Who Needs College II

Professor Sees Parallels Between Things, Other Things:

AUSTIN, TX—University of Texas professor Thom Windham once again furthered the cause of human inquiry in a class lecture Monday, as he continued his longtime practice of finding connections between things and other things, pointing out these parallels, and then elaborating on them in detail, campus sources reported.

"By drawing parallels between things and other, entirely different things, I not only further my own studies, but also encourage young minds to develop this comparative methodology in their own work," said Windham, holding his left hand up to represent one thing, then holding his right hand up to represent a separate thing, then bringing his hands together in simulation of a hypothetical synthesis of the two things. "It's not just similarities that are important, though—the differences between things are also worth exploring at length."

Fifteen years ago, Windham was awarded tenure for doing this.

The above story is satire. Surprised? It sounds all too real about what brilliant professors do at most colleges today. For this wisdom, they are paid handsomely; families save and sacrifice so that their children may study at the feet of such genius. Do the students learn much of anything useful? No. They do, however, if they persist long enough, get a piece of paper that unlocks the door to career success. Or so we think.

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal had a fascinating story this week about the reasons this situation came to be. As so often seems to be the case, we can blame the lawyers. He begins by reviewing the Marilee Jones case at MIT, which I also wrote about recently. Jones, as you recall, was the successful, widely respected Dean of Admissions who resigned after it was discovered she herself had no college degrees.

Jones had to go, not because she was unqualified for her job (she had done it well for years) or because she exaggerated her credentials decades ago (Congress would be empty if this was our standard). She was fired because her very presence at MIT proved that places like MIT are not necessary for career success.

Taranto argues that colleges serve as a screening mechanism for employers. A 1971 court decision prevents employers from administering IQ tests to potential hires because the tests might "discriminate" against minorities. So, high school diplomas being widely regarded as meaningless these days, the best way to make sure that your workers possess some minimal standard of intellectual quality is to insist they have a college degree.

This suggests to me that employers who whine about not being able to find good workers are probably overlooking many outstanding candidates who had better things to do in their youth than sit in classrooms listening to professors compare things with other things.

Note that I said above college doesn't teach much of anything useful. This does not mean that it teaches nothing at all. Young minds are like sponges and will absorb whatever is around them. They are, unfortunately, absorbing things that are even worse than useless - habits that must be painfully un-learned later in life. All at enormous expense.

Notice also that we haven't even talked about the moral debasement that occurs during the college years. Is gaining a degree worth losing your soul? Don't fool yourself into thinking your kid is immune. He's not.

Gary North has some interesting resources about how to make college work for you instead of against you. If you or your child are heading toward college, you must read what he says.

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