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Old 11-11-2022, 06:46 AM
 
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I posted this in the thread on GPA, but thought it deserved it's own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by guidoLaMoto View Post
In general, GPA and even a bachelor degree itself is more indicative of one's ability to learn and of their sense of responsibiity & perseverance than evidence of what they've learned. Very little of formal undergrad educational material is used in real world work.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
A lot of folks say this, but is that perhaps more relevant to liberal arts/gen ed classes? I know this is just one example, but I've used what I learned in my degree program constantly over my whole career. If not specifically, then indirectly in being able to learn and perform my job. In contrast however, very little, if any, of my liberal arts/gen ed classes were useful beyond what it took to pass the course. As I learned later in life, much of it was either incomplete or just professor opinion rather than useful information. Indeed, in some cases I'd consider it negative learning that I had to unlearn (think of the various papers written in college) to succeed at work.

Consider -- what if we put the responsibility for gen eds on high school and kids who succeeded at them (exam, A levels, whatever) could finish college in three years instead of four. In some ways that's happening with dual enrollment, but it's inconsistent across the country. Think of how much money would be saved if we cut gen eds from the college curriculum.
I know it kind of happens on an ad hoc basis as individuals build their own programs. But many colleges, such as the ones both my kids attended, only allow so many credits and/or require students to substitute in other courses for the ones they got credit for.

Rather, what if we formalized the structure so that students could take a defined program in high school (defined so that it's common and accepted in all colleges) that meets their gen ed requirements. Someone can correct my here if I'm misunderstanding, but somewhat like the British "A levels". Upon successful completion of this program, those students would only need three years of college. Considering student debt, that's a huge savings.

It could also function as an incentive to students and parents: If you pass this program, college is only three years but if you don't pass this program, or just take regular classes, college will be four years.
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Old 11-11-2022, 08:39 AM
 
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If we're talking practicality for a career, then I think the barrier of entry to most entry level jobs should be a 2 year associates. Tops.

Even engineering.

Let's just say by age 17 you've decided you want to major in Civil Engineering but not only that, but want to be a Geotechnical Engineer. 2 years easy.

Going past general reqs, a lot of that Calc? Totally useless.

Of course, there's a few issues here.

Most kids don't know what they want to do. Just using engineering as an example. Most kids don't know what type of engineering they want to do. And even when they do decide, it's all pretty arbitrary and sometimes just based on unfounded ideas of inflated salaries.

Colleges are a business like everything else, and a lot of people would lose jobs, some very cushy ones, if that happened. So you better believe they'll fight to keep things the way they are. Or ... do you want my other thoughts on how to make society and work more productive and fulfilling to the average person. Didn't think so.

The traditional college experience of going somewhere for 4 years is still alive, mostly for those with more wealth, but ... it is. And that would take that away somewhat.
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Old 11-11-2022, 08:52 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jobaba View Post
Let's just say by age 17 you've decided you want to major in Civil Engineering but not only that, but want to be a Geotechnical Engineer. 2 years easy.

Going past general reqs, a lot of that Calc? Totally useless.
.
I know a few engineers who don't use much calc. Most of them are doing cook book engineering. Solving the same problems that have already been solved thousands of times before.

Then there are those who are solving the problems no one else has solved before.

One of those is a lot more fun than the other.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jobaba View Post
Colleges are a business like everything else, and a lot of people would lose jobs, some very cushy ones, if that happened. So you better believe they'll fight to keep things the way they are. Or ... do you want my other thoughts on how to make society and work more productive and fulfilling to the average person. Didn't think so.
.
You answered your own question way too soon. I'm always interested in other's thoughts. I may not agree, but always interested. May need to take it to a different forum for CD rules but go for it.
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Old 11-11-2022, 09:36 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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Not sure colleges could function if you asked them to be creative or effective, or responsible.

Gen Ed up front is a structure of BTDT forever, that fits a academia to a T. (Because of course, every student and every career is identical)

There are many ways to effectively learn even a complex career field, but don't expect a academia to recognize that. Certainly not to implement it.!

Having strong basic skills and methodical reasoning, students could pursue the most reasonable path to learning and to career interests and success. This could be developed prior to high school, and exposure to skilled occupations and services and volunteer/ internships completed before college. That would save time and money. A broad but diligent basic equipped and educated 13-15 yr old could make wise and effective judgements and decisions like the apprenticeships of the medieval and industrial age.
Maybe we've become smarter (I have my doubts) .
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Old 11-11-2022, 09:51 AM
 
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I think some are useful- like writing requirements or basic math. To some extent, I think foreign language requirements also help you learn your own language better. That said, it seems like some require more than others. I also think that general education courses help people just generally learn how to learn and become more independent.

If there is one thing managers don’t like, it is people who need their hands held. By taking a variety of types of classes, you may not know the answers, but you will have a better idea of how to find them.
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Old 11-11-2022, 10:07 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RamenAddict View Post
I think some are useful- like writing requirements or basic math. To some extent, I think foreign language requirements also help you learn your own language better. That said, it seems like some require more than others. I also think that general education courses help people just generally learn how to learn and become more independent.

If there is one thing managers don’t like, it is people who need their hands held. By taking a variety of types of classes, you may not know the answers, but you will have a better idea of how to find them.
I do agree with much of what you say, but have a couple of questions/discussion items.

Learning how to learn. That's such an important item, yet we see that all too often kids enter college without knowing how to learn. Would we, as a society including both college bound and non college bound, be better off if kids learned how to learn in high school? Are we hampering our kids by not learning that skill until college?

The second point, is why do we need the gen eds/liberal arts type classes to do that learning? I see that concept presented often here on CD. Can folks not learn how to learn in courses related to their specific interest/degree program? Why does someone only learn how to learn only in a gen ed or liberal arts class but not in astronomy or biology or engineering or economics? Why do they only learn how to write papers in a literature class and not in a physics class?

That's an argument I've been unable to reconcile in my mind.
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Old 11-11-2022, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Oregon, formerly Texas
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The cumulative effect of taking a variety of classes where you hone your educational skills and habits of mind, is valuable. Gen ed serves that purpose.

In Europe they are able to front-load into their high school what for us is the first ~1 to 2 years of college. They can get through their bachelor degrees in 3 years or less as a result.

Our education system screws up imo in the middle school years. We waste about 2 years and I think it starts there.
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Old 11-11-2022, 10:21 AM
 
Location: Sunnybrook Farm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jobaba View Post
If we're talking practicality for a career, then I think the barrier of entry to most entry level jobs should be a 2 year associates. Tops.

Even engineering.

Let's just say by age 17 you've decided you want to major in Civil Engineering but not only that, but want to be a Geotechnical Engineer. 2 years easy.

Going past general reqs, a lot of that Calc? Totally useless.

....
Until you get past the first three years of working and instead of being handed problems where someone else has already set it up for you to plug-and-chug, you find YOU have to identify the nature of the problem, the tools required to solve it, the boundary conditions, etc., etc., and then YOU have to evaluate whether the results you're getting make any sense or not. Looking up equations won't help you if you don't understand when the equations apply and when they don't.

I can't honestly say that any of my four years of engineering school has turned out to be "useless" even though sometimes it's been many years before the use was apparent. There are several subjects that I in my 20 year old arrogance gutted my way through without really understanding, believing "I'll never use that" and I'm still finding that my inadequate understanding hampers me, 40 years on. I really wish I'd paid more attention and asked more questions in Classical Thermo.

There are a lot of people out there calling themselves "engineers" who are really technicians. For that matter, there are a few technicians who really ought to be calling themselves engineers. From the Civ-Es I went to school with, I can't imagine how one could master the body of knowledge required to START work as a CivE in 2 years.

As to things like English and History, given the pitiful degree of basic comprehension of these kinds of subjects in even the college-"educated", I really don't think it's a good idea to strip out any last vestiges of actual education from the university experience in favor of turning universities into glorified trade schools. Sure, if completing high school presented one with a decent general education like it did 100 years ago, one could consider that. But a kid who's bright enough to major in a SE field will also have been bright enough to skate through the typical public high school English, History, etc., classes by just showing up and occasionally cracking a book before exams.
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Old 11-11-2022, 10:23 AM
 
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There's a lot of discussion here about the usefulness for gen ed classes for a professional career, but very little discussion about its usefulness for a college education.
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Old 11-11-2022, 10:29 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
The second point, is why do we need the gen eds/liberal arts type classes to do that learning? I see that concept presented often here on CD. Can folks not learn how to learn in courses related to their specific interest/degree program? Why does someone only learn how to learn only in a gen ed or liberal arts class but not in astronomy or biology or engineering or economics? Why do they only learn how to write papers in a literature class and not in a physics class?

That's an argument I've been unable to reconcile in my mind.
The way you learn varies based on the subject. How to learn in physics is very different than how to learn in anthropology. You can learn physics largely by spending lots of time with physicists, working through problems and doing research in a lab. For anthropology, you need to travel the world and observe people, artifacts, and other things. The mechanism in which we learn varies significantly based on the subject. There's no one method that fits all.
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