Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quine from Quinnipiac with a Query.

What do the community members of CM think of students who take courses for no economic gain? I ask because I seem to be alone among students when it comes to the purpose of obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Is it strange/snowflakey that a Teamster in his mid-twenties is obtaining a Philosophy degree with no prospects of ever using it for economic gain? The best I can come up with is using it for a possible move to Canada.

-- Quine


  1. We all do lots of things for no economic gain. Hobbies, interests, dinner parties, sports, books - we do them because they bring other rewards into our lives. Owning a pet is usually a net cost, but most of us wouldn't give them up for the world. And most of us Miserians would turn cartwheels at the thought of someone taking our class just because they want to learn more about the subject.

    The only way it gets flakey is if you really can't afford it. If you're spending the rent money, or living on Ramen noodles to feed your philosophy habit, it might be a problem. But otherwise by all means, feed your head.

    Tangentially, I wish college administrators could get this idea - Universities are there, not for economic gain, but to bring other rewards to society. Sure Uni's should be financially responsible, but that doesn't mean we need to be little profit-centers run on business models.

  2. @ Sultans - It's a large, underpopulated, nominally sovereign entity just north of Montana.

  3. Maybe he's pursuing the degree because he enjoys the process. Must the sole end of education be economic? I'd take a whole room full of guys like this, flaky or no.

  4. Learning for the sake of learning is always appreciated. Just don't be an ass in class and completely dominate discussion and it's all good (I've had a few students in your position who never let another student get a word in edgewise--they were smart and knew a ton, but other people get stuff out of being able to talk too! Also, I'm not assuming you ARE that way.... just saying...)

    Administrators, especially at the state level, need to understand that students like you, even non-degree seeking ones, should not be considered a detriment to our school. *That* is the "big problem." A student who graduates but doesn't use the degree can hurt employment statistics. A student who takes courses but doesn't graduate can potentially hurt retention statistics. Those are what the admins worry about.

    Personally, I think that's crap, but when state funds are low and sinking lower that's what some folks worry about. :/

  5. It's the students who think their degrees will lead directly to economic gain that I worry about...
    (Yes, even here in Canada.)

  6. Montana? ;)

    I think that there is a lot of value (although not necessarily monetary) in a broad education provided there is depth somewhere. That is the point of a liberal arts education.

    I encourage my advisees to take courses in stuff not at all related to my field. It's important to have a variety of skills so that you can communicate with a variety of people.

    The problem I have is students who are taking on more debt than they will ever be able to pay off (federal debt forgiveness will hurt the country in the long run, what a BAD idea!). Students who take an $80000 undergrad debt so that they can be elementary school teachers annoy the hell out of me. Not only are they making a scary bad financial decision but they are "smart" enough to teach our children?!?

    Go to any school you want. Take any courses you want. But don't borrow more than you'll likely make in your first year on the job. The rest of your tuition needs to be made up in scholarships or paid with cash.

  7. Depends on what you mean by economic gain. At the CC level, I see a good number of students who take courses for the sake of taking courses, which means they are living off financial aid as their sole or major means of income.

    I prefer students who are goal oriented but really want to learn from the process as well, whether it's because they know it will make them better people/employees or just because they like to learn. As drunk in a midnight choir said, it's the ones who come just because it's a hoop to jump through before they think they will make big piles of money that are the most disturbing because they don't really want to be taught. At least the financial aid seekers don't usually come to class and save me the trouble of going through the motions.

  8. I'm not even sure what 'economic gain' is supposed to mean. I mean, I've got a Ph.D., multiple postdocs, student debt, and a job that pays considerably less than that of a reasonably good plumber.

    Can you name a single degree which will guarantee economic gain?

  9. @DrNathaniel: HVAC, electrical, or plumbing. Those guys charge $100+/hr even when you already have the part.

  10. @DrNathaniel: Chemistry? Electrical engineering? (Presuming these folks go into the private sector.)

    @Quine: Philosophy? No one majors in that for economic gain, Teamster or not. Teamster in college? Have you read Frank McCourt's book 'Tis?

    I'm with the others: glad to have students who care about the subject regardless of what they plan to do with it (or not). And most of the time, it's a pleasure to have older students who've been in the workforce. They tend to have more discipline both in class and with the assignments.

    To me, they're Snowflakes only when they claim special entitlement (to my time, to class discussion, to using my first name, to deadline extensions) by virtue of self-perceived maturity.

  11. @Dr. Nathaniel
    "How to Rob Mob Banks (and survive)"
    Dr. Jack Napier

    "The Lifestyle of Porn Production"
    Drs. H. Hefner, T. V. Mikels

    "Terrorizing the World for Pure Profit"
    Dr. No with special lecture by Auric Goldfinger

  12. As an astronomer, I think it's GREAT!!!


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