Thursday, February 5, 2009

Advice For Young People

John Derbyshire shares practical wisdom for today's youth, specifically for "academically non-brilliant young from un-wealthy families":
If you have a high threshold of boredom and cherish financial security above all else, get a government job — any one will do. Master a few bureacratic survival tactics — avoiding responsibility, advancing by stealth, etc. Settle back. Life's a couch.

If you're more adventurous and independent, learn a useful skill that you can parlay into a small business and take with you to another country if you get the travel bug, or if the U.S.A. folds. Stay clear of the college racket and the student-loan sharks. Keep fit. Life's an adventure playground.
Don't get me wrong, I loved college and it was great for me, but I won't deny that it's basically a racket.  Seriously, how much of a typical humanities program is spent reading a book and then discussing it with a group of people?  You can do that for free, it's called a "book club".  And at a real book club there's a higher likelihood that the others had actually read what they're opining about.  I'd probably be evaluating the value of my college experience very differently if I were still paying off my loans, instead of handing them over to the American taxpayer.  (Thanks guys!)


Shane said...

Agreed. College should be seen for what it is - an interesting experience and a good place to meet like-minded people, and somewhat educational, but ultimately a poor financial investment, especially people like you who graduated from private schools. The actual learning could be had for much cheaper/faster.

It's gotten worse with the advent of the internet. You can get a graduate-level understanding of many disciplines without leaving your home. You can grab a free syllabus and some practice tests from a university course, and then look up the necessary materials online and learn them on your own.

There are exceptions, of course. Careers as a practicing engineer/computer programmer/lawyer/professional football player/doctor pretty much require you to go to college (and all but NFL player require that you graduate), and if that's what you're going to do, you'll have to put in your time.

I want to return to school not because I think it will help my future earnings. I'm leaving 6 figure salaries on the table to go back to school, and will probably end up working for ~$50k a year at a nonprofit or for the feds again.

Melody said...

You're welcome to your education. Get all you can. Better you, who have earned it, than some others who have it handed to them!

Bruce Gee said...

Not in my book club.