Excellent Politically-Incorrect College Advice
By Tom Hurst, 1 November 2016
As one with a great deal of experience in both attending and teaching at a wide variety of universities, I present here some very good advice in the form of several fool-proof rules which - if taken to heart and fully and uncompromisingly incorporated into one's psyche of education - will help you to graduate quickly, cheaply, and with a robust academic degree that will immediately get you a good job that will in the end lead to a good income and a satisfying life. Don't discount the value of these simple things, as taking a long time to graduate, running up a lot of debt, and learning nothing as you cruise through school earning only C's in a quest to get a "crap degree" (see below) that won't get you a real job, will all put you a lifetime behind those who do it right. Indeed, how you deal with these things will determine if you live in a house or an apartment, have a long and secure retirement or live paycheck-to-paycheck and work until you drop, and become an active, independent, contributing member of society or a mere pathetically government-dependent, parasitic drone. So, read, think, and learn from the following. And, please, humbly accept that no matter what one *thinks* of these suggestions and observations of mine, all of modern history proves that they are indeed generally correct.
I. Don't get a "crap" degree!
In recent decades, in a greedy quest to get as many warm, cash-flush bodies as possible enrolled, and in a concurrent politically-correct attempt to make all students "equal", colleges and universities in America have created all sorts of what I call "crap degrees", the essential characteristic of these "degrees" being that they are entirely devoid any true academic rigor whatsoever, so impart no real - let alone valuable - knowledge whatsoever. The basic premises underlying these disingenuous efforts in public "education" are that 1) more students mean more money (to waste on non-academic crap), and 2) all people are equally educable. Of course, though enrolling more students does indeed mean more money (which is the true primary goal of all colleges and universities these days), the unfortunate and obvious reality regarding being educable is that though some in society demand equal education as "social justice", it is one of those things that is just not possible, for Mother Nature simply demands that different people have different talents (or not). At this point in history that's just the luck of the litter; this, of course, means that one must realistically evaluate and accept what talents one has (or doesn't have) and just make the best of things. Aside from that common sense, some interesting recent ACT college readiness exam data further confirms my premise of greedy, pandering colleges as a matter of routine taking in vast quantities of unqualified students just to extract money from them. That data compares (by race) the percentage of high school seniors that tested as "prepared for college" to the percentage that were actually admitted and enrolled: Asians 57% ready versus 80% enrolled, whites 49% ready versus 69% enrolled, Hispanics 23% ready versus 60% enrolled, and blacks 11% ready versus 57% enrolled. Clearly, greedy, politically-correct colleges admit far more students than are, in fact, college ready, so must create "crap degrees" and courses to absorb and placate such students, the ultimate goal being to - for as many years as possible - collect money from students who clearly lack the necessary temperament, training, or talent to earn a proper, rigorous academic degree. In the end, crap degrees harm everyone involved, from the unprepared or unsuited student who wastes their time and money, to the college that cheapens its reputation, to the taxpayer who subsidizes this fiasco (paying, per student, perhaps 3x what the students themselves pay in tuition and fees!). Certainly, in light of this, many potential students would be far better off becoming entrepreneurs pursuing their own business, or perhaps seeking training or apprenticeship in some sort of trade, or perhaps going into the family business. In any case, what degrees fall into this valueless "crap" category that necessarily only produces totally un-employable graduates simply because the degreed people end up with no legitimate knowledge or skills, and hence can never be productive and produce wealth for themselves or those who might employ them? In no particular order, Public Administration, Communications Studies, Counseling, Social Work, Community Health Sciences, Psychology, Business, Hotel Management, Hospitality, Education (all), Educational Leadership, Ethnic Studies, Gender Studies, Environmental Studies (though sometimes not Environmental Science), Social Justice, Law, Policy Studies (all), International Studies, Journalism, Architecture, Urban Studies, Interior Design, and Athletics (all); of course, there are many others, and they are easily discovered by simply looking to see if they were offered as a legitimate degree, say, 70 years ago. Admittedly, a few of these topics *might* be worth a course or two, or possibly even qualify for a minor Certificate program at a community college, but they are decidedly not legitimate fields of study worthy of four years or more of college level study (let alone graduate level study); indeed, most are just total hogwash despite being offered at supposedly legitimate universities. Yes, made-up, bullshit "courses" in these fields are indeed taught by "faculty", but that's where the similarity with real education ends, for these are actually pseudo-faculty with what I consider fraudulent Ph.D.'s in made-up, bullshit fields of study, who publish truly moronic articles in made-up, bullshit "professional journals" that document their made-up, bullshit "research". These degrees are total politically-correct scams that will waste one's time and money, and the universities that offer them are defrauding students and cheapening themselves. Of course, one might expect that the greedy self-interest of students would sufficiently motivate them to get a *real* degree rather than a crap degree, but that seems not to be the case. Here, I'd guess that the natural, free market effect that would do that is confounded by the fact that more and more we live in a society filled with self-important bureaucrats, politicians and other parasites who know nothing and produce nothing, so knowing nothing and being able to produce nothing has - believe it or not - come to be accepted as normal, and even desirable, in many circles. Accepted by "society" or no, however, such degrees simply will not allow one to produce real wealth in the real world, so I would suggest that it is imperative that one should seek a degree in a legitimate, rigorous academic field instead - hard, perhaps, but imperative. Further, if you get a real degree instead of a crap degree, you will not fall prey to the false idea that you are smart, useful and productive when in reality a crap degree would confer far less than that ideal. Indeed, the money-grubbing colleges and self-serving, fake academics who promote crap degrees, and people who've received crap degrees, all serve to denigrate every proper and legitimate degree, and in the end will lead us to a profoundly degenerate society, one headed quickly to end-of-empire. Bottom line, please study something of substance so that you can be something in life!
II. Learn something!
In these days where the supremely fraudulent K-12 educational system in America has produced a veritable army of moronic high school graduates that value self-esteem, diversity, and trying hard far more than accepting the reality of their capabilities (or lack thereof) and actually learning something of value, even degrees in legitimate subjects are often viewed simply as union cards that will magically entitle one to a high paying job and a bright future, regardless of one's actual talent and skills. But it's worse than that, for with the rampant "degree inflation" of recent decades, one must realize that the Ph.D. of today is the M.S. of the past, the M.S. of today is the B.S. of the past, and the B.S. of today is the high school diploma of the past. Only the supremely naive or politically-correct would even dare claim that standards have not fallen at least that much; indeed, every rational, honest person familiar with legitimate academic standards realizes that all standards just get lower and lower every year! And, of course, it's not just the degrees, but the grades assigned in courses (both legitimate and crap) that constitute those degrees these days, too, that further illustrate the reality of the abysmal quality of university education today. First, the grades themselves have been inflated to the point where about 50% of all grades awarded now are "A", up from only 15% just 50 years ago; in that same time, the number of "C" grades awarded has declined from 35% to just 15% now. In terms of student acacemic achievment, those trends are pure fiction, not reality, as we clearly do not now live in a world where all students somehow are excellent and few are average! In fact, I would suggest that it's quite the opposite. Further, in addition to inflating grades themselves, some universities sink even lower and so lower the passing standards. For example, according to the infinite wisdom of UNLV (where I teach) in its faux quest to become a so-called Tier-1 university, as of January 2016 a "D-" grade (meaningless as it is) is officially considered "passing" in all courses (the passing grade used to be "C"). It goes without saying that one should instead strive for much better grades than that, especially since in this sad age where the "A" of today is, sadly, the "C" of yesterday, UNLV's beloved "D-" is actually the "ultra-F, go away, you don't even belong in college" of yesterday!
Make no mistake, no matter the ostensible reason for the very existence of universities (i.e. education), I assure you that (with *very* rare exceptions) your university - and UNLV especially - does not give a damn if one learns anything or not. For them, no matter what their over-paid public relations propagandists claim, it's *all* about taking your money and the money of taxpayers - and then going to great pains to spend it on anything *but* education! So, bottom line, whatever grades one earns, it's entirely up to you to make sure that you learn something useful while attending - and that is doable, as some faculty are indeed interested in educating you - for you will ultimately find the real-world, free market of business and life is generally cruel to fakers no matter what your diploma or transcripts have written on them. The sad reality is that most people that did not learn something useful that would make them economically productive and thus valuable to employers will, in the end, get little or nothing of what they had hoped for from life. The shameless and/or skill-less might indeed "work" for the government, I suppose, and necessarily waste lots of tax money doing or producing things of no of value to the people paying the taxes (or, perhaps, literally doing *nothing* for their pay). While, for the lazy and stupid, that pathetic, unproductive parasitism may be a good economic deal, the moral and economic reality is that doing such only steals and consumes the wealth of society - wealth created by productive people - and thus lowers our standard of living. On the other hand, working in the private sector - which generally requires real knowledge and skills - is necessarily productive, produces wealth, and hence increases our standard of living. Further, realize that one's social life, and technologies like one's cell phone, television, and the internet, are for the most part mere entertaining distractions from the real job of getting ahead in school and in the world. Indeed, the full suite of personal electronics in your possession - as sexy as they are - are probably the most irrelevant technology that you will ever own or interact with. They are decidedly *not* earth shattering, life-changing things, but instead have become supreme wasters of time. Indeed, people have been viewing images, listening to music, playing games, and communicating both useful information and personal life in some way for thousands of years, and even electronically for more than 100 years; get some perspective and realize that, no matter what you may want to believe, these activities are *not* unique to you and the 21st century! The same goes for cars and such; people have been traveling for both business and pleasure for literally thousands of years. So, there's little fundamentally new or different now except that the relative ease of access to and low cost of these things means that most young people have become obsessed with their machines instead of more properly viewing them as mere tools to be used only as necessary for productive purposes. Indeed, recent studies show that college-aged people use their phones between eight and ten hours per day (!); clearly, studying for even a portion of that time would be far more beneficial to one's becoming educated and productive. Bottom line, put your phone or tablet away, and then study or read a book. This may sound old-fashioned, but it will almost guarantee your success in education and in life!
III. Work, don't borrow!
I know that students these days feel like they have plenty of time and money, and that college is a time to have fun, not a time to work hard, learn, and live frugally. And that is exactly the problem. In my day, one attended college to learn something and get a useful degree, and to do that as quickly and cheaply as possible. That meant getting a degree in four years if possible, and for most of us it meant sharing a small studio apartment, walking or biking to school, driving an old beater of a car, and always cooking some ultra-cheap, simple fare at home for the duration; perhaps we saw a cheap movie once in a while, but there were certainly no 500 channels, no cell phones, and no computer games on which to waste one's time. While to some it might seem cruel and old fashioned to expect students to live cheaply and work (and not play), I would say several things on that. First, if you are truly college material in both character and intellect, you would have more than enough time to both study and in addition work 20 hours per week during school (and full-time during holidays and summers); and, if one lives frugally as I've suggested, that earned money would go a very long way towards paying tuition and living expenses on a pay-as-you-go basis, even in this hyper-inflated college-cost environment (more on that below). Also very important, working in your field while still a student - as one can do once they have a few specialized classes under their belt - has the benefits of not just producing immediate income, but of giving one increasingly responsible, pertinent experiences and allowing some important professional networking to begin. Beyond that, work does indeed build character and teach one the hard-earned value of money, extremely important lessons typically not learned prior to college these days. Indeed, just living modestly instead of lavishly during school - i.e. postponing the rewards of a degree until after one actually gets a degree - will go a very long way towards allowing one to graduate debt-free. And, being debt-free when you enter the job market is a terrific advantage. Every day you earn money, you will be saving for a house and retirement rather than making a monthly payment to a bank or the government; or you might use that money to start your own business (which can bring both much money and other very desirable things in life). Bite the bullet - work and live as cheaply as possible - and do this!
IV. Be pro-active against the system that is ripping you off!
With the cost of attending college being sky-high (and continually increasing at more than double the rate of even health care inflation!), you need to do what you can to help control costs, for even over a few years the cost increases you will experience will be dramatic. Note that I'm not suggesting that you advocate for more loans and scholarships so that more people can "afford" college, for such artificial manipulations of supply and demand simply drive up the cost of college; the basic economics at work there is that more money (loans, scholarships) chasing the same service (college) causes prices to rise, i.e. from the school's point of view, additional loans and scholarships make it possible for students to pay more, hence they happily charge more.
Nor am I advocating that you push for "free" college for all, for that is just transferring the cost of attending college from the student (the beneficiary of the college education) to some poor taxpayer who certainly has better things to do with their hard-earned money than to give it to someone they don't even know; that money transfer necessarily occurs, of course, because the government has no money at all but what it takes (steals) from taxpayers, i.e *everything* it does is essentially a wealth transfer from the productive sector to the government and the unproductive.
And, finally, I'm not advocating that you protest in favor of eliminating existing college debt (far more than $1 trillion!), for those are contractual debts with terms agreed to by both the borrower and the lender; just because the borrower feels burdened by paying off their debt does not mean that they should not have to do so, morally or legally. Indeed, for a given borrower to *not* pay their debt simply places the burden of paying for their education on unrelated others who were simply investing their money - a measure of their labor essentially - in order to make a profit, perhaps for their retirement, or to start a business, etc. Also, keep in mind that these same people who complain mightily about their college debt (on average about $35,000) and how they could never in a lifetime pay it off would probably not think twice about taking out a $35,000 new car loan that they would be required to pay off in 5 years or so. Here, I must also point out that the fact that the government is the actual holder of much of the debt is irrelevant, for in the same way that government has no money to spend but what it takes from taxpayers, it has no debt that is not the obligation of taxpayers to repay; for the government to annul all college debt would simply be stealing from some citizens to pay for the "free" college education of other citizens.
No, on the topic of being pro-active against the education system that is ripping you off, I would suggest that your passion be directed towards exposing the fact that the typical university - despite their never-ending pleading and pathetic claims of needing ever more money - could actually cover the cost of education only with but a tiny fraction of their current budgets (10-20% or so, and that is easily proven by looking at their budget details). Indeed, as evidence of this, decades ago the cost per year per student (in inflation-adjusted constant-value dollars) was a tiny fraction of what it is now. You might ask, what's happened in the meantime to drive up costs, and specifically what can one rally against in a crusade to reduce the cost of attending college? As anyone with even a little life experience might suspect, just "follow the money" and see what your extra money has been spent on: lavish, academically unnecessary facilities such as stadiums, recreation centers, student unions, and over-the-top classrooms; various perpetually subsidized, money-losing university "businesses" ranging from upscale apartments, to events centers, stadiums, concert halls and theaters, to "research institutes" that in reality act like de facto consulting companies competing with the private sector for routine business; pseudo-farm athletic teams that have nothing at all to do with education yet typically cost students and taxpayers tens of millions of dollars per year; scores of obviously useless, politically-correct, non-academic "programs" and "services" - all richly funded and staffed - that didn't even exist a few decades ago; and a veritable army of extremely useless, but very highly paid bureaucrats who have come to think of themselves as royalty essential to running a university (which, as one might say, is actually ass-backwards, for their true job is just to make sure the power bills and such are paid, and to otherwise stay out of the way). Truly, both spending and mission creep at all colleges and universities are totally out of control, and the students and taxpayers are the victims! Remember - importantly - that the core academic function of putting faculty in classrooms to teach students useful things doesn't cost very much at all. So, really, the root question is, would the high costs and college debt have even existed in a un-subsidized, truly free-market university system? No, of course not, for when given a chance the market provides for all, meaning that college would in some way be affordable for all; the important observation here is that once the government pseudo-monopoly on education is broken, there would be competition, and what that would provide is education that people want or need at a price that everyone can afford (which is what the free market effectively and demonstratively does in every other sector of the economy). Sure, there would still be relatively expensive elite colleges (probably much cheaper than today, though), but there would also be science universities sponsored by engineering and technology companies, medical schools sponsored by hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, trade schools sponsored by manufacturers, and even "WalMart" universities that would provide basic degrees for very little money. So, what you should *really* unceasingly protest against is the totally evil racket of "public education", i.e. government education, whose only business these days is evidently to steal lots of money from taxpayers and students, and then use it to enrich themselves and build their pathetic little empires (while, at the same time, ironically, providing little or no real education!).
So, that is my basic rant on what you need to do to get a real education at a fair price so that you can leap into the real world and make it your own. Some of the things I've said are, no doubt, harsh, but they are indeed true nevertheless. And, to be fair, implementing the above advice would not always be easy. But, in the end, you would be far better off with taking these things to heart rather than simply ignoring them, for, like it or not, they are "reality". Indeed, what I've discussed here gets to essence of the real-world versus the fantasy world, the productive versus the parasitic, the rational versus the politically-correct touchy-feely, and the honest and true versus the con-men of society. One, of course, should strive to be the former in all cases!
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[Previous articles may be accessed via the Archive page. Also, since this Home page changes periodically, permanent links to the above article should be made to the links shown on the Archive page.]