Money and Education: The Reality of the Institution
Graduation may leave you feeling unfulfilled, even if you have technically fulfilled all of your obligatory requirements. You paid good money to go to an institution of higher learning, and sometimes you might feel like you didn't quite get your money's worth. This is to say nothing of the quality of the education you received but how the system itself operates. Colleges as well as public and private schools fall into this trap either way, and it's probably no one's fault that it has become this way.
Higher education should not be like Kickstarter. By that I mean that education should not be paid for in tiers (as it is already paid for in tears, not to mention sweat and sometimes even blood). For example, some people can only afford a four-year degree. However, their field of study might not teach them anything relevant until the graduate level, which they cannot afford. Therefore, they have a much smaller chance of getting a job in their field. It's certainly not their fault, it's just the way the program was designed. It's not the instructors' fault either, as they can only follow the mandate and not change it much. Many professors who teach bachelor-level classes are adjuncts and may only work at the university part time. Graduate professors are sometimes called upon to teach undergrad courses, but they can be out-of-touch with the undergrad program or disappointed with how little useful information they can actually give out. One such professor told me he felt like he was teaching a high school class. In truth, undergraduate college really is like another four years of high school. You may feel like you've accomplished much and should feel great about yourself (which you should), but it's disheartening to learn that you have much farther to go when you no money with which to continue.
Public and private high schools both operate on money as well. While private schools are funded by tuition, public schools are funded by taxes. As a result, students who attend private schools get what their parents pay for. Private schools typically have nicer campuses and more amenities thanks to tuition pricing plus any donations they receive from associated foundations. Public schools rely on what parents and teachers can afford out-of-pocket for supplies thanks to an ever-shrinking budget. That's not to say that students of either type have a better attitude or respect toward their school, as being a teenager is similar across demographics (if you want to see the cleanest schools ever, look to Japan, where the students take the place of janitorial staff). Comparing a private school education to a public one, money doesn't necessarily guarantee quality. Again, it all comes down to the educational mandate in that area, teacher training, and student willingness to learn/compatibility.
Sadly, no one is promising you a job once you graduate from anywhere, just like how the DMV doesn't present you with a used car after passing your road test (assuming the one you tested with was borrowed to begin with; not everyone's parents can afford to buy their child one in addition to their own). It would be nice if the world worked that way, but it doesn't, at least not in America. Unfortunately, the longer it takes to get a job post-grad, the rustier your skills become. By the time you finally come close to sealing the deal, you may need to be re-educated if what you learned once upon a time has become outdated information. Permits and licenses expire; should degrees not operate the same way? Teachers periodically need to go through training for upgrades to technology or instruction changes, but that's at least while they still have a job. For those still trying to be hired, it's like throwing money out the window and hoping the wind blows it back in someday. This is why many people with Bachelor's degrees have taken to the Internet to make money blogging or creating original content for fun and profit. Perhaps it is time to scale back the old ways and make this our future, promoting innovation and creativity instead of banning everything that looks like it infringes copyright and promoting the traditional route.
In short, the "old college try" doesn't count for much anymore. These days, it means many people who have Bachelor's degrees but couldn't afford grad school are not much better off than if they had not attended college in the first place. It's all about the money, and higher education is playing keep-away with it. While our capitalist government may be distrustful of a socialized system wherein health care and education are free, they should at least consider a reasonable overhaul of the system so that a Bachelor's degree doesn't become a worthless piece of paper that's just a placeholder for a more expensive and meaningful one that may never be attained.
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