I am wrapping up my third year of university, and am consequently in a reflective mood regarding my collegiate experience so far. Looking back on the classes I’ve taken, I cannot help but be amazed at what a waste most of them are.
Now, it is better to know something than not know it, and there is much to be said about a broad-based education, but nonetheless of the thirty or so classes I have taken through this semester, only a handful are at all related to my field of study. Even including those, the classes that were worth the effort (and money) involved I could count on one hand.
The reason is not something I can quite define. One problem lies in the number of “Core Curriculum” classes, which seem overly numerous. Another is the fact that, as a secular school, there is no common foundation from which to teach.
Perhaps a fundamental difficulty lies in the purpose of the university system. An especially honest professor of mine, expanding on a point made by Ezra Pound, pointed out that the university’s purpose is not education – one can educate oneself as well as the school. Rather, the purpose is accreditation – which is something else entirely. Much like primary and secondary education, university does not exist to teach students how to think critically or approach difficulties, but instead they ensure the student (customer?) possesses enough knowledge (separate from wisdom or understanding) that they can be given a diploma with which the student can prove the fact to prospective employers – employment, not education, being the ultimate goal of most students.
The root problem, I suppose, is cultural. Education in itself is not valued as highly as good employment. What once were universities, then, become technical schools to train students in practical skills for the end of finding a job. How this is to be reversed, I do not know. Probably it should begin in a change of attitude on the part of the students and professors.
For the time being, I am mostly just thankful that I received scholarship money and thus did not have to pay too much for my accreditation. Unfortunately, I will have to pay for others in the form of taxes to pay for government-sponsored scholarship programmes.