Why Higher Education is Useless

Right, so hi everyone! /waves I’ve been more or less MIA from WP as of late and with very good reason. In fact, I share it with Thaumaturgist.

You guessed it. School. Yay! *mock enthusiasm*

Contrary to Thaumaturgist, however, I am 20 years old and in university.Which means this week I have to write a critical analysis of the pros and cons of offshore outsourcing, write a use case narrative for a self-service printing kiosk, interview people on an everyday task to discover how technology can improve it, and develop three studies involving said task. And I’m still looking for a job. Two, in fact, a part-time one for the semester and a full-time one for the latter half of the year.

I can’t speak about the rest of the world, but at least in this country there is a huge push for everyone to continue on to higher education. There’s very little you can do with a high school diploma, so one must get at least a bachelor’s degree to be worth anything in society. The push for masters and doctorates isn’t lightening up, either.

That’s right, you need a piece of paper to be a real person. Huzzah.

School is supposed to prepare you for the real world. The things you learn in school, you’re supposed to be able to apply to your future dream job. Then they go and tell you what courses you have to take. Sure, you get electives. I have a total of seven electives across five years of schooling, and some of those must be certain kinds of electives, narrowing my choices further. If you dual/double major or take up a minor, the number of electives you have diminishes. Your entire schedule is made for you. All you can to do is pick when you want to take each class.

Well you know what, University? What if I don’t want to learn about empirical research methods? What if I don’t care about object-oriented programming? Maybe I want to learn another language or take a creative writing course. What are ya gunna do about that? Sadly, the answer is “not let you graduate.”

But I’m the one paying to attend this school. I am paying to be told what to do and what to learn. I’m paying to have my options limited, choice stripped from me. Paying a lot. All so I can have a shiny piece of paper to tell people I’m awesome. Go me, I did something I didn’t want to do but did anyways because people told me I’m going to live in a box if I don’t. Because when I was sixteen years old, I thought this would be a good idea. Because when I was sixteen years old, student loans meant nothing to me.

Sure as hell mean a lot to me now.

If I’m paying so much for this so-called “education,” why can’t I pick what I learn? Why can’t I take courses that interest me and skip out on the ones I don’t care for? If I really miss so much by not taking computer organization, I’ll find out when I fail to land a job now, won’t I? Then I’ll just have to come back and take the course, or pick a new career. Boo-hoo.

So much of this country’s education process is locked in stone. By the time we’re seventeen years old, we have to pick the school of our dreams. Yes, we can transfer if we want to, but that is not only a huge pain in the arse (What do you mean you won’t accept my credits?), but you can also end up staying in school substantially longer (I have to retake how many courses?).

Once you’re in school, you have to pick your major, your focus of study. You can change majors, within reason. I changed majors my freshman year as soon as I learned how much I hate programming. Change your majors too late, and you sacrifice all of your electives. A little later, and you’re locked in for another semester. That’s another semester of tuition, because the university says you’re not smart enough to go out into the real world yet.

I’m in my third year out of five at this university. Everything I’ve learned that relates to what I want to do for a career, I have taught myself outside of class. Nearly everything I’ve learned in class, I’ve forgotten. I’m not paying for an education, I’m paying for a piece of paper. A bloody piece of paper.


And dammit I know I’ve failed at critiquing everyone for RWWP, but I will get there, I promise! Look forward to another horrific scene later today (it’s past midnight now) though it will be from Rephaim and not Halfling. Anyways, I’m off to bed. Goodnight my lovely readers!


About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on January 28, 2011, in Education and Work and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. First things first…I AM SO SORRY FOR NOT CRITIQUING YET. BUT I HAVE A PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE REASON: we had a flood (not the kind that hit Queensland but big enough to mess up the internet for 30+ hours). That post I “just” posted was in a queue for sometime so it just magically appeared while I sat here deprived of the internet.
    Anyways, education sucks. Even in high school. Here is how it works: I study, I give the exam, I pass, I forget.
    There is so little variety in careers over here. I swear just about every one in my family is a doctor. You become a doctor or a CA or you are a nobody. Who cares if you “enjoy” writing or art or something fun?
    Sometimes, I want to smack some senses into this world!
    And I am pretty sure you had some varieties in subject choices in high school. Here, you take commerce or science. How does that sum up all the different things you can end up doing with your life?
    And here, when you are looking for a job and they see your “bloody piece of paper”, you aren’t much chosen on your qualification but WHERE you studied from. An American (the university doesn’t have to be “big”) degree holder starts off with a salary that a local degree holder won’t collect in a few months.
    These problems are universal. But slightly altered depending on the place. But look at the bright side, you are almost done with it. Higher education, I mean.

    • Don’t worry about not critiquing yet, I’ve not done my rounds, either. High school was the same for me, I remember very little of what I learned, especially since I hardly use any of it.

      As for variety in high school, I had none. My school was (still in) tiny so we really only had the standard courses and a couple generic electives. Then of course due to my grades, all my classes were more or less chosen for me. I was forced to take the hardest courses else my GPA would drop and I’d lose scholarships. There was no choice for what those courses were, so even then I was stuck with taking courses I had no interest in.

      I’m actually only halfway done with my schooling since this is a 5-year school. Still another 2.5 years to go! Then I’ll have to figure out how to pay back these loans…

  2. Count me in on failing to blog due to an acute case of school. One exam left on Monday, and then it’s on into the last semester of high school. I could’ve been done this semester, but I took 8 courses instead of just the 3 I needed.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about university lately. The value of it’s been driven into me well enough that I want to go, but I increasingly find myself wondering where, and for what. Going to a small, local university sounds nice, but I feel like I might be selling myself short. It’s frustrating.

    • I know exactly what you mean. My suggestion: Start small, investigate, experiment, learn. Go for a small, inexpensive school where you can try out some areas of interest for a couple semesters. Once you feel you have found a focus, consider transferring to a school more suited for you. This will give you the freedom to explore without any overbearing sense of wasting time or money.

      Despite how much I rant and complain, I highly recommend going to Uni. It’s an experience worth having. Also keep in mind not everyone shares my opinions of it. You can meet some fantastic people and learn some great things.

  3. Yeah, univserities can definitely get off topic. I mean, I got an English degree, so why is it that I had to take a statistics class? Usually, though, once you get into your major, it isn’t as bad. At least then most of the information is relevant and useful. Not all of it, but more than not.

    I understand the busy with school thing. Except, for me, it’s because I’m a part-time teacher. A sixth grade part-time teacher. And that, I regret to say, is why I haven’t posted part two of my story yet. I’m so sorry. But I should have some extra time Wednesday (finally), so I’ll hopefully post then. And hopefully, part two will be a little more interesting than part one….

    • I’m three years into my major already and it’s still not terrifically relevant. I’m a technician, so why do I need to take a dozen programming courses? But I digress, school is school and it will be over before much longer.

      As for the RWWP, don’t worry about being late, there’s nothing to apologize for. Real life comes first so don’t stress about being a bit behind. Actually, don’t stress at all about it. Just have fun.

  4. Ah, higher education! I’ve had many many discussions about that with other people. I was one of those students who were in university forever. I studied International Business for 7+ years due to lack of focus and I never wrote my final thesis, although by a stroke of good luck I did end up with my bachelor’s degree (this is due to the Netherlands switching to the bachelor-master system halfway through my studies).

    I definitely feel that higher education stifles your creativity sometimes. A lot of those classes involved people just regurgitating what they have read in their textbooks. Somehow this counts as ‘discussion’. It was pretty pointless in my opinion, yet if you don’t join in you get a minus for participation. I don’t want to be too black and white about it. There were some pretty good discussions as well, but not nearly enough.

    I also never finished my final thesis because I didn’t feel I could write my own story. By an administrative mistake I was allowed to take a course called Distributive Justice which should not have been available within my path, and it turned out to be my favorite course by far (I regularly still read books on the subject matter). It was pretty philosophical, but then applied to macro-economics, and I wanted to do the same on globalization (a very hot topic at the time). But good luck finding a professor who agrees with that. Nope, since we are doing International Business, we have to apply quantitative methods in the thesis. In fact, I skimmed through hundreds of theses written by previous students, and I don’t think I came across more than a handful that did not include some amount of mathematics… Most of the advice I got was that I should just write something which is good enough just to get the damn diploma, but my inner writer just didn’t allow me to do that, What’s the point of writing a 100 page ‘story’, if you do not truly believe in it?

    In the end things turned out pretty well, although it took me many many rejections and a few years of uncertain employment to get there. I now have a great job I enjoy doing and which I’m really good at and I earn enough money to enjoy life and not to have to worry about the necessities in life. I feel I’ve learned > 80% of it on the job, and the remainder due to temp jobs I did in the past, and NOT due to my education.

    Still, I’m happy to see that my younger brother is going through his educational life via the more ‘traditional’ way than I did. In the end, the paper does count in real life, however unfair we may think it is (but then again, employers need some way to qualify prospects after all). My advice to younger people is always to go study and work hard to get a good degree, as that will make the first phase in your career that much easier. And like you said in a reply to Shard, the experience of going to university (as opposed to the education itself) is still an experience worth having, as it does teach you about how people interact in real life.

  1. Pingback: A University Education is Nearly Useless Now | sleeplessinturtleisland

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