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Yes. I'll also add the 4-year education is incredibly inefficient, in terms of skills added over time. Even in highly technical STEM degrees, you probably don't need 4 years "full time" to gain all of the skills an employer expects a fresh-out-of-school STEM graduate to have. The same is even more true of less technical degrees.



"Yes. I'll also add the 4-year education is incredibly inefficient, in terms of skills added over time"

I'm uncomfortable with the idea that a university degree is entirely about workforce skills.


It shouldn't be, but there are a lot of people who don't give a damn about a liberal education for themselves, and just want a degree to improve employment opportunities. For them, I think it's kind of a sham to say that the only way to get the jobs they want is to sit through lots of non-employment-related material.

Would our society be better if more citizens were liberally educated and thusly enriched? Perhaps. But that doesn't invalidate the desire to offer students greater opportunities at lower opportunity cost.


I know I'm at risk of sounding tremendously disparaging but, how critical is it to actually go to college to get a liberal arts education?

Can most of these aspects of a "more well-rounded education" not come from reading, travelling and extra-curricular activities (like music lessons and trips to the theatre)?


I agree completely, and that is my approach. But not everyone agrees. I would prefer to study history, philosophy and literature because I enjoy them, not for class. On the other hand, not everyone who would be interested in those things would do that without some place to make it official, so I still see a reason for schools that make it their focus to exist. However trying to improve the populace through underfunded, half baked, required courses taught by rote memorization specialists... I don't really agree with that since most students are just there for "job skills" anyway.


Many pieces of education, both the purely educational bits and the well-rounded bits, can come from experience and other sources. A degree often operates as a third-party certification that an individual has completed these tasks, and/or can stick with something for x years.


It isn't. That's the problem.


In the context that it's required to get certain jobs? So we -- society -- have screwed up in conflating education and job training?


Yes, we have.


One conversation I had with a senior employee at a very large company said that university was very important for signalling. They knew that someone who went to (for example) MIT was admitted to MIT, which indicates a certain amount of raw intelligence. Their legal department would not allow administering any sort of IQ test, so the school one went to was a proxy for IQ.


>I'm uncomfortable with the idea that a university degree is entirely about workforce skills.

But, It's a rational view. The soaring cost of college is what makes it largely an economic proposition for many these days.


I know I'm at risk of sounding tremendously disparaging but, how critical is it to actually go to college to get a liberal arts education? Can most of these aspects of a "more well-rounded education" not come from reading, travelling and extra-curricular activities (like music lessons and trips to the theatre)?


Some people only need / can afford to acquire said skills, and so aren't a good fit for the college track.




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