Hey! Randy

Posts Tagged ‘college’

Take These With You

Posted by heyrandy on July 10, 2010

You have by now taken my college aptitude test. You know that college is a curve ball situation; nothing is straight forward. To survive you need skills and abilities. You know that I have a unique (okay, weird) perspective on college, so you need what I am about to say. I am going to teach you things that are important in life. These things are not what you are going to learn in any college. There is a reason for that: no one is willing to pay for this. You think that college is about learning, but it is really about money. This is why they only teach you what you will pay for.

1. The  most important thing you will hear in college is professor says. Unless you agree with the professor you grades will suffer. It does not matter if you are right. It does not matter if the professor is an idiot. Learn that to disagree is to hurt. This will prepare you for your first job.

2. The most important thing you will do in college is pay this amount. If you don’t pay, you don’t play. This is life.

3. The most important thing you will discover at college is the reason they say it is required. It is where the profit is.

4. The most important thing you will learn at college is that college has been dumbed down. Most people would not survive there very long unless it was.

5. The most important date in college is the last day to drop a course without failing. Know when to bailout.

6. The most important rule in college is for you to remember that college does not make you smart. The people that run this country are all college graduates.

7. The most important place in college is the library. That is where the real learning is. It is usually deserted.

8. The most important character trait at college is honesty. It almost doesn’t exist.

9.The most important mistake to avoid at  college is suspending your disbelief. If you believe them, you will become one of them.

10. The most important scheduling arrangement you will make is to take classes with lots of athletes in them. If you do this you will get an A.

This is how the system works. Now work the system.

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Live Long and Make Payments

Posted by heyrandy on December 20, 2009

The other day at work I overheard the conversation of the his and her hosts of one of those radio stations that play the kind of music that we have all too often heard. The subject of the discussion was the case of a man who recently graduated from Cornell University. He has a degree in theater and a $125,000 student loan debt. He now works at a call center. He makes $10 an hour.

This person is not smart enough to have gone to college. It is too bad that he did not know this before he went. He may not know it even now.

This person is doomed. He will never under normal circumstances pay off this debt. He is unlikely to marry because his wife will acquire this debt. This means no children, no future except debt payments. His credit rating will be permanently bad.

College is a wonderful thing. Just make sure that you plan to live long enough to make all the payments.

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A Free 200 MPH Test Drive

Posted by heyrandy on September 14, 2009

Did you ever dream of a full throttle test drive of a race car? It is good that most of us never realize this dream. It would entail the destruction of good machinery if we did. Now you can do more than dream. Massachusetts Institute of Technology has placed on line its entire curriculum. You can now get an MIT level education free. Crash helmet not required.

On line learning is the future. Nothing short of ending the Internet will stop this. This changes everything. Every university will follow MIT’s lead. Time has always been a major consideration in pursuit of education. No longer. Neither is location. With on line learning the classroom is always in session. A computer with Internet access is all that is needed. Attire optional.

The lesser schools are doomed. Most colleges are obscure for a reason: they are mediocre. They all offer the same course material at an inflated price. The schools are filled with prosaic students getting cheap degrees and huge debts. Higher education has been immune from price competition for all of its existence. MIT has forever changed that.

Since its inception in medieval times, the university has been anchored in land and buildings. The Internet has made this obsolete. The ivy covered wall have fallen. Good riddance. Alma Mater U, stand by to change. You will not like it, but you will do it. Or else. You may do it and the else.

The state funded schools are exempt. They are funded by taxpayers. They are politically connected. Here there will be no change. Hangover U is safe. For now.

The Big Sports U’s are not safe. These schools have funnels for the professional teams. This function is not necessary for the professional teams. The teams can hire their players directly from high school. Why not? What sense does it make for a potential star player to risk a career ending injury by playing college sports? The signing bonus will by itself be more money than most people will make in two life times. The kid will sign. I would.

In a sense MIT is behind the curve. Home school families have been for years laughing at professional educators–and out performing them. Now with the Internet the home schooled have even more tools to use.

Education has always been about information. Information has been restricted by the elite to the elite. The Internet has evaded this restriction. The Internet is the greatest aid to information distribution since the invention of movable type. The only thing greater than the Internet is the invention of writing. The elite realize the danger.

The chances are slim of you getting into MIT. You can now see if you can handle the course work. You will also learn something, probably how well you handle  disappointment. If you are unable to do the work at MIT you will find out before you go to the expense, the bother, and the embarrassment of dropping out. Your failure will be your own little secret. (I did not want to go there anyway). It is a lot like the fact that I use spell check a lot. This is the reason that I will never apply to MIT. Why should I pay them money for them to tell me that I am stupid? I was smart enough to learn this long ago by myself. (I did not want to go there anyway.)

But don’t despair if you cannot get into MIT.  You can always set you sights lower and apply at the nearby Harvard University. They are not on line, yet.

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Will You Come?

Posted by heyrandy on August 31, 2009

The Shadow University Alan Kors and Harvey Silvergate, The Free Press, 1998. 415pgs., index, end notes

This book reveals the world of the modern college. This world is hidden behind the rhetoric of free speech and academic freedom. Parents and students are shielded from the ugly reality. The truth is that all that talk about freedom is a lie.

Kors and Silvergate should know. They represented many of the accused in the hearings that universities conduct when student and faculty misconduct is alleged.  The authors examine what happens to the accused when violations of speech and behavior codes are alleged.

The basis of the problem is the misguided and patronizing effort to protect and empower the groups of people that have been traditionally marginalized in our society. The result is a horrendous miscarriage of justice. The accused are plunged into a politically correct swamp of threats, bribes, intimidation, insults, and fear. The only consistency is the lack of justice.

The system is simple: you are guilty based upon your ethnic and gender status. The facts do not count. The methods used are those of the Star Chamber and Inquisition. All that is lacking are the thumb screws and the rack.

The procedures used to resolve the accusations vary with the school. The major common points are closed hearings, lack of respect for the constitutional rights of the accused, and an overwhelming desire to keep the entire matter secret. The schools are terrified of exposure. The schools are not stupid.

The schools are so adverse to bad publicity that allegations of rape are dealt with internally. Such matters must by law be reported to the police.

Publicity is the accused’s best weapon. The authors show how the schools retreat when the hypocrisy and fraud of the resolution processes are pilloried in the press. This often causes the alumni and the politicians to become involved. Faced with this opposition, the schools back down, fast. The authors relate how the Chancellor of Indiana University capitulated in his effort to discipline famous Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight. Knight made a stupid remark about rape, and the Chancellor went after him. Knight was famous for producing winning teams and national championships. The alumni and politicians rallied to Knight’s defense. The Chancellor’s job was in jeopardy. The Chancellor gave in. It was close, but a important career was saved: the Chancellor’s. And an important double standard was perpetuated.

One wonders how well Knight would have fared if he had been an obscure junior professor in the Classics Department. (Can you say Left with the trash pickup?)

This careerism is the heart of the problem. The bureaucrats at the schools do not want any trouble. All must go smoothly; there must be no trouble while the bureaucrat is responsible. If this means a double standard of justice, then that is the price the bureaucrat is willing for the accused to pay, even if it means violating the written procedures of the university grievance process.

The authors trace this to the bureaucrats’ memory of he 1960’s. The student protests of that era revealed the university administrators as impotent cowards. To avoid a recurrence of this embarrassment, and damage to their promotion potential, the administrators have given the campus ideological zealots carte blanche to turn the schools into indoctrination and reeducation camps. The politically favored groups quickly learn that if they make enough noise or even threaten to make noise, the administration surrenders to the their demands. Non-militant groups are ignored. The stories of the student and faculty victims of this doctrinaire stupidity are what make concrete such a book.

Actually it is the stories of the fighters that compose the book. Most victims simply acquiesce to the proffered punishment, usually sensitivity training,  letters of censure placed temporarily in their academic files, and community service. The dunce caps and the scarlet letters are passe. Only those with enough courage (and money) stand out. The fights are ugly, protracted, and one sided. Often the accusations against the accused, especially if they are faculty, are leaked to the press even though the university agency dealing with the matter has enjoined all to secrecy. So much for fairness or the First Amendment.

The First Amendment that is the bane of the publicly funded university. Here the school is at odds with the Constitution. The authors (Silvergate is a criminal defense lawyer) show that federal courts have consistently upheld the student’s right to free speech on the public university campus. The authors also point out that the schools have not learned from this. One school’s loss should be another school’s education. Not in the academic world.

Private schools are more immune to the strictures of the First Amendment, but crumble under the ire of the alumni and the exposure by the press. These speech code trials are a public relations catastrophe. The highest and mightiest university is no match for the front page. Most Americans can readily understand the double speak of maintaining both a speech code and free speech. The only ones who cannot are the academics.

While resistant to First Amendment challenges, the private schools are vulnerable to legal challenges on contract law grounds. All that blather the schools write in their catalogs about freedom of speech and equal justice constitutes a contract. Failure to provide what the catalog states is fraud. The schools have lost the court battles here. The authors report that many schools are now following the advice of their lawyers to tone down such statements. Too bad they did not tone down the climate of political correctness. But that would anger the militants, and that is bad for careers.

To cure the problem the authors suggest academic honesty; advertise the school as it really is: “Let them say to their public what they say to themselves: ‘This University believes  that your sons and daughters are the racist, sexist, homophobic, oppressive progeny– or the innocent victims–of a racist, sexist, homophobic, oppressive America. For $30,000 per year, we will assign them rights on an unequal and compensatory basis and undertake by coercion their moral and political enlightenment.’ Let them advertise themselves honestly and then see who comes.” (p. 371)

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