Monday, September 5, 2011

Time to Get Over Yourself

If you’re young and just out of college you probably do not have too much to celebrate on this Labor Day.

Far too many recent college grads have moved back home to live with their parents. Too many are either unemployed or underemployed.

When you start college in America you are told that your degree will open the door to a glorious future. Unfortunately, the promise that they dangled in front of you has turned bitter.

Some people have chosen to sit out the recession or find their way into respectable professions by going to graduate school.

Now, the word is coming down to us that graduate school is no longer a very good investment.

It’s not just the moribund economy. Today’s young people are facing a fundamentally different labor market. If they did not learn about the free market in college, reality is providing them a very rude awakening.

The Economist laid it out this morning: “A university education is still a prerequisite for entering some of the great guilds, such as medicine, law and academia, that provide secure and well-paying jobs. Over the 20th century these guilds did a wonderful job of raising barriers to entry—sometimes for good reasons (nobody wants to be operated on by a barber) and sometimes for self-interested ones. But these guilds are beginning to buckle. Newspapers are fighting a losing battle with the blogosphere. Universities are replacing tenure-track professors with non-tenured staff. Law firms are contracting out routine work such as “discovery” (digging up documents relevant to a lawsuit) to computerised-search specialists such as Blackstone Discovery. Even doctors are threatened, as patients find advice online and treatment in Walmart’s new health centres.

One understands why graduate school would hold out such a strong appeal. Isn’t undergraduate study supposed to be teaching you what are called the liberal arts? Doesn’t a liberal arts degree serve as a foundation for your entry into any one of a number of professional schools?

If it doesn't, then you have a problem. If you merely possess a degree in the Humanities, you probably know that this is going to make you a less desirable candidate for a job.

By now most employers know better than to hire Humanities grads. They certainly know better than to hire Humanities grads from Ivy League schools.

They know that Humanities courses have turned into indoctrination mills. The products of these mills are prickly leftists who want to bring social justice and class warfare to the workplace.

And that is when they are not undergoing belated identity crises, trying to find themselves on the company dime.

Who bears responsibility for this sorry state of affairs? Of course, blame goes to the professors who believed that tenure gave them the right to do as they pleased, the market be damned. Professors who imagined that they could brandish the good name of their famed institutions to validate their flights of puerile ideology have done their students serious wrongs. They have betrayed their students’ trust and have failed to prepare them to function effectively in the marketplace.

One might say that the only sure guideline to a successful future lies in repudiating the counsel that the politically correct Humanities professors are offering.

If you are in college today, you need to learn the right lesson from this fiasco: major in a field involving numbers.

If your bent is intellectual, you should aim at math, economics or statistics. If your mind is comfortable with practicality, you should know that employers are always happy to hire engineering students.

If you want to join fields that have a truly bright future, look into mining and agriculture.

And let’s keep in mind the virtue and the value of ROTC.

If a student is looking to finish college without debt and with a good job, ROTC would seem to be an excellent option. Unfortunately, ROTC has been either banned or maligned at many of our finest educational establishments, to the point that most students do not even consider it a viable option.

Even if it is finally allowed back on Ivy League campuses, the program has been so thoroughly stigmatized that most college students will fear the results of belonging to it.

Those who have missed out on ROTC could do much worse than to join the military. Quickly, they would find themselves with a direction and purpose, something that they now sorely lack.

It’s a lot better than going into therapy in order to find themselves.

The kind of therapy that promises to help you find yourself is really just an adjunct to the mis-education you received in your Humanities courses. It’s not going to solve your problems; it’s going to aggravate them.

When you leave college the lesson you need to learn has nothing to do with finding yourself. What you really need is to learn how to get over yourself. I would venture that the military is well equipped to show you the way. 

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