Content matters
Posted by aogFriday, 27 April 2012 at 19:14 TrackBack Ping URL

Don Surber advises journalism students to switch majors and get a real job. I think that’s excellent advice, and not just from a financial perspective. One of the biggest problems I see with modern journalism is how disconnected its practitioners are from reality. A couple of decades having a real job would cure much of that, and given them some actual expertise.

I would also note that this reminds of the Big Lie about college education — that there is a thing called “college education”. No, there are distinct fields of study which you can study in college. Some of them are more financial rewarding than others. But telling vulnerable kids that they just need a “college education” to do well is a lie so pernicious that not even a libertarian / free market guy like me would be willing to make it. Proglodytes, on the other hand …

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John Weidner Friday, 27 April 2012 at 19:56

The “college education?” Well, it used to be perfectly real, and indeed a start on a good career. (And four bits used to buy me a cuppa java.) I caught the tail end of it. I’m still chewing on a few things I was introduced to.

It brings up an interesting question (to me, at least). Colleges and universities in the Industrial Age added value in various ways. They had some very good reasons for collecting money. How many of those still exist?

One, they made scholarship workable by gathering scholars, apprentice scholars, students, libraries, labs, journals and a lot of useful gear like lecture halls all in one place. That’s a lot less necessary now, but perhaps still has some utility.

Two, they were information filters. They decided who should be listened to, who was worth hiring, who fit into various social classes. They’ve pretty much committed suicide as far as those things go.

Three, colleges were once centers for the search for Truth. Ha. The wheel may still be turning, but the hamster is dead.

And four, guiding the young in morals, character, and Christian faith. Not on my lifetime.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 27 April 2012 at 23:04

Yes, back in the days of core cirriculums, you could get a “college education”. But those days have long since passed — very few students today will be able to get any such thing (especially at the Ivies).

I think the scholarship argument is dead, that’s passed as well with so many non-college based research groups. It will get even deader going forward with “open source” science and other network mediated forms.

You’ve discarded the other three so I’ll just concur on those.

It’s quite difficult to see how universities / colleges survive for another 100 years.

Bret Saturday, 28 April 2012 at 00:40

I think that universities will have less of a teaching focus over time, but will remain viable in the research area. There’s no reason there can’t be not-for-profit research institutions and universities could play a role there for a long time. Not all of them, but I suspect Hahvahd will still be around in a 100 years.

The other things is that the Universities and government have a very symbiotic relationship. I know that this is a minarchist blog and all, but I really don’t see government eliminating funding for all universities any time soon.

Hey Skipper Saturday, 28 April 2012 at 02:58

I think colleges will remain largely as they are because a degree — even in a non-occupational (so long as it isn’t patently ridiculuous) major — is, in effect, a job hunting license. Just like a high school diploma is a job hunting license, only for smaller game. Possessing a diploma is a proxy for certain characteristics that most employers desire in employees.

Tuition inflation has happened since Congress outlawed aptitude tests that discriminate based upon race, btw.

(I am restating, no doubt badly, Taranto’s theory).

Annoying Old Guy Saturday, 28 April 2012 at 08:39

There’s no reason there can’t be not-for-profit research institutions and universities could play a role there for a long time

True, but for the same reason I don’t why those non-for-profit research institutions must be universities. My point is that you can have those institutions even if universities completely disappeared.

I really don’t see government eliminating funding for all universities any time soon.

No, probably not, but 100 years is not “any time soon”. Check out the Vanderbilt flap — that’s how funding will be lost. Public funding depends on the public thinking highly of universities. As that is eroded by the blatant politicization of those universities, funding will start to dry up.

a degree […] is a job hunting license

For now. But things are going on that reducing that effect. I expect that trend to continue.

Robert Mitchell Jr. Sunday, 29 April 2012 at 13:33

“There’s no reason there can’t be not-for-profit research institutions and universities could play a role there for a long time”. I would beg to differ. The current system used by the universities is flawed. Publish or Perish requires endless “research”, and actual learning gets lost in the chaff sometimes. Also, while there is a great deal of pressure to publish, there is no pressure to read the journals, leading to things like the Sokal affair. It may be able to be fixed, but given the current legacy costs, it may be cheaper and easier to tear the whole thing down.

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