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Aren't you offended?

  1. Jul 31, 2008 #1
    The vast majority of people contend that one must go to college to become "educated".

    Whether you're in college or not, doesn't such a mentality offend you?

    As if you just aren't smart enough to sit down with some books and learn some material for yourself?
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  3. Jul 31, 2008 #2


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    Probably because in the working world a degree is a sign that you know at least some minimum level of knowledge in a subject. Yes, there are a lot of self educated people out there that have more knowledge than the guy with the degree, but it's no different from getting a paper peer reviewed. You may have more knowledge than the person that got their paper into a peer reviewed journal, but no one is going to pay attention to your paper.

    Also, it is highly unlikely, in most fields, that a person would have the opportunity to know more.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2008
  4. Jul 31, 2008 #3


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    I think my experience with college must have been different from yours. I went to college to gain advanced knowledge that I could not get outside of college -- my education was not general, it was focused on math and physics and engineering. No, I could not have learned all that material and gained the practical lab experience on my own, certainly in nowhere near the 4.5 years it took me to get my MSEE.

    I do a lot of studying and learning still, outside of the university environment. But a lot of my ability now to learn things on my own, is based on the knowledge that I gained in working my way to my MSEE. You need a certain technical baseline, and you need to have learned how to learn, before you can self-study advanced topics, IMO.
  5. Jul 31, 2008 #4
    Depends. Most people can sit down in front of books and learn. I would think that the thing that college does that self-education doesn't is exposure to other people who would have other opinions than you. You learn to live and work with others, meet people from other places, etc. You can do that in other places, too, like the military, or just traveling by yourself, etc.

    So to answer your question, I don't know.
  6. Jul 31, 2008 #5


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    I kind of agree that there are certain things that, at least, would be incredibly hard to learn by yourself from a book. One would be laboratory/ research experience. It is impossible to get these skills from books in your living room..
  7. Jul 31, 2008 #6


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    It depends on the subject. Could you learn as much or more about English literature or history on your own? Maybe, if you have access to the right resources. Science? Probably not. You don't have access to labs and to the people doing research.
  8. Jul 31, 2008 #7

    Offended, no. Embarrassed, yes.

  9. Jul 31, 2008 #8
    I never understood why some most successful people dropped out of colleges/schools.

    But, colleges != self learning.

    If we start giving degrees to self learners too, this place would be a mess! I am only talking about math/science.
  10. Jul 31, 2008 #9


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    No, I'm not the least bit offended!

    I had an upbringing a bit different from most people. I, um, basically didn't go to high school :rolleyes: ...well, I went from time to time, and after flunking so many classes they sent me to a high school that specialized in vocational education.

    After growing up I realized I had to get an education. I literally had never heard of 'trigonometry' when I started taking classes at the local community college. I was forced to take classes in subjects I would have NEVER considered learning about on my own (cough - upper division E&M -cough). I simply would not have known what to study, and if I were trying to educate myself I would have ended up taking the path of least resistance - like most people. Human nature, you know.

    Fast forward many years...I have BS in physics, I work in industry as a scientist. I would never have been hired if I entered "Self Educated" on the job application.

    I meet people all the time who grew up on the path I started out on. I know they aren't dumb, but so many have read "A Brief History of Time" and think they know physics. LOL, give me a break!
  11. Jul 31, 2008 #10
    that's more of a rarity and that's why you hear about those that DO make it

    A normal 'successful' person goes to college, and reads and studies a lot on their own at college and all through life
  12. Jul 31, 2008 #11


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    I agree. This weekend, I'll be running a review session for students doing a distance learning anatomy course. This is one of only 3 times they come into a lab for hands-on experience. I wasn't there the last two times, but the people who ran those two sessions have forewarned me that they will be absolutely clueless in the lab. Book learning on one's own is NOT the equivalent of classroom interaction with faculty and laboratory experience.

    The whole point of a classroom education is to learn the things that are NOT easily grasped by just reading a book alone. As berkeman put it so well, the idea of going to college isn't to just get an education, it's to get an advanced education beyond that which you can teach yourself (and you certainly are expected to do a lot of self-learning in university as well).
  13. Jul 31, 2008 #12


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    Moonbear's giving anatomy lessons???

    Colour me there! :biggrin:
  14. Aug 1, 2008 #13
    My stepfather is an engineer. He got his first job when they were accepting applicants that didn't have a college degree. He had plenty of hands on experience through actual work in the field but one day his bosses started hiring outside people over promoting him because they had degrees and he didn't. They had no idea what they were doing though and he always had to clean up their messes and train their replacements. And still they would not promote him because he didn't have a degree.
  15. Aug 1, 2008 #14


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    I'm often offended by how narrow minded people are. They judge you on a particular degree and don't look at your actual achievements. I attended a 'applied sciences University', the people who attended University look down on an education like that and think you are not competent to do a PhD. Not even with a GPA of 4.0 and your own first-author paper :rolleyes: Ok, they will take you serious with the last, but they remain ignorant in their opinions.

    I know University students who have no business doing a master program and I know people who never attended University who are really knowledgeable. I agree you do need formal training, but you also need to look at the person to see what they actually did with the training that they received.
  16. Aug 1, 2008 #15
    There are some cases when degree may not mean anything.
    For example, a person learns to be a psychologist, and he reads about some methods and tests, but if he doesn't have this inborn ability to see through people and "feel" the situation, he won't be a good specialist while a person without education but with this ability may become much more successful.
    But this is an exception to the rule!
  17. Aug 1, 2008 #16
    Another side of this problem (at least in my country) is that there are some colleges and univercities with the main aim to get fees from students, not to grow knowledgable specialists, and lecturers are not interested in the results of learning process, so when students graduate with a degree their knowledge and skills are close to zero
  18. Aug 1, 2008 #17


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    Ask yourself:
    Compare the percentage of those with a formal engineering degree who are competent at engineering, and the percentage of people without a formal engineering degree who yet are competent at engineering.

    1. Which percentage do you think is highest?
    2. Given that you have two applicants to an engineering post, one with an engineering decree whose content is relevant to the work you wish to be performed, and the other applicant having no such degree. Who are you going to hire, say on basis on your answer on 1.?
  19. Aug 1, 2008 #18
    Thats just because people who are interested in becoming engineers tend to get degrees, not because they couldn't have learned it on their own if they tried.
  20. Aug 1, 2008 #19


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    If someone is not "smart enough to sit down with some books and learn some material for yourself", it's not really a shame.

    There are a lot of people who are not fit to go to college (at least in my country), but they still do, because they think they "have to". The output is that they study a long time, and are later on (not always, but in many cases) below average in their job.

    It's no shame if you don't have a wide education. It's a shame if one doesn't have the courage to start working and admit that college is not for him.
  21. Aug 1, 2008 #20

    Chi Meson

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    This seems to be the source of most crackpottery. Even if a guy reads through, let's say TEN books, on advanced science topics. There is no one around to check to see if he is "getting" the material. Guy thinks that since he has read the books, then he must be an expert, and is entitled to publish his theories.

    There's an interesting article in http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200806/college" last month on the "everyone must go to college" myth.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
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