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The Real Value of a Degree

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Robert Baratheon
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Everyone knows college has degraded into an expensive four-year party and prolonged adolescence for young adults. Sleep in, show up to classes, regurgitate what the professor says onto some papers, and a hundred-thousand dollars (or more) later, all students meeting the barest minimum requirements will walk on stage to collect their diplomas.

 

This bemoaned but persisting state of affairs has led some to declare that the college degree is “worthless,” or that it “tells us nothing” about its bearer. Such critics have a point: degrees no longer guarantee deeper understanding in a field of study (if they ever did). Yet employers across the board continue to weight higher education in important hiring decisions. This paradox implies another variable in play – some hidden value of the degree that the credential deniers are missing.

 

 

http://wp.me/p4yevN-4E

 

I think the attitude that degrees are "worthless" or "say nothing" about a person is particularly common among Objectivists because they value real skills and addition of value above all else. They also tend to be more skeptical of common wisdom and conventional thinking in general.

 

However, this position creates a paradox: if degrees really do mean nothing, then why do job creators - who Objectivists claim are rational, profit-seeking, and self-interested - almost invariably prefer applicants with higher education diplomas?

 

In the above post, I argue it's because a degree serves as a proxy for other information about an applicant and is a highly valuable predictor of future stability on the job.

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Is this coming from the same roots that assess that "Objectivists denounc[e] everyone - especially themselves – over who is the purist heir to kingdom of Ayn Rand?"

 

A degree, (depending on the field of study) is hardly worthless, nor does it say nothing about the person who has one. It demonstrates they have the tenacity to do what was necessary to acquire one. This is one reason job creators seek such individuals. Fields such as engineering, medicine, and business are good examples where this is generally the case.

 

Fields of study, such as the humanities, theology, and much of philosophy today, are significant contributors to what you claim to want to identify as, paraphrasing, "the forces causing the decline of liberty in America."

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Is this coming from the same roots that assess that "Objectivists denounc[e] everyone - especially themselves – over who is the purist heir to kingdom of Ayn Rand?"

 

 

I'm not sure what this means. "Roots"? It's referring to the numerous schisms and "withdrawings of sanction" that have taken place among Objectivists, most of which center on the issue of ideological purity.

 

A degree, (depending on the field of study) is hardly worthless, nor does it say nothing about the person who has one. It demonstrates they have the tenacity to do what was necessary to acquire one.

 

 

This is precisely my point.

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I was referring to the broad-brush approach. As cited, it came across as defining characteristic. Then again, is ideological purity a virtue or a vice? What does ideological corruption or impurity lead to? Perhaps the term selected is too ambiguous. Can ideological purity be measured or determined by the lack or quantity of contradictions contained within?

 

As to being precisely your point, you embraced the examples that I provided that indeed support of your point.

 

The references to degrees being worthless and saying little or nothing about the possessor is usually directed toward particular fields, not broad-brushed into coming across as what [all or some? you don't distinguish.] Objectivists say about [all or some, again, you didn't distinguish] degrees.

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Oh, I've heard statements to the effect of, "College is a waste of money - just study up on subjects yourself." I could name two other Oist forums in particular where this attitude is common, but I won't.

Ideological purity is a vice, or at least a fanatical pursuit of it is. The world is messy and you have to get your hands dirty at times. The biggest obstacle to liberty in America is this tendency to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

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Does the fact that something appears on an Objectivist forum mean its objective, or even posted by an Objectivist? With regard to philosophy, I'll read books, listen to ARI materials, in essence, I'm paying for my education in time, money and effort. 

 

When it came to learning descriptive geometry, planography and CAD software, I sought out educators that had taken the time to break the principles down into concrete examples that reduced the amount of time it would have taken me to learn it on my own.

 

The year I spent in college provided me with other theoretical background material that going to a library would have cost hours guessing at what materials, if even available, would guide me in those pursuits.

 

 

If the restoration of liberty in America is your passion, identifying the correct cause that is poisoning or underlying its demise would go a long way toward discovering the correct cause that would serve as the foundation for holding it as the proper state of man. Thomas Paine put it well when he stated that "[w]hat we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value."

 

edited: added

Edited by dream_weaver
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When you say it is how a person sees reality - you are not likely referring to vision in the context of eyesight. And implicit in the latter portion of that statement are you implying that it is what [they think] reality should be?

 

To have a cause that is comprised of some combination of nature and nurture - is that to say a human being is determined by his environment and upbringing?

 

 

If I'm not mistaken, progressivism is rather pragmatic in nature, essentially an attempt to resolve a problem or issue without identifying the principle that lay at the heart of it.

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We're 100% off topic now, but yes, progressivism is principally pragmatic/utilitarian in its methods toward achieving its Utopian vision for mankind. This is why progressives are willing to systematically violate individual liberties - it's always in the name of some alleged greater societal good on the basis of social justice. The ends always justify the means to progressives, with people never as ends in themselves.

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Well, it started by peeling back a layer of the onion. Liberty is being undermined by progressivism, which is rooted in pragmatism. Not entirely unpredictably, the next question would have been what lies at the root of, or is the cause of pragmatism.

 

You are passionate enough about liberty to dedicate some time and effort to a blog, and invite comments on it here. Would pigeon holing Objectivists into some sort of "world-view" of what "Objectivists are perceived to be" be considered as enrolling in that effort?

 

Edited: Added

Edited by dream_weaver
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Again, I'm not sure how the word "rooted" is being used in this context. Progressives are primarily pragmatic in their methodology, but I would say the real "roots," (i.e., fundamentals) of progressivism are the elitism and Utopian idealism of the unconstrained vision of humanity.

I'm using rooted similarly, i.e. what is the fundamental; what does it grow up out of; what gives rise to;  

 

At this juncture, we might have to leave it at pragmatism. Again, if I'm not mistaken, pragmatism gives rise to progressivism, elitism and Utopian idealism. While this is rather abstract, keep in mind, philosophies are understood or grasped via abstractions.

 

Edited: Added

Edited by dream_weaver
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One of Francis Bacon's aphorisms is "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed."

 

When you say that none of this is particularly important, keep in mind that reality is not subject to wishes, whims, or desires. If you want to change the decline of liberty in America, it must implemented by such means as which cause mankind to pursue and embrace liberty.

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For what its worth, Robert Baratheon, the full article on your blog was a better presentation (yes, I just now read it) than what could be gleaned from your introductory post on it here.

 

Your reference to Objectivists in your first post reminded me that you had made reference to Objectivists in your first blog article, which directed this exchange ultimately to wind up 100% off topic (of the value of education).

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