College is a terrible way to waste a mind

By Scott St. Clair | The Save Jersey Blog

Graduation time is upon us, so let’s stock of what a college education is worth these days. After reviewing the data, it doesn’t take long to come to the conclusion that it’s not worth much. If anything, college is a bigger racket than anything the Nigerian oil minister could conjure up.

American higher education is the pits. Academically, socially, intellectually and culturally, it’s a cesspool of cheating, plagiarism, mediocrity, financial mendacity and appalling political correctness. There’s but one solution: close half of the four-year colleges and universities in the country, deport to the ever-popular dessert island all social-science and English “faculty” and expel the bottom half of every student body in the country. Call it a good start.

Old Queens RutgersFor the expelled, staple to their academic pink slips brochures for vocational training schools, apprenticeship programs and military recruiting offices, then tell them to get a life, not a useless sheepskin.

It used to be said that “a mind is a terrible thing to waste,” but with campus happenings today, the question should be asked is college a terrible way to waste a mind?

Sorry Johnny, but a four-year (or seven-year, depending on how long your old man’s money lasts) sheepskin isn’t your birthright, especially when you can’t name one Supreme Court justice or pen a coherent sentence.   

Beginning in the 1980’s, there was a marked decline in the quality of students coming off college campus into entry-level positions in industry. In those days when I was in the executive search business, hiring and personnel managers complained of new college grads with poor communication skills requiring remedial efforts, the lack of a basic knowledge base even in their major field of study and awful work habits. It’s gotten worse, not better.

No wonder when you consider how the average campus is no longer a place where truth is sought, assumptions challenged and success rewarded, but where protecting feelings from being bruised with “microaggressions” – for a definition, go here – and other scary things that go bump in the night mandate speech codes, extra-legal (and in the case of state-supported schools, arguably unconstitutional) kangaroo sex-offense and harassment courts, everyone-gets-a-trophy grade inflation and a self-entitlement that gives students a pass for the most boorish public behavior imaginable – I mean, really gross stuff – especially when under the influence (a New Jersey case involving shutting down a Rutgers frat after a severely drunken, under-age student was hospitalized).

There are literally too many examples of outrageous foolishness to cite in anything less than an encyclopedia-length treatise.

But if the stress and pressure get too tough, Brown University has a room in which you can feel safe:

The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma. 

For “students” whose emotional and intellectual growth stopped at around the pre-school level, that sounds about right. What should we expect from the progeny of  helicopter parents who raised a generation of pantywaists incapable of functioning outside mom and dad’s basement?

Rutgers students attend a legislative committee hearing in February 2012.
Rutgers students attend a legislative committee hearing in February 2012.

Many college instructors increasingly loathe both their job and their students because no matter how much effort they put into it, the return on instruction from those brains filled with mush is exactly what’s in those brains. One flunked an entire class in a fit of pique. Still another prof filters all his class assignments through the lens of political correctness for fear that a student or an academic colleague become offended – those nasty microaggressions – over what’s in a text or lecture.

Even liberal professors are afraid to open their mouths lest they offend even more liberal and horribly thin-skinned students.  In one sense, it’s their own damn fault since the onslaught of PC madness and pedantic foolishness on campuses nationwide was occasioned by a glut of unreconstructed hippies without any discernible job skills becoming tenured faculty.

Gone is the classic university model where the search for truth was a wide-open debate with no question too difficult to ask or answer too uncomfortable to discern. Instead, speech is the least free on college campuses when they that is where it should be most free. Once the encouraged and welcomed mantra was “I disagree,” today’s orthodoxy shuts down debate, or even mild discussion, with “I’m offended.”

Hurt feelings are on par with a punch in the nose because students regard their sensitivities as above reproach while they have a right to be immune from offense.

Colleges are no longer serious institutions – they’ve become Klown Kars on steroids.

And let’s not get started on soaring college costs, the foolishness and cynicism of student loans, the stark fact that there is no marketplace demand for many to most of the “graduates” who come off America’s campuses – but have you tried to find a good plumber or machinist lately? – and how New Jersey, as per usual, is a leader of the pack in defining academic deviancy down.

Or, maybe I will in the coming days – wait and see.


5 thoughts on “College is a terrible way to waste a mind

  1. College is worth the time and money spent in three cases: if you have a hard-science career in mind, if you are a star student with a mind for law or medicine, or if you really hate the idea of working outdoors.

  2. The “maven” of dumbing down! Baloney, this is where parents should to take responsibility to educate themselves and their kids on the huge investment that is necessary to compete and succeed. ROI

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