Criticisms of American Academia and the American Student


In response to Unequal Access to Quality Education, an article written by a fellow blogger.

You say that education costs money. I must disagree wholeheartedly. If I truly cared about my education, and just my education, I could pop into the public library day in and day out for the rest of my life. I can literally acquire an education equal to if not surpassing that of any doctorate level graduate – for free – simply by researching in books freely offered by the county, or the internet that is also offered freely at the library.

Let us not forget that cheap internet connections are available pretty much anywhere. Let us not also forget the book store, which has the newest and latest information.  Let us not forget the libraries at any university or college, which has books and references specifically for the subject matter being taught. And let us not forget sitting in on college lectures – most of the time it is not an issue.

That is what academia is supposed to be about – an education. Unfortunately, in our Western society, people don’t give a rats flying ass about education. The terms “geek” and “nerd” are seen as derogatory by most.

Academia is a business, and earning your degree is a business transaction. Its a matter of going through the bureaucratic motions with sufficient funding. People want a piece of paper to hang on their walls, a reason to brag, and a justification for why they should be getting paid more than the next guy.

It’s about looking out for yourself, selfishly, in terms of economic and financial prosperity and stability. It’s not about the education, obviously, because people don’t treat it as such. Education is free, between public libraries and the internet, it doesn’t cost must anything.

That piece of paper, though, that is bound and framed, hanging on your office wall… that is what costs money… and you buy them from an industry that sells them. That industry is the American Academia.

I long for the days of ancient Greece when education wasn’t just for the rich, nor for just for those who wanted to profit… but rather was for those who wanted to learn and better their understanding of their world and their relation to it.

When I was younger I was foolish. I actually spent cold hard cash attending college, getting an education in the subjects that mattered to me… I truly attended college for the education and not for the degree… because I had that same mentality then. Unfortunately, though, I spent a lot of money taking a lot of classes that didnt even pertain to my degree path. And why? Because I wanted to learn those topics… and I did so quite well.

But while my classmates came and went, many graduated quicker than I, I came to realize that I was wasting my money on an education. An education I was already passionate enough about to learn for free on my own time, anyway. If you want to learn subjects that interest you, do it for free at the library… your passion is already there and so learning on your own accord is not a burden. I learned then that I could get the same education in the same subjects I appreciated at no cost via the library or the internet at home.

So why pay the outrageous tuition money and costs of books? Why?

I will tell you why. Academia is a business. Degrees are bought. Most graduates don’t even know the subject matter nearly as well as a passing grade would suggest they should.

Its more rational to simply go through the motions, take the fewest courses possible, the only required courses you need, slack off and barely pass, and consequently spend as little time, money and effort in academia as possible – because all anyone really wants is that piece of paper in the end. And all that piece of paper says to the world is “hey, I had the money and the time to do the bare minimum, and this is what they gave me for it”… “by the way, even though Billy is twice as good, he doesn’t have a degree… I should be getting paid more.”

That is what modern American Academia is. And that is the mentality of those who would have the gall to call themselves “students”.

At what point in history did becoming a graduate get more emphasis than becoming educated?

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Frankly speaking, as a side note to this post, I adamently believe that a college education should be completely socialized, paid for by the government via taxation, just as regular public education is for the elementary and high school student.  I think that just so long as you retain a sufficiently high grade point average, refrain from taking the same course more than once, are enrolled in a particular degree program and take the appropriate courses,  and are not otherwise a drain on the economy (ie unemployment), then the funding should be on the governments tab.

That is assuming, anyway, that we actually do care about educating and improving our world.  Otherwise, sure, sell education like we do health care – those who are wealthy and predisposed stay on top, alive, and at their best. At what point in history did an education become a commodity?

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