immediately reached for a mobile phone. If the candidate at least raised the hood, and gave a cursory scan of the electrical connectors, they would be more self sufficient than average. In my IT career, I’ve done everything from giving testimony in hearings to digging trenches, and I expect no less from anyone else that gets into the industry. The colleges are not teaching that.

    3. I don’t think a lot of people know how to work anymore. So little is demanded of them; you always get a “Good job!” and a participation trophy.

      The best-educated man I’ve known, in the past few years, grew up in Haiti and went to a school with a corrugated iron roof. He seems to have read… everything.

      I wonder what the per-pupil cost was in Haiti.

    4. More than a few of the people I’ve met come across as children. They don’t want to work, because they’ve been lied to about the reality of life.

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