Thursday, June 30, 2011

Is College Necessary For All?

A short time ago I came upon somebody asking the question of whether or not he should go to college. He was a senior in high school and was looking at options for his future. He generally hated school and had a generally bad high school experience. He was asking his forum colleagues should he spend the time and money needed to pursue higher education or invest the time learning some trade or just get a job and work experience.

This question is not as simple as it seems. The answer which society tries to ram down our throats is that you must go to college. We've all seen the commercials. If you don't go to college you are going to be some loser stuck in the rails of a dead end job. You are going to be some ignoramus, to always be looked down upon. And yes, this is true in some sectors of society where status is more important that actual merit.

I truly hate seeing those commercials on TV because they are so disingenuous in what they promise. Why if you go to college your life automatically becomes better and you are guaranteed your dream job. Yes and no, you will have an advantage. An education is an asset. However, like any asset you need to know how to use it. In addition, quite honestly, you need a little luck if you don't have the proper connections.

So here we are back at the question. Is college necessary for everyone? The plain and brutal answer to that question in my opinion is no. Now I am not of the opinion that (as Judge Smails in Caddyshack said so eloquently) "the world needs ditch diggers, too". I don't want to feel that way because when it comes to education I do want everyone to have free and open access to it.

In an ideal society everybody should be educated as far as they choose to pursue with a some minimum requirements. Unfortunately, there is the factor of the economy. How many jobs are there to support this promise that a college degree will give you all your hopes and dreams? Right now is not the case and may not be for a very long time. It is quite possible that the halcyon days of America's economic superpower days are over unless some people are elected with some smattering of economic intelligence. (Our own President saying that we need to get ourselves into more debt to pay off our bills, Lord help this country.)

A B.A. today is what a high school diploma used to be. Some would say that is great. That America has a level of education which is a tremendous success. No, that dream is now a nightmare of debt for all those promised this great dream. With no actual income to repay the loans which were blindly handed out those kids are now crippled economically. Jobs and education need to go hand in hand. Plus, an educated society is by no means guaranteed to be economically powerful.

So what to do? Well, I don't have all the answers and if I did nobody would listen to me anyway. However, one thing that I would start changing would be to stop requiring Master's Degrees for entry level positions. This will not happen, of course, but it is something that I would suggest. Perhaps a simple changing in the wording to 'must be willing to pursue' some level of degree. That would A) give the person who is interested in the field a job and B) bring the person who showed enough initiative to get the job up to the level of education that the employer wants to see. Employers need to be willing to look to other avenues of experience. Perhaps even bring back the taboo 'on the job training'.

I am curious to hear your opinions on this.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I hope to get out to the Hubbard Library soon to get some photos of the outside. The weather these past few days has been rather wet. I enjoy it, but it is not good for photography. I am going to do my write up then. I should be done with book 12 of The Wheel of Time series by then. I can drop off the book and take the photos at the same time.

Electronic Books

When I was at the Hubbard Library last week I saw an interesting poster on the wall which grabbed my attention. It was concerning the fact that the library offered downloadable books for your I-Phone and other such devices. I didn't ask about it, but I am assuming that the rentals are available through the library like any other book. You would download them through the library and they would expire when the books would normally come due.

Unfortunately, it won't take long before there is some crack for this which will allow people to keep their books from auto-deleting, if there isn't one out there already. I have no tears to shed over what has happened to the music industry concerning the digital revolution. They needed to be taken down a few pegs. However, there is a lot of experienced hackers out there who are veterans who would think nothing of providing hacks for this.

I really don't like this. I hate this whole trend and it is only going to get worse. I understand that libraries need to do something to stay ahead of the curve on this. However and quite unfortunately, quite literally too, the writing is on the wall. When are books going to be obsolete? People say that it will never happen. Yet, look at all the Borders' that are closing. It is starting. Libraries are being forced to metamorphosize. You can get your movies there. You can use the computers. What happens when actual books are no longer produced?

Yes, you can download these electronic stories and read them, but they are not books. What is going to happen when the books that the libraries need to get their hands on simply aren't produced? Will libraries simply evolve into some kind of community center where you can do everything else and maybe borrow this obsolete thing called a book. Perhaps all the books will just be moved into the museums.

Don't get me wrong, I love technology, but I hate e-books. If society just sleepwalks into accepting these as the new thing then it is over. I have a prediction that schools and universities will make a jump to e-books within 5 years. They will cite economics and 'the environment' in their decision to do so. If I am wrong then I will be glad, but I don't think so. Once that happens then the dominoes will start to fall.

I was heartened though at one thing and that is all the debates I saw over this while browsing Youtube today. I am not the only one and while other's have sold out it is nice to know that the fight will go on.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Back At It!

Update, It has been a little while since I updated here. I apologize for the lack of activity. Yeah, I know, I say that. However, I should finally have the scheduling and time all figured out. Real life can be a pain at times. It is looking like I'll be doing one library visit per week (hopefully). I shall be blogging my usual non sequiturs as well.

I just had a chance to visit the Hubbard Memorial Library in Ludlow. It was a very nice experience. I don't have any photos because the lighting was really bad due to the fact that it was raining. I shall have more on that  in my next update.

Some of you may have heard there was a  very strong tornado which passed through Springfield very recently. It actually passed within a few miles of my house. As far as I am aware none of the library branches in Springfield were affected. If that is not true then I shall update you.

OK! Good to be back!