A realization I had about a month ago was that children, most of their parents, and a scarily high percentage of the rest of society view college not as a tool or a way to improve one's career, but rather a means unto itself. That college itself is the goal and whether anything comes after that is irrelevant.
If this isn't bad enough, I fear it's gotten much worse. For while there's no limit to the "you can't put a price on education" type rationalization coming from liberal arts majors, any time I've tried to talk reason, sense, logic, foresight and math into young kids today (and many of their parents) about the risks of majoring in a worthless subject the response is typically vehement if not violent.
This leads me to believe that media, the education system, government, and (yes) parents have convinced children college is not only meritorious unto itself, but an entitlement, a life-purpose, a life-dream and a birthright. Every child/student/young person DESERVES an college education and that education is the most important thing in their lives.
And that's not hyperbole or rhetoric. It's true.
Consider your own personal experience when you were about to attend college. 20 years ago in my case I was led to believe that college was the solution to all of my problems. That when I got to this magical world called "college:"
Everybody would be more mature
Girls would throw themselves at me
I'd go to great parties and make great friends
My degree would guarantee me a job
My then 18 year streak of poverty and lower-middle income existence would finally be over
No doubt your expectations of college were equally bullshitty.
But also go back to when you were 17 and ask yourself what else did you have to look forward to in life? What else was there in life? You were just as ecstatic to go to college as your entire educational life up until that point was to make it to the Holy Land of College.
Now imagine today's kids, with thrice the amount of ass-kissing, "you can do anything-ism," "you're all winners" and the elimination of trophies, GPA's, valedictorians, and any other form of competition and you can see how college is all they have in life. And anytime anybody dares to critique their dreams or deliver a dose of reality, their rabid reaction belies their insane obsession with college.
Sadly, no matter how psychotically and irrationally wedded to college they are, does not mean we don't at least owe it to society to point out the truth. And scream and pout and stammer their little feet all they might, somebody has got to stand up and point out the obvious:
College is NOT a means unto itself
College is NOT meritorious unto itself
You CAN put a price on education
And that price is when your investment in time and money does not result in more of the same in return
College is a TOOL to advance your career first and foremost. And the second you treat it as anything other, especially a luxury good or an entitlement, you only serve to destroy the 70% of your life you have yet to live post-college.
Naturally I speak to the choir here on this blog. I don't think anybody here is going to disagree that with tuition running at $70,000 you should demand a fiscal return on your investment. But the sad truth is this message will fall on deaf ears because those who so desperately need this lesson are not sane. They are fanatics. They are junkies. They are as zealous as ISIS is to Islam as they are to college. And nothing will get the way of achieving their dream.
To that end there is not much left to do than what we're already doing. Mocking people who major in the puppetry. Laughing at people who are $120,000 in debt with women's studies degrees. Telling the MA in Music that yes, we would indeed very much like fries with that. And in short, living better lives than them. But I hope that in your own realm, within your own sphere of influence, that there are some youth or some friends or some family members who are at least receptive to reality, sanity, and math. That they haven't been fully duped and brainwashed into thinking their lives are so worthless a "college degree" is the best thing they can achieve. That the college degree is tool to help them achieve greatness, and often and optional tool at that. And if you can get them not to destroy their futures like the College ISIS Fanatics then you've done a world of good in genuinely saving some lives.